Expert with best answer


100% Recommendation Rate

53 Meetings

470 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

MBB/2nd Tier/Boutique/In-house?

Anonymous A asked on Oct 02, 2018 - 3 answers

Hi! I'll soon begin applying to consulting firms (currently networking and learning more). I've been doing a lot of research and I know the factual differences between MBB/2nd Tier/Boutique/In-house firms (I'm applying in Germany-my German skills are good, but not yet client-ready/polished), however I'd like to ask if anyone had any thoughts on the benefits of working for a boutique or in-house consultancy, as those are the two I'm least familiar with.

I am aiming for MBB but I don't plan to put all my eggs in one basket so I'd like to look at other options -- I would also like to possibly get in some interview practice at the firms I'm less interested in before interviewing with MBB, so of course it would be benefical to know some of the positives of working in these other environments.

I'm only looking into firms/boutiques/in-house which have an international presence, even if it's a small one. Thanks to anyone who has any thoughts on this topic :)

3 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Benjamin replied on Oct 04, 2018
ex-Manager - Natural and challenging teacher - Taylor case solving, no framework
Book a coaching with Benjamin

100% Recommendation Rate

53 Meetings

470 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

If you have time, it's indeed a good idea to crash test your interview at firm that you are not targetting directly. For the arguments,

- you can re-use some of the one developped for MBB (challenging environment, carreer opportunities), without reminding them they are not at MBB level...

- Some boutique firm offer higher salary to junior to appear more attractive

- In a boutique firm, you developped a deeper relationship with the teams. Since its smaller, you'll work more often together

- In-house consulting : good opportunity to combine consulting job profile (working as a team, in short engagement, variety of missions, etc.) with what one could argue as more concrete relationship with the company's activity since you're working from the inside. It then offer perspective for future development within the company / industry.

Hope this helps


replied on Oct 02, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

365 Meetings

5,364 Q&A Upvotes

USD 229 / Coaching


There is a number of differences with MBB:

  1. Salaries - Lower or similar salary on a post-MBA level but lower partner salary (although might be more tiers for partners)
  2. Career progression may be slower (at least compared to MBB)
  3. Subjectively, the quality is higher at MBB. However, the boutique consulting firms may have unique expertise in a particular industry / function and thus will be better
  4. Knowledge base- MBB knowledge bases are extremely deep and helpful. You have tons of materials on various topics. Again, the boutique firm may have more specific knowledge
  5. Support - at MBB you will have lots of people taking care of extra staff - doing research, the visual design of slides, sophisticated models, outsourcing for making surveys in the field. In the boutique firm, you'll be all by yourself
  6. Benefits - you will have better hotels, better dinners, better airline tickets, etc at MBB. This is important if you spend 90% of your life out of home
  7. Culture - the boutique firm may be like a small family. Thus it provides the great opportunities to make friends. On the other hand - if you don't like to work with the certain people - you'll have no other option. With MBB companies you have some space to make mistakes
  8. Exit options - in general MBB brands are stronger, however, in a boutique firm, you can develop a unique industry expertise that will be highly valued. However, you can always achieve the same effect by specializing in a certain industry with any firm.


Content Creator
replied on Oct 02, 2018
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (2.500+) | 1.100+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 6+ Years Coaching Experience
Book a coaching with Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

2,586 Meetings

2,822 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

there are several differences between traditional strategy consulting such as MBB or second tiers and in-house firms. The main ones are:

  1. Industry/Projects/Client Focus - In in-house consulting you will likely focus on a specific sector and practice – the one of your mother company. In strategy consulting you will normally see different industries, projects and clients. If you are not sure yet about your favourite sector and want to keep doors open, the second is always better.
  2. Internal career progression – In strategy consulting partners may actually own part of the company; in in-house consulting the senior team may still be represented by employees without the benefit of a partnership. This means that the final outcome between the two internal career paths is very different from a financial point of view. Moreover, in strategy consulting internal growth is normally faster than in-house.
  3. Exit opportunities – Given the same reputation and size, strategy consulting firms normally offer broader opportunities, as you would see more industries, more clients and benefit from a stronger brand. On the other hand, in-house consultancies may allow a smoother move to other areas inside the company.

For boutiques things are a bit different:

  1. You will normally have more specialization/focus than larger strategy consulting firms
  2. You may have opportunities to reach partnerships in the company and potentially also a fast career-track, according to the growth the company is having
  3. Exit opportunities are normally more limited compared to major firms due to brand recognition


Related BootCamp article(s)

The THREE key questions

Most personal fit questions will cover the reason for consulting itself, why you intend to work for this specific company and finally your personality.

Related case(s)

CV Questions

Solved 9.2k times
4.5 5 163
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit interview | Topics: Personal fit

Why did you decide to study (major/minor)? How was your boss at (work)? What did you like and dislike? Why do you not want to continue to work for (work/internship)? Explain the thinking process that went into making the decision to do (passage in the CV)? Have you convinced a team to work on a ... Open whole case