The Most Prestigious Consulting Firms: An Expert's Guide

When it comes to the most prestigious management consulting firms, the first-tier companies are collectively known as MBB, which stands for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. These three firms are renowned for hiring the smartest people, offering the highest compensation, and providing the best exit opportunities. In recent years, Accenture Strategy has been steadily gaining ground in Europe, particularly due to its strong credentials in digital strategy. The firm was founded in 1967 by Roland Berger and began expanding internationally to Düsseldorf, San Francisco, Milan, Paris and London in the 1960s.

During the 70s and 80s, AT Kearney's profits continued to rise and in 1987 it became the largest consulting firm in Germany. This was partly due to its international commitments from the start. Many people aspire to work for MBB (McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Bain & Company), but there are several other major consulting firms that can provide a great boost to a professional career. Each of these top consulting firms has a combination of size and prestige that can take you places.

McKinsey is widely considered to be one of the best options for building a high-level career. It has an academic culture focused on continuous improvement and intellectual rigour is essential for success. Feedback is frequent and expected throughout the organization. Entrepreneurs who don't need specific rules tend to thrive at McKinsey.

However, due to its competitive environment there is sometimes a high turnover among young consultants. Diversity at McKinsey is affected by its preference for candidates from target universities such as Oxford, Harvard, Stanford or Yale. Many older candidates started at companies like Goldman Sachs or Procter & Gamble. The firm also offers excellent learning and networking opportunities but it comes with an intense lifestyle with lots of traveling, face-to-face commitments, and long hours.

Boston Consulting Group isn't known for its work-life balance. Middle ranks tend to struggle compared to junior consultants and core partners. The hours are long and the culture can be demanding but it has a bottom-up approach to customer and employee engagement which appeals to those who enjoy collaboration. It also focuses more on creative and innovative thinking than many of its main rivals.

BCG has several programs focused on diversity and inclusion including diversity internships. It lists diversity as a core value and has established political agendas to promote women, minorities, and veterans. Work-life balance is comparable to that of McKinsey or Bain & Company but schedules can be long and travel is a weekly reality.

Accenture Strategy

is your wing focused on high-level consulting with approximately 95% of Fortune Global 100 companies using its services.

It has a strong presence in the United States, India and the Philippines but work-life balance is a challenge for Accenture employees. Flexible hours and remote work options are increasingly popular but they haven't yet become widespread in culture. Opportunities change tremendously depending on individual projects but overtime is considered optional unlike many other firms. Employees appreciate Accenture's phenomenal opportunities to develop key skills especially in areas with a lot of technology.

Strong training programs and a fun social life lighten up hard work and long hours but promotions are sometimes influenced by politics so networking is essential. Accenture staff benefit from strengthening its brand especially in Europe. Oliver Wyman continues to grow with many exciting global perspectives but work-life balance may be affected as a result of its success. Your focus on financial services can make for an intense work environment but more than 90% of employees surveyed on Glassdoor would recommend Oliver Wyman to friends; 98% approve of the CEO.

Consultants praise the “smart”, realistic and “genuine” workforce leading to a collaborative and supportive atmosphere. Oliver Wyman is considered to have a fun collegial environment in the lower categories helping new staff to adapt quickly to their arduous responsibilities. However consultants must work hard to get noticed as promotions are largely based on past experience and current performance against time spent in a given position. Employees praise Oliver Wyman's diversity policies with a global workforce model allowing for geographical flexibility and great exposure to other cultures.

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