RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP STRATEGY CONSULTING FIRMS
Intro: Finding the Best Strategy Consulting Firms
Picking the right strategy consulting firm for your business can be tricky and time-consuming, especially when you’re not completely sold on the idea of outsourcing your company’s problem-solving.
No matter what kind of services you are looking for, you’ll want to ensure that you choose the best strategy consultancy for your needs.
But what is strategy consulting, exactly? How do you know which firm is the right choice for you? What do the best strategy consulting firms have in common?
If you’re looking for advice on the top strategy consulting firms, read on—our list of the best strategy consulting companies will give you all the information you need to choose the identify the best strategy consulting firms for your needs.
Award Emblem: Top 11 Best Strategy Consulting Firms
Top 11 Best Strategy Consulting Firms (& 1 to Avoid) | Brief Comparison & Ranking
Strategy Consulting Firms
|Accenture||Commitment to conducting transformative, in-depth research|
|Analysis Group||Emphasis on affiliations with industry, government, & academic experts|
|Bain & Company||Multi-faceted approach to strategy consulting|
|Boston Consulting Group||Provides consulting services across multiple strategic environments|
|Cornerstone Research||Access to industry experts & specific, streamlined services|
|Deloitte Consulting||Expert strategy consulting services backed by an inclusive, diverse culture|
|McKinsey & Company||Strong research initiatives on global & workplace development|
|Oliver Wyman||Dedication to supporting sustainability & environmentally friendly practices|
|Strategy&||All-inclusive strategy consulting services|
|A.T. Kearney||Unique approach through five key management issues|
|PricewaterhouseCoopers||Focus on helping companies understand their customer base|
|Ernst & Young||Numerous legal issues point to a lack of follow through on firm values|
Table: Top 11 Best Strategy Consulting Firms (& 1 to Avoid) | Above list is sorted by rating
What is Strategy Consulting?
What is strategy consulting? How can you benefit from a strategy consulting firm? Before seeking the advice of a strategy consulting company, it’s important to understand the unique benefits that they can offer.
Strategy consultants use analysis, experience, and industry knowledge to provide valuable insight and suggestions, ultimately helping clients optimize their day-to-day decision-making process.
Certain decisions can make or break a company, which is why seeking business strategy consulting could be the best option for some organizations.
Before we dive into the best strategy consulting firms, one question remains to be answered: What qualities do top strategy consulting firms have?
Based on AdvisoryHQ’s thorough research, the best strategy consulting firms usually have expertise in a business’s industry or topic area, a devoted team who will create customized strategies with great care, and the ability to optimize even the most challenging of situations.
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Detailed Review – Best Strategy Consulting Firms
Below, please find a detailed review of the top strategy consulting firms across the industry. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these strategy consulting firms to score so highly in our selection ranking.
Click on any of the names below to go directly to the review section for that strategy consultancy.
- A.T. Kearney
- Analysis Group
- Bain & Company
- Boston Consulting Group
- Cornerstone Research
- Deloitte Consulting
- Ernst & Young
- McKinsey & Company
- Oliver Wyman
Click here for 2017’s ranking: The Top Strategy Consulting Firms
A.T. Kearney Review
A.T. Kearney has been a reputable firm delivering trusted advisors since 1926. A partner-owned firm, A.T. Kearney has offices in more than 40 countries with over 3,600 employees.
This top strategy consulting firm services more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500, as well as some of the world’s most influential governmental and non-profit organizations.
Key Factors That Enabled A.T. Kearney to Rank as One of the Top Management Consulting Firms
Key Management Issues
A.T. Kearney focuses on five aspects of strategy consulting, called “Key Management Issues.” Here’s a quick look at what these strategy consulting services entail:
- CEO Agenda—Strategies designed to help CEOs achieve top performance and maximize shareholder returns
- Growth Discovery—Focuses on finding inspiring, practical solutions to challenges associated with growth
- Customer Value—Differentiating your business through unique and effective customer experiences
- Pricing—Looking at pricing, discounting, and monitoring through a strategic lens
- Brand Building—Strategy consulting designed to help build and cultivate a winning brand
Diversity & Inclusion
As one of the top management consulting firms, A.T. Kearney upholds the belief that key to its success and its ability to provide value to clients is its focus on diversity and inclusion.
