Accenture Strategy vs. KPMG Strategy vs. Mars & Co.

t_dawg_94's picture
Rank: Chimp | 6

Hi All - long-time lurker, first-time poster. I'm interested in pursuing a career in Strategy consulting and was hoping to get the forum's input on three firms I have some interest in / have contacts at:

  1. Accenture Strategy: I was a little weary of them going in because I didn't want to get branded as a "tech guy" but after speaking with people there I liked them overall. I think Accenture has good synergy at the their company across the different service lines but I'm worried that the Strategy team will be more focused on selling "strategy" disguised as selling downstream tech work. I like their emphasis on digital, though. The people there were nice if a little stale but overall I left with a good taste in my mouth. Probably would rank it #2 right now.
  2. KPMG Strategy: I haven't heard much about this group on this forum which is odd because I'm pretty sure they are as new as Accenture Strategy, so I went in not knowing what to think. I really liked the people I met with and they seemed really bright and their projects seemed very interesting and for marquee clients, but I felt like they were still kind of "figuring it out" and navigating what it means to be a Strategy firm. Less tech-focused and more traditional "strategy consulting" than Accenture, plus they seemed to have a lot of good M&A DD work which I would be interested in. Probably would rank it #1 right now.
  3. Mars & Co.: Very different than the other two and I'm not sure if I want to join a firm this small (I'm joining out of undergrad). The people seemed very cerebral and thoughtful but a little dorky. Also not too thrilled about them not being in NYC. I worry about advancement and learning opportunities due to the small size but overall think it's a good firm. Probably would rank it #3 right now.

I wonder if anyone has any comments on these firms / thoughts on if my assessments are right (I'm just beginning this process). Any feedback would be appreciated!

Comments (10)

Jun 22, 2017

My quick opinion:
1) I would pick Mars & Co - they are actually more of a strategy boutique, you will get a higher quality of projetcs (actually high-level advisory not implementation like the other two) and the pedigree of people is much better. In my opinion the size of this firm is actually its advantage. You will also be able to benefit from the global staffing model. Secondly their analytical approach is actually more like something that McKinsey would do.
2) Accenture Strategy and KPMG Strategy aren't actually pure strategy consulting teams - they package a lot of other work (some tech stuff, a lot of implementation / process design / business front end of SAP) t together with really cool projects that come far and between. By picking one of these I still think you will have a great experience but it can be vary and uneven. You can meet people that were staffed on MBB-type projects but most will actually have a mediocre experience. Of these two I would definitely pick Accenture, stronger brand and better clients. KPMG Strategy is virtually non-existing in the consulting market (I mean comparing it to other big players).

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Jun 24, 2017

Johnny that description of KPMG is not complete. It describes their wider consulting practise but not the Strategy capability on its own. Like the other Big 4, KPMG has a dedicated Strategy team in their Deals practise. This team focuses on commercial due dilligence. The people in that team will never touch implementation, processes or IT. They often work for PE firms where the thing they deliver is market analysis.

Not that the Big-4 generally split their Advisory teams in 1. Deals (also called "M&A" or "transaction services", varying per location and firm) and 2. Consulting. Strategy can sit in both with different focus:

  1. Deals Strategy focuses on commercial due dilligence and some economics, business plan review type of work
  2. Consulting teams have "strategy and operations" teams which do end-to-end work ranging from strategy to large transformation projects. Here, it's unpredictable what kind of work you get, it depends on the team which hires you. Some Big-4 have dedicated strategy teams in their Consulting arm as well, even if they already have one in Deals. The dedicated strategy teams in Consulting will focus on client questions around organic growth, pricing, market entry.

You just have to make sure to ask the office you are applying at how strategy is organized, how long their projects are and what the typical services are you deliver to clients.

I've spoken to Accenture Strategy people and many of them also focus on core corporate strategy. commercial due dilligence, customer experience and other strategy related topics. I have heard that they try and connect to their tech practise to implement their advice where relevant, but other, separate teams bring tech expertise as Strategy is a dedicated team.

