Top 50 Consulting Firms To Work For In 2021


Each year, Vault measures a facet of consulting that doesn’t appear in its main ranking: Practice Areas. To gauge market sentiment, Vault surveys respondents on the best firms in their area (with respondents barred from ranking their own firms). As part of this survey, consultants can list up to three firms per practice. Unlike the Prestige ranking, however, respondents don’t score firms using a 1-10 score. Instead, Vault indexes them based on the percentage of votes.

Like previous years, McKinsey is the big winner, ranking #1 in 10 areas, including the new Environmental Sustainability Consulting practice. Deloitte and Accenture each rank #1 in three categories, with Accenture topping the new Data Analytics Practices. Like years past, Lockheed Martin holds the top spot in Defense consulting. Here are the top performers in each practice area:

Economic Consulting: McKinsey & Company
Energy Consulting: McKinsey & Company
Environmental Sustainability Consulting: McKinsey & Company
Health Care Consulting: McKinsey & Company
Management Consulting: McKinsey & Company
Operations Consulting: McKinsey & Company
Pricing, Sales & Marketing Consulting: McKinsey & Company
Retail Consulting: McKinsey & Company
Strategy Consulting: McKinsey & Company
Technology, Media & Telecommunications Consulting: McKinsey & Company

Financial Consulting: Deloitte Consulting LLP
Human Resources Consulting: Deloitte Consulting LLP
Public Sector Consulting: Deloitte Consulting LLP

Data Analytics Consulting*: Accenture
IT Operations Consulting: Accenture
IT Strategy Consulting: Accenture

Defense Consulting: Lockheed Martin Corporation (IT Consulting)

While consultants don’t score Practice Areas for Vault, they do evaluate Quality of Life and Work measures. Here are the top performers in each of the 22 benchmarks.

Benefits: Boston Consulting Group
Compensation: Boston Consulting Group

Diversity: Putnam Associates
Health & Wellness: Putnam Associates

Exit Opportunities: McKinsey & Company
International Opportunities: McKinsey & Company

Informal Training: Bain & Company
Relationships with Supervisors: Bain & Company
Selectivity: Bain & Company

Interaction with Clients: ghSMART
Level of Challenge: ghSMART
Satisfaction: ghSMART

Internal Mobility: ClearView Healthcare Partners
Overall Business Outlook: ClearView Healthcare Partners
Promotion Policies: ClearView Healthcare Partners
Travel Requirements: ClearView Healthcare Partners
Firm Leadership: ClearView Healthcare Partners

Hours in the Office: Eagle Hill Consulting
Work/Life Balance: Eagle Hill Consulting
Firm Culture: The Keystone Group
Formal Training: Health Advances, LLC


Obviously, COVID changed the nature of consulting in areas like travel. What trends are emerging in the wake of the pandemic? Are they long-term adjustments or will their impacts fade as time passes? In addition, which consulting firms are based to capitalize on this brave new world? Here are some closing thoughts from Stephan Maldonado, the senior consulting editor at Vault:

“At this juncture, it’s hard to say which changes are long-term or not. I hate to use the phrase “new normal” because it’s been used ad nauseam, but I think we all know that things will never be quite the same as they were before. The industry is still reeling from the pandemic, and as the dust settles, firms are still determining how to chart a path forward.

Travel has changed, but so have other areas like training and professional development, client interactions, and office culture. These are all areas that we think most firms are going to be able to figure out in the coming months – especially those firms that were already embracing things like virtual training, local staffing, or lower-travel models, and less reliance on on-site facetime with clients. I really think that one of the biggest variables right now (and potential threats/opportunities) is on the industry-side of things: the unknown/developing effects of the pandemic on companies across sectors and how that may or may not impact firms’ ability to sell and retain business.

One trend we noticed in the feedback we received this year is that, among the larger firms, a diversified array of service offerings across numerous verticals is helping to mitigate some of the pandemic’s economic impact. Generalist firms can pivot with relative ease; where one practice is struggling, another may be experiencing significant growth. It may not be the most surprising takeaway, but there’s no denying that the larger firms are well-positioned to weather the turbulence.

That said, we also received plenty of feedback from consultants at more specialized outfits who reported that their firms are busier than ever. Bankruptcy and financial distress litigation, labor and employment, regulatory compliance – these areas are inherently counter-cyclical, so during a period of economic downturn like the one we’re currently experiencing, firms like NERA Economic Consulting or Cornerstone Research, are finding their services in high demand.

And of course, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the firm that scored the highest for Overall Business Outlook this year was a life science consultancy: ClearView Healthcare Partners. Health care and life sciences consulting is one area that would be in especially high demand during a pandemic, and specialist firms are poised to do well. There are two other life sciences boutiques in the Top 10 for this category, too: Blue Matter and Putnam Associates. Certain other industries to keep an eye on as the world rebounds from the pandemic: fintech, medtech, retail, e-commerce, supply chain management, and insurance.”

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