Economic Consultancy

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Sector Overview

This page has been written by Pamela Andrew, the relevant Careers Adviser for this occupational area. To see how you can meet Pamela, or any of our advisers, go to our website to view how and when you can meet them. 


Is it right for me? - further information on this career area, including skills/attributes required and tactics for success (pdf)



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. Economic consultants use their economic expertise to advise others. They may be members of a consultancy firm or they may offer their expertise within their own organisation which will either be large, eg Deloitte, or specialist, eg Government Economic Service.

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. The number of specialist consultancies is small at around 50 in the UK. However, many management and social research consultancies also employ economists whose work is focused around economic analysis.

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.

Two key areas of growth are in Energy and Health. In the energy sector the increasing international emphasis on energy provision, regulation and rules of access has generated a great deal of work.In the health sector with an ageing population and limited budgets economics is not just about looking at the costs and benefits of a new drug, treatment or service but also, in a world of limited budgets, the consequences of making that decision in terms of what cannot then be provided for other patients.

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Networking

Networking is particularly important and can help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for the organisation then you have extra information to back up your application. Visiting the Careers Centre Graduate Management and Finance Fair and turning up to employer run events is a great way to make valuable connections, it helps to introduce yourself to representatives from the companies ask for their card so you can make contact in the future. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook (many organisations have their own page). Recent St Andrews graduates have gone on to work for Deloitte, Bain and Company, McKinsey & Company, PwC, Ernst & Young, European Development, Mercer Consulting Middle East, Factset, Belgian Foreign Office , Future Foundation, Forex Capital Markets (FXCM) Ltd., Bavarian US Office for Economic Development, Strategic Asia and Financial Supervisory Authority in Iceland.. You will find St Andrews alumni at many of the large economic consultancy firms all over the world ranging from graduate trainees to CEOs. These alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews. There are several ways to make contact with alumni.

  • Saint Connect - is the new networking platform which allows you to connect with alumni and join discussion groups.
    • Groups -School of Economics and Management Consultancy by joining these groups you will receive updates on events, competitions, jobs and other sector related news.
  • LinkedIn – Alumni Tool, this feature shows the career paths of over 27,000 alumni you can find graduates working at particular organisations in an economics capacity e.g.PwC, Bank of England, Scottish Government and NHS
  • Graduate recruiters - ask if they can put you in touch with any alumni now working for their company.
  • Friends and family - ask around your immediate social network for any contacts in the organisations which interest you.
  • This networking video produced by Cass Business School gives excellent tips on effective networking.

How to get experience

Try to arrange work shadowing and longer placements or internships as this can help you to decide on your career choice and is a real advantage when applying for jobs. You can also adopt a speculative approach - see our networking section on the Careers Centre website and speculative applications for more advice.

Some paid internships are only open to penultimate year students so if you are in first or second year you could also consider work-shadowing and working voluntarily or a speculative approach to smaller employers - see below for advice on finding employers.

Organisations which offer internships in Economic Consultancy include:

  • Accenture regularly look for penultimate year students as part of their Summer Vacation Scheme.
  • The Adam Smith Institute recruit interns 4 times a year, not just in the Summer. Shorter periods of work experience can be gained by joining their ASI's Next Generation group on Facebook.
  • Government Economic Service advertise options for 6-12 week Summer internships, 12 month "sandwich" placements as well as a list of contactcs for short periods of work expereience.
  • NERA Economic Consulting have opportunities worldwide for internships.
  • Oxera provide internships built around the interests of their interns.
  • PriceWaterhouse Coopers offer summer internships and work placements.
  • Social Market Foundation are a Think Tank that have research internships for economists interested in public policy.
  • The Bank of England - has two summer internship schemes, both intended as an alternative to their graduate recruitment process. One is for undergraduates in their penultimate year of study and lasts 6-8 weeks. The main focus will be an individual research project. The range of projects is broad but will involve collecting and analysing data and working closely with economists and analysts. Previous projects have included: the relationship between the housing market and consumption; and alternative trading systems in equity markets.The other is for students who have just completed their final year. Subject to outstanding performance on the internship, students will also be offered a sponsorship of MSc/MPhil fees for one year (or one year of a two-year course) in either economics and/or finance, to be studied in the UK. They will also receive a job offer to join the Bank upon completion of the postgraduate course. This scheme is subject to a number of conditions which will be made clear when a sponsorship offer is made. Deadline in normally mid November.

The following websites include listings of numerous internship opportunities, and may include some in Economic Consultancy:

See also the employers listed in the next section - check their websites to find out if they are offering internships.

Professional bodies and trade associations can be a good source of employers - look for their member or partner listings, which you can often search by location. See links below.


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How to find a job

To get an economic consultancy position, there are some key sources of information you can use. Our website advertises a number of vacancies through the year. However, to reach smaller economic consultancies you will need to be more proactive as outlined above.


Look in The Guardian on Tuesdays for vacancies with an education focus and Wednesdays for those with a development or health focus. Also look at the Financial Times, in The Economist and look at the links below.

The application process for the larger organisations tends to be an on-line application followed by an assessment centre then successful candidates go onto the interview stage. Smaller organisations use CVs and a covering letter. Numerical/data interpretation tests often form part of the assessment tests. The Careers Centre has many resources for you to practice, the Careers Centre website signposts many useful links.

Selection procedures normally combine Interviews and technical exercises. Be prepared to be closely questioned on your economic and commercial knowledge. You should also be prepared to sit numeracy, verbal reasoning and comprehension tests. You can prepare for interviews by reading any economic journals produced by the organisation you are applying to, by reading The Economist, The Financial Times and specialist journals.

Professional bodies and trade associations can be a good source of employers - look for their member or partner listings which often have direct links to the employers’ web-sites. See links below.

A selection of employers by sector (this is not an exhaustive list!) NB. Some of these employers may not offer graduate positions every year so check their websites for the latest vacancy information.


Economic Consultancy Employers
Private Sector
Public Sector
  • LSE - provide a comprehensive list of economic consultancies

US Economic Consultancy employers

Key Links and Resources

Careers Centre resources

The Careers Centre has the following free take-away brochures which contain careers information and listings of graduate opportunities in Economics:

  • eFinancial Careers: Careers in Banking & Finance
  • Inside Careers:
    • Banking, Securities & Investments
    • City & Finance

Useful Background Information

Finding an Economic Consultancy Job

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines

USA

Wet Feet - Careers in Management Consulting / 25 Top Consulting Firms

WetFeet Guides are available free of charge for University of St Andrews students. WetFeet is a comprehensive online library of US-based company research and career-related information. It also publishes ‘Insider Guides’ – a series of career management guidebooks for job seekers.

How to gain access:

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