It doesn’t get any closer than this.
.001 of a point.
It’s insignificant, a rounding error. And yet it was all that separated Bain and McKinsey in this year’s Vault Consulting 50. Call in every cliché: Margins are slim and you lose by inches. In the end, all that separated Big Red from True Blue was a thousandth of a point.
Advantage: Bain & Company.
Yes, winners are remembered and revered. They are treated as standard bearers who personify the values and traditions of their profession. Finish second? Your mind endlessly loops those tiny mistakes. Worse, every well-wisher encourages you to “build on the positives.” For McKinsey, the Vault Consulting 50 represents a bevy of positives. It remains the envy of the industry — by a wider margin than ever according to survey respondents. The firm’s scores improved in nearly measure — and even eclipsed Bain in several categories. Despite closing the gap, McKinsey fell just short, a result that could’ve easily been altered by a few tweaks to its scores (or Vault’s methodology).
HOW FIRMS ARE EVALUATED
Lost amid this tight margin is the Boston Consulting Group, which slipped a spot to 3rd despite across-the-board improvements. At the same time, the Bridgespan Group vaulted (pun) eight spots into the Top 5 — a feat nearly matched by Kearney. Their advances came at the expense of Deloitte Consulting, which has plunged from 11th to 4th in just two years. And Clearview Partners, once a darling to its employees, tumbled 10 spots to 17th.
In the end, you could say the MBB — or BMB — stuck together at the top of the Vault Consulting 50, while 26 firms are clustered within a point of each other below. How does that happen? It helps to look at the methodology. First, the Vault Consulting 50 is treated as the “gold standard” for evaluating consulting firms. Here, survey respondents — North American consultants at over 130 firms — assess their employers on 20 measures. They include areas like Pay and Benefits, Outlook and Leadership, Health and Work-Life Balance, and Training and Promotion Opportunities. From there, these survey-takers turn around and grade rival firms on their Prestige. Beyond that, they rate competitors in over a dozen practice areas, ranging from Energy to Strategy Consulting. In the cases of Prestige and Practice, respondents may not score their own firms.
The ranking was started in 2007 by Vault Career Intelligence. This firm has since emerged as Firsthand, an Infobase company that gathers market intelligence to produce employer ratings, reviews, and employment opportunities in industries like banking, consulting, and law. Overall, 17,000 consultants completed this year’s Vault Consulting 50 survey, which was released on February 15th. This represents over a thousand more participants from the year before. To complete the survey, respondents rate firms on a 10-point scale, where 10 is the highest possible score. In Vault’s formula, Prestige accounts for 30% of the ranking weight. Firm Culture and Satisfaction each account for 15% of a firm’s overall score, followed by Compensation, Work-Life Balance, and Level of Challenge at 10% a piece. Business Outlook and Promotion Policy scores were divvied up equally at 5%. These weights remain consistent from the previous year.
In the end, the Vault Consulting 50 provides an inside look at how employees view the strengths of their firms — and how firms view their rivals’ capabilities and positioning, Even more, Vault historical data, which is collected by P&Q, reflects how firm scores have shifted over the past five years. In the process, readers can get beyond reputations to see quantitatively where firms are surging and stagnating.
Click on the links below for in-depth analysis and ranking tables for each area of the Vault Consulting 50.
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