Best Management Consulting Firms to Work For 2014

15 September 2014

The Boston Consulting Group is according to more than 10,000 consultants the best employer in the consulting industry. Bain & Company, which won the award for 11 consecutive years, surprisingly falls out of the top 15. Other large and well-known names in the prestigious ranking include Deloitte Consulting, EY, PwC, L.E.K. Consulting and Protiviti.

Every year ‘Consulting Magazine’, a U.S. based magazine for consultants, conducts research on good employership in the industry. More than 10,000 consultants across all levels (from junior consultant to partner) participated in the survey, rating roughly 350 consulting firms. Firms were evaluated on six key areas: client engagement, firm culture, firm leadership, career development, work-life balance and compensation & benefits. The 15 firms with the highest average scores are included in the so-called ‘Best Consulting Firms to Work’ ranking.

Best Firm to Work for - Categories

For the first time in twelve years there is a new #1: The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The strategy consultancy structurally scores well in the ranking – the firm has made the top 15 of the list all 14 years it’s been around, and BCG has never ranked outside the top 5. After the firm finished on #2 spot for the past four years, it now in 2014 breaks on through to the other side, displacing rival Bain & Company, which sees an extraordinary run of 11 consecutive top spots abruptly halted. EY, McGladrey, L.E.K. Consulting and Protiviti are this years’ newcomers. An overview of the top 15:

Best Firm to Work for - Top15

See the table below for a detailed overview of scores between 2007 – 2013.

BCG’s top spot is based on a strong performance across all six categories – the firm finds itself in the top 5 of each – and on a #1 spot in the ‘Compensation & Benefits’ category. “Being recognised as the Best Firm to Work For is an important recognition of the kind of firm and work environment we’ve created and reinforced,” says Rich Lesser, BCG’s global CEO. In his view, a number of unique characteristics differentiate BCG from the rest, including the quality of its projects and consultants, the non-hierarchical and team-oriented culture* and personal development opportunities. In addition, the chief executive highlights how effective BCG has been with improving the mobility and work-life balance of its people through its ‘PTO**’ initiative. “We continue to see the impact of on our culture and team effectiveness throughout the world.”

BCG - Shaping the Future

The top 5 of the list is completed by consulting firms Point B, Slalom Consulting, Carlisle & Gallagher and North Highland. Three firms drop out of the top 15: A.T. Kearney, Alvarez & Marsal and Capco.

Global vs European, Consulting Magazine vs Vault
When interpreting the rankings it is relevant to keep two aspects in mind. Firstly, the ‘Best Consulting Firms to Work’ ranking is predominantly based on the view of American consultants – roughly 70% of the respondents are based in the United States. As a result, several firms on the list tend to be less well known across the ocean. For instance, Point B (#2) has seven offices, however none outside North America, while Slalom Consulting (#3) has seventeen offices, of which just one is outside the U.S. (London). It also means that consulting firms that outside the U.S. enjoy a strong reputation in the area of employership may not be on the list. Secondly, earlier this month a similar research was released by Vault***, and although there are several similarities there too are remarkable differences (e.g. Bain & Company is #1 in the Vault list, outside the top 15 of Consulting Magazine’s list). See the ranking ‘Top 50 global management consulting firms’ for details.

Detailed list: Best Consulting Firms to Work 2007 – 2014

Consulting Firm  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007
The Boston Consulting Group  1  2  2  2  2  3  3  2
Point B  2  4  -  4  4  -  4  -
Slalom Consulting  3  5  4  6  10  -  -  10
Carlisle & Gallagher  4  6  8   -  -  -  -  -
North Highland  5  3  3  3  3  4  3  4
CapTech  6  7  5  -  -  -  -  -
West Monroe Partners  7  10  15  -  -  -  -  9
Deloitte Consulting  8  8  6  5   6  10  -  -
EY  9  -  -  11  -  -  -  -
Kurt Salmon  10  9  10  -  -  -  10  7
Huron Consulting Group  11  13  7  10  -  -  -  -
McGladrey  12  -  -  -  -  -  -   - 
PwC  13  15  9  8  8  14  -  -
L.E.K. Consulting  14  -  -  -  -  -  -  -
Protiviti  15  -  -  -  -  -  -  -
Bain & Company  -  1  1  1  1  1  1  1
Alvarez & Marsal   -   11  -  -   -   12   6   - 
Capco   -   12  13  -  14   -   -   - 
A.T. Kearney   -   14  14 15  13   11  8 -
Booz Allen Hamilton  -  -  11  9  7   5   - 
MorganFranklin   -    -   12  -   -   - 
McKinsey & Company  -  -  -  5   - 
Accenture  -  -  - 12  9  - 
Crowe Horwath  -  -  - 13   - -
Booz & Company (now Strategy&)   -   -   - 12  15 
Milliman  -  -   -  11  9
AlixPartners   -    -    -    -   - 
ZS Associates  -   -    -   -   - 
Towers Watson   -   -  - - 13   - 
Oliver Wyman   -    -    -   -   -

The scores for Monitor (acquired by Deloitte) and PRTM (acquired by PwC) excluded.

* This is perhaps best exemplified by BCG’s non-hierarchical approach in the top of the firm. Every partner is, regardless of seniority, given equal voting rights, unlike the partner voting systems used by the majority of industry peers. “That means BCG has an unusually democratic, non-hierarchical and open culture,” says Lesser, who himself in June 2012 was democratically voted the firm’s 6th CEO in its history.

** Strategy consulting is notorious for the high work pressure and long working hours, therefore BCG a in 2010 launched a programma named ‘Predictability, Teaming and Open Communication’ (PTO), with the aim of fostering a healthier work-life balance. One of the programme’s objectives is to stimulate BCG consultants to switch of their smartphone entirely one evening per week, a feat which according to research from Leslie Perlow (Harvard) led to a higher job engagement and satisfaction. 1,400 partner, consultants and staff employees participated in the year-long research.

*** The Vault ranking however is slightly broader than Consulting Magazine, next to employee satisfaction (60%) also weighing in prestige (30%) and business outlook (10%) factors.


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.