One thing to keep in mind in your decision is that KPMG cannot always work for clients where they are the auditor. In some cases this cuts off 25% of the market for them. Accenture does not have such a limitation.

Best Response
Jun 22, 2017

Accenture for four reasons:

First, they're really working to segregate their strategy and implementation arms. 5 years ago the odds that you would be rolled onto the implementation of your project were high. It's much rarer now. Talk to consultants at the firm to validate.

Second, it's a b-school factory if you want to get your MBA.

Third, they absolutely are considered a tier ahead of KPMG. Additionally, the earlier comment about implementation at KPMG is correct. Comp should also be higher at Accenture, but check managementconsulted, I never looked deeply at KPMG.

Fourth, it's a stronger brand overall than Mars & Co. If you're ever looking to do something outside of the small world who can differentiate Mars consulting from a chocolate factory, this will make a big difference. Having a big brand like Accenture on your resume will carry through your career. If you find that you start to feel like a tech guru, you can always go to b-school and reshift very easily with the Accenture name.

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Jun 22, 2017

Agree, out of the three options Accenture Strategy has the best exit opportunities. I started my career there, left after four years to attend a top 5 b-school and am now at MBB. Many of my peers had similar career trajectories. Also, just to clarify - Accenture Strategy has been around forever, it was just not a separate P&L until several years ago. From a practical standpoint, what that means is Strategy partners are not incentivized to sell non-Strategy work.

Jun 25, 2017

I'd be wary of Mars. They have a toxic culture from everyone I've talked to from there. But if you can suck it up for a couple years, then maybe that's not an issue.

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Jun 27, 2017

Hey guys - thanks for your comments. I'm surprised that Accenture is getting such glowing reviews - the people at KPMG and Mars seemed to hold an intellectual advantage but of course I'm basing that off of a limited sample size. Mars struck me as the most typical "classic strategy" firm but as others have mentioned I'm definitely wary of the small size, plus they aren't in Manhattan. I guess it's down to Accenture and KPMG and, of course, I'll be shooting for other firms as well but at the moment these three are the most likely.

Jun 27, 2017
t_dawg_94:

Hey guys - thanks for your comments. I'm surprised that Accenture is getting such glowing reviews - the people at KPMG and Mars seemed to hold an intellectual advantage but of course I'm basing that off of a limited sample size. Mars struck me as the most typical "classic strategy" firm but as others have mentioned I'm definitely wary of the small size, plus they aren't in Manhattan. I guess it's down to Accenture and KPMG and, of course, I'll be shooting for other firms as well but at the moment these three are the most likely.

Accenture has a stronger name brand at the moment and this website is obsessed with prestige. KPMG's strategy practice is growing rapidly and there's enormous opportunity there. You wont have to worry about SAP implementation at KPMG... Deloitte/PwC are also limited by their audit function..

Jun 27, 2017

To throw in my 2 cents, I've had some experiences with all three firms....

  1. I've worked with teams from Accenture Strategy in the past. Overall they were ok, not your typical strategy consultants... much more of a "lead with tech / lead with digital" approach. Granted it's 2017 and "lead with digital" should be every company's mantra, but the AS folks just seemed very different than your typical McK, OW, ATK folks. I can definitely see what one poster said about b-school placement but, frankly, outside of MBB, I feel like every consulting firm that most people have heard of gets lumped into the same bucket and your GMAT / GPA is more of a differentiator than, say, Accenture vs. Deloitte vs. KPMG vs. Roland Berger vs. IBM vs. OW, etc. People from all of those firms make it to top b-schools. But, then again, that's just my 2 cents. DISCLAIMER: I was a direct promote to EM, never went to b-school, but most of my peers did.
  2. My former roommate used to work from KPMG Strategy, now goes to an M7 b-school on their scholarship and intends to return. I think this place is vastly underrated because they're very small, I think like ~250 consultants in the US, plus they're still relatively new. My buddy loved it there, people were great, high-caliber talent, good clients, comp was on-par with peer firms (e.g., Parthenon-EY, probably a shade below Strategy&, definitely below MBB but so is everyone else). I'm partial to the "elite boutiques" because that's where I work (and, yes, I know we're getting squeezed out of the market....) but I get the allure of the Big 4 and I think they have big futures in the consulting market. Not my style but I think it makes sense in the long-term. Also, Big-4 firms don't just lump strategy with deals; M&A strategy is indeed a horizontal group at most firms but each Big-4 strategy arm offers more than just that....
  3. I applied to Mars & Co. a few years back. Didn't like it. As someone else said, I heard the culture sucks, it's super-small, and pretty sure it's not a Partnership so your ceiling is low. They're also based in Greenwich, not NYC, so may not be your cup-of-tea. The people are smart but turnover is really high.... I would probably take Accenture or KPMG over Mars. Plus chicks at the bar will think you make candy bars, not a good look.

