The four large consulting firms in Belgium want to recruit more than 3,000 highly qualified people this year, half of them for Deloitte alone.
The recovery of the economy is making the war for talent all the more fierce that the four major consultants are currently waging in our country. Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG say they are looking for in total more than 3,000 highly qualified employees, experienced or not. And that number doesn’t take into account the staffing needs of many other, smaller players in the industry like Accenture, BDO, McKinsey, Bain & Company, and Boston Consulting Group.
Deloitte, the largest of the “big four” in Belgium, announces that it wants to hire 1,500 new employees, a number never before seen for the Belgian establishment of the British giant. A thousand of them have already started to work there. In Belgium, Deloitte employs 5,100 people. By May 2022, the company hopes to have 5,500.
The types of candidates sought? In addition to the traditional graduates in law and economics, consultants are increasingly targeting STEM profiles (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics). For Deloitte, they must constitute 25% of the juniors to be hired.
For its part, the second consulting office in Belgium, EY (2,530 employees), wants to recruit 120 digital profiles out of a total of 700 new recruits. “We are looking for many big data analysts, cybersecurity experts, technological risk advisers, ERP specialists, IT infrastructure designers and software developers,” explains Christophe Ballegeer, EY’s communications director.
“From our universities come very well-trained people. Each time I am received by the depth of their background.”
Talent shortage forces consultants to broaden their focus on the job market. “Softer” profiles are welcome. “We have already hired musicologists, historians, sociologists and philologists in Romance languages”, specifies Piet Vandendriessche, CEO of Deloitte Belgium. “From our universities come very well trained. I am received each time by the depth of their background. This is enough to start. Then, we taught them more technical subjects. This group of graduates is not easy to convince. But I feel their interest is growing. ”
High staff turnover
In reality, if consultants have to hire en masse, it is also because staff turnover has always been very high. Deloitte wants to recruit 1,500 new employees so that there are still 450 in its ranks later. KPMG wants to hire 300 people each year by 2024 – 1,200 in total – from 1,600 to 2,000 workers.
“Staff turnover is highest among digital profiles because we compete with many sectors.”
“Departures are the most numerous among young people and in the consultancy department, they are much less so in audit”, explains Yves Demaeght, HR director at KPMG. “Staff turnover is highest among digital profiles because we compete with many sectors.”
Consultants are in fact victims of their own success. “Consulting offices are considered to be the best business school in the world Because in this way we learn to learn continuously “, underlines Liesbet Vanderstappen, HR Director at PwC Belgium. Young people can gain tons of experience in the most diverse companies, which facilitates their transition to industry.
“We are setting the bar lower in terms of careers. Today, employees can develop at their own pace and not follow a pre-programmed climb.”
“We are trying to attenuate this phenomenon through the important links between the worker and his hierarchical superior, in particular by increasing the number of physical meetings”, Yves Demaeght. “We are also setting the bar lower in terms of career. Today, employees can develop their own pace and not follow a pre-programmed climb.”
Liesbeth Vanderstappen still cites as assets to retain the “societal impact” of their work and the greater freedom to choose where and when they want to work.
For most consulting firms, the coronavirus crisis has been quite beneficial, judging by their growth over the past two years. The figures from Deloitte Belgium prove it. “We are proud to have recorded, at the end of our financial year which ended at the end of May of this year, a turnover of 635 million euros, up nearly 5% over one year”, specifies Piet Vandendriessche. “We only experienced a short-term slowdown during the months of March, April and May 2020. And the previous year was also marked by growth of 7.4%. This boom is explained by the convergence of five trends.
Three questions to Piet Vandendriessche, CEO of Deloitte Belgium
Deloitte posted two years of growth (+ 4.7% and 2021 and + 7.4% in 2020). How do you explain it?
In most of the countries where we are active, the economy is currently growing by 10%. Our extra work comes out of five trends. Primo, geopolitical shifts and (anti) globalization which hamper trade flows. Think about Brexit and the extra customs formalities. But also to supply chain disruptions and the shortage of raw materials and chips. Our customers want, for example, to move from one supplier in China to several around the world. There is also accelerating digitization with a strong emphasis on cybersecurity, e-commerce, software platforms intended to streamline processes, such as Salesforce, SAP or ServiceNow. Third trend: the explosion of regulation in all the cogs of the economy. It is also linked to sustainable development: reporting obligations, complex systems for trading CO2 emissions, etc. And the fifth trend is the mergers and acquisitions market who always rides the cheap money policy of central banks.
Where will all these new recruits come from?
In addition to graduates, we will mainly recruit experienced profiles in the industry. Also from abroad. We employ employees of 72 nationalities. Belgium remains a pole of attraction with its international institutions, multicultural life and reasonable housing prices. But the work permit policy for people outside the EU remains problematic. The government should fix it.
Deloitte has a staff turnover of 15%. How do you try to retain your employees?
The problem got even worse after the coronavirus crisis. But I understand that not everyone wants to stay a consultant their entire life. Those who leave us act like our ambassadors by often becoming our clients with their new employers.
- Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG are looking for a total of more than 3,000 highly qualified employees, experienced or not
- The target is digital profiles, but also graduates in the humanities, very well trained in our universities.
- The high turnover of staff also explains this hiring record.
- The coronavirus crisis has accentuated certain underlying trends that are accelerating the growth of consultants.