UK's top management consulting firms for graduates

29 July 2019 5 min. read
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Graduates entering the job market often favour the multi-faceted challenges of the consulting industry over higher paid work found in the banking sector, or similar roles. According to a new survey of UK students, the newest members of the talent pool favour the MBB of the strategy consulting world, along with the Big Four, as their foremost choices of employer.

As UK employers jostle for position amid a growing talent shortage, set to be exacerbated by Brexit and an ageing population which threaten to deplete the national workforce of skilled workers, attracting graduates this year, and in years to come, takes on an added significance for top organisations. Multiple polls suggest that the consulting industry is among the best positioned to take advantage of this new pool of talent, even though advisory and accounting firms do not offer the highest starting salaries to graduates. Consulting starters earn an average of £30,000 a year, compared to investment banking, at £47,000.

Now, analysis of a survey of more than 39,000 students from 97 universities across the UK has revealed which firms are faring best in the aggressive competition for talent. Unsurprisingly, the list is dominated by the industry’s largest and most prestigious players, with the strategy world’s MBB trio and the Big Four of the professional service sector’s Big Four dominating the business and economics, engineering and IT, and natural sciences and healthcare segments of the polls. However, several competitors also made the grade, including home-grown PA Consulting, Irish listed Accenture, and top-six professional services firm Grant Thornton.

UK's top management consulting firms for graduates

Strategy consulting

McKinsey & Company is the world’s largest strategy consulting firm, with 23,000 employees globally. The firm has three offices in the UK – all in the capital of London – overseen by UK&I Managing Partner Vivian Hunt, and offers strategy consulting services to blue chip clients from top corporations to the British Government.

Boston Consulting Group is the second largest strategy consultancy after McKinsey, with 18,500 employees globally. Known as the academic powerhouse of the MBB, having been credited by Harvard Business Review in 2012 as coming up with two of five concepts that changed the business world, BCG similarly holds a London office, and is led by Managing Partner Stuart Quickendon in UK&I.

Bain & Company is the youngest member of strategy consulting’s top table, founded by William Bain Junior in 1973, and now boasts a global headcount of 7,000, as well as an alumni count of 13,000. Led by Michael Garstka, the firm’s UK office in London’s Strand area serves clients across the UK and globally, including international, FTSE 100, Fortune 500 and non-profit organisations.

Big Four firms

PwC has 24 offices across the UK, generating consulting revenues of almost £4 billion in Britain. The UK wing of the advisory and accounting giant holds 22,305 employees in Britain, the Channel Islands and Middle East, along with 915 UK Partners, and is led by Chair and Senior Partner Kevin Ellis.

Deloitte recently saw Richard Houston replace David Sproul as its Chief Executive across its North West Europe and UK wings, and he now leads Deloitte’s 29 offices across Britain. Deloitte recorded a UK revenue of £3.5 billion in 2018, while 5,000 new people joined the firm, including over 1,700 graduates and school-leavers.

EY holds 21 offices in Britain, with annual revenues of £2.41 billion. Led by Steve Varley, Chair and Managing Partner of the firm’s UK&I wing, EY is headquartered globally in London, is the third largest member of the Big Four.

KPMG is led in the UK by Chair and Senior Partner of Bill Michael, who is also a member of the KPMG Global Board and Executive Committee. He oversees KPMG’s 19 UK locales, which host 13,000 employees and command a total revenue of more than £2.1 billion.

Other leading consultancies

Grant Thornton is the sixth largest professional services firm in the UK, and is led by CEO David Dunckley. The firm reported revenues of £491 million in 2018, and has 25 offices across Britain, with 190 Partners and over 4,500 employees.

Accenture is led in the UK and Ireland by Chair and Managing Director Oliver Benzecry. The Dublin-listed firm works with many FTSE 100 Companies and Government departments, with over 15,000 employees spread across four UK hubs.

PA Consulting Group commands an annual revenue of £455.8 million, and since its founding in 1943 by Englishmen Ernest Butten, Tom Kirkham and David Seymour, the firm has grown to host over 2,600 professionals and a global presence spanning 18 countries. The firm is led in the UK by CEO Alan Middleton, who has held the position since 2007.