UK consulting in 2017: Now more than ever, “keep calm and carry on”

“Keep calm and carry on”: The plucky little exhortation with the horrifying backstory became positively ubiquitous over the last few years, gracing countless coffee mugs and greeting cards while keeping many a London souvenir shop afloat. Irrepressibly British, the WWII-era sentiment clearly struck a chord with a recession-weary citizenry upon its rediscovery at the end of the noughties.

Ultimately, it was a victim of its own popularity, and “keep calm and carry on” has undoubtedly reached that cultural saturation point where the clever becomes the cliché. You might find that old coffee mug a bit embarrassing now. And that really is a shame, because if there’s one thing we learned from this year’s research on the UK consulting market, it’s that for consultants and their clients, now may very well be the true heyday of the “keep calm and carry on” ethic.

Immediately following the shock of the Brexit vote, there was a brief moment where it seemed UK consulting might be in peril. Clients delayed some projects and put off decisions on others, wanting to absorb what had happened before deciding whether to move ahead. Indeed, as one consultant explained, “everyone was walking around in a daze,” and it was not at all clear what might happen next.

But what happened is that everyone, somewhat miraculously, got back to work. Having taken a moment to confirm that the world was not in fact ending, clients picked up those postponed projects and went ahead with new contracts. In the face of so much uncertainty, everyone decided to just get on with it. They kept clam; they carried on. And so 2016 ended up being a pretty good year with consultants in nearly every industry enjoying healthy, moderate growth.

2017 looks to be even better. After all, to this point, there hasn’t been enough clarity about what Brexit will actually look like to permit much planning, but after Article 50 is triggered—presumably next month—things should start to take shape quickly. Then, client organisations can get down to business plotting their post-Brexit strategies in earnest, and a full quarter of UK clients tell us they’re planning to increase their use of consultants as they do.

So maybe now is a good time to dig that old “keep calm and carry on” t-shirt out of the back of your closet, wearing it proudly as you scribble plans for your client’s Brexit strategy in your “keep calm and carry on” notebook, your “keep calm and carry on”-branded breakfast tea brewing reassuringly at your side.

What’s that? You don’t actually have anything with “keep calm and carry on” written on it? Well, it’s hard to imagine how you’ve escaped it, but as it happens, you’re in luck: You’ll find all you require in any number of the 99p bins sitting outside the gift shops of Trafalgar Square.