Welcome to another rendition of the Management Consulted top consulting firms list. This time, it’s one of your favorite cities in the world, where Big Ben stands tall. London’s calling – so enjoy!
1. McKinsey & Company: McKinsey London helps leading companies, public sector bodies and social sector organizations in the UK. The London office supports many pro bono initiatives and not-for-profit organizations and takes a particular interest in youth entrepreneurship and unemployment, education, and women’s leadership opportunities.
McKinsey has 50+ years of experience in London and has 45+ nationalities represented among their staff in the UK office. It captured our top billing for firms in London because its office and practice are the largest amongst the top consulting firms – a prestigious position built from a strong legacy that has endured and recent growth targets spurred on by McKinsey’s growing implementation practice.
Something interesting: McKinsey London is a leading supporter of Tech City, an initiative to create a dynamic technology cluster in East London. They also partner with TeachFirst, a not-for-profit body that recruits exceptional graduates to teach at schools with a high proportion of students from underprivileged backgrounds.
Some more cool stuff from the Number 1 on our list – employees in the London office take an active part in the debate on economic growth in the UK and globally. What more can you expect from a bunch of smarty pants? The UK office has plenty of training sessions with colleagues from other offices roughly every 18 months. However, as with across McKinsey in general, a work-life balance doesn’t exist, so don’t go in expecting one.
2. Bain & Company: Located just next to Charing Cross station and a short walk from Embankment Tube, the Bain London office is hip, cool, and the life of the party. Interestingly, Bain London is one of the firm’s oldest offices, established in 1979 as the firm’s first venture outside the U.S.
What types of industries and clients does Bain London cater to? London is one of the most important strategic offices inside the firm, so they do everything – strategy, marketing, organization, operations, technology, mergers & acquisitions and transformations – and they do it across all industries. Bain has consulting experts in their respective practice areas and has extensive experience helping organizations in the UK, Ireland, and across Europe.
Bain London has specific expertise represented by their UK leadership team, including the European heads of the Utilities, Oil & Gas and Private Equity practices. By the way, the Private Equity practice is one of their most successful practices of the past 20 years – Bain has advised more that 50 percent of “larger” European deals. If you’re in the London office (or even if you just go there on exchange), chances are you’ll get to be a part of at least one Private Equity engagement. In fact, the Bain PEG is one of the main reasons why it hit #2 on our list.
Culture is the very core of any Bain office in the world, and that includes the London office. Bainies here are pro-innovation. Having tons of fun is a major part of their culture. They created their own friendly football match against their German colleagues, and that is how the Bain World Cup was created. Another innovation is the Bain Band – the London band currently consists of a group of very talented Bainies, ranging from Partner (drummer) to Executive Assistant (singer) – the band can always be found at the centre of all good Bain London parties.
If someday Bain outgrows McKinsey, it will jump to #1 – the office and team have a super cool, unparalleled vibe. Many events are organized and attended by enthusiastic London Bainies, ranging from wine-tasting, rugby, arts, and football. Bainies also have a high core value for community projects, ski trips, sponsored walks, jogs, and marathons—the office is always buzzing with some new activity or the other.
3. Boston Consulting Group: No surprise here, as BCG checks in at #3 on our list. Located in trendy Marylebone, BCG London set up shop in the city all the way back in 1970, and is located on famous Baker Street opposite Portman Square. The London office is arguably BCG’s most cutting edge in terms of presenting creative, innovative solutions for its clients, and is the firm’s flagship European office. This office is also one of the firm’s most diverse, with dozens of nationalities and various commercial backgrounds represented.
Consultants here cater to a wide variety of industries, including financial services, consumer goods, retail, health care, energy, utilities, industrial goods, private equity, media and telecommunications. Rest assured, you’ll never get bored of one industry here. The London office also recruits worldwide, as EU citizens have the right to work visa-free in the UK (for now), and it is often much easier for other international students to obtain visas in the UK as opposed to U.S. offices.
Culture-wise, BCG London is one of the chummiest offices in the firm, with the an office-specific Social Committee organizing bonding events ranging from an open bar at a local pub to a 2-day trip in Italy. The office also does its part in giving back to the community – employees are involved in a myriad of social initiatives in London ranging from public health to childhood education. BCG London is also intricately involved in the firm’s quest to make sure no human trafficking or modern day slavery is a part of its supply chains.
4. Roland Berger: Roland Berger has proven itself in this competitive environment since they opened shop in 1990. After Germany, the UK is the firm’s largest market for management consulting in Europe.
The Roland Berger London office boasts staff that is diverse and international, coming from dozens of nationalities and representing a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds. Roland Berger’s London office services clients in many practice areas such as aerospace and defense, private equity, transportation, energy and engineered products. They also operate with excellence in functional expertise including financial investor support, operations, restructuring, strategy, and wargaming (ooooh).
Roland Berger is committed to three core values: excellence, entrepreneurship, and empathy. The staff in the Roland Berger London office are easy going, intelligent, hard working, love to party, and have a sense of humor.
