Consulting rankings

Which consulting firms have the best reputation in the world? And in the UK? Which management consultancies are the most popular firms among clients, consultants, or students? And which consultancy firms provide the best work environment for employees?

It is well known that, for consulting firms, reputation is one of the most important assets they possess –essential to clients, employees and new talent. It should therefore be no surprise that consulting firms continuously strive to be the 'best' in whatever they do.

The key question however is: how can being the 'best' be defined? The term obviously can, depending on the perspective used and terminology applied, be interpreted in several different manners. In addition, the number of rankings, lists and awards has over the past years grown spectacularly, and as a result it is in practice difficult to position the different rankings or even differentiate the leading rankings from the less important ones. 

In general, there are four types of rankings and awards, across the views of four different stakeholder groups:

Rankings in the consulting industry

Best reputation: This category looks at the prestige of firms, focusing on aspects such as image and reputation in the marketplace. The rankings are based mostly on the input of consultants (e.g. 'Vault Consulting 50') and students (e.g. 'Universum Most Attractive Employers' or 'The Guardian UK 300').

Best service: At the end of the line, the quality of services is one of the most important metrics within the consulting industry. As clients – typically (senior) managers that have working relationships with consultants – are the foremost reference group, they account for the overlarge majority of rankings in this category. Rankings commonly highlight track record, best practice projects or service offerings.

Best employer: The best employer category ranks firms along HR metrics, such as corporate culture, compensation & benefits, career opportunities and work-life balance. Two types can be distinguished: rankings held across several industries including management consulting (e.g. '100 Best Companies' from The Sunday Times or 'Best Workplaces' from Great Place to Work) and rankings dedicated to the consulting industry (e.g. 'Best Firms to Work For' from Consulting Magazine).

Other: Besides the three above-mentioned categories, there are dozens of other rankings conducted by a wide array of institutions/firms that evaluate the 'quality' of consulting firms, ranging from rankings per industry or service offerings to individual rankings of consultants / staff at consulting firms.