PRESTIGE ISN’T NECESSARILY A FIXED FACTOR
Clients gravitate towards prestige. They seek out companies that have been tested and produced results. These decisions mitigate risk in their view – and bathe them with the halo effect too.
Alas, prestige often comes with a subjective interpretation. Most times, it simply reinforces the status quo. That’s one reason why the Vault Consulting 50 often features the usual suspects – MBB, Deloitte, EY, PwC – in prominent positions. Consultants enjoy greater exposure to the big names, which are involved in more industries and functions. As a result, they tend to earn higher scores from competitors who score them, a wicked circle that prevents emerging players – particularly boutiques – from ever cracking the Top 5.
Traditionally, there is little movement in Prestige. This year is different – at least once you get beyond the usual suspects. As always, McKinsey, BCG, and Bain hold the top spots. This year, the Top 10 is nearly identical, with KPMG falling from 9 to 11 and The Parthenon Group taking its place at #10. Beyond these 10 firms, you’ll find some distinct changes. For example, Kearney, #11 just two years ago, has fallen 5 spots – and lost a sizable .748 of a point in the process. Over that same period, Northrop Grumman climbed from 33 to 17, adding 1.048 points in the process.
They’re not alone. AlixPartners, which moved 13 spots to #23 this year, increased their score by .624 of a point. At the same time, Korn Ferry Hay broke into the Top 30 in 2021 thanks to a .691 of a point bump. Raytheon Professional Services even made its debut this year…reaching all the way to #31.
AN UPSET IN THE BOUTIQUE RANKING
The Vault Consulting 50 also keeps tabs on boutique firms, using a methodology that removes Prestige from the equation. This year, Vault used seven measures to evaluate boutiques: Firm Culture (25%), Satisfaction (20%), Work-Life Balance (20%), Level of Challenge (10%), Compensation (10%), Overall Business Outlook (10%), and Promotion Policies (5%).
Think ClearView Healthcare Partners is a shoo-in on this ranking. Guess again! ghSMART & Company, last year’s runner-up, actually placed 1st. Specializing in human capital and leadership, the 125-member firm ranked among the Top 20 in 19 Quality of Life and Work categories, including #1 in Work/Life Balance, Satisfaction, and Level of Challenge – which account for 50% of the weight. Oh, and it finished 2nd in Compensation, 6th in Promotion Policies, and #11 in both Firm Culture and Overall Business Outlook. In contrast, Clearview Healthcare Partners ranked #1 in Firm Culture, Overall Business Outlook and Promotion Policies – good for a 40% weight.
“[The] freedom and flexibility…is second to none,” writes one survey respondent on ghSMART. “There is never any pressure to do anything you don’t want to do, and there are always opportunities to grow and develop yourself however you see fit!”
That’s not to say the ranking won’t flip next year. After all, just two years ago, ghSMART ranked 4th and ClearView Healthcare Partners stood at 15th. Sure enough, the latter is looking forward to a record 2021. “We continue to maintain a thriving book of business in the COVID-19 era and have adapted to our clients’ needs remarkably well.”
Next Page: Practice Area Rankings and Interview with Stephen Maldonado