The top 100 consulting firms in the United Kingdom

18 February 2021 10 min. read

The Financial Times has released the 2021 edition of its UK’s Leading Management Consultants ranking, lauding KPMG, Deloitte, McKinsey & Company, Accenture and PwC as the country’s leading consulting firms in terms of the quality and breadth of their services. Meet the UK’s top 100 consulting firms.

Despite a difficult year, the UK’s consulting market still managed to grow in 2020, to reach a historic size of £11.2 billion. While many experts expected the sector to shrink amid the economic chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, what soon emerged was a picture of an industry recognised as being key to adapting to the lockdown months, and to prepare for the post-pandemic recovery.

Reflecting the perceived importance of consultants to organisations in the current crisis, the Financial Times (FT) and Statista have launched their annual industry benchmark, highlighting the top-performing consulting firms across 29 different categories.

The top 1 - 20 consulting firms in the UK according to FT

The subsequent ranking compiles the opinions of about 1,000 senior executives that have hired a consultancy in the past period and over 5,000 partners and consultants to assess the track record and strength of a consulting firm across all major services areas – including strategy, supply chain, finance, and digital transformation – and industries – such as the public sector, financial services, consumer goods, and healthcare.

The FT’s overall list of top performers across all categories sees the country’s biggest consultancies unsurprisingly top the list, as they have the widest number of offerings on which to be judged. Even then, however, five firms stand out, having been ranked as leading consultancies across all 29 categories examined.

When accounting for the performance of their strategy, digital or other subsidiaries, KPMG, Deloitte (including Monitor Deloitte and Deloitte Digital), McKinsey & Company (including Quantum Black), Accenture (including ?What If! and Javelin) and PwC (including Strategy&) each ranked at the top of the ranking, with 29 recommendations each.

Illustrating their sustained dominance, the firms – who also made up the top five in 2020 – scooped a combined 79 gold rankings. Among others, these including KPMG’s gold for Financial Services; Deloitte’s in Sustainability; McKinsey’s in Strategy; Accenture’s in IT strategy; and PwC’s in Public Sector.

The top 21 - 40 consulting firms in the UK according to FT

Hot on the heels of the top five, strategy giants Boston Consulting Group (including BCG Digital Ventures) and Bain & Company were the other two companies to pick up more than 20 recommendations – with each understandably picking up gold standards in the Strategy field, among others.

The final member of the Big Four EY (including EY-Parthenon and EY-Seren) picked up recommendations in categories including Digital Transformation and People & Performance. Meanwhile, IBM Business Services and Atkins rounded off the list of UK’s top 10 consulting firms – with IBM picking up a gold in IT Strategy among others, and Atkins receiving the same accolade in Construction & Infrastructure.

Beyond the ten leaders, the total recommendations of the consultancies begins to narrow. Maintaining its place on the list from last year, Capgemini Invent holds 16 recommendations – one more than last year – while Baringa has climbed three places, picking up golds in three of its main industry verticals – Energy, Utilities & Environment and Oil & Gas.

Grant Thornton, PA Consulting and Kearney follow with 12 recommendations each, followed by private equity-backed Vendigital, which obtained gold in the Automotive category. BearingPoint, Oliver Wyman and Curzon Consulting (a member of NextContinent) meanwhile round off the top 20, with 24 recommendations between them.

The top 41 - 60 consulting firms in the UK according to FT

Beyond the top 20, the chasing pack become smaller and more specialised firms, and are subsequently rated even more closely together. Gartner and Charles River Associates both picked up seven recommendations, while BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Korn Ferry, AlixPartners, Clarasys and L.E.K. Consulting each garnered six. Among these, HR specialist Korn Ferry picked up a gold in People & Performance, while technology and defence expert BAE Systems was similarly honoured in the Aerospace & Defence category.

Close behind, Mott MacDonald, Atos, BDO, Cognizant, Infosys, Project One, The Berkeley Partnership, Infinity Works (acquired by Accenture earlier this week), Moorhouse and Publicis Sapient picked up five recommendations each. At the head of the companies with four recommendations, Arup obtained a gold in Construction & Infrastructure, which differentiates between it and Tata Consultancy Services, Arcadis, BJSS, OC&C Strategy Consultants, Alvarez & Marsal, and GameShift.

Meanwhile, 31ten, Acrotrend, The PSC, Arthur D. Little, Basis, CGI, Dell EMC ProConsult Advisory Services, Dmw, Gobeyond, Manifesto Growth Architects, Mason Advisory, North Highland (part of Cordence Worldwide), Prophet all gathered three recommendations.

