Top 50 Consulting Firms To Work For In 2024

Would you rather be a big fish in a small MBA pond or a small fish in a big pond?


Small, but mighty – the boutique consulting firms. What are they exactly? Well, Vault defines them as “narrower in focus and smaller in size than the larger generalist firms that can offer advice across a wide range of practice areas and industries.” More than that, Vault adds, these specialized boutiques offer a better balance than their generalist counterparts, where new hires are often “expected to rotate through a variety of practice areas in your first two years.”

In the Vault Consulting 50, boutique firms are included in the main ranking. You’ll even find ghSMART & Company among the Top 5 there. Due to their unique nature, boutiques must be evaluated amongst themselves too. That requires a different methodology – one that erases the Prestige factor that gives larger incumbents an advantage in the general ranking.

Rather than measure different dimensions, Vault’s Boutique Ranking uses the same ones and just changes weights. Here, Firm Culture carries the most weight at 25% — up from the 15% it holds in the Vault Consulting 50. Satisfaction’s weight rises from 15% to 20%, while Work-Life Balance jumps 10 points to 20%. That said, the weights of Level of Challenge and Compensation remains fixed at 10% each. The same is true of Promotion Policies’ 5% share, though Business Outlook’s weight doubles to 10%.

The result? ghSMART duplicates Bain’s feat of holding the top spot for four consecutive years!


How dominant was ghSMART? It racked up #1 rankings in seven dimensions: Compensation, Hours in the Office, Interaction with Clients, Internal Mobility, Level of Challenge, Promotion Policies, and Satisfaction.  To put that number in perspective, Bain achieved three first-place scores in three Quality of Work and Life Dimensions – and BCG didn’t even make it to #1 in any category.

As the high scores attest, ghSMART consultants have fully bought into what management is selling. In the Vault survey, one anonymous consultant listed off the best parts of the firm experience: “High impact, really meaty challenges and deep human engagement–all the while being well-compensated.” Another respondent urges prospective consultants to start at another major strategy firm before joining the firm to “build basic business acumen.” And a third consultant channels E.F. Hutton when describing the firm’s value proposition.

“ghSMART pioneered leadership advisory and remains the undisputed industry leader. What ghSMART does in the market, others follow.”

In surveys with ghSMART consultants, they cite the personalized pace, less “up-or-out” and more you earn based on “how much and how well [you] deliver work.“

“You get paid for how much value you add for our clients,” adds another consultant. “Many of us now earn more than our former colleagues who are still at MBB firms.”

ghSMART consultants are equally bullish on their training. “We have the best apprenticeship model in the industry,” adds another survey-taker. “Senior partners work with first years. New consultants have senior client exposure from month one. We have a very clear and transparent promotion process based on outcomes, not networking.”


Aminad Consulting, last year’s #2 in Vault’s Boutique Consulting Ranking, held onto its spot. OC&C Strategy Consultants leaped from 22nd to 3rd. Putnam Associates and SciVida, which ranked 14th and 11th respectively in last year’s Boutique Ranking, round out the Top 5.

Overall, 7 of last year’s Top 10 firms dropped out of that spot. Notably, Kenway Consulting fell from 3rd to 12th, while Eagle Hill plummeted from 5th to 25th. What’s more, Back Bay Life Sciences Advisor, last year’s #4 firm, fell off the ranking altogether.

That said, they could be back soon. After all, the field has been red hot in recent years, says Maria Ho, Vault’s head of research. “Among boutique firms, life sciences-focused consultancies made strong upward moves in the rankings. Life sciences-focused firms that improved their rankings in the boutique category include: Putnam, SciVida, Epsilon Economics & Epsilon Life Sciences, and LifeSci Consulting. Life sciences companies have unique, complicated issues—regulatory, patent-related, scientific, marketing, M&A, issues—that often require the help of consultants.”

Next Page: Historical Comparison - Bain, McKinsey, and BCG

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