Choosing between McKinsey, Bain, and BCG?

In deciding between MBB, would you guys offer any insights about differences between the three firms or things to think about while making a decision? All three offers are from the same city.

McKinsey vs Bain vs BCG

If you've worked hard enough to secure an offer at all three firms then congratulations. These firms are the most prestigious in consulting. All of these firms offer great exit opportunities and pay. However these firms still have their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Lets take a look at each firm in terms of pay at the first year associate level. The following figures are being pulled from the 2017 Wall Street Oasis Consulting Industry Report. Compensation figures are calculated by adding average salary to average bonus.

McKinsey Salary

  • Average base: 126.4k
  • Average bonus: 25.5k
  • All in compensation: 151.9k

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Salary

  • Average base: 81.4k
  • Average bonus: 15k
  • All in compensation: 96.4k

Bain Salary

  • Average base: 74.4k
  • Average bonus: 16.5k
  • All in compensation: 90.9k

    On the whole, Mckinsey and Company pays its first year associates the best by a large degree.

MBB: Management Consulting Lifestyle

Next, lets see how these firms compare in terms of lifestyle. Each firm will is given a percentage based on time off, hours worked and overall work life balance. Each metric is designed to answer each of the the following questions.

  • Time off: Management support for needed time off?
  • Work life balance: Employer support in balancing between work life and personal life?
  • Average hours worked: How many hours do you work an average?

Working at Mckinsey

  • Time Off: 94.4%
  • Work life balance: 86.7%
  • Average hours worked: 69.1

Working at Bain

  • Time Off: 89.9%
  • Work life balance: 91.1%
  • Average hours worked: 64.9

Working at Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

  • Time Off: 87.8%
  • Work life balance: 81.1%
  • Average hours worked: 63.7

In terms of pay and time off Mckinsey & Co. leads the group. Bain comes in first for best work life balance and second in pay. Finally, BCG comes in first place with the least amount of average hours worked.

In summary, all of these are fantastic places to begin a career in management consulting. All three firms are top tier for almost every metric used in the consulting industry report. After all, they have their own acronym for a reason.

Curious about how your firm stacks up against MBB and other elite firms? Check out the 2017 Consulting Industry Report for more compensation data and the most up to date information. Click the link below to get started.

Consulting Industry Report

Comments (142)

Nov 30, 2014

well, it might be too late for that now, but during the interview, when they ask you "do you have any questions for me?..." - that would have been a good time to ask them what THEY think makes their firm/office special, what kind of engagements are maybe more typical at that office, or whatever interests you and helps you decide. also you could have tried to get a feel as to the people at the office, the feel of the place...

or... i could give you the cliches, which you could have googled yourself...
Mck: most prestigious, biggest, greatest network, "let's do our work, and do it right" attitude
BCG: creative, out-of-the-box, almost nerdy
Bain: college'y, "fun"(?)

just repeating what keeps getting said, but i think they all have much of the same and differ mostly on an individual basis v-a-v people and offices.

go with whichever office felt better.

"... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

Nov 30, 2014
dagro:

Mck: most prestigious, biggest, greatest network, "let's do our work, and do it right" attitude

r.

Implying that BCG and Bain don't have the attitude of producing quality work? Ridiculous. If anything, compared to Bain and BCG, McKinsey is far more concerned with *who* sees the work than *what* was actually accomplished at the client.

Dec 1, 2014
acronym:
dagro:

Mck: most prestigious, biggest, greatest network, "let's do our work, and do it right" attitude

r.

Implying that BCG and Bain don't have the attitude of producing quality work? Ridiculous. If anything, compared to Bain and BCG, McKinsey is far more concerned with *who* sees the work than *what* was actually accomplished at the client.

please don't quote me out of context again.

"... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

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Dec 1, 2014

First, congratulations!