When it comes to corporate social responsibility, Roland Berger has placed a great emphasis on education. Established in 2008 in Germany, the Roland Berger Foundation now has a EUR 50M budget. It serves two goals: human dignity and education. The program currently supports 500 individual pupils from 6 to 18 years across Germany. The firm also takes on dozens of pro-bono projects across Europe. Volunteering is encouraged among consultants individually and corporately.
5. Oliver Wyman: Oliver Wyman among the top 5 consulting firms in Europe – and it ranks very highly out of our London offices in particular. Among its top practices, Financial Services, Transfer Pricing, and Securities & Finance are its leading service areas in Europe.
Oliver Wyman has a typical consulting lifestyle – travel Monday – Thursday can be a drag, and long hours are expected that sometimes mean working with demanding clients on weekends. The London office has many upsides, however – a very transparent culture with a credible strategy and robust business model. Oliver Wyman London offers flexible working options for working mothers and the culture is high on innovation in the very intellectually-stimulating office.
50% of the employees in Oliver Wyman’s London offices are non-UK European, which just highlights the presence it has in the European market. The firm boasts great people to work with and the projects (not just restricted to the UK) are interesting. The fun, rapidly growing.London office has a great culture which encourages collaboration. For compensation, they pay on par with competitors who include the big boys – Bain & Company Europe, McKinsey & Company Europe, and Boston Consulting Group Europe.
6. A.T. Kearney: A.T. Kearney’s London office is among the top consulting offices in London and is arguably the best in terms of internal mobility and training. The office atmosphere is all about fostering a constant cross-industry and cross-country exchange of ideas and experience. Management ensures that each consultant is given a flexible working model that is customized for them, and only for them!
Across the A.T. Kearney network, the London office is known to have some of the best people to work with. There is constant learning and the content and quality of work is exceptional. Some of the not-so-great aspects of the office include work-life balance, which by the way if you’ve been paying attention, is a common complaint among consultants in London.
Also, the office is not very large when compared to the big leagues. McKinseyites, Bainies, and BCGers place a ceiling on growth in the strategy arena! However, A.T. Kearney is growing its presence in London by investing in employee and diversity friendly HR policies and programs. Once such program is the Encore Initiative. The training is designed for consultants who get back to work after an extended break. It is designed in a unique way with support teams and active project teams to help facilitate the transition into the deep end of work.
7. OC&C Strategy: OC&C Strategy Consultants is a major player in the strategy arena in consulting – for London and all of Europe. Founded in 1987, OC&C doesn’t think size is an end in itself but focuses on being a preferred strategy consultancy.
OC&C is honed in on corporate strategy, business unit strategy, strategic realization, and transaction support. The sectors the London office supports include TMT, consumer goods, business services, financial services, industrial products, private equity, retail & distribution, travel, transport, and logistics.
OC&C London pays more than just lip service to the concept of diversity. The firm concentrates most of its services in London – and once a consultant joins the firm, they have a one-on-one mentoring program that actively supports all staff and their individual needs. The firm also has specific programs to support female and LGBT colleagues.
The major win for OC&C strategy is longevity – the burnout rate is much lower than other peer firms. There are far fewer boring, long, implementation projects than nearly every other firm, which provides extensive freedom to continue learning and building expertise and means that exit opportunities are plentiful and varied. In fact, most peer consulting companies in London hire ex-OC&C consultants at the drop of a hat! In addition – the work-life balance is actually good here because the firm focuses on keeping consultants at home rather than at the client site.
The London office has a strong entrepreneurial culture and great colleagues. Client exposure and contact start very early on the job which is excellent for new hires. OC&C does not have oodles of bureaucracy or paperwork – its meritocratic promotion policy is very much like the culture in MBB. In fact, the company is very rich with history and experience but is still smaller compared to the MBBs and other firms with a more global presence.
8. Strategy&: Strategy& London is recognized as the best consulting firm in the region for informal training and promotion policies.
In terms of industry expertise, the firm has expert talent and resources across aerospace and defense, automotive, chemicals, consumer products, energy and utilities, financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, industrial products, media and entertainment, oil and gas, retail, and transportation. In fact, its industry expertise beats OC&C.
Culture-wise, consultants have experienced a difficult transition with the PwC acquisition of Booz – the main reason why Strategy& doesn’t rank higher on our London list. The company offers flexibility to work from home, and employees are smart and hard working and the pay is competitive with other top consultancies, but the future of the firm is still uncertain.
What’s not uncertain is that the firm regularly publishes reports, white papers, and books. In fact, Strategy& London contributes to an award-winning quarterly magazine called Strategy+Business. It also produces regular podcasts and videos to promote its leading research.
Strategy&’s London office invests a great deal in training programs; these programs address skills necessary for good leadership, judgment, insight, teamwork, and business development.
