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by Vault Consulting Editors | August 23, 2011


Vault Consulting 50 Rankings Consultants are having their voices heard and as Vault celebrates Consulting Week, those voices are letting us know that prestige is only a small percentage of what they look for when searching for a job. For the second straight year, survey responders have made it clear that quality of life concerns far out rank the name and the size of a firm.  The beneficiary of this declaration is once again Bain & Company. 

Bain & Company has repeated its claim to the title “Best Consulting Firm to Work For,” in the 2. Released today, Vault’s annual Consulting 50 Rankings are based on responses from nearly 5,000 consultants across the nation. Those who took the survey were asked to assess their peer consulting firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige (they were unable to rate their own firm, and were asked to rate only firms with which they were familiar). They were also asked to rank their own firm’s quality of life. A weighted formula was applied to the data to determine the Vault Consulting 50 Rankings for 2011.

And while quality of life was king this year, prestige still flexed its muscle, as the most prestigious consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, made its presence known in the Vault Consulting 50, jumping up one spot to No. 2 this year.  Here is a look at the Top 10:

1.    Bain & Company

2.    McKinsey & Company

3.    The Boston Consulting Group    

4.    Deloitte Consulting  

5.    Monitor Group                            

6.    A.T. Kearney                  

7.    Oliver Wyman  

8.    The Cambridge Group                

9.    Analysis Group   

10.  Booz & Company   

Bain vs. McKinsey (Quality of Life vs. Prestige)

As we mentioned above, the battle between Bain and McKinsey for the top spot in this year’s ranking really comes down to a battle of quality of life and prestige.  McKinsey has been named the Most Prestigious Consulting Firm for 9 straight years and could make it an even 10 when those rankings are released tomorrow.  Bain is prestigious in its own right, but really gets the edge based on strong scores in quality of life categories, such as overall satisfaction, firm culture, training, promotion policies, diversity and compensation, thus making them the best firm to work for.  If you don’t believe us, take a look at some comments from survey responders. 

Consultants outside of Bain called the firm “small, smart and academic,” “very sharp,” and the “best in class.”  They also heralded the firm’s “excellent work,” and “good all around reputation,” while noting that Bain had the “best culture of the big 3.” 

In terms of overall satisfaction with the firm, one consultant at Bain & Company said: “I can't imagine working somewhere else that would offer me the amazing mix of people, challenging work, great results and fantastic client results that Bain gives me. I am excited to wake up and go to work each day!” 

McKinsey & Company also received high praise with respondents calling the firm “top notch,” “strategy kings,” “the smartest guys in the room,” the “top dog,” and the “Goldman Sachs of consulting.”  Said one consultant: “The people, level of exposure, challenging projects, and client interaction are second to none. I honestly do not believe I could have achieved the personal and professional development I have received while at McKinsey anywhere else (either in consulting or another profession).”

Bain & Company will have to step it up next year if it hopes to earn a three-peat.  McKinsey did not get by on prestige alone.  The consulting powerhouse scored much higher in quality of life rankings than they ever have in the past.  If they continue their upward climb in these categories, McKinsey would have a strong chance at unseating Bain at the Top of the Vault Consulting 50 next year. 

Other Increases, Decreases and One Big Surprise

There was some movement in this year’s Top 10 that saw Deloitte jump up two spots to No. 4; A.T. Kearney moving from No. 8 to No. 6; and Booz & Company jumping six spots to earn a spot in the Top 10 at No. 10.  But the biggest improvements may have come from The Monitor Group, which broke into the Top 10 in great fashion, jumping 20 spots to earn a No. 5 ranking. 

Why such a change?  Consultants point to several reasons for The Monitor Group’s surge through the rankings.  Said one consultant with the firm: “Morale is up and we have been building a lot of momentum - selling new and interesting projects at new clients, increasing our book of business with other clients, and maintaining our major accounts.”

Accenture has also made a major ascension in this year’s rankings, moving 21 points from No. 32 to just shy of the Top 10 at No. 11.  In addition, making big splashes in their first year in the rankings were Jabian Consulting, debuting at No. 13, followed by Point B at No. 14. 

Some drops in this year’s rankings include The Cambridge Group, which remained strong, only dropping three spots from No. 5 to No. 8 and The Analysis Group, which also felt only a small hit, dropping five spots to No. 9.  Censeo Consulting Group has fallen out of the Top 10, from No. 10 to No. 16 and West Monroe Partners, which challenged for the Top 10 last year, dropped from No. 11 to No. 19 this year.  Triage Consulting Group, which enjoyed a spot in the Top 10 last year at No. 9, fell to No. 32 in this year’s ranking. 

View the full Vault Consulting 50 Ranking for 2012 by clicking here.

Looking for more rankings action? Don’t worry—Vault will be satisfying your craving throughout the week with tomorrow’s release of the Vault Consulting Prestige Rankings, and continuing with ranking releases for practice areas and quality of life. We’ll also be staggering the release of our consulting firm profiles, providing new, juicy insider tidbits each week.

--Jon Minners,


Filed Under: Consulting