Top tier/tier2/tier3 consulting firms??

consulting consulting firms consulting industry germany MBB order tier1 tier2 tier3 Top tier
New answer on Oct 08, 2023
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 01, 2017

Hi everyone! I am new here and to the consulting world, so please don't judge my stupid question ;) I stumbled across terms like top tier, tier 2, tier3 consulting firms and I am wondering what that means? Do they vary for different countries or is it internationally the same?

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Christine
Admin
replied on Oct 21, 2021
PrepLounge Community & Marketing Manager

Hi there, 

Thank you for this question! It's not stupid at all. Everyone starts somewhere and I believe the answers by our case coaches have helped a lot of candidates to get a feeling of the industry. 

If you have already decided to give your career in management consulting a chance, we have some valuable resources you should definitely check out before applying and during your preparation. I will try to give you a chronological timeline: 

1. Before applying
Make sure to read our consulting resume guide! Since the CV in consulting looks quite different from the CV when applying in other industries, it is important to be aware of these differences and make an instant good impression

2. Initial tests
If your CV convinced the recruiters, you will probably receive an invitation. Sometimes this hurdle comes in form of an online test. Consulting firms conduct different tests such as the Problem Solving Game by McKinsey or the BCG Online Case by BCG. It is important that you inform yourself about the different processes within the company and, if needed, practice for these kinds of assessments. 

3. The actual case interview
The probably most feared part of the recruitment process in management consulting is the case interview. Make sure to read through our case interview guide to learn the process and important skills that are needed for the interview. 

4. Personal Fit
You might have already heard of the personal fit interview. We already offer some articles that help you answer such questions during the interview: 

I hope I could give you some helpful insights and resources with this answer. 

Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions. I am happy to help! :-)

All the best for your case interview preparation.

Christine
PrepLounge Community Management

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Originally answered question:

Tier 2 Consulting Firms

Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 25, 2021
Highest-rated McKinsey coach (ratings, offers, sessions) | 500+ offers | Author of The 1% & Consulting Career Secrets

Hey there,

Most consulting firms hire PhDs and all have a generalist track. These two are not mutually exclusive and PhDs are hired as generalists all the time.

If you want to be sure and discuss your specific situation, reach out to HR of the firms you are interested in and clarify. 

Siemens Consulting, as an engineering company, for sure is also looking for PhDs!

Cheers,

Florian

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Originally answered question:

Tier 2 Consulting Firms

Sofia
Expert
updated an answer on Aug 24, 2021
Top-Ranked Coach on PrepLounge for 3 years| McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 6+ years of coaching

Hello,

I believe that most consulting firms are interested in hiring PhDs - generally you should be able to apply for Associate-level positions that are aimed at MBAs, and there is often a particular track for candidates coming from an academic background (ie. you work with different recruiters, have a specific training program upon hiring, etc.). It seems like you are interested in the generalist track, but if you would also be interested in something closer to your specialty, you could take a look at expert tracks, applying to specific practice groups, and/or boutique consultancies that specialize in a particular industry. I'd recommend doing some research and reaching out to HR at any particular companies you would like to apply to where you aren't sure which position you should apply for given your experience.

(edited)

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Olu replied on Jul 05, 2017
Looking for solid partners (10+Cases) . Currently preparing for MBB,Tier II & Big 4- Given and Done 15+ cases

I do agree with Sara’s sentiment on focusing on culture/people and the business focus alignment to your area of interest, but I am not sure how I feel about the segmentation. I do agree there is not a hard line, but below is a different approach to how the industry might be segmented (read how folks describe the industry or folks in industry might perceive themselves):

Strategy Consulting Firms: Main focus is to provide high level strategic advice to companies leadership (C-level and Board). They partake in other things, not limited to, but including implementation, operation etc. These companies would include:

Tier 1- which typical refers to MBB

Big 4 - Which refers to the Strategy side of Deloitte (Monitor), KPMG, PWC (Strategy&), EY (Parthenon)

Tier 2- Typical Non Tier 1 or Big 4, could be called "Other Boutiques"- example could be Oliver Wyman, A.T.K, Accenture strategy, Z.S Associate and a host of others.