9. Frontier Economics: Founded in 1999, Frontier Economics applies economics to real life policy problems. Frontier is widely recognized as the leading economic consultancy in Europe. It provides clients with not just the costs of supply, movements in demand, pricing, and competitive dynamics of markets but also employs experts in finance, statistical modeling, game theory, market research, and even the psychological side of economics.
The culture and the people of Frontier Economics London are wonderful; that’s what makes it a special place to work. Consultants are friendly and create an intellectually stimulating environment. For a pretty heady firm, management and leaders stop and engage with the staff – a notable exception to sometimes-sterile economic consultancies.
Frontier is very community, environment, and people focused. The firm often carries out pro-bono work for clients like the St. Giles Trust, for which it evaluated a unique crime reduction program. Another community group Frontier provides services for is Whizz Kidz; the firm quantified the impact of mobility charity Whizz-Kidz’s new model for working in partnership with the NHS.
Frontier Economics London is an environment-friendly and environment-conscious office. In London, all the energy used in the office is 100% renewable. The firm introduced server virtualization to reduce energy consumption and use solid wax printing that reduces waste by 90% – plus, none of their waste goes to the landfill.
10. Simon Kutcher & Partners: Simon Kucher is a global consulting firm specializing in TopLine Power, which encompasses strategy, marketing, pricing, and sales.
Founded in 1985, the company has 900+ professionals worldwide in 30 offices. Simon Kutcher London is a global center of excellence staffed by thought leaders in pricing consulting, a very unique but also important area of expertise. After all, a company needs to know how to maximize its profits by setting the right price for its product or service. Some of the clients the Simon Kutcher London office services are leading companies from across a broad range of industries including media, transport, automotive, financial services, technology, pharmaceuticals, and utilities.
Every year, Simon Kutcher takes in at least 10-15 interns in the London area. The management rewards success; they recognize creativity and harness growth among teams. It is a wonderful environment in which to grow; the structure is relatively flat in London, and if you are keen in developing your network in an already fast-paced environment, growth here will not be a problem.
The projects at Simon Kutcher London are interesting, but they are all similar to one another and therefore can get a bit redundant (read: boring). The pay is relatively good (but not great) and so are the bonuses. The London office is a pretty laid-back office, but that carries over to exit opportunities – once you leave the firm, there is no alumni structure whatsoever. Plus, there is hardly any recognition when compared to the Top 3 or Big 4 brand names.
Let’s end on a high note, though – consultants actually sing when they hear about the work/life balance compared to other consultancies (e.g. BCG, Roland Berger, Big 4). Simon Kutcher London doesn’t get everything right, but it’s a wonderful place to start your career.
11. Arthur D Little: Arthur D Little is not a new name. Founded in 1886, it prides itself as the world’s first management consulting firm. ADL – a global management consultancy specializing in strategy and operations management serving major corporations and organizations worldwide – has offices in over 20 countries. The firm is known to link strategy, innovation, and technology together.
The London office is very inviting and friendly – it is not too big, which allows you to get to know your colleagues (and you are not just a number at a desk like at some Big 4 firms). For interns and junior staff, you get wide exposure to experts, seniors, and partners. The culture is informal and very flexible, as long as your work gets done.
The projects you get to work on are interesting; the Telecom practice is very popular in London. Management has a very entrepreneurial mindset and encourages your ideas and zeal to pursue new opportunities. In the London office, you get a lot of diverse and interesting cases. In fact, Business Analysts present to a CEO one week and then might get to work on a separate case for an IPO the next week.
The people at Arthur D Little are engaging and come from very diverse backgrounds – they are not your usual firm, where 98% of staff with Business and MBA degrees (good news if you’re trying to take a non-traditional path). If you tend to work smart rather than boiling the ocean, you will notice a significant opportunity to pursue work-life balance at Arthur D Little London. The hours are long, but better than in most top tier firms.
The pay in London is good but certainly not as good compared to top tier consulting firms. Because ADL is lean, strong integrated support systems don’t exist like they would at McKinsey or Strategy&. Therefore, your team will have to do your own “deep analysis.”
Honorable Mentions of firms in London, UK
Credo Consulting: Headquartered in London, UK, Credo Consulting is a leading boutique consulting firm helping many leading organizations make and implement strategic decisions.
The Brattle Group: Headquartered in Cambridge, MA but with an office in London, the firm’s expertise includes antitrust, intellectual property, M&A litigation, securities and risk management, among others.
Alvarez & Marsal: Headquartered in New York but with an office in London, Alvarez & Marsal delivers specialist operational, consulting and industry expertise to management teams and investors.
Elixirr: Headquartered in London, Elixirr helps clients change the game in their respective industries. The nimble teams help clients respond to the threat of disruption with operational advantages in financial services, retail, telecommunications, and manufacturing.
Eden McCallum: From its London office, Eden McCallum aims to redefine management consulting. The firm supports clients to resolve their most pressing issues of strategy, operations, and organization.
Projective: Headquartered in London, Projective is a financial services project management landscape company. The firm supports traditional consultancies, system vendors, and integrators.