Three years is a long time to wait. Over that time, Bain & Company has been busy. The firm invested heavily in its greatest strength: people. It doubled-down on its 24-carat training and mentoring programs. It continued to recruit and groom talented problem-solvers. Most of all, Bain maintained its culture, one that demands excellence, respects personal time, and fosters a fun-loving team spirit that’s the envy of companies everywhere.
Bain & Company’s efforts paid off big time in this year’s Vault Consulting 50. The gold standard for ranking consulting firms, the 2021 edition features firm evaluations from over 16,000 verified North American consultants. Today (January 13th), Vault announced a changing of the guard as Bain earned the #1 spot after a three-year hiatus. The Boston Consulting Group snapped up the #2 spot for the third time in four years. By the same token, McKinsey & Co., plagued with a surfeit of bad press in recent years, dropped from 1st to 3rd after sitting atop the ranking since 2018
PRESTIGE, SATISFACTION, CULTURE, PAY
Until recent years, Bain and McKinsey played the equivalent to hot potato with the #1 spot in the Vault Consulting 50. Bain had ranked 1st in 2017, 2015, 2013, 2012, and 2011, with McKinsey knocking them out in 2016 and 2014. While the MBB – or should we say the BBM – has essentially squatted on the Top Three over the past decade, there was also several movements to note in the Vault Consulting 50 in 2021. Over the past two years, Booz Allen Hamilton – public sector royalty – has climbed from 21st to 4th. The Parthenon Group, a strategy arm of Ernst & Young, finally completed its long March into the Top 5. At the same time, both Oliver Wyman and Deloitte Consulting, which had been lodged in either the 4th and 5th spots for the past three years, tumbled out of the Top 5 altogether. On top of that, boutique wunderkind ClearView Healthcare Partners broke into the Top 10 at #7 – a far cry from its #24 ranking just two years ago.
You can think of the Vault Consulting 50 as a ‘State of the Industry’ – a once-a-year assessment of roughly 130 consulting firms. In this annual survey, which was pushed back from August to January, consultants score employers and competitors on a variety of measures using a 10-point scale (with a 10 being exceptional).The survey is issued by Vault Career Intelligence. An infobase company, Vault collects market intelligence to supply employer ratings, reviews, and employment opportunities in industries like consulting, banking, law, and technology.
In the Vault Consulting 50, respondents complete three surveys. In the first, survey-takers evaluate their current employer on the 1-10 scale in 22 Quality of Life and Employment Factors, including Compensation, Work-Life Balance, Business Outlook, Firm Leadership, Promotion Policies, and Training. In addition, the survey asks respondents (using the same scale) to evaluate the prestige of their competitors. Finally, survey respondents score direct competitors in 17 practice areas, such as Strategy, Data Analytics, Sustainability, Operations, Healthcare, and Financial Services.
Prestige accounts for 30% of a firm’s weighted score. Overall Satisfaction and Firm Culture take up 15% each. Another 30% is divvied up evenly between responses to Compensation, Work-Life-Balance, and Level of Challenge. Two remaining measures, Business Outlook and Promotion Policies, take up 5% each.
Overall, the Vault Consulting 50 firms in 42 different, including a separate ranking of boutique consulting firms.
Click on the links below for in-depth analysis and ranking tables for each area of the Vault Consulting 50.