All employees have access to equal opportunities, consultants are empowered to be themselves, and teams include people from unique backgrounds, providing clients with diverse skill sets.
A.T. Kearney has long been recognized by leading media outlets for its dedication to diversity and inclusion, setting standards across the industry.
As one of the best management consulting firms, A.T. Kearney has maintained a strong reputation for professionalism, inclusivity, and consulting expertise. Unfortunately, our review did find a significant organizational issue, dropping their ranking to a 3.
While the firm’s website is visually appealing and exudes a great sense of energy, potential clients may find it difficult to locate specific case studies.
By creating a clear path to view past successes, A.T. Kearney could improve the way their value is communicated to potential clients, increasing their ranking from a 3 to a 5.
Accenture is an international professional services company, providing strategy consulting as well as management, digital, and technology operations.
Accenture serves clients in more than 120 countries across an incredibly diverse range of industries and is ranked as the number one largest independent technology services provider.
The firm is also well-known for client loyalty and the building of long-term relationships, as 98 of its top 100 clients have worked with this top management consulting firm for at least a decade.
Key Factors That Led Us to Rank Accenture as One of the Top Management Consulting Firms
Value-creating management consulting services and relationships should be built on a foundation of innovative research and insight.
It’s with that in mind that Accenture regularly commissions and publishes new research and ideas on topics relating to the industries it serves. Not only do clients have access to critical research, but this data is used as a basis to create valuable management consulting services.
Content and research are compiled and shared not only as articles and case studies but also as Slideshare presentations and even YouTube content.
This top management consulting firm enters into client engagements with a unique approach, viewing change as a force accessible to everyone.
Instead of gradual, incremental changes, Accenture empowers consultants to believe in bold moves and difficult decisions, creating complete organizational transformation through technology and innovation.
According to Accenture, the result of the transformative approach provides results like $1 billion in savings for Mondelez and 350 percent growth for Uniqlo, among many other tremendous success stories.
As one of the best strategy consulting firms, Accenture demonstrates a keen focus on providing publicly available, expert research.
Research from Accenture is frequently quoted in the media, and visitors to the website can easily access articles and reports on a variety of topics, like Blockchain, Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence.
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Analysis Group Review
Analysis Group has offices spread across the globe, with 13 offices across the North America, Europe, and Asia.
This strategy consulting firm specializes in economic and financial analysis, offering staff experts in the fields of antitrust and competition, intellectual property, and security matters.
Analysis Group also maintains a strategy consulting division, which focuses heavily on using statistics and analytics to provide clients with actionable solutions.
Key Factors That Enabled Analysis Group to Rank as One of the Best Management Consulting Firms
Integral to the success of Analysis Group is their network of academic experts, and Ph.D. economists.
Combined with the skills and insights from consultants, this strategy consulting firm has a unique ability to identify and analyze data.
Analysis Group maintains a full list of professional staff and affiliated experts on their website, increasing transparency and making it easy for potential clients to assess their authority.
Strategy Consulting Approach
The foundation of this firm’s strategy consulting approach is a combination of combination of statistical, modeling, and econometric expertise.
With this foundation, Analysis Group employs strategy consulting to identify business opportunities in terms of assets, resources, business models, and capabilities.
Clients that partner with Analysis Group can expect to develop strategies that define:
- The best positions to attract value
- Risks and opportunities when competing in a new market
- Characteristics of winning business models
- Synergies and gaps relative to assets
- Best options with pro forma modeling
By combining a wide reach with close ties to academic, government, and industry experts, Analysis Group is poised to become a significant force in strategy consulting.
Although the firm has a relatively small staff considering the number of offices, they have over 200 affiliated experts from which to draw insight and experience.
