Fifty years ago professional services — accountancy, law, architecture, engineering, consulting, and advertising — were provided by small, local partnerships of professionals. Today, professional services firms (PSFs) have become global behemoths providing a wide range of services. They are feted by politicians and have a powerful influence on policy and regulations. Their profitability outshines many of their corporate cousins and their hundreds of senior staff enjoy compensation packages that most executives in other industries can only dream of.
For all their success, the rise of the global powerhouses from their fragmented origins is starting to cast a dark shadow: PSFs may be teetering on the brink of crisis.