Economic consultancy


Economic consultants apply techniques of economic analysis to help businesses, regulators and policy makers evaluate and implement strategic decisions.

They use microeconomic theory, econometrics, quantitative techniques and financial modelling in conjunction with sector expertise to formulate tailored advice to organisations.

Typical problems may include helping a company with a merger opportunity, advising a company on how to respond to new taxation regulation, or analysing drivers of demand for public services.

Economic consultancies often specialise in certain sectors, such as financial services, telecommunications, or utilities. They will also provide particular kinds of consultancy expertise, such as competition policy, regulation, or market analysis.

Working as an economic consultant can be very varied because of the project based nature of the work. Projects will vary in length and scope, and you may well develop specialist expertise.

One key difference to management consultancy is that firms are usually much smaller, employing 10-100 staff. Nonetheless, several economic consultancies have more than one regional office.

Market trends

Since economic consultancy focuses on factors that are often central to the state of the economy, and how those factors can be managed by businesses, work can be generated by the slowdown.

The current view from one particular independent economic consultancy is that activity has held up fairly well during the recent recession. The drop in merger activity has hit anti-trust cases but regulation and litigation work has been stronger. There has also been a strong appetite for advice related to the increased amount of state aid available during the recent economic crisis.

Another key area of growth is the energy sector, and while many firms already have a specialism, the increasing international emphasis on energy provision, regulation and rules of access has generated a great deal of work.

Useful Information

Routes in

Typical career paths

Many economic consultancy firms run graduate programmes for those new to the sector, which can vary in length from six months to two years.

Graduate entrants are typically called analysts or research analysts, and will work on a variety of projects, including data collection and analysis, background and theory research, economic modelling, client liaison, and drafting reports with senior colleagues.

Beyond that, graduates will become consultants or economists, and you are likely to develop a specialism in a particular sector or type of consultancy practice.

Some economic consultants study for PhDs, though it is important to recognise that the level of highly specialised research required for a successful PhD in Economics or Finance does not have much in common with the more practical modelling and analysis that is essential in this sector.

Work experience

To get a graduate position in economic consultancy, it certainly helps if you have already completed an internship, though it’s not essential.

Many economic consultancies, such as Frontier Economics and NERA, run programmes in the summer vacation and the deadlines for applying usually come in the early spring.

Don’t leave it to the last minute to apply: recruiters tend to look at applications as they receive them, rather than reviewing them altogether after the deadline has passed.