For clients looking for in-depth strategy consulting, the ability to reach out to so many industry, academic, and government experts provides a significant advantage, giving Analysis Group an overall rating of 5.
Bain & Company Review
As a global strategy consulting firm, Bain & Company has been offering strategy consulting solutions for over four decades.
With 55 offices in 36 countries, Bain has a strong worldwide reputation, having worked with many of the Global 500, as well as thousands of local and regional organizations.
Key Factors That Enabled Bain & Company to Rank as One of the Best Management Consulting Firms
True North is a phrase that represents the guiding principles, values, and culture that drive all strategy consulting services.
According to this top strategy consulting firm, their commitment is based on the concept of always doing the right thing for clients, employees, and the community.
The values and culture that set Bain apart and make up the True North concept include:
- Passion for results aligned with client success
- Commitment to maintaining quality, professionalism, & ethics
- Straightforward & direct honesty with clients
- Openness to the possibility that current beliefs could be wrong
- Practicality in approaching & implementing decisions or strategies
- Embodying trust, respect, support, & collaboration as a team
- Striving for the best possible results
Dynamic Strategy Consulting Approach
As one of the top management consulting firms, Bain provides clients with a dynamic, multi-faceted approach to strategy consulting.
While there are many to choose from, here are a few that we found particularly notable:
- Fundamentals of Growth—Defining and focusing on core growth to ensure long-term sustainability
- Founder’s Mentality®—Adhering to the core strengths and values of a successful business
- BothBrain®Innovation—Combines creative strategy and analytic approaches to implement new products and ideas
- Emerging Markets—Helps companies successfully strategize for a global environment
Bain & Company is one of few strategy consulting companies that embraces full transparency, earning them a full rating of 5.
The firm is both forthcoming and detailed when discussing their values, social impact, press coverage, case studies, and strategy consulting practices, building a strong foundation for trust between consultants and clients.
It’s also worth noting that their commitment to creating a positive firm culture through strong values seems to be paying off. Employee reviews are consistently positive, earning Bain & Company the number one spot on Glassdoor’s list of Best Places to Work in 2017.
Boston Consulting Group Review
As a strategy consulting firm, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has prided itself on providing deep insight for difficult corporate problems.
With over 14,000 employees, $5.6 billion in revenue, and a presence in 50 countries, BCG has earned its place as a global leader among the best strategy consulting firms.
Qualities That Allowed BCG to Be Considered Among the Top Strategy Consulting Firms
BCG takes a holistic, objective approach to all endeavors, empowering clients with a competitive advantage.
This strategic perspective is defined by backing decisions with valid data, rigorous analysis, external perspectives, root causes, and explicit logic to identify—and capitalize on—strategic advantages for clients.
When combined with an approach that seeks true partnership between consultants and clients, BCG is a competitive force amongst strategy consulting firms.
Expertise Across Multiple Environments
As a top strategy consultancy firm, BCG is extremely aware of the fluctuating challenges that come with creating a winning business strategy.
With unique challenges inherent in globalization, technology, and economic intersections, clients need strategy consulting services that are holistic, thorough, and most of all, adaptable.
This is why the foundation of BCG’s strategy consultancy involves a keen awareness of addressing multiple strategic environments.
As a top strategy consultancy, BCG understands the need to apply a tailored approach to multiple strategic environments, empowering businesses to succeed amidst rapid change.
Not only does BCG boast decades of experience, but the firm also excels at identifying, using, and implementing strategic approaches for their clients.
Another contributing factor to the firm’s high rating of 5 comes from their value-based consulting services.
The best strategy consulting firms are guided by a clear, transparent set of ethics, and BCG certainly hits the mark with values like integrity, diversity, positive social impact, client partnership, and more.
Cornerstone Research Review
For over 25 years, Cornerstone Research has been providing economic and financial strategy consulting in all phases of commercial litigation.
With highly specialized services catering to a specific group of clients, Cornerstone could be considered a boutique strategy consulting firm.