By and large, it's tough to make an objective case for one MBB over another. Here are some things to think about:
1. Travel - Some industries in some offices provide lots of local work. Beyond that, some firms typically travel 3 days/wk. Other are 4 days/wk.
2. Work style - Do teams always co-locate? Do you leave the team room when you're done or when everyone is done for the night?
3. Fridays - Do most people work from home? Work full days in the office? Do lots of networking and practice-area events?
4. Progression - What %age make the jump to EM/PL? Of those, how many leave before promo time vs. how many are coached out? What about the next level? What resources are there for those who exit for either reason?
5. Leave, sabbatical, secondement, ambassador programs - What options are there? How many people utilize them? How are these viewed in terms of career progression?
6. Sustainability - What measures are in place to ensure it's not always crunch time? What checks are there to prevent burn-out? Do all teams abide by these?
7. Salary progression - Base offers and progression are pretty similar, but at least get the data for your future reference.
8. Staffing - Self-driven networking, highly centralized, or somewhere in-between. Which model suits you?

Beyond making the decision, there are some tactical considerations you might want to think about:
9. Case types - What industries and functions do you want to work on first? As a triple-offeree, you'll never have more leverage than now to get soft commitments from the firms about your early assignments. Same for meeting senior staff who work on those types of cases. Be tactful.

Hopefully you'll have a few SELLebration events to ask these types of questions. Good luck.

Nov 30, 2014

I think brj did an excellent job summarizing the differences among the three firms. The only things I'd add are:

1) The people - Where do you feel like you fit best? Consulting travel and hours is really tough if you don't like who you're working with. Assuming you are either an undergrad or an MBA, you can also look at your classmates going to different firms and think about where you'd fit in the best.
2) The staffing model - Bain is office-centric, BCG is regional with some national/global optionality, and McK is the most global. There are inherent pros and cons to each of the models. Which suits you best?
3) Org structure/shape - Bain is pyramid-shaped (more undergrads) whereas BCG and McK are diamonds (more MBAs / advanced degree holders). Which environment would you rather be in?

Assuming you find that multiple firms satisfy your hygiene factors (salary, type of work, travel), I'd advise choosing based on people. Good luck!

Best Response
Nov 30, 2014

What city are you in? Relative strengths/attractiveness of clients differ a lot by city (and country). [Actually, don't tell us but consider the question].

Corollary to the previous question: are you interested in a particular vertical? Strengths within particular verticals differ by firm and by firm by city.

Do you want to wake at at 4:30am every Monday and live out of a hotel 3 nights a week? Go to McKinsey or BCG.

Do you want to be friends with your colleagues? Go to Bain.

Do you want to impress random people with only a minimal familiarity with the industry? Go to McKinsey.

What do you want to do later in your career? If you want to go to the buy side, go to Bain or McKinsey.

Are you nerdy, awkward, and/or German? Go to BCG.

Seriously though, go to the offeree weekends and see where you fit in. In my experience, the work isn't all that different but the people are.

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Dec 11, 2014

This is a blanket answer. However, there are some valid points. I found myself in a similar situation as OP recently having all three offers and the biggest differences are the culture and people. Unforutnately this varies from office-to-office, so take any statement on here with a grain of salt.

BCG and McKinsey's models are more similar than different. I would say McKinsey is slightly more global when it comes to staffing. Bain however is very different. You will always work with people form your office or the next closest office on projects. The pro is obviously making stronger relationships, however the con is that you limit your network and could end up doing repeat work with colleagues you may not like that much. In general Bain is less travel than the other two.

In the end, it is all about people and fit. You need to get face-time with people from each office before you pull the trigger.

Nov 30, 2014

Based on the general consensus at my MBA program, McKinsey has the strongest prestige and Bain is the most fun/coolest people. BCG seems to be lagging a bit behind those two in where people want to work (and surprisingly, quite a few people took bain over McKinsey). That said, the Chicago BCG office is pretty great and only 50% travel.

Dec 1, 2014
OpsDude:

Based on the general consensus at my MBA program, McKinsey has the strongest prestige and Bain is the most fun/coolest people. BCG seems to be lagging a bit behind those two in where people want to work (and surprisingly, quite a few people took bain over McKinsey). That said, the Chicago BCG office is pretty great and only 50% travel.

It's still strange to me that Kellogg and Booth are completely opposite with regards to Bain and BCG. At K, Bain kills it and is head-to-head with McK. At B, the battle for #1 has been between BCG and McK for the last few years, with Bain a distant 3rd. Several discussions with MBBers from both schools over the summer and we still can't figure it out.