Management Consulting Firms: Now this includes everything including strategy consulting, IT, Supply Chain, Operations, Finance, Deals or M&A etc. again the companies above mostly offer such services, but the industry has its way of branding MBB as Strategy, Accenture as IT, A.T.K as operation and Big 4 as financial services based. The irony is that they are all management consulting firms that do a bit of everything, so do more than the others do, but you can do strategy work or IT implementation work at most of those firms.

That being said, it is true that MBB gets a lot of strategy projects, but so does Monitor, Strategy& and Accenture Strategy, just like its true Accenture gets a ton of IT projects, but so does MBB and Deloitte. I don’t have exact data to tell you who have what share, but point is you can end up doing what you want at any firm, if they offer/ sell the service you have interest in.

More specific to your question on if they are the same globally, for the companies described above they operate globally, but sometimes with a slight change in focus (read what the business opportunity might be in that region – Houston firms focus on Energy, San Francisco’s would focus on Tech, Middle East- Oil and Gas and maybe Retail etc.)

Obviously there is more to this, but hopefully this is sufficient to get you a sense of the current industry position.

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SARC Associates on Feb 07, 2019

● Thank you for such thought provoking views on chartered accountancy. This really gives a broad understanding about how one should approach this sector and bring qualitative results. https://sarcassociates.com/

(edited)

Paul
Expert
replied on Mar 14, 2023
PL-level BCG experience (6 years)|Interviewer at BCG| 6/6 personal + 95%+ candidates offer success rate

Hi,

you already have exhaustive answers. Let me just add as en example the “Tier1/Tier2/Tier 3” hiearchy in a specific country - Italy (best of my knowledge)

This is “perception based” and not “set in stone” hierarchy. Moreover

1) hanging over time 

2) Strongly dependent on PRACTICES/INDUSTRIES especially in Tier 2 / Tier 3

3) Not entirely fact-based / quality-based :)

Tier-1

1) McK → “oldest” Tier-1 presence in country. Historically and still strongest in Banking, largest alumni network

2) BCG → strong contender to #1 with fast expansion. More balanced in terms of Practice/industry Strength 

3) Bain → Very effective also in “mid-market” (e.g. smaller firms, PMIs, …) and constantly expanding. Currently full part of Bain & company (historically run a bit “independently”. Strongest in Luxury/Fashion historically and Consumers but present across the board

Tier-2  

1) Strategy&, Kearney - generalist with strongholds (e.g. Kearney in Procurement/Ops)

2) Alix Partners - strongholds in restructuring

Tier 2/Tier-3

1) Lot of specialized “boutiques” (e.g. Altman Solon for Telco, ZS for Pharma, …) can either be Tier 3 or 2 depending in which industry you are analyzing them: Altman Solon, ZS, OC&C, LEK, …..

2) Big-4 Consulting Arms: EY-Parthenon, Monitor Deloitte, Accenture Strategy → growing and poaching MBB talent with price points very different from Tier 1-2

Hope this helps

Happy to deep dive here. if anyone interested in Italy's market

 

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Raj
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 08, 2023
FREE 15MIN CONSULTATION | #1 Strategy& / OW coach | >70 5* reviews |90% offers ⇨ prep-success.super.site | MENA, DE, UK

Welcome! Your question is not at all stupid; it's essential to understand these terms when exploring the consulting world. The terms "top tier," "tier 2," and "tier 3" consulting firms are used to categorize consulting firms based on various factors such as reputation, size, clientele, and global reach. These terms are not specific to a particular country and are used internationally, although there can be some regional variations. Here's a general breakdown of what these terms mean:

Top Tier Consulting Firms: These are the most prestigious and well-known consulting firms globally. They typically have a strong global presence, work with Fortune 500 companies, and are highly competitive in terms of recruitment. Examples of top-tier firms include McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Bain & Company.

