Top 8 management advisory firms in Germany

10 March 2014

McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and Roland Berger belong to the largest consulting firms in Germany. Furthermore, the Big Four, Accenture and Oliver Wyman are also listed in the top 8.

Despite the economic crisis, the German consultancy market has been fruitful over the past ten years. Since 2013, when the market value was estimated to be €12,2 billion, the market grew every single year (except in the year 2009) to a current value of €22,3 billion. In sum, during the past decade the German consultancy market has grown by €10 billion. That is an estimated growth of little over 7% a year. With a current magnitude of €22,3 billion, Germany may proclaim itself as having the largest advisory market in Europe*. 

Germany consulting markt

McKinsey & Company

For years the market is being ruled by the American McKinsey & Company. This worldwide strategic consultancy company has been one of the pioneers at entering the German market. They did so by opening an office in Düsseldorf in 1964. This ‘early-mover advantage’ has always been a huge advantage McKinsey has when competing with rivalry companies. In comparison, Boston Consulting Group opened its doors for the first time in 1975 (Munich) and Bain and Company followed in 1982.  A.T. Kearney also opened an office in 1964 (the establishment in Düsseldorf even was the first office outside of the United States) although its scale was a lot smaller internationally and in Germany.

In the year 2014, McKinsey has 2.300 employees working in seven offices in Germany. The advisory consultancy firm was led by Cornelius Baur (51) who was recently named successor of Frank Mattern, who currently occupies a worldwide role.

Boston Consulting Group

The second company in the market is the Boston Consulting Group. Having 1.800 employees, this strategic advisory firm has a €490 billion turnover. Just like McKinsey it has 7 offices in Germany, also in the same cities as its rival. For the year 2014, Boston Consulting Group announced a positive prognosis. BCG expects to grow by a “one digit percentage” said Carsten Kratz, BCG Managing partner, in Handelsblatt (German newspaper). To facilitate growth, the recruitment goal is set to hire 200 new consultants this year.

Management Consulting Duitsland

Roland Berger

Roland Berger has 1.250 employees and a €445 million turnover, thereby being the third largest advisory consultancy firm in Germany. Even though the German advisory consultancy firm had, as a consequence of future uncertainty, a though last year, it decided to remain functioning independently. Consequently it reaffirmed its ambition at staying a worldwide top 5 player. With the recent selling of Booz & Company to PwC it may proclaim itself as the number 4 in the (pure play) Strategy & Operations domain.

Big Four

In the worldwide top 8 management consultancy firms, unsurprisingly, the Big 4 offices are also listed. Having 2.150 employees and a turnover of € 403 million KPMG holds a fourth place in Germany, followed by PwC having 1.470 employees with a €315 million turnover. Deloitte has 1,405 employees and is listed on the eighth place. Surprisingly EY, being the largest business services company in The Netherlands, is not listed in this top 8.

Grootse management consultancybureaus van Duitsland

Accenture and Oliver Wyman

With a €296 million turnover and 825 employees hired, Accenture is listed as number six in the German market. Its total turnover is actually a lot higher, but Technology and Outsourcing business units’ turnover is not included in the procedure. Also the non-advisory turnover of the Big 4 organizations were not included.  Oliver Wyman, the strategic and management consulting branch at Marsh & Mclennan, has 703 employees and is listed as number seven. The office has a well-known reputation within the financial sector.  As such, it assists the ECB with the screening of the European banking sector and it helps multiple big banks with updating their business models.

* According to FEACO, the German consultancy market has a value of over €30 billion (2012). FEACO does include outsourcing in its definition, even though Handelsblatt only was interested in pure management consulting and financial advisory services. If outsourcing is deleted from the FEACO data, different values are approximately the same.

** The exact difference depends on the source used. FEACO data points out that the market is robustly 10x larger than the Dutch market. When the estimates of the market size by screening company Source are used (€1,5 billion), this difference increases to an average 15x.


Accenture's push into the creative sector is an identity crisis

18 April 2019

In its latest push into the creative sector, Accenture Interactive acquired New York and London-based ad agency Droga5 earlier this month, adding illustrious clients such as HBO, Amazon and The New York Times to its roster of clients. With the latest in a long line of similar purchases, Accenture Interactive further demonstrated its ambition of becoming the globe’s leading trusted advisor to chief marketing officers. Yet according to Ben Langdon, Chairman of Class35, Accenture’s strategy may be heading in the wrong direction.

