The Big 4 Consulting Hierarchy: An Expert's Perspective

The Big 4 Audit 0-2 year promotion structure is typically that of an Associate. At Deloitte, the entry-level designation (0 to 2 years) can also be an Analyst. As experience is gained, partners can take on other roles in the company, such as becoming heads of business units, industry leaders, or executives of the consulting firm. It is best for those with a law, medical, or other advanced degree to start their consulting career at McKinsey & Co.

The Big 4 firms have strategic consultancies, such as Strategy& in PwC, Parthenon in EY and Monitor in Deloitte, but this represents a small percentage of their total revenues. Management teams often hire MBBs when they already have a point of view and need an external consultant to validate it so that the Board does not blame them. Their work is more varied than that of the Big 4 consultants who tend to specialize in more repetitive tasks. When I started working as a consultant at Accenture, it was glamorous to work at MBB and Accenture was a bad word. When I moved to McKinsey & Co 12 years later, the situation had changed. In all three, each consultant is assigned one project at a time to better focus and they can expect to travel at least four days a week for most of their term of office and work long hours when they are at their headquarters.

Since the three big consultants come from the best business schools, their offices often look and feel similar. They offer auditing, assurance, tax, management consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance, and legal services to several companies. In addition to allowing for great independence with the expectation that the consultant will be able to manage a project on their own, MBBs also provide more varied work than the Big 4 who tend to specialize in more repetitive tasks. I worked at one of the big four consulting firms before finishing my MBA and I didn't get too excited when people I met asked me if I worked in auditing. It is better to hire a solid consultant than to get dumb advice from companies that don't know as well as you.

Knowledge professionals present ideas for new business commitments, create new databases, and create their own assets by working together with consultants to transform customer organizations. BCG consultants work primarily locally but may travel more than their Bain counterparts due to the company's global reach. The basic difference between MBB and the Big 4 companies (Deloitte, E&Y, PwC and KPMG) is that while MBB offers strategic management consulting, the Big 4 focus on accounting. McKinsey Digital has engineers, product managers, and data scientists who can provide the infrastructure and technology needed to implement recommendations from McKinsey consultants. The key takeaway here is that there are distinct differences between MBBs and Big 4 firms when it comes to consulting services. MBBs offer strategic management consulting while Big 4 firms focus on accounting services.

Additionally, MBBs provide more varied work than Big 4 consultants who tend to specialize in more repetitive tasks. Furthermore, MBBs offer greater independence for consultants who are expected to manage projects on their own. When it comes to choosing between an MBB or a Big 4 firm for consulting services, it is important to consider your individual needs and goals. If you are looking for strategic management consulting services then an MBB may be your best option. However if you are looking for accounting services then a Big 4 firm may be your best bet.

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