Tier 2 Consulting Firms: Tier 2 firms are also well-respected and provide excellent consulting services, but they may be slightly smaller or have a more regional focus compared to top-tier firms. Examples include firms like Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG, which have strong consulting practices alongside their other service lines.

Tier 3 Consulting Firms: Tier 3 firms are generally smaller or more specialized consulting firms. They may focus on specific industries, niches, or regions.

These categorizations can be helpful when researching and targeting consulting firms that align with your career goals and aspirations. Keep in mind that the consulting landscape is dynamic, and the rankings can evolve over time.

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Anonymous F replied on Sep 22, 2020

Hi I will write this list from the top of my head, some firms might be missing, especially smaller one where you might argue they are Tier 3.

Tier 2:

  • Oliver Wyman
  • Roland Berger
  • Kearney
  • Strategy&

Tier 3:

  • ZEB
  • Simon Kucher
  • Horvath
  • Porsche Consulting
  • Accenture Strategy + Big 4 strategy arms (although they are getting more and more integrated)
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Akshay on Sep 22, 2020

Thanks, well I do have a list based on the staufenbiel.de, but there are many companies that are not in the top 20 and are small, thats why this question.

Rushabh
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Nov 27, 2022
Limited Availability | BCG Expert | Middle East Expert | 100+ Mocks Delivered | IESE & NYU MBA | Ex-KPMG Dxb Consultant

Hello,

Great question. They do vary per country. However, as a general rule of thumb, top-tier refers to McKinsey, Bain and BCG.

Tier 2: Here's where things get a little geographically different and subjective. Typically firms like Roland Berger, Oliver Wyman, Kearney fall under T2. 

Tier 3: Typically the management consulting arms of Big4 i.e. Strategy& of PwC, Monitor Deloitte, EY Parthenon fall here. Some even argue that boutique firms sit in Tier 3. 

Best,

Rushabh

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Anonymous E replied on Apr 12, 2018

Germany:

Tier 1:

McKinsey

BCG

Strategy& (due to pay and prestige of the people they are hiring atm)

Bain (depends - strong name, but a strong focus on PE here)

Tier 2:

Roland Berger

Oliver Wyman

AT Kearney

SSCO (even though small pretty prestigious in Germany)

Tier 3

EY Parthenon (took over OC&C)

Simon Kucher

Monitor Deloitte

Accenture Strategy

Zeb

Hovarth

LEK

United States

Tier 1:

McKinsey

BCG

Bain

The rest not so sure.

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Anonymous replied on Sep 28, 2020

Hi Akshay,

Tier-2

* Roland Berger

*Oliver Wyman

* Startegy&

* Kearney

Tier-3

*Big4

* Accenture

* Boutique firms

* Inhouse consulting

Best,
André

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Akshay on Sep 28, 2020

thanks Andre

Henning
Expert
replied on Sep 21, 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate
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Akshay on Sep 21, 2020

Thanks Henning

Akshay on Sep 21, 2020

what surprises me is that "horvath-partners " has no mention in this list, I wonder why?

Anonymous replied on Jul 04, 2017

Tier 1, 2 etc. is not an official neither a good definition. Therefore, if I were you, I would not take it into account too much. When choosing a company to apply to, the most important thing to focus on is understanding which firm is right for you based on its culture and its business focus.

A very good way to differentiate consulting firms is their business focus. To make a very simple distinction:

- Some firms provide clients with a very high level strategic advice (here there are the so called MBB and other smaller firms);

- After the high level guidelines are defined, other consultants must help the client at executing the initiative in the day to day business (there are here some big names such as Accenture, pwc and other firms).

Of course the line that differentiate the two groups is not rigid.

In addition, within each of these two groups, subgroups by the dimension "industry focus" can be identified. However, these largely vary from country to country.

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Andi
Expert
replied on Aug 27, 2023
BCG 1st & Final Round interviewer | Personalized prep with >95% success rate | 7yrs coaching | #1 for Experienced Hires

Hi there

not a stupid question at all, and to be clear - there is not standard definition to this. Ask 10 different people they will give you 10 different answers, especially for T2/3 distinction.