The top 61 - 80 consulting firms in the UK according to FT

Leading the final cohort of firms to garner multiple recommendations, 3Keel gained a gold in Sustainability. Other firms to receive two recommendations included boutique player 11:FS, Capita, ?What If!, Dectech, US-headquartered Gallup, Pearson Ham, engineering consultancy Ricardo, sales & marketing expert Simon Kucher & Partners, oil & gas specialist Wood Mackenzie, and supply chain specialist 4C Associates.

The list also includes Capgemini subsidiary Altran, Capgemini subsidiary Avanade, BCS Consulting, BIS Consulting, BMC, Brand Vista, Cambridge Consultants, Cambridge Econometrics, financial services consultancy Capco, Clear, DXC Technology, Egremont Group, FTI Consulting, Human Engine, Mercer, Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates, Oaklin, Peopletoo, PPL, Proudfoot, Q5, RedQuadrant, Savills, Strategy&, Sysdoc, Unipart, Voyager Solutions, White Space Strategy, and WSP.

Rounding off the top 100, Apex Healthcare Consulting was the final company to obtain a gold rating in the FT ranking, landed in the Healthcare & Life Sciences category. The firm was followed by Accelerating Experience, Actica Consulting and AECOM.

The top 81 - 100 consulting firms in the UK according to FT

Beyond the top 100

These were not the final firms to receive any kind of recommendation from the FT, however. Outside the top 100 there are many relatively big names in consulting that have a single mention in the 29 categories. As the ranking is slanted toward generalist firms, the likes of healthcare specialist GE Healthcare Partners and telecom, media and technology expert Analysys Mason rank beyond the top 100, as does strategy and commercial due diligence specialist CIL Management Consultants, which took a silver in Healthcare & Life Sciences, one of its sweet spot sectors.

Elsewhere, the global leader in safety and health DuPont Sustainable Solutions, procurement specialist Efficio, and supply chain expert Oliver Wight all won single recommendations. This was also true of strategy firm Roland Berger – which despite its global strength, has a relatively small UK footprint, meaning it arguably punches below its weight in the FT ranking – picking up a lone Aerospace & Defence ranking.

Sales and marketing specialist ZS Associates and operations and supply chain firm Argon & Co (including Crimson & Co) picked up a single rating, with the later ranking in Consumer Goods & Retail – its respective sweet spot. A firm which may rise in future incarnations of the FT list is Chaucer, which joined forces with Italy’s BIP in the summer of last year.

The full list of UK’s 100 leading consulting firms

McKinsey & Company (including subsidiaries Quantum Black)
Deloitte (including Monitor Deloitte and Deloitte Digital)
Accenture (including ?What If! and Javelin group)
PwC (including Strategy&)
Boston Consulting Group (including BCG Digital Ventures)
Bain & Company
EY (including EY-Parthenon and EY-Seren)
IBM Business Services
Capgemini Invent
Grant Thornton
PA Consulting
Deloitte Digital
Oliver Wyman
Curzon Consulting
Charles River Associates
BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
Korn Ferry
L.E.K. Consulting
Mott MacDonald
Project One
The Berkeley Partnership
Infinity Works
Publicis Sapient
Tata Consultancy Services
OC&C Strategy Consultants
Alvarez & Marsal
Arthur D. Little
Dell EMC ProConsult Advisory Services
Manifesto Growth Architects
Mason Advisory
North Highland
?What If!
Pearson Ham
Simon Kucher & Partners
Wood Mackenzie
4C Associates
BCS Consulting
BIS Consulting
Brand Vista
Cambridge Consultants
Cambridge Econometrics
DXC Technology
Egremont Group
FTI Consulting
Human Engine
Monitor Deloitte
Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates
Voyager Solutions
White Space Strategy
Apex Healthcare Consulting

About FT’s UK’s Leading Management Consultants ranking

In order to assess the firms listed in the FT’s annual ranking, the researchers commissioned Statista to carry out two surveys; one consultancies in which partners and (senior) consultants could make recommendations in 15 sectors and 14 consulting services, and a second among clients, where 1,000 senior executives who have hired management consultancies in the past four years were asked to rate consulting firms on a five-point scale.

Out of a long-list of 1,600 consulting firms a total of around 200 were included in the ranking. Consultancies that received well above the average number of recommendations were then sorted into the gold class, “very frequently recommended,” while those which gained fewer recommendations but were still above average obtained silver, “frequently recommended.” Finally, those who received a significant number of recommendations from peers and clients, were sorted into the bronze class, “recommended.”