Comments (13)

monkey18564, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's basically like comparing GS, MS and JP: Market leader in specific areas but Tier 1 across the board. The bottom line is that they compete for the same deals and employees, and have the same competences.

If you want to come up with differences, then self-selection and clichés are the only place to start.

McK: ambitious mavericks, extremely goal-oriented and narcissistic (which is a good thing from my pov)

BCG: creative and entrepreneurial consultants, very people-oriented and focused on team success

Bain: analytical, ambitious but down-to-earth; can't decide between IB and CO, which is why they do VDDs and CDDs in the PE team at Bain.

monkey18564, what's your opinion? Comment below:

But seriously, there are some cultural differences and they strongly differ in the staffing model

punk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the detailed reply, a few questions

  1. What makes McKinsey more "ambitious" vs the other 2 firms given how competitive their process and the type-A personalities they generally attract
  1. Which sectors are each of the MBB known to be better in? You mentioned Bain with PE CDD, wondering which other ones come to mind
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Winnfield, what's your opinion? Comment below:

uhm, name, logos, colors.

c'mon, SEARCH FUNCTION.  this topic has been beaten to death.

stupid stereotype is McK speaks to the right person, BCG gives the right answer, Bain gives the right results.


what they have in common: they work for the same clients, do the same kind of work, hire the same caliber of really smart and high-performing people, pay the same range, have the same selection process, same exit options, etc.  this hasn't changed in the past 20 years. 


intra-firm variance by office/region/practice matters as much as inter-firm variance overall.  this also hasn't changed in the past 20 years

here are the kinds of douchebags you'll find at each firm: 

  • mck: class president/overachiever type of douchebag.  friendly, professional, pleasant, kinda soulless/robotic.
  • bcg: power-tripping nerd type of douchebag.  more analytical, "deep thinkers", a lot of high IQ/low-ish EQ partners.
  • bain: work hard play hard type of douchebag.   some may have actually thrown/taken physical punches in their lives. 
  • all care more about money than they're willing to admit to. 

this also hasn't changed in the past 20 years

staffing model: mck global staffing, bcg tries to stay regional but can also send you global pretty often, bain tries the hardest to keep it regional/local.  this also hasn't changed in the past 20 years.

regional differences:

  • within the states: mck is strongest in ny, all three are massive in chicago, bain strong in SF, the two B's are stronger in boston, mck stronger in the south/all 2nd tier markets.
  • in europe: mck and bcg are much stronger, especially in germany.  southern europe considered one of the worst regions in WLB (hell offices: madrid, paris, milan etc).
  • in asia: seoul is one of the hell offices.  but who are we kidding, in far east asia you're expected to work almost every calendar of the year across ib/consulting.
  • in latam: mck has the widest footprint, bain sao paulo known as a hell office.

this also hasn't changed in the past 20 years. 

practice differences:  NOT MUCH.  Bain stronger with PE firms, McK better with banks/financial services, McK -- Coke and BCG -- Pepsi, McK and BCG both do a lot with pharma/healthcare etc.  McK has the broadest service offering and their research (ie. marketing) is considered the most influential; they're better than the two at speaking to CEOs/navigating client politics/orgs etc.  

this also hasn't changed in the past 20 years. 

source: i worked at one; was in a serious relationship with someone at a different one; co-founder came from a different one.  know hundreds of people across all 3 and across geographies. 


The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
  • 17
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Purely anecdotal and I admittedly have worked with a small # of BCG folks but in my personal experience the two I worked for were very high EQ and IQ. Two of the more personable consultants Ive worked with (and Ive worked at two consulting firms). But with that said, neither made partner 

punk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I thank you sir for the write-up

Not directly related but this piqued my curiosity since you mentioned this - what type of work do consulting firms do for the government? Do you mean state-owned companies/sovereign wealth funds or do they actually directly work with the government on projects. Thanks!

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

That all have one thing in common, they get paid a lot less than Investment Bankers but think they're just as prestigious

clutchmuffin, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In the "new normal" we're in, ways of working can differ substantially between the three, from what I've seen.

Across the board, consultants are not travelling to the client site as much as they used to. The M-TH at the client, F in the office model is dead. The most travel you'll see is 2-3 days a week at the client, but the majority of teams are doing 2-3 days every few weeks -- typically for key meetings.

The implication here is that consultants are working at the office more than they used to. But at McKinsey and BCG, because consultants are staffed from more than one office, that means when they aren't at the client site, they are working together virtually. They'll do "co-location" every other week or every few weeks where the team will fly to the same city and work out of the firm's office there. And at Bain, because teams are staffed out of the same office, teams are still fully in-person, but travelling much less than BCG and McKinsey because teams don't need to travel to co-locate.

So at BCG and McKinsey: more travel, but more virtual/remote work

And at Bain: Less travel, less virtual/remote work

VintageAntique, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The M-Th travel model is certainly less common but by no means dead. Source: lived it lol 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A

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