Business services in the UK

An Expert's View about Business Administration in the United Kingdom

Posted on: 31 Aug 2010

The following industries fall within the wide-ranging business services sector: Business and management consultancy services


Management consultancy is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK and is the largest outside of the US.

The UK consultancy market represents 27 per cent of the total European market and is currently estimated at nearly £10 billion (2008).


There are broadly four types of consultancy firms: Generalist – offering a wide range of services; Strategy – offering strategic advice on a case by case basis; HR – offering specialist advice ranging from reviews of salaries to development of leadership skills; and Niche Firms – small consultancy firms in a specific sector or offering a specialist service.


Asset backed finance

The UK leasing and consumer credit industry is the largest in Europe and in 2007 the industry supported UK businesses by funding 28 per cent of fixed capital investment. As the UK’s economy has shifted away from manufacturing and towards services, the leasing and asset finance industry has moved with the trend with over 60 per cent of its customers in the service sector.


There is a wide range of finance companies offering hire purchasing and leasing with a wide range of finance options. The largest of these are subsidiaries of the major UK clearing banks. Leasing – allowing businesses to obtain the most up-to-date equipment without having to make a large initial capital outlay and to conserve working capital. Hire Purchase – businesses that decide to own their equipment while managing their cash flow.


The industry funds the acquisition of a wide range of assets, from fleets of aircraft to the latest high-tech medical equipment. It provides finance to both the private and public sectors.


Development and selling of real estate

The UK has a highly developed and diversified property market and the global listed real estate sector has experienced many changes over the last 20 years. The adoption of the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) legislation is expected to stimulate growth in this sector and broaden the range of options open to investors.


Real estate continues to experience an influx of capital in virtually all major, emerging and niche markets. Real estate investment from Europe and the US looks set to outperform most other assets in the near term. However a range of economic concerns including the impact of consumer debt and rising interest rates may impact on the immediate outlook. Real estate continues to experience an influx of capital in virtually all major, emerging and niche markets.


Accountancy and tax advisers

Although international services are carried out by a small number of large firms – the ‘Big Four’ – there are nearly 20,000 accounting firms in the UK. The preferred structure amongst the larger firms in the UK is LLPs although a number of others have retained the traditional partnership structure.


There are around 220,000 employed in accountancy services in the UK (excluding chartered accountants).

Accounting firms offer a range of services including audit & assurance, tax, corporate finance, wealth management and insolvency and business recovery. (Source: IFSL – Legal

The UK is the leading international law centre, with four of the six largest legal companies in the world and over 200 foreign firms. The sector employs 117,000 solicitors and 16,000 barristers and contributes £14.9 billion to the UK’s GDP.

London is a leading centre for the provision of legal services. Globalisation has contributed to the growth which has prompted a number of foreign law firms, predominately from the US, to expand into Europe. The legal sector is headed by firms such as Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, Norton Rose and Slaughter and May.

English law is transparent, flexible, predictable and supports the needs of modern commerce. It is therefore not surprising that the UK is the jurisdiction of choice for many international contracts and a major centre for dispute resolution. (Source: IFSL – High value and specialised labour recruitment

The recruitment industry in the UK is the oldest in Europe and therefore by definition the most mature. This makes the UK the second largest recruitment market in the world after the US. The recruitment market in the UK was valued at £3.51bn in the year ending March 2007, an increase of 7 per cent over the previous year.

The strongest sectors for executive search services in the recruitment industry are financial services, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, IT, retailing and manufacturing.


Market research

The UK is the world’s second largest market for market research. In common with other mature markets, it exhibits relatively slow growth compared with much smaller but more recently established markets in Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. In 2007 total industry revenue increased by 2.3 per cent during 2007 with an estimated total value of £1.8bn.

Turnover from domestic research represents about 75 per cent of total sales and international research about 25 per cent. These proportions have been relatively constant over the last decade. In 2007 domestic growth was 2.7 per cent and international research only 1.2 per cent.

The global centralisation of business functions is booming with the UK at its forefront. The UK is one of the premier locations in the world for contact centres and is home to all types of shared service centres (SSCs).

The UK is the leading SSC location Europe with one third of all Pan-European SSCs set up here. The UK has the largest Professional Services industry in Europe which enables SSC operators a wide choice of accountants, lawyers and other professional advisors specialising in SSC issues.

Contact centres are used extensively across both the private and public sector. There are around 958,000 people employed in just over 5,000 Contact Centres in the UK. It is estimated that by 2012 there will be over million people employed in this industry.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) appears in many shapes and forms and the UK is the second largest recipient of BPO after India. The National Outsourcing Association (NOA) and NelsonHall estimate that the global BPO market will be worth $181,500 million by 2009.


Posted: 31 August 2010

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