McKinsey, BCG and Bain, also known as MBB, are universally recognized as the top three consulting firms in the world. They have been around for decades, and each of the three firms has developed its own culture. So what is really the difference in culture between McKinsey, Bain and BCG, or at least the people’s perception of it? This article hopes to shed some light on that.
McKinsey is the oldest of the three firms, and also the largest in size. Here are people’s common perception about Mckinsey.
McKinsey’s brand opens doors. Folks in the consulting world commonly agree that the McKinsey brand is one of the strongest brands in consulting as well as in the corporate world in general. Having a McKinsey stamp or a McKinsey brand on your resume easily opens you up to doors for other positions in other companies.
McKinsey has the premier client list and does the premier consulting work. Because McKinsey is probably one of the most renowned consulting firms as well as one that has been around the longest, consultants at McKinsey typically work with the premier clients and the biggest clients in the world. In the US, Mckinsey works with the top of the Fortune 500 companies. Globally, Mckinsey works with the Fortune Global 500 or the Fortune Global 2000 companies as well.
Out of the top three consulting firms, BCG is the one that is in the middle in many aspects. BCG has been around the second longest and is also the second in size behind Mckinsey. Here are some of the common perceptions that has been thrown around about BCG.
BCG has a collaborative culture. BCG is very well known for its PTO, Predictability Teamwork and Openness, which is a team working model that helps members of consulting project teams work together more efficiently and flow together better. Usually what happens is that a member outside the project team, called a PTO member, talks with individual project team members to help communicate some of the feedbacks between them that are not as easily communicable by the members themselves face to face.
BCG’s personalized staffing model is flexible to meet a consultant’s needs. BCG is known in the consulting world to have a very personalized staffing model. There is a very specialized staffing team that works with a BCG’er to make sure that the type of work, the location of work and the industry of the project fit that person’s needs. If a consultant has family or other issues that require him to be close to home, the personalized staffing model helps with that as well.
Bain is the youngest and the smallest in terms of size of the three consulting firms.
Bain is especially known for its home office model. Bain tends to base its employees at the home office and does not require employees to travel around the lot. This is special about Bain compared to BCG or Mckinsey, as the consultants at the other two firms do need to travel significantly from Monday through Thursday. The home office model is liked by consultants of the firm who cherish the extra time for better work-life balance, but is also disliked by consultants who would prefer travel.
Bain is the consulting firm for PE work. Another notion thrown around a lot in the consulting circle is that when private equity companies are doing due diligence work to analyze an acquisition targets, Bain is the go-to company. There is probably some truth to this, as by many accounts consultants at Bain are on a rotation for PE projects every few months. Due to the fact that PE projects are very time consuming and can have very long hours with a lot of stress on the consultants, Bain’ers often are on a rolling basis to be assigned to work on these projects
So these are the common perceptions of the top three consulting firms.
Of course, the top three consulting firms are very similar in many ways. They hire the most elite people and offer very competitive pay. While many of these perceptions can probably be applied to more than one of the top three firms, these perceptions do represent each firm’s special point or special culture. And of course, getting into any one of them sets you up for success in your career.