Best Consulting Firms To Work For In 2018

Insight Sourcing Group consultants playing foosball in the office.


How is this for a Pyrrhic victory? While Putnam Associates continued to boost its stature among the big consulting firms, it actually lost its top spot in Vault’s Best Boutique Consulting Firms ranking, That honor belongs to the Insight Sourcing Group (ISG), a strategic sourcing and procurement consulting firm whose clients range from iHeart Media to Aaron’s. Think of ISG as the boutique niche’s answer to McKinsey, ranking in Top 10 in 20 of 22 Quality of Work and Life categories.

What’s more, ISG topped all firms in five of these, including big picture measures like Innovation, Business Outlook, Leadership, and Job Satisfaction. Despite this, ISG overtook Putnam Associates by just .027 of a point, a margin far smaller than the .078 of a point that separates McKinsey from BCG. That said, ISG’s score (9.605) is actually higher than McKinsey (9.296), though the boutique market’s metrics exclude Prestige and give greater sway to Culture, Satisfaction, and Work-Life Balance.

At the same time, Clearview Health Partners continued its climb to the Boutique peak, rising to 3rd after being unranked just four years ago. CHP actually finished second to ISP in both Leadership and Business Outlook, while earning the highest marks for Travel Requirements. The Bridgespan Group and the Brattle Group rounded out the Boutique Top 5, with the Ignyte Group crashing the party at 6th and Eagle Hill Consulting plummeting from 2nd to 7th.


Vault doesn’t just rank consulting firms by Prestige or Quality of Work and Life. It also polls consultants on 13 practice areas ranging from traditional management and strategy consulting to practices catering to information technology and the military. This way, consultants can vote on up to three firms (excluding their own) with the ranking tagged to percentage of responses.

Deloitte volunteers at their annual Impact Day

By far, McKinsey earned the most responses. It topped the list in eight industries, up one from the year before, with its dominance stretching from Financial Services and Economics to Energy and Healthcare. Not surprisingly, McKinsey also heads the all-important Management Consulting category, nabbing 71.09% of the votes compared to BCG (63.91%) and Bain & Company (58.68%). In Strategy Consulting, it polled 79.66% of the votes, with BCG (74.05%) and Bain & Company (66.94%) also garnering heavy attention. Even more, McKinsey knocked Deloitte Consulting out of the top spot in Operations consulting by a narrow 38.45%-to-36.71% margin.

Such voting, however, doesn’t necessarily reflect expertise. Instead, it is a measure of branding informed by some experience. As a result, the industry rankings tend to remain relatively steady year-over-year.  In the Military niche for example, Lockheed Martin again headed the list, upping its vote total from 48.23% to 50.48%. Human Resources consulting remained Mercer’s domain, while Accenture continued to successfully defend its IT operations and IT Strategy consulting practices from IBM Global Services — at least when it comes to popular perception. At the same time, Booz Allen Hamilton remained the big name in public sector consulting, with over half of the votes.

In the big scheme, the larger and more versatile firms enjoy an undisputed advantage in industry polling. McKinsey, of course, ranks among the Top 5 in 11 of the 13 industries surveyed by Vault. Deloitte Consulting, which falls just outside the Big Three, produced 10 Top finishes in votes cast. Bain and BCG were no slouches either, ranking among the five best in 8 and 7 categories respectively.

Go To Next Page to See Industry Rankings

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.