Top 50 Consulting Firms To Work For In 2023

Bain consultants meeting in a lobby


Last year, just .001 of a point separated Bain & Company from McKinsey in the Vault Consulting 50. Back then, McKinsey appeared poised to reclaim the top spot that it held from 2018-2020? This year, there weren’t any shouldas, wouldas, or couldas. Bain didn’t just hold onto the #1 ranking – they further separated themselves from the pack!

Call it a David and Goliath story. The small and mighty Bain – with half the staff and offices of either McKinsey or the Boston Consulting Group – proved again that culture is king. Long known as the “fun” firm with the “work hard play hard” lifestyle, Bain’s office-centric, results-driven approach continues to set the bar for the industry and pay dividends for clients ad employees alike.

If you ask consultants to identify what makes Bain so special, you’ll hear terms like buy-in, training, and relationship-building. According to one consultant surveyed by Vault, the real differentiator is something that’s more difficult to achieve – and near impossible to maintain: Consistency.


“A lot of consulting firms feel like individual fiefdoms where local Partners have autonomy and create major variances in both client service and employee experience,” the consultant writes. “Bain has a high level of coordination from regional and global firm leadership that helps it create a consistent experience. I have now worked across multiple offices. In each, the expectations for teams, performance and client delivery have been the same. From the client perspective, this means they can expect the same great work regardless of where they are and which Partners / teams serve them.”

You’ll find this same Bain consistency reflected in the Vault Consulting 50. Like last year’s consultant surveys, Bain produced the highest average scores in Informal Training, Internal Mobility, and Relationships with Supervisors. The firm also replicated its 2nd place finish in Firm Culture, Formal Training, Health and Wellness, Satisfaction, and Selectivity.

So how did Bain & Company hold onto the top spot this year? On the surface, the firm starts out at a disadvantage. Prestige accounts for 30% of the Vault Consulting 50 weight – and Bain ranks behind McKinsey and BCG in that measure. However, Bain makes up much of that ground by ranking 2nd – and ahead of McKinsey and BCG – in both Firm Culture and Satisfaction (which combined make up the same 30% as Prestige). Bain also scores higher than BCG and McKinsey in both Work-Life Balance and Level of Challenge – a combined 20% weight. While BCG bests Bain in average scores in both Business Outlook and Promotion Policies, those dimensions combined only amount to a 10% weight.

Game, set, match – Bain!


Unlike peer firms, Bain & Company never averaged below a 9.0 in any Work and Life measure. The firm’s lowest score? A 9.151 in Innovation. The highest score? A 9.888 in Informal Training (with Formal Training coming in at 9.716).

“Can’t say enough about the training,” notes one consultant surveyed by Vault. “Robust during lockdown and now even better back in person!”

That training is reinforced by ongoing support adds another consultant. ““At Bain, career development is very structured. At every step of the way you know where you stand and what is required of you to reach the next level. Performance reviews, upward feedbacks and informal feedback are taken very seriously and performed several times a year. Moreover, there are formal trainings associated with each career level where you get exposed to the critical skills you need to perform to your full potential. In addition, with training venues being global you get to interact and network with consultants from multiple offices.”

A healthier Work-Life Balance is also emphasized at Bain. One consultant celebrated how consultants are traveling every 3-4 weeks instead of the pre-pandemic 3 days per week on-site expectation. This change has dovetailed well with Bain’s vaunted home office model that enables consultants to develop greater chemistry by interacting with each other more regularly. Not surprisingly, Bain also scores high in Client Interactions (9.762) and Relationships With Supervisors (9.782).


“In a post-pandemic world, Bain’s local staffing model is the most sustainable and economical. Instead of staffing a team from around the country and having the team all fly to co-locate, Bain teams are already all in the same city. This saves clients money, saves employees the travel time, and saves carbon emissions from travel. Teams only travel when it is necessary and helpful to engage with clients.”

While Bain & Company ranks among the best in every Work and Life dimension, that doesn’t mean they should stand pat. One consultant surveyed suggests that the firm needs to adapt better to the times. “One area where I think Bain needs to pay attention is on specialization. Right now, consultants are generalists until they become senior managers. But every aspect of the functional areas we operate in (e.g.: digital marketing, environmental sustainability, data analytics) is becoming increasingly nuanced and complex and it will be challenging for industry and function-agnostic consultants to keep being relevant in the long term.”

Alas, Bain & Company has been aggressively building technical teams and experts to support the generalist consultants through hiring and acquisitions. The results speak for themselves, adds another survey respondent from Bain. “We are in a very strong position that we have strengthened in the past 5 years. We have expanded our ecosystem dramatically, engaged multiple different sources of talent, continue to compete effectively for the best talent, and continue to outperform out competitors on culture and people experience. We have increasingly deep spikes in specific industries/capabilities.”

Next Page: Why The Boston Consulting Group Ranked #2

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