A press release on Accenture’s website announcing the acquisition sits next to a quote stating that “brands aren’t built through advertising” – a huge contradiction from a consultancy firm hell-bent on becoming the ‘CMO agency of choice’. It’s not alone of course. The entire consulting industry wants a piece of the creative pie right now. In addition to Accenture Interactive, recent acquisitions by PwC Digital, IBM iX, and Deloitte Digital meant that in 2017, for the first time ever, four of the world’s ten largest creative agencies were consultancies.

So just what it is that Accenture wants to achieve from this? For one thing, it’s clearly trying to be a digital transformation business. A one-stop creative shop rivalling more traditional models, it wants to lure CMOs in with the promise of lower ad spend and a “more impactful customer experience”. At the same time, though, it’s still in thrall to those same slinky, shiny branding and advertising agencies it’s attempting to disrupt. The Droga5 acquisition and that of Karmarama a few years before are both testament to this.

There’s a fundamental problem with this, though. Digital transformation businesses don’t sell to CMOs. These people have enough on their plates trying to transform their own marketing skills in order to keep up with an ever-changing market – they just don’t have the time or the energy to concern themselves with digitally transforming a whole business. If Accenture’s purpose is digital transformation, then going after creative agencies is barking up the wrong tree.Is Accenture's push into the creative sector an identity crisis?

Worlds apart

Perhaps more importantly, these two industries are worlds apart in terms of the way they think. Creative agencies are all about ideas, campaigns and consumers. Digital businesses, on the other hand, are customer-driven – they think in terms such as lifetime value, measurement, and efficiency. Customer-led thinking is an entirely different beast to consumer-led thinking.

The reality is that the arrival of digital and an all-encompassing obsession with technology, measurement and social has led to the death of agencies in a reductive, zero-sum, efficiency-focused battle with brands. Indeed, agencies have become so obsessed with the latest tech fads, they’re beginning to forget how brands work. Worse still, they’re beginning to forget how brands are built. And, by forgetting, they’re destroying their own values.

Killing creativity

All things considered, it really feels to me as though Accenture is a chip leader in a game it doesn’t understand. Expensive acquisitions like these show that they’ve got the big money, but they don’t appear to have any idea what they’re doing with it. Take talent, for example. The best talent in the creative industry right now is out in the market; it’s not tied to any one agency. Both agencies might well be at the top of their game, but why would a consulting firm waste so much money on buying them when they could hire high-quality creative talent on a contingent basis instead?

As their presence in the top 10 creative agencies shows, there is a growing trend in which Accenture, like many of the other big players, are buying up agencies as if they were nothing more than keywords. What they’re really buying, though, is a collection of credentials, clients and IP. Unfortunately, the talent that created those credentials aren’t going to stay at the business, the clients that hired the agency in the first place won’t be interested in buying what is basically just another part of Accenture, and the IP never really existed to begin with.

Droga5, for example, was one of the few agencies that did great brand work the old-fashioned way – undoubtedly something that made it attractive to Accenture in the first place. The irony, though, is that by leading it further away from the way of working that made it so special, the consulting giant will kill its creativity.

“Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record…. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.”

If pressed, the recently acquired agency staff at Accenture will tell you just how dysfunctional the new arrangement is. They’re largely unfulfilled. Rarely do they feel their work has any sort of meaning or purpose. What’s more, the different disciplines have found little or no common ground, and find it hard to work together as a cohesive whole. It’s not surprising, then, to see talented people leaving in droves.

Beyond the window dressing 

It’s clear, then, that consulting firms and creative agencies are no easy bedfellows. But in his company’s defence, Accenture Interactive’s Senior Managing Director for North America, Glen Hartman, described its culture as being “far, far away from what a stereotypical consulting firm would look like. Our office and studios look a lot like Droga5’s.”

In demonstrating a belief that office design equates to workplace culture, this statement serves as an illustration of how confused Accenture is right now. It wants to justify its new strategy so badly, it’s started dressing like a creative agency. But if you look beyond the window dressing and see that you and your partners are speaking a different language with a different purpose, selling to different people in a different market, there’s no getting away from the fact that you’re different.

Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record, and it wants to dazzle others with its new direction. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.

Related: Space between consulting firms and creative agencies is converging.