Best Consulting Firms To Work For In 2017

Putnam Associates

Putnam Associates


There was also a major shakeup in Vault’s ranking of boutique consulting firms, which tend to offer specialized services and greater flexibility, work-life balance and responsibility to new hires. Here, Putnam Associates, a 25 year-old strategic consulting firm that focuses on the medical industry, vaulted from being unranked as a boutique to the #1 spot. What’s more, it jumped from 32nd to 11th in the overall ranking as well. In fact, Putnam Associates ranked in the top 10 in 21 of 22 quality of work categories, missing the cut in just compensation and interaction with clients. More than that, it ranked as the top firm for compensation, internal mobility and innovation.

Unfortunately, the firm remains the best-kept secret in consulting, unable to rank among the top 30 firms in the all-important prestige scoring from peers (i.e. 30% of a ranking). If Putnam Associates had, it likely would have emerged as a top five firm. Undoubtedly, the needle is pointing up for Putnam, however. “Putnam is a really well-run boutique in the healthcare, pharma, lifesciences sector, which is booming right now,” explains Stott. “It’s got some really strong quality of life policies in place for employees and, because it’s been growing strongly, its compensation and benefits are up there with the best in the industry. All of that came through really strongly in the scores the firm received from its consultants this year.”

The boutique ranking also followed a similar pattern as the Consulting 50 ranking, with seven firms repeating in the top 10, with Eagle Hill Consulting holding the #2 spot for the second consecutive year, the Insight Sourcing Group falling from 1st to 3rd, and the Brattle Group and ClearView Health Partners each losing a spot to finish 4th and 5th.



Vault also ranked consulting firms in 13 different practice areas, with consultants able to vote for up to three firms (excluding their own) as being the best in each area. While McKinsey may be wrestling with some internal burnout and doubt, the larger marketplace still views them as the firm to beat. Not only did McKinsey carry the most prestige with consultants outside the firm, it ranked as the top firm in seven consulting areas: energy, economic, financial, healthcare, management, retail, and strategy. In fact, it was considered the undisputed king of management and strategy consulting, pulling down 78.88% and 69.4% of the vote respectively in those areas.

As expected, Accenture ruled both IT operations and IT strategy, with Lockheed Martin (aerospace and defense), Mercer (human resources), Deloitte (operations), and Booz Allen Hamilton (public sector) also topping their respective industries. In fact, the top vote-getters between 2016 and 2017 remained the same, making the voting either a reflection of continued excellence or a warning of how difficult it is to unseat hardened opinions about firms.


Despite the shakeup at the top with BCG, Stott views the 2017 Vault 50 Consulting ranking as a continuation of trends that have been emerging in recent years. “Firms are generally busy, and look set to continue that way for as long as the business cycle remains positive (hopefully for a long time to come!).”

Looking towards the 2018 rankings, Stott is tracking a few developments in the consulting industry, notably the frenzied pace and increased expectations placed on consultants. “I think the major trend in this year’s survey is how busy the industry has been the qualitative data really drove home that consulting services have been in huge demand recently, and firms seem to be struggling to hire enough people to keep up.”

He also believes quality of life benefits will continue to grow in importance as they become a differentiator between firms. “The other thing that we’ve been talking about internally,” Stott notes, “is how tight it is at the top of the ranking — we’ve never seen our top 3 firms separated by such small margins before, indicating that they’ve all really been focusing on quality of life in a way that wasn’t common in the industry in the past. If I had to guess, I’d say that increased competition for candidates from glamour industries like tech is what’s driving the shift; It’s pretty clear that we’re in an employees’ market right now… which in turn leads to competition to provide better conditions, which benefits everyone right through the industry.”

To See Vault Rankings For Practice Areas, Quality of Work and Life Rankings and Boutique Consulting Firms Rankings, Go To Next Page. 

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