Good luck!

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Jun 22, 2017

Just a few points on your #2. That's a very unusual story. I'm pretty sure nobody who came to Booth in my class from KPMG is going back, though there may be an exception. Most are going corporate. I know of some that recruited for consulting, didn't land offers upstream far enough for them to be happy (i.e. Deloitte/ATK/Strat&/LEK etc and up) so they set sights elsewhere. I think KPMG is a great firm, but I wouldn't treat this sample size of one as a special indicator.

On compensation, I'm going to disagree. Having just finished b-school I've been exposed to offers either personally or through friends at all the firms. Transparentcareer is the most accurate site for post-MBA salary data. They specifically target MBA's at top schools and break out the people with the same roles without an MBA to get a better representation. It's also a new site so these figures are up to date.

Let's look at some of their post MBA data:

KPMG
50th% Salary: $135k
10th% and 90th%: $120-$140k
50th% Bonus: $20k
10th% and 90th%: $0-$27k
Total Salary & Bonus 50th%: $155k

Accenture
50th% Salary: $147.5k
10th% and 90th%: $147.5k-$147.5k
50th% Bonus: $20k
10th% and 90th%: $12k-$44k
Total Salary & Bonus 50th%: $167.5k

Parthenon
50th% Salary: $170k
10th% and 90th%: $155k-$175k
50th% Bonus: $10k
10th% and 90th%: $3k-$25k
Total Salary & Bonus 50th%: $180k

Strategy&
50th% Salary: $147k
10th% and 90th%: $147k-$149.5k
50th% Bonus: $30.5k
10th% and 90th%: $0-$47k
Total Salary & Bonus 50th%: $177.5k

Deloitte
50th% Salary: $140k
10th% and 90th%: $130k-145k
50th% Bonus: $25k
10th% and 90th%: $0-$35k
Total Salary & Bonus 50th%: $165k

McKinsey
50th% Salary: $145k
10th% and 90th%: $123k-$152.5k
50th% Bonus: $35k
10th% and 90th%: $0-$35k
Total Salary & Bonus 50th%: $180k

BCG
50th% Salary: $147k
10th% and 90th%: $146k-$149k
50th% Bonus: $44k
10th% and 90th%: $0-$45k
Total Salary & Bonus 50th%: $181k

Bain
50th% Salary: $145k
10th% and 90th%: $135k-$152k
50th% Bonus: $34k
10th% and 90th%: $25k-40k
Total Salary & Bonus 50th%: $179k

I can verify all but two of these firms from personal experience. These are for post-MBA roles in strategy groups. The recruiting year got a little split with some top firms starting a move towards $152k base so if the numbers feel off by $3k or so based on other's experience that's probably why. I think that Deloitte's numbers are dragged down a little by the tech strategy group, which I understand pays a little less.

These differences expand over time. I don't consider lagging Parthenon/Strategy& by $20k+ in year one for average performers a 'shade' less (other firms in this compensation set include LEK, ATK, OW and I believe Deloitte's non-tech hires are closer to this than KPMG). These firms are, by contrast, a "shade" below MBB, though the differences grow over time. KPMG IS on par with EY non-Parthenon/ZS and beats out IBM/most regional firms.

I've focused this comment on post-MBA to respond to your comments above. But I think this is pretty indicative of the differences in long term prospects comp wise between the firms.

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Jun 27, 2017
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