The way you can roughly look it…

  • Tier 1: the MBBs → McKinsey, BCG, Bain
  • Tier 2:  other major player with large strategy exposure such as (in no particular order) Kearney, Strategy&, Oliver Wyman, Roland Berger, Accenture Strategy, EY Parthenon, LEK, Monitor Deloitte, Alix, A&M etc
  • Tier 3: smaller, often specialized boutique consulting firms, inhouse consultancies  and non-strategy branches of Big 4 (e.g. PWC consulting, KPMG consulting etc)

Note also that the percieved tiers will vary by region, as different firms have different geographic footprint / focus.

Hope this helps.

Regards, Andi

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Sep 21, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate
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Anonymous G on Sep 22, 2020

I wish preplounge had a downvote button

Alv7777 replied on Jun 18, 2018

Don't spend too much time looking at informal sayings and classifications. You should look for the business culture you feel more confortable with. Having said this, the industry can indeed be classified in three groups, according to salary, type of work and exit:

1) Tier 1: MBB (McKinsey, BCG, Bain)

2) Tier 2: Accenture Strategy, AT Kearney, Oliver Wyman

3) Big Four: Monitor, Booz, Pantheon

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Anonymous replied on Oct 30, 2022

Tier 1 (global leaders): BCG, McKinsey, Bain
Tier 2 (global players but not strong/present in every geography): Roland Berger, Kearney, L.E.K., etc.
Tier 3: Local boutique firms

Hopefully this helps.

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Clara
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Content Creator
replied on May 28, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hi!

To add on top what´s been said, the geography is a key thing here. What is not so relevant in one market, can be industry leader in another one.

Clara

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Anonymous replied on Jan 14, 2019

Coming from Monitor Deloitte, one important aspect in considering Big4 vs. MBB/ Boutiques in the breath of topics and size of project, you as well as the firm will work on / offer.
Consulting units of Big 4 firms tend to offer a wider range of services. Therefore, even as a consultant in their strategy arm (such as Monitor) you can offer your clients specilized insights into almost every business problem by bringing the right expert to the table.
My personal benefits from that are constantly learning about areas outside my focus as well as resting assured that you'll be covered whatever the client is asking for.

For further questions feel free to reach out.

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Frederic
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 30, 2023
ex Jr. Partner McKinsey|Senior Interviewer|Real Feedback & Free Homework between sessions|Harvard Coach|10+ Experience

Welcome to the consulting world! There are no "stupid" questions here, so feel free to ask anything.

The terms "top tier," "tier 2," and "tier 3" consulting firms are used to categorize consulting firms based on various factors, including reputation, size, and market presence. These categories are not rigidly defined and can vary in meaning depending on context and location. Here's a general overview:

Top-Tier Consulting Firms: These are typically the largest and most prestigious consulting firms in the industry. They have a global presence, work with Fortune 500 companies, and are known for their high-quality services and top-notch talent. Examples include McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Bain & Company. These firms are often referred to as MBB, representing McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.

Tier 2 Consulting Firms: Tier 2 firms are also well-respected and provide excellent consulting services, but they may be slightly smaller or have a more regional focus compared to top-tier firms. Examples include firms like Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG, which have strong consulting practices alongside their other service lines.

Tier 3 Consulting Firms: Tier 3 firms are generally smaller or more specialized consulting firms. They may focus on specific industries, niches, or regions. While they may not have the same global reach or brand recognition as top-tier and tier 2 firms, they can still offer valuable expertise in their areas of specialization.

It's important to note that these categories can vary by region and can be somewhat subjective. A firm considered top tier in one country may be viewed differently in another. Additionally, the consulting landscape is dynamic, with firms constantly evolving and expanding their services.

When assessing consulting firms, it's essential to consider your career goals, the specific industry or practice area you're interested in, and the firm's reputation and opportunities in your target location. Don't hesitate to ask more questions as you navigate the consulting world!