Generally though, crosses between McK and either B often boil down to prestige v. sustainability and are easier to resolve (though not in one direction or the other) than crosses between the Bs, where the intangibles loom largest.

Dec 1, 2014
brj:
OpsDude:

Based on the general consensus at my MBA program, McKinsey has the strongest prestige and Bain is the most fun/coolest people. BCG seems to be lagging a bit behind those two in where people want to work (and surprisingly, quite a few people took bain over McKinsey). That said, the Chicago BCG office is pretty great and only 50% travel.

It's still strange to me that Kellogg and Booth are completely opposite with regards to Bain and BCG. At K, Bain kills it and is head-to-head with McK. At B, the battle for #1 has been between BCG and McK for the last few years, with Bain a distant 3rd. Several discussions with MBBers from both schools over the summer and we still can't figure it out.

Generally though, crosses between McK and either B often boil down to prestige v. sustainability and are easier to resolve (though not in one direction or the other) than crosses between the Bs, where the intangibles loom largest.

I went to a few high potential dinners that MBB had, and one of them was mixed between Kellogg and Booth students. From that I've realized the stereotypes about the differences between Booth and Kellogg are very accurate. I can definitely see why the more quanty/nerdy BCG would appeal to Booth students (I don't mean that in a bad way).

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Dec 3, 2014
brj:
OpsDude:

Based on the general consensus at my MBA program, McKinsey has the strongest prestige and Bain is the most fun/coolest people. BCG seems to be lagging a bit behind those two in where people want to work (and surprisingly, quite a few people took bain over McKinsey). That said, the Chicago BCG office is pretty great and only 50% travel.

Generally though, crosses between McK and either B often boil down to prestige v. sustainability and are easier to resolve (though not in one direction or the other) than crosses between the Bs, where the intangibles loom largest.

please elaborate

"... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

Dec 11, 2014

Bain. No question. They do (far) more PE work, place guys regularly at Blackstone/BainCap (~3/yr and ~9 / yr, respectively), usually 2-3 at TPG, and then maybe 1 at KKR (Carlyle just started interviewing consultants this year).

For HFs, Bain has more on retainer than McK, and does more work in that area. So if you're at McK doing finance cases, you're working for big banks or corporations, while at Bain you're doing far more advising to PE firms and Hedge funds relative to big banks/firms. This only really applies to the SF/NY/Bos offices--others do way less PE/HF work, so there's a good argument for taking McK there. Top-5 PE don't list Associates on their websites, but you can assume that Bain has huge adv @ bain cap, and is marginally better at the other 5 than McK. Look at websites for Berkshire, Gold Gate, Hellman Friedman, Providence, CVC, Cinven, and you'll see that Bain dominates. At executive level, maybe more McKs than Bainies at many of these firms, but that's really cause Bain is younger and really came into its own in PE space during the last boom, so it kills McK in associate hiring now.

Or think of it this way (if it's more helpful):
aEUC/ ~25% of Bain 2nd year ACs in a given year leave to do buy-side (others do non-prof/bus school/stay at Bain/industry. Buy side is HF/VC/PE). That means ~35-40 applicants (140-160*.25). Let's assume high and go 40.
aEUC/ most of this 25% do PE. It's the most well-travelled route, given that ACs do a lot of time in PE. Say 15% of the 25% do VC and 15% of the 25% do HF (that's 6 VC and 6 HF). Leaves 28 going to PE.
aEUC/Now take a look at acceptances in a given year:
2 BS
2 TPG
1 KKR + Carlyle (this is conservative, given that both firms are moving towards hiring more consultants)
7 Bain Cap
3 Golden Gate
1 Providence/Hellman Friedman
1 CVC
2 Berkshire (also conservative--see their website)
2 Apax
2 3i
2 Cinven
1 AEA
1 Cerberus/TH Lee/Warburg Pincus/Madison Dearborne, Silver Lake/Other firms I'm missing that are very legit (1 is for all these combined--conservative, I think)
3 HIG (less legit, but I'll incl here)
1 GS PIA (I think--not sure tho)

TOTAL > 28 (and w/ conservative numbers--Bain Cap goes above 7 usually from Bain. it's greater b/c of some hiring out of Bain London.
Compare that with McK numbers from these companies' websites
McK guys are working at worse firms--look at Audax, for e.g., which was founded by a Bain Cap guy and ex Bainie, but has way more McK associates. That's cause, though Audax is legit, bainies are getting better jobs than that. Look at other solid mid mkt firms' sites that hire consultants--more McKs, and these firms tend to be worse

For hedge, Bain and McK are closer, but Bain still edges out all but McK corp fi. The truth is, if you go into McK w/o any finance bckgrnd (internships) and aren't corp fi, you won't even get interviews from most of the top 5 (except Bain Cap). Guys in the NY office went to SAC and Och Ziff last year. Guys in SF had offers from D.E. Shaw and Farallon.

