The MBB: McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group.
The best people, the best projects, the best pay. The widest practices and deepest resources. Expertise and prestige. Influence and impact. Alumni and clients who shape industry and policy. Opportunity and possibilities galore for ambitious graduates.
Traditionally, the MBB sat atop of the Vault Consulting 50 Ranking – the gold standard for measuring which consulting firms possess the best industry reputations and provide the best experiences to employees. In 2024, the M is missing from the MBB in the Vault Consulting 50 Ranking.
MISSING THE MCKINSEY MYSTIQUE
Yes, Bain & Company has ranked #1 for the 4th consecutive year in 2024. However, the result feels a bit hollow with McKinsey & Company missing from the list. The Boston Consulting Company again finished as the runner-up – a spot it has claimed for 5 of the last 7 years in the Vault Consulting 50. That said, McKinsey’s absence has created a vacuum – one filled by Alvarez & Marsal, a firm that ranked 22nd just four years ago. ghSMART, which finished 20th in 2020, clawed its way to 4th in 2024. At the same time, Oliver Wyman, a Top 10 stalwart which was unranked last year, returned to snag the 5th spot.
Talk about a memorable ranking!
What happened to McKinsey? That’s hard to say. Vault itself has directed readers to its participation policy: “Some years, firms choose not to participate, for whatever reason, which may explain why they don’t appear in the Consulting 50 or Quality of LIfe Rankings. Firms may also be excluded from these rankings if they participate but don’t meet the minimums participant counts or don’t score highly enough on Quality of Life. As far as the Practice Area Rankings, all firms, regardless if they distribute the survey internally or not, indicate to us which practice areas they want to be considered for, and firms may change their selections from year to year.”
Indeed, McKinsey was sliding downward in 2023, posting lower scores in every Quality of Work and Life dimension against the previous year. That’s not to say McKinsey’s presence wasn’t felt in the 2024 Vault Consulting 50. The firm still ranked 1st in Prestige according to competing firms’ consultants. Even more, McKinsey was listed as the top consulting firm in nearly two-thirds of the practice areas measured by Vault! In other words, McKinsey may be enduring a down cycle, but the firm has the fundamentals in place to quickly return to the top.
“The firm is doing a great job of constantly reinventing itself and innovating in areas of growth (for example digital and sustainability),” writes one anonymous McKinsey consultant surveyed by Vault. “It can be sometimes slower than first movers but tends to innovate in a thoughtful manner and has a strong track record of success with innovations (transformation, operations, design, sustainability).”
THE MEASURES THAT MATTER
This year’s results were released on February 7th, representing the 18th year of the Vault Consulting 50. The ranking is produced by Vault. An infobase platform, Vault collects employee reviews to produce rankings and company profiles in the banking, consulting, legal, and accounting sectors. In addition, Vault delivers career advice in everything from internships to employment, as well as two dozen career guides that cover industries (including hospitality, real estate, and media and entertainment), job hunting (resumes, networking, and interviewing), and education (college readiness, graduate school, MBA).
This fall, Vault surveyed consultants from over a hundred top firms, ultimately surveying 8,000 North American consultants. Using a scale ranging from 1 to 10 – where 10 is the highest possible score – Vault had consultants evaluate their own firm across 19 Quality of Work and Life dimensions and 6 Diversity measures. Using this same scale, consultants rated their peer firms for Prestige. Overall, consulting firms are evaluated against 7 of the 19 Quality of Work and Life dimensions (plus Prestige). Vault also publishes separate rankings for Prestige, Boutique Firms, and Practice Areas.
These rankings are designed to measure what matters most to consultants. Like last year, Vault notes that Culture ranks as the top priority for consultants, garnering a 40% share of first place votes. Beyond Culture, the survey sample also listed Prestige, Work-Life balance, and Practice Strength among their other priorities. At the same time, Satisfaction and Career Progress continue to gain momentum among consultants in Vault’s recent survey, which aligns with the previous year’s result.
Click on the links below for in-depth analysis and ranking tables for each area of the Vault Consulting 50.
Next Page: Why Bain Ranked #1
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