We are proud to announce that the 2014 Vault European Consulting Rankings are here—and that this year's edition comes with a unique achievement.
For the first time, one firm has taken the top spot in both our Top Consulting Firm and our Prestige rankings in all three regions covered by our survey. In emerging at the top of both of our signature rankings, McKinsey & Co. has completed a unique "Triple Crown," adding to its achievements earlier this year in being our most prestigious firm, and the our top consulting firm to work for in North America and Asia-Pacific.
While we offer our congratulations to McKinsey, it's also important to acknowledge that these Vault rankings are not a competition where one firm "wins" while others "lose"; rather, they serve as a barometer of the levels of attention that firms are paying to their employees, and the efforts that they make to attract and retain top talent, the world over. Accordingly, every firm that appears on these rankings is exceptional in its own way. Whether firms have earned sufficient respect from their peers and rivals to be voted onto our prestige and practice area rankings, or a firm's own employees think so highly of its performance in a variety of Best to Work For categories that can be considered among the best in the industry as an employer, an appearance on these rankings does not happen by accident—it represents a great deal of work from all concerned.
By using the rankings, and reading the accompanying firm profiles, our hope is that readers will find themselves better equipped to make an informed decision about which firms offer the precise mix of prestige, industry focus, quality of life factors and job satisfaction appropriate to them.
As we have noted in the past, these rankings—and the accompanying firm profiles and insider information—would not be possible without the hundreds of firms and thousands of consultants that take our consulting industry survey every year. This year, more than 2,800 consulting professionals of all levels across Europe assessed peer consulting firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige and practice area strengths (respondents were unable to rate their own employers and rated only firms with which they were familiar). Consultants also rated their own firm on a variety of "best to work for" factors in such categories as firm culture, compensation, overall satisfaction and hours, among others. For the purpose of the Europe Consulting 25 Ranking, a weighted formula was used to combine findings from both prestige and best to work for ratings to create the overall "Top Consulting" category.
The Top 10 Firms to Work for in Europe Based on Vault's Annual Consulting Survey are:
When it comes to McKinsey & Company, there is one factor that survey respondents said separates their firm from the rest of the pack. "McKinsey holds itself to the highest standards; there's a misconception that the firm is arrogant — that's not true," explained one consultant from the firm. "We are constantly trying to do things better and push ourselves to have impact in new ways. So we think less about competitors than some might think and more about how we can help our clients achieve more."
McKinsey's strongest competitor — Bain & Company — remained in second place. One survey respondent from Bain touted the firm's efforts to put "a focus on enjoying the job and creating opportunities," while another consultant summed up the firm's philosophy in three words: "People. Passion. Results."
There was some movement in the rankings this year. Booz & Company and Oliver Wyman each moved up one spot to No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. One survey respondent from Booz attributes the firm's success to "its people," who have "the ability to roll our sleeves up and deliver enduring value." When it comes to Oliver Wyman, "The culture is very unique," said one consultant at the firm. "People have more freedom to be themselves here than at our competitors."
The success of Booz & Company and Oliver Wyman dropped Roland Berger Strategy Consultants down two spots to No. 5. Despite its slide, employees still heralded the firm as a great place to work. "What I like about working at Roland Berger is the great entrepreneurial spirit which is an inherent part of our firm's culture," said one survey respondent, who also pointed out the firm's focus on work/life balance. "I also value the regular opportunity to take time off in the form of a sabbatical."
Other movement in the rankings came from Simon-Kucher & Partners, Frontier Economics and L.E.K. Consulting, each moving up one spot to No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10, respectively. One consultant at Simon-Kucher noted the firm's improved focus on quality of life. "Simon-Kucher has truly made strides here by allowing more and more flexible working arrangements, working from home, etc," he said. "Consulting will always require some travel and by definition has longer hours, but here it is a lot less worse than industry average."
At Frontier Economics, "We have a nice company culture, where people value quality of life and help their colleagues achieve it when they are working under pressure," according to one survey respondent. "Sometimes, we do have to work long hours. But this is not the rule."
Consultants at L.E.K. highlighted a "great culture, really smart people, and a very welcoming working environment" as reasons why the firm was able to crack the Top 10 this year.
McKinsey & Company Dominate Best to Work For Rankings; Candesic No. 1 in Work/Life Balance
Now more than ever, job applicants are putting job satisfaction over prestige with an emphasis on better benefits, more pay, and a superior work-life balance. This year, when it came to Quality of Life, McKinsey was rated the best firm, taking the top spot in 18 of 21 categories: Ability to Challenge, Benefits, Compensation, Firm Culture, Firm Leadership, Formal Training, Green Initiatives, Informal Training, Innovation, Interaction with Clients, Internal Mobility, International Opportunities, Overall Business Outlook, Philanthropy, Promotions, Relationships with Supervisors, Overall Satisfaction, and Selectivity. McKinsey was also No. 1 for Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities, Diversity for Minorities, LGBT Diversity, and Overall Diversity.
Even with McKinsey's impressive achievements to date, respondents from the firm believe the best may yet be to come. "McKinsey is continuously investing significant efforts to maintain its leadership over management consulting," said one McKinsey consultant. "Investments in advanced economic research, in colleagues' training, and in on-the-job support tools (e.g., visual aids, IT support, communication specialists) make me extremely confident about the long-term leadership of the firm over its competitors."
Candesic also performed well in the Best to Work For Rankings, not only taking the No. 1 spot for Hours, but also ranked the best firm for Work/Life Balance, a ranking that many consultants consider a determining factor when choosing an employer. "The best aspect is that we work in a relaxed atmosphere," said one Candesic consultant. "We are not put under pressure to deliver unrealistic expectations. I think this greatly affects the way I behave outside of work. I cannot think of any bad aspects of working for Candesic."
In other Best to Work For categories, L.E.K. Consulting was named No. 1 for Travel Requirements, while Bain & Company took the top spot in Diversity for Women.
McKinsey Continues to Shine Atop Prestige and Practice Area Rankings
McKinsey & Company also maintained its standing as the most prestigious firm in the consulting world, once again edging out Boston Consulting Group and Bain in the Prestige Rankings for Europe. McKinsey also performed strongly in the Practice Area Rankings, ranking No. 1 for Economic Consulting, Energy Consulting, Financial Services, Healthcare Consulting, Management Consulting, Operations Consulting, Retail Consulting and Strategy Consulting. Industry insiders from peer firms went so far as to say McKinsey & Company "started the field" of consulting, while others noted that the firm is "the reference" for which all other firms are judged.
Accenture also performed strongly in the Practice Area Rankings. The firm, which peer consultants described as a "powerhouse," with "young employees" and "experienced managers," took the top spot for IT Strategy and IT Operations. In addition, Mercer was ranked No. 1 for HR Consulting.
View the entire Vault Europe Consulting Rankings.