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Lorenzo
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replied on Sep 26, 2023
University of St.Gallen graduate | Learn to think like a Consultant | Personalized prep | CV review

Welcome! Your question is not at all stupid; it's essential to understand these terms when exploring the consulting world.

The terms "top tier," "tier 2," and "tier 3" consulting firms are used to categorize consulting firms based on various factors such as reputation, size, clientele, and global reach. These terms are not specific to a particular country and are used internationally, although there can be some regional variations.

Here's a general breakdown of what these terms mean:

Top Tier Consulting Firms: These are the most prestigious and well-known consulting firms globally. They typically have a strong global presence, work with Fortune 500 companies, and are highly competitive in terms of recruitment. Examples of top-tier firms include McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Bain & Company. These firms are known for their high-impact projects and rigorous interview processes.

Tier 2 Consulting Firms: These firms are also reputable but may not have the same level of prestige or global reach as top-tier firms. They often work with large corporations and offer a wide range of consulting services. Examples of tier 2 firms include firms like Oliver Wyman, Kearney, and EY-Parthenon. Tier 2 firms are still highly regarded and provide excellent career opportunities.

Tier 3 Consulting Firms: Tier 3 firms are smaller or more specialized consulting firms. They may focus on specific industries or niche areas of consulting. These firms might not be as widely recognized as top-tier or tier 2 firms but can still provide valuable consulting experiences. The reputation and size of tier 3 firms can vary widely.

It's important to note that the classification of firms into tiers can be somewhat subjective and may vary based on factors like geography and industry focus. Additionally, the consulting landscape can change over time, with firms moving up or down in the tiers based on their performance and market presence.

When considering a career in consulting, it's essential to research and understand the specific firms you're interested in, their areas of expertise, and the types of projects they undertake. Your career goals and interests will also play a significant role in determining which tier of consulting firm is the best fit for you.

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Anonymous replied on Aug 01, 2022

Hi,

Tier 1 are mainly the 3 top strategy firms, the MBB - McKinsey, Bain, BCG

Tier 2 are e.g. Roland Berger, Oliver Wyman, Accenture strategy, strategy divisions of Big4 like Strategy&, Monitor, EY Parthenon,

Tier 3 are the Big4 (KPMG, PWC, EY, Deloitte) and other consultancies like Capgemini etc.

Cheers

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Simon
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replied on Jul 22, 2021
50+ successful coachings / Ex-Mckinsey JEM & Interviewer / Industry + Engineering background
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Anonymous replied on Jan 13, 2021

Hi,

At least in South East Asia there are several categorization but again this only a broad generalisatin and not rigid at all:

  • Tier 1 is the MBB - McKinsey, BCG, Bain
  • Big 4 - PwC, KPMG, EY, Deloitte
  • Tier 2 - Strategy&, Oliver Wayman, Kearney, Roland Berger, LEK

Best,
Iman

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Anonymous D replied on Jan 13, 2021

Hi there, I have been director in strategy consulting - for anybody new to the industry: If you seek to work in Germany/ Austria/ Switzerland: Please go and check the rankings of Brand Eins/ Statista where clients evaluate consulting firms into tier 1/2/3 by type of work and industry sector, not the HR marketing departments of the consulting firms. Think out loud where you want to be in 5 - 10 years, and research which firm has the strongest footprint in this specific sector / field. You will be surprised that some so called "tier 1 powerhouses" will not be your top pick after this excercise.

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Rohit Mazumder replied on May 31, 2018

well, the chart of top ten management consulting firms are available in almost every business journal and the top-notch players like Accenture, Deloitte and MC Kingsley are well-known names. We have the list of top ten management consulting firms check here - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-10-business-consulting-firms-india-chandrani-jana/

But, many companies want to hire services of different companies who are no less than the above-mentioned names for obvious reasons.

Often start-ups and mid-sized companies want to hire management consulting firms who have rich experience and are spread all over the country as they have the potential to seep inside the client’s issues.

In this regard, Gyaanmart is the true winner in this regard. With a strong client base and the right amount of experience they have clients of all sizes and from every sector.

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