How has the consulting industry changed in the last 5/10 years?

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New answer on Jun 10, 2020
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 06, 2020

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Content Creator
replied on Jun 06, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

Let me share a slightly more negatively painted picture of the consulting industry - but it's the real one in my opinion.

Looking back, consulting industry and the top players definitely lost their glamour and exclusivity. Please bear with my if I simplify a bit, but it's more to give you the general picture than being overly precise in details.

Historically, most of tier-1 consulting firms had a strong focus on strategy, since it is/was considered as the supreme discipline in the field. However, most clients were not able to consistently implement the strategic advice, and after a few niche players also the tier-1 firms started to move more towards implementation support as a follow-up of their strategy projects.

Given the more detailed scope of projects, also many boutique consulting firms made their inroad into the large corporate segment, and together with a more competitive 'tender' approach many of those smaller, more focused boutique consulting firms could steal nice projects from MBB.

Apart from a few big scandals (thinking of McKinsey insider trading and the like) the industry survived rather well until now, luckily.

However, the consulting industry lost a lot of it's attractiveness for candidates. Google, Amazon and the like siphon away top candidates, and we need to see how that developes over the next decade. If candidats have highly valued skills (especially in digitalisation/transformation) they don't necessarily want to work extremely long hours and they don't necessarily want to have formal structures they need to report to (but rather prefer to work when and where they want). Just looking at business class seats nowadays, more often than not I see quite young and informally dressed people sitting close - and when having a short chat with them it usually turns out they are digital professionals (whereas some 'elite' management consultants are in economy). So definitely the war for talent is ongoing.

Having said that ... is the consulting industry still attractive for some candidates and is it one of the best learning opportunities to jump-start your career? Yes, most definitely.

Will there be a need for consulting firms in future and will they surive? Yes, most definitely.

Are getting times tougher nowadays? Yes, most definitely as well.

Hope that gives you a slightly more balanced view of the industry - if so, please give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!


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Anonymous replied on Jun 06, 2020

Hi there,

The industry is very different from 1 region to another - so below are views from the MENA region.

In the past 5 years: (based on my experience)

  • More focus on strategy + implementation support instead of strategy pureplay
  • Certain clients are gradually building their in-house consulting capabilities (Mainly telcos and banks)
  • More focus on work-life balance - consulting companies are actively trying to secure a balanced lifestyle (some of them are more successful than others)
  • A bit more competitive - "rise of boutique consulting" - more niche players focused on specific topics
  • More digital transformation topics

Past 10 years (based on the experiences of partners and ex-consultants)

  • The industry is way more humane and balanced now :) before it was a hardcore work-hard play-hard lifestyle ( i heard stories of consultants getting fired on spot after a bad day, and I heard stories of consultants making it to partner in 4 years)

I hope this helps


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Anonymous replied on Jun 06, 2020


I have worked in consulting for the past 8 years.

In terms of projects, obviously new technologies have taken a major place in the scope of subjects addressed.

In addition, today the large consulting firms are consolidating: management consulting firms which are developing their brand of strategy and vice versa. At BCG for example, beyond the traditional strategy offer, many new capabilities have been integrated: artificial intelligence / data, IT architecture, purpose, ...

Furthermore, even if we were already talking about work / life balance 10 years ago, it was mainly marketing. Today, there are concrete initiatives with real impacts.


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Anonymous replied on Jun 07, 2020

Hi there,

In short, I observed 3 key changes:

(1) More implementation projects, not just strategy projects or white papers

(2) More projects are based on variable fee basis which is directly linked to the result the firm generates for client; this puts a lot more pressure on the case team

(3) A lot more work and sub organiation/team on digital front, not just analytics, but even into venture building e.g. BCG DV



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Content Creator
updated an answer on Jun 06, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Just to add to the excellent points below, there has been a huge expansion into IT/Digital/Tech/Analytics.

This has been done both organically and through aquisitons. McKinsey Digital, BCG GAMMA, BCG Platinion, etc. and starting to drive a lot of value and work.


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Content Creator
replied on Jun 08, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


To add on top, one thing that totally got my eye was the huge expansion of Advanced Analytics in McKinsey, both in terms of:

  • Number: from less than 10 to a huge team of like 60 and growing in Madrid
  • Importance: they used to be considered sort of support, and now they play a huge relevant role

Hope it helps!



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Anonymous replied on Jun 10, 2020

Dear A,

The consulting industry, of course, changed after the last financial crisis. It actually became less comprehensive and more focused on the specific road blocks in the business. There are no longer any big projects which will cover the entire industries or entire sectors, or entire company. Maybe just one exception here is Vision2030 in the Middle East for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But beside of this, there are not that many comprehensive programs.

Also consulting has changed its target portfolio. So it is serving now more implementation and digital topics. So you can also expect a lot of cost-cutting topics to come up instead of strategy development after the COVID, because companies would need to cut costs in order to survive "dark crisis times".

Another point is about technology. Computerization, digitization has also entered the consulting industry, and now the whole data basis is a way more effects are available for the moment. So creating RFP stays for requests for proposal is now less time-consuming than before and could entitle a way more information and project results than 20 years earlier. This is done consulting a bit easier for consultancy to create a presentation. But in parallel, the line between work and life is even more disappearing, because everyone expects you to be available 24/7, sometimes even including weekends and WhatsApp projects chants have become very common, which I myself find difficult.

But, other than that consulting hasn't changed that much.

I hope this gives you clear picture.

For any further inquiries feel free to approach me.

Wish you best of luck,


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