Keep in mind that out of Bain's ~150 ACs, only ~75 are in SF/NY/Bos, which are the places that do more HF/PE-applicable work, so those guys are really set or HF/PE, given that the numbers above apply to all of Bain.

That's not to say Bain is better--McK is better at a lot of non-profit, industry, public sector, and impressing random people you meet. But Bain is very clearly better comparatively than McK, and on an absolute level, very very good, when it comes to PE/HF

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  • movetofinance
  •  Dec 11, 2014

your numbers are too high.

also, surely mck doesn't do as badly as you suggest.

Dec 11, 2014

Check out the MM firms' websites that report associates' stuff, so that means that only BS and TPG are way out of line...and I'm sure that BS and Bain have a very good relationship, so assuming 2 isn't crazy at all (out of 20 associates hired). Bain will say that 1/2 of Bain Cap's class is Bain ACs...and Bain Cap's class is mid-high teens.

McK places well, of course, but, again, check out those firms' websites. The ##s suggest that Bain is stronger...even at firms other than gold gate and Bain Cap (except Audax, which is a cut below the others I mention, I think).

I'm a senior at target not doing consulting next year, though I got Bain and McK. It was clear to me that McK is very confident that they are "the best," and in may respects they are, but that confidence spreads to their beliefs about how good they are at recruiting to buy-side, when the evidence points very strongly in Bain's direction. If you're making a choice between the two, make sure to ask the tough questions...

I'm wondering which of my ##s is wrong, specifically...

Dec 11, 2014

Check out the MM firms' websites that report associates' stuff, so that means that only BS and TPG are potentially way out of line (even assuming only one hire for each in a given year, that doesn't really change my overall conclusion that Bainies do very well in PE--i.e. way more spots than people who want to go to PE and work in top-tier offices, so PE must be hiring from "2nd tier" bain offices a lot...and I'm sure that BS and Bain have a very good relationship, so assuming 2 isn't crazy at all (out of 20 associates hired). Bain will say that 1/2 of Bain Cap's class is Bain ACs...and Bain Cap's class is mid-high teens.

McK places well, of course, but, again, check out those firms' websites. The ##s suggest that Bain is stronger...even at firms other than gold gate and Bain Cap (except Audax, which is a cut below the others I mention, I think).

I'm a senior at target not doing consulting next year, though I got Bain and McK. It was clear to me that McK is very confident that they are "the best," and in may respects they are, but that confidence spreads to their beliefs about how good they are at recruiting to buy-side, when the evidence points very strongly in Bain's direction. If you're making a choice between the two, make sure to ask the tough questions...

I'm wondering which of my ##s is wrong, specifically...

Dec 11, 2014

bump--if I'm wrong with my numbers, I would like to know, but they do seem right...

Dec 11, 2014

Bain Capital's class (for the PE unit) is 8-10 hires, not mid-to-high teens.

Dec 11, 2014

Think about the 8-10 number more:
-Bain Cap's website says that they have 270 investment pros across all investment vehicles, 170 in PE
-Bain Cap has several positions: Associate pre MBA, Associate Post MBA, Principal, VP, MD.
-Their website lists all investment pros principal and higher. There are 133.
-So 133/270 investment professionals are associates pre and post b-school.
-Assuming the ratio in PE is same as their hedge funds (a very conservative assumption--PE has more due diligence than hedge so more associates / senior pro), then we get 84 associates.
-The associate contract for pre MBA is 2 years. Those invited back (not a huge ##) must go to b-school 1st (few exceptions--none that I know of and am reasonably familiar with the firm). Max time as post MBA associate is 3 years (again, very few exceptions).
-So that means 84 associates / 5 years = 18-19 associates / year.
-which means more than 8-10 hires...just from the simple process of "filling in the blanks" on Bain Cap's own website
-which makes sense--Bain Cap is known for lotsa due diligence, so they will have 3 associates, a principal, VP, and MD on one team (more associates than most funds).
-Either way you look at it, smuguy, I think my number is likely to be more accurate than yours.