With a little over 700 staff members spread across eight offices, Cornerstone is one of the best strategy consulting firms for clients that want stronger relationships and a personalized experience.
Qualities That Allowed Cornerstone Research to Be Considered as One of the Top Strategy Consulting Firms
Specified & Streamlined Services
Just like all boutique strategy consulting firms should, Cornerstone narrows its services to best suit organizations seeking strategic approaches to economic and financial consulting.
Strategy consulting services at Cornerstone consists of financial and economic analysis and expert testimony for commercial litigation, investigations, and regulatory proceedings.
These specific services allow clients to identify their needs early on, making it possible for issues to be identified, solved, and successfully sustained much faster.
Staff consultants are often experts in finance, economics, accounting, and marketing, creative a comprehensive and thorough strategy consulting experience.
Furthermore, the consultants partner with a broad and extensive network of testifying experts, leading to a collaboration that is exclusive to their strategy consulting services.
Access to expert resources perfectly demonstrates a key advantage of using boutique strategy consulting firms, putting Cornerstone at the top of our list.
Despite its smaller size and narrow focus, Cornerstone Research is a dynamic force among strategy consulting firms, earning the firm a rating of 5.
With a smaller size and a narrow focus, Cornerstone can provide expert resources and advanced strategy consulting services to clients that will benefit the most.
Deloitte Consulting Review
With a myriad of services besides consulting, Deloitte Consulting has earned its spot as one of the top consulting firms.
Operating as a global brand, independent business strategy consulting firms act as subsidiaries beneath the Deloitte name. This creates an expansive network of approximately 245,000 professionals across 150 countries.
Deloitte leads the way regarding professional strategy consulting services, and the company has worked with 80 percent of the Fortune 500.
Qualities That Allowed Deloitte Consulting to Be Included Among the Top Strategy Consulting Firms
Deloitte offers five key strategy consulting services to their clients:
- Operations Transformation—Helps businesses implement new strategies and maximize efficiency
- Finance—Strategy consulting services tailored for CFOs to help them make timely, smart decisions
- Mergers & Acquisitions—Brings industry-specific insight and global awareness to structural changes
- Monitor Deloitte— Uses industry insights to help leaders achieve transformational success
- Supply Chain & Manufacturing Operations—Strategy consulting services help clients successfully integrate manufacturing and supply chain initiatives
Before selecting a strategy consultancy, it pays to examine their internal culture and working environment.
Strategy consulting firms that maintain a supportive environment for consultants also tend to have a client-facing approach, believing that happy employees produce happy clients.
Deloitte is proud to have an inclusive, diverse culture, and even conducts regular research on its benefits. Potential clients can easily access reports on topics like:
- How organizations can advance inclusion
- How to encourage individuals to avoid “covering” their authentic selves
- Understanding the millennial cultural mindset
Insights gained from the firm’s research are directly applied to the internal culture, creating an environment of respect, integrity, and diversity.
Deloitte’s keen focus on expert strategy consulting services and an inclusive company culture makes them stand out among the top strategy consulting firms.
Not only does the firm possess a genuine desire to spread a culture of positivity and diversity, but their research demonstrates an in-depth understanding of widespread social themes.
As a global management consulting firm, this is key to helping businesses successfully implement change across multiple locations, earning the firm an overall rating of 5.
Ernst & Young Review
Ernst & Young (EY) has a history beginning in the early 1900s, growing to become a global force among strategy consulting firms.
Globally, there are 231,000 EY employees, and the firm currently operates in 28 regions around the world.
Although EY continues to be ranked highly by media outlets, our review found that businesses may be better served by choosing another one of the top strategy consulting firms, at least for the time being.
See below for an in-depth overview of why EY earned a 1 rating, and what the firm can do to improve their ranking.
Despite the positive accolades that EY is known for, the firm has had its fair share of legal woes that bring their ethics into serious question.
In 2015, EY settled for $10 million in a New York lawsuit accusing the firm of assisting Lehman Brothers deceive investors in their audits. One year later, EY settled for $9.3 million due to relationships with clients that compromised the ability of auditors to remain impartial.
