The Best Consulting Firms to Work For

best consulting

For the first time, Ivy Exec asked the people who know best—consultants—which firms they consider the best.

While employees at some of the well known firms do say their companies deserve their prestigious reputations, some of the happiest consultants are working at firms that you may not have heard about.

About 3,000 consultants at large and boutique firms were asked to rate the firms where they work or have recently worked. Respondents ranked the firms in five areas: work, culture, money, leadership, and prestige. They also provided confidential comments about their firms.

View the Top Consulting Firm rankings here.

Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, and McKinsey & Co. won the top three spots among large companies.

Among boutique firms—those with fewer than 1,000 employees–Cornerstone Research, Vynamic, and Censeo Consulting Group grabbed the top three spots.

“Our survey offers insight into which firms consultants themselves consider the best in terms of prestige, quality of their work, and compensation, and also in regard to culture, perks, and quality of life, “ said Elena Bajic, founder and CEO of Ivy Exec. “Those interested in starting or advancing careers in management consulting will find this insider’s view highly valuable in determining which firm is best for them.”

BCG inched out its main competitors by taking the top spot in four of the five rating areas–prestige, leadership, culture, and money. It ranked third for work/life satisfaction. While employees said they worked very long hours, they praised the firm’s culture, describing it as highly supportive of people and their ideas.

The smaller firms that climbed to the top of the rankings did so largely on the strength of their workplace cultures. Management consulting is not generally considered a low-stress career, but that is how one employee described working at Cornerstone Research, a Washington, D.C. firm that specializes in working with law firms.

Many of the boutique firms also don’t require their consultants to travel as often as most of the large firms do. Employees at Cornerstone, for example, said they travel about 5 percent of the time. Several of the boutiques on the list were employee-owned, allow employees to make highly flexible schedules, and encourage employees to get involved in the community. Second-place winner Vynamic, a health care consulting firm in Philadelphia, has a policy of no email after 10 p.m. or on weekends–one aspect of what appears a very healthy culture.

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.