Dec 11, 2014

Um, since smuguy is an ex-consultant who works at a pretty decent-sized PE firm, I think he's in a better position to answer this question than you, someone who I am guessing is still in college.

Dec 11, 2014

questions - as robust as your website-based SWAG appears to be, there is a key difference between my figure and your estimate. The 8-10 figure was articulated to me by Josh Bekenstein (feel free to look him up) while eating lunch in the Bain Capital dining area / cafeteria during a September '05 third-round interview for a summer '06 start. I can confirm that for '07 the starting class was of similar size, as a close friend and fellow MBB alum just started in September '07.

If you really want to know why your estimate is off, it is because you have no familiarity with Sankaty Advisors, one of Bain Cap's non-PE units. Sankaty is a fixed-income fund that is staffed heavily with both associates AND analysts. Sankaty is the only Bain Capital unit that hires direct from undergrad; within the group, analysts outnumber associates by roughly 2-1.

Dec 11, 2014

Oh, and didn't mention it earlier but in case you were curious Bain Cap had 11 summer '07 starts.

Dec 11, 2014

baincap hired 20 people for asia alone last year (many senior, agreed, but still...)

Nov 30, 2014

personally i'd go with BCG or McKinsey.

BCG pays a bit more and has been growing more recently, which is good.

bain is smaller and might not be recognized in some geographies. also, due to smaller size, future is a bit less certain.

McKinsey still has a slight edge for name.

i'd index heavily on what the office you were offered at does. I mean, what industries do they primarily serve where you got your offer, and how does that compare to your interests? BCG, McKinsey and Bain might have very different industry concentrations for the same office / region, and even if your offers are at the same city, this could lead to very different long-term careers based on what type of work they do there.

can't go wrong however you choose.

Dec 11, 2014

Spoilt.

Still not sure if I want to spend the next 30+ years grinding away in corporate finance and the WSO dream chase or look to have enough passive income to live simply and work minimally.

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Dec 11, 2014

I'm curious why you think that? I changed my language a bit in the post but I think this is a great opportunity to learn even if I don't want to spend my life working towards a position at a PE firm or a blue chip not that there's anything wrong with that I just don't think it is for me...is that not an acceptable approach to the situation?

Dec 11, 2014

ignore missingno. it's pretty standard for people to only do management consulting for a couple of years then exit, but i think it's just one of those things you're not supposed to say out loud. for some reason, exiting to private equity is more ok than going to law school. go figure.

i would say your best bet is bain. they'll all work you hard, but from what i hear bain places a very strong emphasis on training and also the people who work there seem to genuinely like it, which is something you don't see at the other two. it also has the largest proportion of young people.

that being said, if you think your future lies in other areas, why aren't you going after them straight out of college to get a head start and do something you actually find meaning in? just curious.

Dec 11, 2014

First off, congrats on the three offers.

I think a lot depends on what you mean by "work/life balance." Certainly any of those places will have better lifestyles than most I banking jobs (not sure if that was your internship), but also worse than most other elite jobs. And FWIW, BigLaw (i.e. what 95% of law school grads do, including the vast majority of those who are sure that they want to do civil rights etc. going in) has an awful work/life balance. I also think that your early 20's aren't the time to be obsessing over work/life balance--the next few years are about learning a ton and putting yourself in a position for future success. My suspicion is that if you are smart & driven enough to get all three offers, you will enjoy working hard at consulting, just because of the intellectual challenge. Work/life balance will become a lot more important a decade down the line when you're married and have kids.

I'm also a little confused how you can eliminate BCG on fit but are torn between the other two. Bain has a much more fratty, friendly culture (i.e. captain of the lacrosse team), McKinsey a stiffer culture (chemistry major), with BCG somewhere in the middle. Bain also has a better lifestyle than McKinsey (less hours, less travel).

