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Article provided by Consultancy UK

What is a Consultant?

A consultant is an person who provides professional or expert advice in a particular field of science or business to either an organisation or individual. As there is no legal protection given to the job title ‘consultant’, in theory, anyone can on a day wake up and decide to adopt the consultant title. Despite the broad definition that can be subsumed under the term consultant, there are in essence three characteristics that distinguish a consultant from other professions.

Firstly, a consultant provides expertise that a client lacks or support that a client is unable to fulfill. In return for their professional services, the consultant charges a fee. Secondly, a consultant operates independently from the client, implying that, from the respective consultant, there is no conflict of interests between the client’s issue and the services. Thirdly, a consultant operates in a professional manner, which ranges from having the right qualifications to ensuring high quality service delivery and a solid internal operation.

Why do clients hire consultants?

One of the defining features of a consultant suggests that clients hire consultants because they possess a knowledge advantage. In the overlarge majority of cases this is the main reason; a client hires a consulting firm to provide expert advice that ultimately (should) lead to the resolution of an issue within the client’s organisation. There are however more reasons why consultants are hired:

Where do consultants work?

Consultants can work at a consultancy firm, operate as independent consultant (freelance), or else work as consultant within the company they work for (‘internal consultant’). According to statistics from the ONS, the UK has around 300,000 consultants, of which around 63,000 professionals work as management consultants. Accurate data on the number of internal consultants in the UK is not available.

[1] Consultancy.uk is an online platform for UK’s advisory and consulting industry. The website presents the latest news and trends in the sector, follows the developments and publications of consulting firms across 60+ industries and functional areas and provides an overview of career opportunities for professionals interested in working in consultancy. It I  part of the Consultancy.org family, and international network of consulting platforms that draws 4 million visitors per year. See: https://www.consultancy.uk/about-us

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