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Turnover of the consultancy sector in Catalonia exceeded 4,360 million euros in 2021, almost 2% of GDP, according to a study by the UPF-BSM and ACEC

22 Noviembre - 2022
Ponents de la sessió de presentació de l'estudi sobre l'impacte de la consultoria a Catalunya
Presentació de l'estudi "Impacte de la consultoria a Catalunya"

The UPF-BSM and ACEC present the first report on the impact of consultancy in Catalonia, which shows that the sector is made up of 4,586 companies and that the productivity of the sector in the territory is 72,056 euros a year per employee


The UPF Barcelona School of Management (UPF-BSM) and the Catalan Consultancy Employers' Association (ACEC) today presented the study on the impact of consultancy in Catalonia in 2021. The consultancy sector did not have any report that would allow measuring the impact of its activity on the economic and social development of the country. For this reason, ACEC commissioned this research work to the UPF-BSM, which has been prepared based on official data from Idescat between 2012 and 2021, data from Social Security affiliates and a questionnaire to eleven companies that are part of the Employers' Association.

This study, carried out by the UPF-BSM Sustainability Observatory, shows that the sector is made up of 4,586 companies, of which 4,381 –95.5%– also have their headquarters in the territory. The birth of new companies has been constant, registering an accumulated growth of almost 50%. In this sense, the number of establishments has been growing steadily, reaching 5,067 premises that today serve customers in the four Catalan provinces. "This is a positive evolution in recent years, which not all sectors of activity can affirm", said Oriol Montanyà, Vice-Dean for Development and Partner Programs and co-author of the report, together with Erola Palau Pinyana.  

Consultancy activity accounts for 1.83% of Catalan GDP and 95.5% of companies in the sector are based in the territory

Likewise, the employment generated by consultancy firms has also experienced a clear upward progression, from 12,917 employees in 2012 to 28,706 in 2021. "In a decade, the number of workers has doubled and, between 2020 and 2021, the hardest years of the pandemic, up to 3,593 new jobs have been created within the sector", pointed out Montanyà. 

In terms of economic impact, the sector has an accumulated annual turnover of over 4.36 billion euros, mainly from clients in Spain (81%), but also from the European Union (11%) and the rest of the world (8%). It is worth noting that this volume of sales represents 1.83% of Catalan GDP and is substantially higher than other comparable service sectors, according to Idescat, such as legal, real state, auditing, and engineering activities. The same applies to productivity –understood as the contribution of each employee to the generation of income for the company– since consultancy is one of the sectors that produces the most value per employee, with a specific contribution of 72,056 euros. Moreover, as Montanyà stated, consultancy activity is 30% more productive than the next most productive sector, real estate. 

Company characteristics

In terms of company size, 98% of consultancy companies in 2021 were micro or small enterprises. Of the total, 67 were medium-sized businesses and 24 were large. The income of these organisations comes mainly from Catalonia (54%) and Spain (31%), while the remaining 15% comes from international clients. Most of these companies' expenditure is spent in Catalonia (61%), while 32% is distilled in Spain, and the remaining 8% is spent with suppliers outside Spain. 

98% of consultancy companies are micro or small enterprises, and the sector as a whole has a gender-parity workforce (51.2% women) and high youth employment

According to the sample of the eleven consultancy firms analysed, the sector in Catalonia employs people on permanent contracts (more than 75% of cases), with a gender-parity workforce –in 2021, the percentage of women reached 51.2%–, and a low ageing population, made up mostly of people under age 30. The vast majority receive more than 2,000 euros per month. This sample also shows that 72.7% of the respondents invest in innovation, with environmental projects standing out (54.5%).  

A pioneering X-ray of the sector

"One of the priorities of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) is to establish effective bridges between the academia and the economic world so that knowledge does not remain within four walls, but is transferred to society", said the Rector, Oriol Amat. The Director General of the UPF-BSM, José M. Martínez-Sierra, agreed and guaranteed that the school "submits its research to the highest international standards". For his part, Jordi Marín, Director General of ACEC, highlighted the importance of the report, since "we had never measured the impact of consultancy in Catalonia before". 

In this sense, Marta Curto, Director General of Analysis and Economic Prospective of the Generalitat de Catalunya, welcomed this "pioneering study" that makes an "accurate x-ray of the sector from an economic, social, and environmental point of view". "In a country with a long industrial tradition like ours, having a relevant tertiary sector is key to diversifying the economy and making it resilient", explained Curto, who added that the services sector "continues to be the engine of growth of the Catalan economy".

During his speech, Joan Romero, Executive Director of ACCIÓ, reflected that "we want our companies to be more competitive, innovative and internationalised every day" and, addressing the consultancy firms, he said: "You are an extension of the work we need to do and perfect allies for the transformation of the Catalan productive fabric". "It is a source of satisfaction to see you grow", he concluded.

See the study

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