Anyway, all three firms are great. McKinsey will probably give you somewhat more senior-level exposure, and definitely more long-term prestige. You say you don't care about "prestige" now, but trust me in ten years you will. It's great that you're cock of the walk right now and probably don't feel that you need the brand-name on your resume, but things can change. McKinsey will also work you a little bit harder, you will travel more (pros and cons), and the office will have less of a party atmosphere.

But for now, luxuriate in the options and go to the three sell days, then make up your mind.

Dec 11, 2014

So I work at an MBB firm and I can tell you that the biggest difference are the cultures. McKinsey does have more prestige, so if that's all you're looking for, then go for it. Otherwise, if you want a fun place to work, go for Bain. The place has a reputation of being a bit of a frat, and, based on the folks there I know, not undeservedly. So if that's what you want, then go for it. People with offers from both often seperate based on these criteria, with many at Bain saying they didn't really want to work at McKinsey because a fun loving culture (as opposed to a very intense one) is what they wanted. Others will work at McKinsey because, as you mentioned, it can maybe give you better exposure and they want the intensity McK brings. So whichever you value more.

Hope that helps.

Dec 11, 2014

Bain offers great opportunities to do work at its nonprofit arm: the Bridgespan Group.
http://www.bridgespan.org/ http://www.bridgespan.org/About/Default.aspx

That might be a plus for you. Ask them to put you in contact with someone that has done this. I'm sure they will be happy to do it.

Congratulations!

Dec 11, 2014

You will perform better while working with people you like, and your perceived work/life balance will be greater when you truly enjoy spending time with your co-workers.

The differences in prestige, exit ops, travel, etc are so minute compared to cultural differences that they are almost not even worth comparing. Go where you feel most comfortable.

Dec 11, 2014

I like Enrico's post - except I think the "Chem Major" is more the BCG stereotype (bookish, lots of engineering types). I'd say that the McKinsey stereotype would be the president of the student body, who probably didn't do that much studying (but still got good grades).

Dec 11, 2014

Where do you go to school?

Dec 11, 2014

I really appreciate the feedback. I'm really interested in peacerenity's comment. Do others also get the feeling that the training program is much better at Bain? Oh and to answer your question, just because I think there are experiences that I could have and things I could learn that I couldn't in some of the other work I may want to eventually do.

And, of course, I'll go to all the sell days and hopefully it'll give me a much better idea of what everyday life looks at these places but I've heard a lot of people say it breaks down into basically into Bain may be a better environment/lifestyle but McKinsey may provide you both more opportunity to do interesting work and carries a better brand. I can definitely believe that it has the slight prestige advantage but are people right that being the larger firm the work opportunities are much more interesting at McKinsey than Bain (i.e. people/govts/firms only come to McK with the biggest problems whereas Bain may get less "cutting-edge" cases) or is that just unwarranted hype?

Thanks again to everyone for their advice. I really appreciate hearing from you guys, especially those who've worked at these sorts of places.

Dec 11, 2014

relax dude you won't go wrong with any of the 3.. the general stereotypes of bain being fratty, BCG academic, and mck being stiff/prestigeous are spot on based on my experience.. go off that

Dec 11, 2014

@ califly

going off of the 2010 vault consulting survey, bain is ranked number 1 in "formal training" with an average employee rating of 9.698. BCG is also ranked 7th with a rating of 8.431. McKinsey is not in the top 20.

It doesn't give a detailed description of training at Bain, but here's what it says about BCG:

"To get ready for all that client contact, training at BCG involves "a mix of on-the-job training, formal cohort training in the office, regionally and worldwide, and in-person or online topic-specific training." We're told that entry-level orientation "lasts two weeks at the start of the associate position,
and is followed by other sessions that focus on specific tools, as well as communication skills and leadership development.

"The quality of formal training with outside experts is phenomenal," a source claims, and a junior colleague agrees: "I owe most of my development to apprenticeship during the case process." Another newbie concurs, saying that "there is fantastic apprenticeship given. A strong component of our superiors' performance
evaluation is upward feedback, which is based on their mentoring capabilities." All this training really pays off come promotion time. BCG consultants "are given time to develop," and those who perform well can "advance very quickly, with meaningful level changes every two years." Eventually, however, "it is up-or-out." The built-in timeframe for advancement is "24 to 30 months from consultant to project leader," and those who wish to continue their career with the firm have to "prove they can make it.""

