Australian Economy

Australia’s most powerful consultants in 2022

Powick is now looking to achieve the firm’s long-held goal of becoming the largest of the big four firms by revenue. Deloitte has an internal target for the firm to reach $4 billion in revenue by 2025. That requires compound growth of about 17  per cent a year over three years, a rate that the veteran technology consultant is confident the firm can achieve.

There was strong bottom-line growth, too. The value of partner profit units, which is how equity partners are paid, was up 15 per cent to $935 each. This is above the pre-COVID rate of $905 and a remarkable rebound from the low of $715 during the pandemic-hit 2020 financial year.

3. Tom Seymour

The PwC Australia CEO has delivered on a pledge to be radically transparent with staff about their pay and bonuses during the past year – as well as delivering solid growth in revenue and profits.

Under his leadership, PwC has maintained its position as the largest big four firm by revenue, which was up 17 per cent to $2.85 billion for the 2021-22 financial year. Profit was up 21 per cent in the year. The strong performance prompted the firm to raise partner pay by 10 per cent and to increase staff pay by an average of 9 per cent.

In April, the firm was the first of the big four to voluntarily disclose salary bands internally and publicly anywhere in the world. The market-leading disclosure established a clear benchmark for pay ranges for the sector, while experts lauded this type of transparency as a way of reducing the gender pay gap. Other big firms have since made similar disclosures, but PwC’s remains the most comprehensive.

At Seymour’s urging, the firm also simplified and cut the number of ranks, expanded the availability of annual bonuses and sent about 2700 employees on a four-day “The Outside” personal development retreat at a cost of roughly $5500 a head. Again, these moves set a new benchmark for the big four that rivals are scrambling to emulate.

4. Miguel Carrasco & Patrick Forth

The managing directors and senior partners at Boston Consulting Group are both influential in their specialist domains.

In the public sector, Carrasco has advised Services Australia on transforming and improving the myGov portal. He’s worked with the NSW government on its Service NSW platform and digital licensing, the Queensland government on service delivery, and the Victorian government on its COVID-19 contact-tracing system. He’s also the global leader of BCG’s Centre for Digital Government and a member of the NSW Digital Identity Ministerial Advisory Council.

Forth, a 25-year veteran of the firm, is the go-to adviser for large companies wanting to digitise their operations and has advised clients including Telstra, Westpac and EnergyAustralia. Asked to nominate a consultant they trusted for advice, one ASX chief executive name-checked Forth (along with a rival consultant).

5. Dorothy Hisgrove

Hisgrove was a subtle but effective force behind the big four’s move to increase pay and workplace complaint transparency, first as head of people at PwC and now in the same role at KPMG. It may be the chief executives pushing the change, but it’s Hisgrove who is working behind the scenes to respond to queries, manage the expectations of the partnership, and enact the myriad internal policies needed to improve pay equity and responses to workplace complaints.

She’s also taken the reins of human resources at KPMG in the midst of the most severe talent shortage in more than a decade, moving the firm away from traditional pay band structures to a framework based on skills, regardless of where you are in the organisation. Her appointment to KPMG shows how firms are better prioritising staff in support or behind-the-scenes roles. Gone are the days of fee earners versus fee burners, as workplace culture becomes key to retaining staff.

The AFR Magazine annual Power issue is out Friday, September 30, inside The Australian Financial Review. Follow AFR Mag on Twitter and Instagram.

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