The gold standard in consulting is making it through the doors at one of MBB: McKinsey & Co, Bain & Co and the Boston Consulting Group. They're seen as the most prestigious firms to work for, and the most difficult to get in to. And yet, more people would rather work for the Big Four.
PwC leapfrogged McKinsey as the employer of choice among consultants and other professional services firms, according to the 2017 eFinancialCareers Ideal Employer ranking, and beats all the other Big Four firms. Generally, though, people prefer Big Four firms over large management consultants, our results suggest. The Big Four hegemony is broken up only by McKinsey, last year’s winner, which has been relegated to third this year.
PwC has traditionally been the largest Big Four firm by revenue, but the $35.9bn it generated in 2016 was surpassed by Deloitte’s $36.8bn. Deloitte is also biggest in terms of employees, as the chart below shows. EY, meanwhile, is bigger than KPMG in revenue terms – with $29.6bn in revenues compared to $25.4bn – but it remains a less popular employer in our rankings.
People voting for Big Four firms as their employer of choice are not looking for big pay packets. Compared to investment banks, where money was both expected and desired among our respondents, just 59% of respondents said they anticipated a big salary from PwC and 43% expected a big bonus. These figures were 55% and 42% respectively at Deloitte.
There’s a mismatch between what people expect and what they want, however. 80% of respondents voting for Deloitte and PwC said that pay was an important factor in their choice of employer.
But you’re unlikely to go hungry working for the Big Four. Figures from pay benchmarking website Emolument suggest that the Big Four pay their first year strategy consultants and auditors between £34-37k, with PwC offering marginally more than the competition. Partner pay can stretch into seven figures, however.
By contrast, despite McKinsey’s fall from the top spot, there’s a much more positive perception of pay there. 80% of people who voted for the firm said they expected a good salary – this is more than most top investment banks – although just 56% said they’d expect a big bonus.
People expect to work all hours in investment banking, but our ranking also suggested that few people choosing Big Four firms think they'll be getting out out of the office early. Just 28% said that manageable working hours was a strength for PwC and 32% of Deloitte voters said the same.
This (just) beats the top banks on our list, but don’t expect an easy ride at a Big Four firm. Professional services firms parachute their employees into client locations, and these means both long hours and days away from home. 9-5 it is not.
So, why do people want to work for big professional services firms? Quite simply, it appears to be the nature of the work. Interesting work was the top strength for both PwC and Deloitte (70% for both). People also cited working with key industry players and the opportunities for promotion as being selling points for the firm.
Even here, though, the Big Four was blown out of the water by McKinsey and other large strategy consulting firms. 84% of people who voted for McKinsey said that they expected challenging or interesting work – more than any other top firm in this year’s ranking, and 93% of people said it was something they wanted from their employer. These figures were also high at Boston Consulting Group – 79% and 91% respectively.
The Big Four beat strategy consultants on a lot of 'softer' criteria in our survey. For example, 55% of people who voted for PwC said that it has a good culture, compared to 50% of those who chose McKinsey. Meanwhile, 50% of PwC voters suggested that the firm was progressive on issues like diversity, while 39% of respondents who named Mckinsey as an employer of choice said the same. These issues might not seem like a big deal to investment bankers - who are more motivated by what they can earn - but they're important factors to people who chose Big Four firms. 80% of people who voted for PwC said that culture was important to them - far more than any investment bank in our rankings.
In other words, more people want to work for Big Four firms than another other professional services companies, but strategy consultants like BCG and Mckinsey maintain a certain cerebral allure.
View the complete 2017 Ideal Employer Rankings