The firm has also been under criminal investigation by the IRS regarding the promotion of illegal tax shelters, which should make potential clients think twice before partnering with the firm.
Although EY is still highly regarded as an expert consulting firm, these legal issues create a significant difference between EY and competing strategy consultant firms.
While the firm does publicly advertise their values, the presence of so many lawsuits could mean that the firm is having difficulty following through.
Looking forward to the future, the best way for EY to improve their rankings is to approach these issues with transparency—and perhaps reconsider the way that values are addressed and enforced, as well.
McKinsey & Company Review
Often considered to be the best strategy consulting firm overall, McKinsey & Company has been in operation since 1926.
In the world of consulting, McKinsey is one of the most well-known firms, partly due to their significant global reach.
The firm boasts an impressive 14,000 consultants across more than 120 cities and over 60 countries, making McKinsey one of the best strategy consulting firms for global companies to consider.
Qualities That Allowed McKinsey & Company to Be Included with the Top Strategy Consulting Firms
Research and Development
What makes McKinsey & Company one of the top strategy consulting firms is their devotion to continual research and development to better-suit the needs of their clients.
- Digital Labs—Develops prototypes, customer software, and apps, and embeds recommendations into a client’s existing technology platform
- McKinsey Analytics—Builds and maintains advanced and nuanced data models to help clients generate ideas and make more efficient decisions
- McKinsey Recovery & Transformation Services—Helps derailed businesses experience rapid performance improvements through corporate restructuring, turnaround, and transformations
Gender Diversity Through Women Matter
As a top strategy consultancy, McKinsey’s services are not only driven by industry expertise, but also by deep research into global trends.
After finding that women remain underrepresented in the corporate world, McKinsey created Women Matter, a research initiative which explores the importance of gender diversity on a localized and a global scale.
Powered by The McKinsey Global Institute (awarded as the leading private-sector think tank in the world), this top management consulting firm has conducted extensive research into advancing women’s equality.
Women Matter is currently celebrating ten years of global research, outlining the definitive attributes of an inclusive organization and striving to promote diversity of all kinds.
It’s hard to deny the brand power of McKinsey & Company—not only do they have nearly a century of experience and expertise, but they are consistently ranked as one of the best strategy consulting firms to work for.
What makes McKinsey particularly compelling is their unique focus on researching and supporting gender diversity in the workplace, earning the firm a 5 rating.
Not only does this demonstrate a keen awareness of business and social dynamics, but it also shows a commitment to identifying and solving global issues, putting them among the best strategy consulting firms.
Oliver Wyman Review
Oliver Wyman was founded in 1984 to provide companies with clarity and guidance amidst the deregulation of the financial industry.
Oliver Wyman defines its purpose as bringing exceptional people together to create value through the implementation of lasting contributions—not just to clients but also to industries and societies.
Key Factors That Enabled Oliver Wyman to Rank as One of the Top Strategy Consulting Companies
One thing that makes Oliver Wyman one of the most unique strategy consulting firms is the firm’s dedication to turning every client engagement into a true partnership.
For this top strategy consultancy, a successful partnership and project depend upon completely understanding all aspects of a client’s business.
Oliver Wyman maintains an in-depth knowledge of the unique challenges and advantages of each industry it serves, including:
- Aviation, aerospace, and defense
- Business services
- Communication, media, and technology
- Distribution and wholesale
- Financial services
- Health and life sciences
- Industrial products
- Public sector
- Retail and consumer products
- Surface transportation
- Travel and leisure
Integral to Oliver Wyman’s forward-thinking approach is its dedication to the responsible use of natural resources and protection of the environment.
These business consulting services are part of Oliver Wyman’s Sustainability Center. Through the Sustainability Center, consultants help clients identify and implement the responsible use of natural resources and environmental protection.
This top strategy consulting firm can then offer strategies for the most efficient use of resources, the implementation of clean energy and technology, and the ability to better meet the evolving needs of customers.
