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by Vault Consulting Editors | September 02, 2008

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If you haven't yet had a chance to see this year's top-50 management and strategy consulting rankings, click here!

Up at the top of the heap, for the 8th straight year, you'll find McKinsey & Company. There wasn't much movement in the top-30 firms this year, but this year we added PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Ernst & Young LLP and KPMG LLP to the guide, which did cause some reshuffling. These firms landed at #9, #11 and #16, respectively.

After having shed their consulting divisions in the early 21st century after the tightening of SEC independence regulations, the noncompete agreements that the firms signed with their spin-offs came to a close in 2007. Since then, the firms have devoted themselves to rebuilding their consulting divisions, and this year, the consulting and advisory services were the fastest growing services lines for all three companies. Thus, it seemed the natural choice to bring the firms back into our top-50 guide. And their high prestige rankings indicate that consultants think so too.

Their remarks, however, would lead us to think otherwise, and the firms get mixed reviews, at best. There's still an overall sense among fellow consultants that each of the three is just "another accounting firm trying to do consulting," falling prey, as one source puts it, to the "Big 4 Consulting Syndrome." Many claim these firms are more "associated with auditing, not consulting," calling their staffers "accountants in disguise." Still, amid the rubble, sources do acknowledge that these firms are "trying to improve" in the areas of business advisory, and that they are truly focused on "growing [their] consulting practices."

What are your thoughts on the Big Four firms coming back into the consulting fold? Do you feel that they're successfully rebuilding their name in the consulting sphere? Or are they still too closely aligned with their accounting divisions to make any significant headway?

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Filed Under: Consulting

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