The Ultimate Guide on Different Consulting Firms (MBB, Big4, IT, Boutique) #4

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Ever wondered what kind of consulting firms are out there and what they actually do? Well, wonder no more!

In This Week’s Blog We Will Explore:

#1 The different kind of consulting firms and why it matters


#2 MBB (Mckinsey and co, Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group)


#3 The Big 4 (Pricewaterhouse Coopers, KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young)


#4 IT & Digital Consulting (Accenture, Capgemini, Infosys, Tata Consulting Services)


#5 Boutique Consulting firms

#1 The different kind of consulting firms and why it matters

All consulting firms are not equal, therefore you must understand the differences before embarking on your career journey with them. There’ll be a large contrast between work/life balance and the expectation(s) of the type of work that you will do.


It’s ideal to know what they specialise in so that you can start shaping your career from an earlier onset.


Note: the experience that you acquire at a consulting firm will be second to none. This will certainly propel your career forward. In addition, if you did end up at the “wrong group”, you’ll be able to correct your course fairly quickly. As they say, there are no failures, just learnings!


Below are the key players in the industry by consulting groups:


Consulting Groups

Example Firms


Mckinsey & Co.

Bain & Company

Boston Consulting Group

Big 4

Pricewaterhouse Coopers



Ernst & Young

IT & Digital Consulting




Tata Consulting Services



Abbott Risk Consulting

I’ve chosen some known boutiques as an example, and as you can imagine, there are hundreds of other firms offering specialised services.

You can’t be a true consultant if you don’t create a Venn diagram to explain your point of view (if you know, you know):


Again, this is a high-level view, there are more overlaps than ever before between each of the consulting firms. And with the digital transformation boom, the lines have truly blurred!


PS the reason to ignore boutique consulting in these diagrams, is because they specialise individually in some of these areas.


Let’s learn a bit more about them!

The experience that you acquire at a consulting firm will be second to none......💭

#2 MBB (Mckinsey and co, Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group)

These three companies are top tier consulting firms, mainly focusing on strategy and advisory to one of the largest private corporations and government entities.


They’re fairly established and have built up their reputation in delivering game-changing strategies which are then implemented by either other consulting groups or by the organisation themselves.


These top-tier firms have a certain prestige and history that is recognised across the globe, especially in MBA circles.


Fundamentally, they had been providing strategy services, but due to the digitisation boom, they are also now involved in the execution of strategies.


Some interesting notable alumni from MBB include Sundar Pichai (Google CEO), Indra Nooyi (Pepsico CEO) and Mitt Romney (US Presidential candidate)

#3 Big 4 (PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young)

The so-called Big 4 accounting giants. They have a wide-ranging offering across Accounting, Tax, Restructuring, Mergers & Acquisitions and of course Consulting.


Compared to 20 years ago, their consulting arms have grown significantly, and they now easily overlap with MBB and IT consulting in some areas.


This means that they are not just the first choice for finance and accounting graduates; but also, for computer science and MBA graduates.


Like MBB, they have a rich history with many notable mergers to make them the giant they are now.


Their notable alumni include, Phil Knight (co-founder of Nike Inc.), Ed Bastian (CEO of Delta Airlines) and Jan Peter Balkenende (former PM of Netherlands).

#4 IT & Digital Consulting

There’s a number of firms in this space and there’s a good amount of competition from the Indian giants Infosys, TCS, Wipro etc.


Accenture incorporated in Dublin and Capgemini is incorporated in Paris. Both of which are well-known western organisations with a huge employee presence in India.


A huge drive for digitisation across the globe has attributed to the success of these firms. Additionally, they face competition from the professional services arms of major vendors. Such as, IBM services or Amazon Web Services who are notable contenders in this field.


The services offered by these giants could be large scale implementations or owning the enterprises’. This provides cost savings in comparison to having in-house teams.


Their notable alumni include Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft) and Joe Forehand (Board of Directors First Data and many other CEOs of start-ups)

#5 Boutique Consulting

There’s thousands of firms in this space and some very successful in their specialisation. Boutique consulting are generally founded by ex-consultants from the aforementioned 3 consulting groups. As they have the learnt tricks of the trade, so to speak, whilst using their network to manage and land some fairly sizeable clients.


Boutique consulting tends to be cheaper in comparison with the big players due to their lower running cost(s). However, this isn’t strictly true when it comes to operations consulting, as “economies of scale” of the giants far outweighs the specialisation of boutique consulting.


The services offered vary as specialisation could range from Data & Analytics to Business Transformation consulting. Some of these firms rely on the independent consultant market as having a huge resource pool is counterproductive to their growth strategy.


Like many of the founders, individuals leaving from the larger consulting firms, tend to join the boutique consulting to further specialise in their area of expertise. Sometimes boutique consulting also have a more relaxed working culture and better work/life balance.


In conclusion, I believe it’s important to do what you love and having climbed the ladder in consulting, it’s even more important as you’ll spend most of your life at work.


Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.


If you’re interested in learning about whether a career in consulting right for you, check out my other article. Is a Job in Consulting Right for you?.


I hope this blog has been insightful and has helped answer some of your questions about consulting. If you’d like to be kept informed of more great content like this, subscribe to my newsletter.


And what is the one thing you’ve learnt from this blog?

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Hanzala Qureshi

Hanzala Qureshi

I’m a digital consultant at a leading consultancy firm. I mostly spend my life working on complex data projects. On this website I document my journey in consulting and thoughts on data & emerging technologies.

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