Oliver Wyman closes its office in Seoul, South Korea

11 December 2020 Consultancy.asia

Oliver Wyman has closed its office in Seoul, following a number of years of declining projects and revenues in South Korea.

The global strategy and management consulting firm launched an on the ground operation in Seoul in the early 2000s, over the years building a strong track record, in particular in its powerhouse vertical of financial services.

The consultancy became one of the trusted advisors of banking institutions Shinhan and KB Kookmin, and also advised domestic insurers including Samsung's financial services units. 

But over the past few years the firm’s fortunes in the country have turned. According to reporting from Korea Times, the consultancy has seen a number of its high-profile advisors (including former Oliver Wyman CEO Cho Jwa-jin) leave to take on leadership roles in industry, and other senior consultants departed to join rival consultancies with a larger presence in South Korea, which put the firm’s revenues under pressure.

Oliver Wyman closes its office in Seoul, South Korea

Meanwhile, profits have also come been trimmed due to a number of market developments, most notably the rise of in in-house consultants in the financial services sector, growing competition from other groups and a continuing movement by large South Korean financial services institutions to cut their reliance on foreign consultancies as part of cost cutting exercises.

The combination of these two factors has seen Oliver Wyman pull out of the market and close its office. The firm declined to confirm the news to local reports, but has pulled down the landing page of its Seoul office from its global website. Underlining the reporting, one employee of Marsh & McLennan Companies said on condition of anonymity: “Oliver Wyman consultants have not come into the office since late October.”

Oliver Wyman is the strategy and management consulting wing of Marsh & McLennan Companies. Other subsidiaries are Mercer, Marsh and Guy Carpenter. 

The consulting firm, which has 50+ offices globally, will continue to serve the South Korean market through fly-in teams from its offices in the region, including those in Jakarta, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Other top consulting firms that have a base in South Korea include the MBB trio of McKinsey & CompanyBoston Consulting Group and Bain & Company. McKinsey launched its office in 1991, and is based on the 11th floor of the Westin Chosun Hotel in downtown Seoul. BCG's Seoul office was founded in 1994 and today hosts around 200 consultants. Bain landed in the country in 1991. The Big Four of Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC also have a major domestic presence.