The European “brain drain” of consulting talent

The European “brain drain” of consulting talent

As Brexit looms, Europe’s economy seems to be faltering more than ever. We thought we’d have a look at how Europe was performing when we look at talent flows – a good lead indicator on where the jobs are, and hence where the future growth is going to be. By analysing all of our member’s job moves, we were surprised to spot a rather worrying trend – a “European brain drain”.

Given the importance of top talent in Europe’s, and especially the UK’s, main growth industries (Financial Services, Tech, Fintech), the imbalance of talent flowing in and out of Europe is a real concern. Whilst the number of people moving out of Europe was relatively consistent with other regions (3%), it was not balanced by the inflow of talent. The level of talent being imported was half that of the US and one fifth that of Asia!

In this insight piece, we walk through the analysis behind our findings, and then briefly discuss what this might mean for Europe and Asia.


Whilst analysing how active the consulting career market was, we were really interested to see the geographical flows of consultants and alumni. We found that 12% of the job moves of our members, were across borders – confirming our hypothesis that ex-consultants are a globally mobile group.

The “European brain drain” has been well advertised within Europe, as increasing numbers of the highly skilled workforce in France, Spain and Italy move into the UK and Germany (for example see this BBC article on France’s tech brain drain). However, this also seems to be replicated on a global stage.

Europe only imported 2% of its talent (i.e., only 2% of our European community arrived in Europe from other regions). Staggeringly, 11% of our members currently in Asia, moved from another region last year!


These are challenging times for Europe. As the overall economy still falters, many see the emerging tech and expertise in Financial Services as helping us drive to growth (especially in the UK). However, these growing and important industries are built on people. When analysing moves made by top-tier consultants, a worrying trend is emerging.

With growing skills gaps, this is a real concern. Europe needs to invest in talent, and import people where the skills are not present. Whether this needs to be driven by policy or industry, is well beyond our expertise!


With respect to what this means for Asian companies – it’s great news. The tumultuous markets towards the end of 2015 might temporarily slow down this flow. However, over the long-term we expect the strong flow of highly skilled labour to continue to follow the new and exciting opportunities being created in Asia.

Here at movemeon, we’ve been delighted to work with a number of leading employers who are looking to “import talent” into the Asian region. As ever, have a look at the live opportunities on the site today.

Click here to view our German Team Lead, Sabrina’s recent trip to Berlin

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