The Big 3 Management Consulting Firms: An Expert's Perspective

The Big Three or MBB, short for McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Bain & Company, are the most prestigious firms in the Management Consulting industry. They are colloquially referred to as the “Big Three” or “MBB” and are renowned for their ability to send many successful applicants to the best business schools in the world and then hire many of their graduates. In terms of employees and revenues, McKinsey is the largest, followed by BCG and Bain & Company. Alumni of these firms include Mitt Romney, former presidential candidate of the United States, and Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard. McKinsey & Company prides itself on the diversity of its staff and offers paid summer internships for talented second-year students looking to enter the industry.

Boston Consulting Group has a reputation for being highly academically focused, hiring many of its graduates from prestigious universities. Bain & Company has a strong collegial environment, business environment and transparent management as key benefits of working at the firm. The Big Three have managed to create a virtuous circle that has protected them from competition until now. As a result of their increased prestige, they may demand higher rates. By inviting consultants to submit proposals, a CEO would expect McKinsey, BCG and Bain to be slightly more expensive than the rest of the group. McKinsey, BCG and Bain each have a slightly different approach to work.

But the one that is best known for its frameworks and methodology is probably BCG. McKinsey is known for its data-driven approach while Bain & Company is known for its focus on operational excellence. If you are interested in pursuing a career in business, you may have thought about applying for a consultant position in one of them. But a common piece of advice from companies is not to over-prepare. Year after year, a large number of ambitious MBA graduates enter the ranks of the Big Three consulting firms, eager for professional success and lucrative consultant salaries. The speed at which a new consultant can become a partner is usually faster in the 3 core companies (approximately 9 years) than in the large 4 (more than 15 years).

KPMG consultants are known to be very supportive of each other and the firm places a heavy emphasis on supervisors' feedback. If the idea of working for a growing “do it all” consulting firm enlightens you, Wavestone may be the company for you. With nearly $500 million in annual revenue, Wavestone is a major promising player in the & strategy implementation consulting space. The Bridgespan Group is another global consulting firm that collaborates with mission-driven leaders, organizations, philanthropists and investors to break cycles of poverty and dramatically improve the quality of life for those in need. There's a reason McKinsey, Bain and BCG are the best in the management consulting industry. They combine accounting and consulting expertise to provide expert advice to senior managers on M&A opportunities. They have been around the longest, have the most consulting staff, and their reach is the broadest.

Léo Poitevin
Léo Poitevin

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