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Consultants File: Overseas work is now more valuable than domestic jobs

Income from overseas work is becoming increasingly important to the UK consultancy sector, according to exclusive research by NCE.

During the last financial year, UK consultants generated £5.8bn of turnover outside the UK compared with £5.3bn the previous year.

At the same time, total fee income fell by around 7%, reflecting the tough conditions in the UK market.

The figures come from NCE’s annual Consultants File published with NCE this week and online at http://data.nce.co.uk/consultants.

The survey indicates that consultants expect overseas growth to continue, with more than 30% predicting an increase in work outside Europe during 2012.

Predicted growth regions include China, India, the Middle East and Australia, with buildings, rail and energy expected to be the biggest growth sectors.

Major firms all increased fee income outside the UK last year.

Overseas income now accounts for 67% of Mott MacDonald’s annual turnover and 72% of Arup’s, while environmental consultant ERM - named as the NCE/ACE Global Consultant of the Year - generates 89% of its income abroad.

Despite the recession, 40% of firms reported an increase in UK workload last year, and 45% are expecting it to go up again in 2012.

London and South East

The majority said that any growth is likely to be in London and the South East, while the energy sector is the biggest anticipated UK growth market.

The tough economic conditions are still affecting most consultants, with 71% reporting that they reduced margins during the last financial year.

Sixty two per cent say they have lowered fees.

Only 9% reduced pay, but 38% froze salaries - many for the second year running.

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