The management and strategy consulting industry provides services and products to help businesses establish and improve their corporate strategy, marketing and sales, organizational design, and process and operations management. Management and strategy consultants also advise companies on their human resources systems, financial management, logistics, and information technology strategy. According to the market research group IBISWorld, the U.S. management consulting industry generated upwards of $259 billion in 2019, and had a compound annual growth rate of about 3.4 percent from 2014 to 2019. This growth is expected to continue in the years to come.
According to findings from an annual survey by Vault.com, the top 10 consulting firms in 2019 were McKinsey & Company; Bain & Company; The Boston Consulting Group Inc.; Deloitte Consulting LLP; Oliver Wyman; Putnam Associates; EY-Parthenon; PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services LLC; Bridgespan Group; and Accenture. As of 2019, the companies that have the largest marketing share in the management consulting industry are Accenture PLC and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. There are more than 774,107 management consulting businesses in the United States, employing nearly 1.7 million people.
The management and strategy consulting industry is relatively new compared to other industries, with origins in the late 1800s and early 1900s. At the turn of the 20th century, the proliferation of machinery in the U.S. to speed up manufacturing and mass production made companies realize they needed to have efficient operations to improve sales and revenue. They hired consultants to analyze their business operations, including worker productivity, in an effort to improve manufacturing efficiency, maintain and increase customers and consumers, and increase their profitability. Among the oldest, and still in operation, consulting firms is McKinsey & Company, established in 1926 by James O. McKinsey, a former University of Chicago accounting professor. He founded his company with the aim to provide consulting services to help healthy companies improve their organization and management strategy and operations. The company has since grown to become a global business, employing more than 27,000 people in 65 countries.
Management and strategy consultants often have interrelated goals and tasks. Generally, however, there is a distinction between the two. Management consultants work in a wider variety of fields than strategy consultants. Management consulting companies may specialize in business operations, financial advisory, human resources, or risk and compliance. Strategy consultants are typically hired to work with top executives and directors of corporations, advising them on business strategies for long-term operations.
Management and strategy consultants have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in business, economics, accounting, finance, and related fields. Most employers, however, prefer to hire consultants who hold a master’s degree in business administration. Most management and strategy consultants work in professional, scientific, and technical services, government, finance and insurance, and management of companies and enterprises. Approximately 18 percent are self-employed. The Department of Labor reports that there are 876,300 management analysts employed in the United States. Many management and strategy consultants work in California, Virginia, New York, Florida, and Illinois; and Washington, D.C., has the highest level of employment of consultants across the U.S.