As a top strategy consulting consultancy, Oliver Wyman demonstrates sincere dedication to conducting thorough research to serve a variety of industries.
Part of this research goes towards their unique Sustainability Center, which sets Oliver Wyman apart from competing strategy consulting firms.
Their dedication to supporting sustainability and advancing environmentally friendly practices shows a keen awareness of a company’s global impact, earning Oliver Wyman a rating of 5 among our list of the top strategy consulting firms.
What started as an accounting firm in London has now turned into a full-fledged business services provider.
Over time, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has grown to include tax, audit, assurance, and business consulting services across a global network of 158 countries, with more than 236,000 talented professionals.
While PwC is many things, being one of the leading business strategy consulting firms is what the firm is best known for.
Qualities That Allowed PwC to Be Considered Among the Best Strategy Consulting Firms
Targeting a Company’s Strengths
PwC consultants can harness a company’s distinguished abilities and convert market opportunities into maintainable growth.
What allows the PwC consultants to do this is its decluttering approach that cuts out the unnecessary fat in your problem, making it lean and more manageable. The goal is to have your company grow from its strengths and excise the weaknesses.
PwC’s simple equation is what makes it a top business strategy consultancy: a capability-driven approach that assesses your aptitudes and how you can grow from them.
Without partnering with a top strategy consultancy, many businesses may suffer and not be able to achieve their objectives because they will forget a key element: the customer.
One of the service areas offered by PwC involves helping clients gain a comprehensive understanding of their customer. This includes addresses the underlying needs of the customer and the outcomes he or she is searching for.
Ultimately, a partnership with PwC helps build customer strategies and distinctive experiences based on a firm foundation of analytics and experience design.
Despite their high reputation and consistently high rankings as a strategy consultancy, our review must (somewhat reluctantly) assign a 3 rating to PwC due to a few legal issues.
An ongoing 2016 lawsuit accuses PwC of age discrimination in the hiring process, accusing the firm of saving entry-level positions exclusively for young college graduates. This isn’t the first time that PwC has been accused of age discrimination in the workplace, which raises significant concerns about the health of the internal culture.
With a network of firms across 158 countries, Strategy& acts as a specialized area of the strategy consulting business dedicated to helping global clients turn ideas and challenges into action and opportunity.
Qualities That Allowed Strategy& to Be Considered Among the Top Strategy Consulting Firms
Strategy& is a management strategy consulting firm built on providing clients with well-developed, actionable strategies.
The key focus of this approach is on practicality and a thorough understanding of the context into which solutions and strategies are being delivered.
This method has been honed, perfected, and published in a book titled Strategy That Works, which outlines the five best practices for closing the “strategy-to-execution gap.”
Fit for Growth
A signature offering from Strategy& is Fit for Growth, a program designed to help companies improve performance and position themselves for successful growth.
This model focuses on cost transformation and the implementation of new operational strategies to unlock high levels of performance.
As a top strategy consulting firm, the firm employs a strategic approach to cost management, focusing on increasing good costs and redirecting spending from “bad costs.
Ultimately, business transformation through Fit for Growth is both holistic and collaborative, impacting every area of business for their clients.
With strategy consulting services for business, customer, operations, organization, and technology, Strategy& has earned a 5 rating as an all-inclusive strategy consultancy.
By creating specific programs (like Fit for Growth), the firm effectively demonstrates its expertise in providing well-rounded, comprehensive solutions for the field of management strategy.
Conclusion – Top Strategy Consulting Firms
While it is ultimately your company’s decision to discern what your specific needs for strategy consulting are, the information provided above should help make your decision a little easier.
Each of these strategy consultancy firms provides outstanding strategy consulting services. However, to truly set a company up for success, it’s important to choose strategy consulting services that are poised to address specific, unique needs.
Whether you need cost-effective business strategy consulting or a more intimate experience at a boutique strategy consulting firm, our rundown of the top strategy consulting firms will be able to assist you.
Like any good business, these business strategy consulting firms have locations across the country, providing access to the best strategy consulting services in the industry.
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