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The Best Boutique Consulting Firms
Build Great Cultures

best boutique consulting firm

When you think of low stress jobs, management consulting usually doesn’t spring to mind. But that’s how one employee described what it is like to work at Cornerstone Research.

The San Francisco-based firm, which specializes in consulting services for attorneys, took the top spot for boutiques in Ivy Exec’s first Best Consulting Firms to Work For rankings.

The survey asked about 3,000 consultants to rate the firms where they work or have recently worked. Respondents rated the firms in five areas: Work, Culture, Money, Leadership, and Prestige. They also provided confidential comments about their firms. Ivy Exec used a proprietary algorithm to create the rankings from those responses.

Vynamic, a healthcare consulting firm in Philadelphia, and Censeo Consulting Group, a Washington, D.C. firm whose clients are largely mission-driven companies, won second and third place in the rankings.

While working at Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Co., and McKinsey & Co.—the leaders among large companies—has plenty of upside, with high prestige and great pay among the benefits–boutique firms often provide better work/life balance. One big reason is that smaller firms often require their consultants to travel less frequently. Employees at Censeo, for example, say they travel about 15 percent of the time. That number was only 5 percent at Cornerstone.

The top boutiques in our survey appear committed to building positive workplace cultures. Several of the boutiques on the list are employee-owned, allow employees to make highly flexible schedules, and encourage employees to get involved in their communities. Third-place winner Vynamic has a policy of no email after 10 p.m. or on weekends. Teamwork, and team-building events are plentiful. A Censeo consultant described “frequent, high-quality social events.”

Consultants working at boutique firms seem to have found a way to work on interesting projects with great clients while leaving the airports behind.

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and, among others.