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What is your opinion on entering Big Four firms as a consultant?

Anonymous A asked on Feb 16, 2018 - 8 answers

How can KPMG, pwc, EY and Deloitte compete with MBB and other top tier companies regarding management consulting jobs?

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replied on Feb 16, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

Big 4 and MBB have a different focus in terms of projects. Specifically, Big 4 work more on implementation projects rather than strategy. However, many of the Big 4 have now also a strategy branch, thanks to the acquisition of Booz (PwC), Monitor (Deloitte) and Parthenon (EY), thus moving towards strategy and more direct competition with Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies. When they overlap, competition is mainly price based – MBB are far more expensive than Big 4 for a client.

In general, compared to Big 4, in MBB you get:

  • Higher competition
  • Stronger alumni network
  • Higher pay (may depend by the country)
  • Longer hours (may depend by the country)
  • Shorter project, more strategy focus
  • Support for extra stuff – there are specific MBB department for research and you can outsource most boring activity (eg slides realignment)
  • On average, higher budget for travel
  • More exposure to CXO level



replied on Feb 16, 2018
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Short answer: Deloitte is very comparable (thinking about S&O here), others much less. I would add to the mix Accenture which also excels in the area of IT/digital projects.

As others stated, sponsor of project is traditionally at a lower level than the one for MBB projects but I see Deloitte and Accenture more and more in bids against MBB and sometimes make it to final round when one or two of the MBB doesn't.

in terms of career transfer opportunities: from Deloitte to MBB medium difficulty, from Accenture to MBB high difficulty unless go into specialized industry/practice. From KPMG,PWC,EY the only transfers I've seen are CPA and CFA.

hope it helps,


Olu replied on Feb 16, 2018
Looking for solid partners (10+Cases) . Currently preparing for MBB,Tier II & Big 4- Given and Done 15+ cases

What part of the world do you reside in? If you’re in the U.S then my answer will be relevant, if not then it may be questionable.

See my post here; this gives some perspective to my comments below:

I read all the answers posted so far, and while some of them have an element of truth, I question if some are region specific answers or some are comparing based on the perspective from a few years ago.

If I focus on the U.S market, on average customers who are seeking business consulting services are looking for a complete end to end solutions. The market for just strategy is starting to saturate. Without going too deep, some points to confirm this is true:

Mckinsey- In past few years has created new practice areas, Design, Insights, Digital, Ventures e.t.c

Bain- Also created digital, IT e.t.c

BCG- Created Digital Ventures which houses, project management, product management, digital transformation, design labs etc.

Now BIG 4 firms, with exception of KPMG decided to grow inorganically by acquisition (DSO-Monitor, PWC-Booz, EY-Parthenon) and now all have a strategy practice. Note that a lot of the areas MBB are investing majorly in the main areas of competency of the Big 4 +Accenture & IBM- not a big 4 but worth mentioning.

In summary:

Compete for work:

Prestige-wise MBB is still king, but in regards, to Big 4 doing all implementation and operation type work only this is factually not correct in the U.S at least. Take look at the most prestigious firms per vault

If you want the narrow comparison of “strategy based firms” see below:

Compete for Talent:

In regards to Pay, Total base + End of year bonus at MBB Vs. the strategy practices at big 4, on average they are relatively same (Same for Accenture): Can compare pre and post MBA here:

Yes prestige helps here for MBB, but as for exit options it’s a mixed bag, you can say on average MBB’s will break into some areas other might find more difficult, but a quick search on LinkedIn shows a lot of Booz&Co. (PWC-Strategy&) partners across all MBB’s, also searching for partners at BIG 4 also reveals various Alums of MBB (some will argue they were low performers e.t.c- Maybe or maybe not)

You would also note they all recruit mostly from the same school (take a look at the firm’s website, on the MBA career sections most list the schools they recruit from), am sure again folks will argue MBB gets the top of the class (Maybe, Maybe Not)

If your question is more which one to pick between MBB vs. Big 4, then this is a personal decision. A lot of areas need to be evaluated in light of your future goals as well as your personal preferences. If all you care about is prestige, then absolutely go MBB.

This could be more thorough, but I think it gives a balanced perspective of the U.S landscape. Let me know if you need more light shed on any particular area.

replied on Jan 14, 2019
Senior Consultant Monitor Deloitte I Yale MBA
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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.

updated his answer on Feb 17, 2018
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A lot of things said here. I would say that it varies a lot from country to country and even within one company. In some countries, one practice / industry in big4 may be comparable to MBB while the other industry will be less stronger.

I have experience in working with both 2nd and 1st tier consultancies. According to my experience:

  1. Quality is much Higher at MBB. To give you a sense, what you are doing as an analyst at big4, at mck will be done by research department or even outsourced students. Though it's worth to say that if your director at big4 will be ex MBB, quality will be much higher
  2. Knowledge base - McK knowledge base is extremely deep and helpful. You have tons of materials on various topics
  3. 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. At big4 you'll do that stuff yourself
  4. Costs - you will have better hotels, better dinners, better airline tickets, etc. This is important if you spend 90% of your life out of home
  5. Exposure to senior management may be higher, though it depends on the country. Since the projects are more expensive at MBB, you may have more senior people involved
  6. Relocation to different countries - options highly depend on the org structure of MBB/Big 4 company. I've seen good and bad example in both. But since you have higher salaries and per diem, at MBB you'll definitely have a better lifestyle at MBB if you do relocation



Anonymous replied on Feb 16, 2018

Hey Anonymous,

Let me two more points to the good poins already highlight below.

There's also often major differences in the type of work they tend to do (Big 4 focusing more on opperational and implementation work, while MBB on the "more pure" strategic pieces; this is however starting to slightly change as MBBs develop new client serving models, such as, digital, implementation focused, etc) and the seniority of client they tend to work with (MBB projects are often "bought" atCEO/VP level; Big 4 is usually a level below!)



Anonymous B replied on Feb 16, 2018


Well you can compare them on many different KPIs-

  1. Prestige- BIg 4 are known for their accounting specialities and MBBs are known for their consulting expertise. But consulting in big 4 doesn't dilutes a lot. What I know is mostly they do implementation consulting rater than strategy consulting.
  2. Exit options - MBB has better exit options as compared to the big 4
  3. Salaries- Check glassdoor, salsries for an entry level positions are higher for MBB's as compared to big 4. But in US, Big 4 can compete in salary level or even pay higher than MBB.
  4. Flexibility in doing international projects- My friends in Big 4 tell me, that the copmanies are slightly rigid in terms of international transfers or long oversees project. MBB it's relativity easier
  5. Up and out- MBB is very strict on its up and out policy, which BIG has some room. BUt any copmany will sack for not performing well consistensicy.

Moreover, a simple Google search can also provide these information too and more.


Alv7777 replied on Jun 18, 2018

As said, it is more desirable to go for MBB or Tier 2 (Accenture Strategy, AT. Kearney, Roland Berger, Oliver Wyman) because the quality of the work and the pay are far more generous.

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