Dec 11, 2014

I think the fact you're compared 3 NY offices is really going to minimize the differences between the firms. IMO, a lot of office culture is based on what the target schools are...an office in the south/Texas will probably be frattier than an SF office, for example.

To be 100% honest, you're making way more of marginal differences than you need to. For example, the training is going to be what you make it...I was way more interested in having cocktails with my new friends and colleagues than learning Power Point macros my first week of training.

Frankly, I've heard BCG NY is a bit more "work hard play hard" than the other offices, and McK is more of a sweatshop than average, but that's off a limited sample size.

Your "McK gets bigger cases than Bain" is pure BS, by the way. If you were comparing McK and Accenture, sure. But the reason it's MBB is because they're head and shoulders above everyone else on pretty much every dimension, and the marginal differences can be made up by driving your personal experience.

Dec 11, 2014

So what's funny is that Bain SF is actually much frattier than Bain Dallas. Most Bain offices (with Dallas the notable exception) are similar in terms of their culture, at least within the US I've heard, so NY would definitely be that way too.

Dec 11, 2014
paknightpa:

So what's funny is that Bain SF is actually much frattier than Bain Dallas. Most Bain offices (with Dallas the notable exception) are similar in terms of their culture, at least within the US I've heard, so NY would definitely be that way too.

Well, I stand corrected. SB for you.

Dec 11, 2014

First of all, if you got offers from all 3, congrats, that's wicked hard. The culture differences that everyone has mentioned are, from what I've gathered from friends who've gone to both places, pretty accurate (especially re McKinsey's culture, which is definitely intense and maybe slightly nerdy).

One thing to consider - it sounds like you're not looking to stay in business long-term. If you wanted to do private equity, Bain would obviously be the obvious choice, and if you wanted to move to a F500 company or something McKinsey might win by a slim margin. The same goes for law: though both Bain and McKinsey's names travel very well, I've gotten the sense in talking to family friends who are partners at BigLaw firms that the McKinsey name might be a hair above the Bain name. That won't really matter after you've gone to law school and everything, but it might be worth taking into acount.

Dec 11, 2014

law schools wont care which one you worked at.. hows your LSAT?

Dec 11, 2014

Don't do law - Bain->PE >>>> Law man.

More money, same/less hours, less boring stuff, no gaping law school debt. Plus BigLaw has a 36% yearly turnover rate and NOBODY makes partner.

Thank me later.

Dec 11, 2014

if you dont like business, then why are you doing consulting? it seems that you are just after the prestige to me.

Dec 11, 2014

i would be much less open about your career plans once you start , OP.

Dec 11, 2014

k

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Dec 11, 2014

Sorry to bring this thread back, but I seem unable to post a new one and I need advice on what to do.. badly. I got offers from Bain and McKinsey to work at Mexico City (I am from Mexico btw). Bain does pay a little more, but that's not nearly as important as getting a sponsorship for an MBA for me.

People at McKinsey said that approximately 90% of the analysts that reach their second year are offered full sponsored MBA program at a top school (don't know the % of analyst that last more than a year though) I also don't know the Bain numbers, but they told me that if stay on track I will get sponsorship after my third year.

It seems to be McKinsey is just a bit higher in terms of prestige above BCG and Bain, but it also seems the lifestyle at Bain is the best out of the three. Sincerely, I felt more identified with Bain and the people I got to meet in the interviews. McKinsey had some cool guys, but some we're too serious or nerdy.

Any other differences I can be missing (generalist/specialist approach, exit opportunities, training, future compensation, luxurious travel, etc.)?

Dec 11, 2014

Is McKinsey that much better in bschool admissions to make you want to spend 2 years with people you think are too serious/nerdy? -just another opinion

Dec 11, 2014

Go with Bain, bro. Problem solved.

Dec 11, 2014

Always make your choice according to your fit with the people. If you don't like the McKinsey folf, you're going to land up in the 10% that don't make it to the second year. Go with Bain.

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Nov 30, 2014

Boils down to people you want to work with and culture fit. You will be working long hours with them and hanging out with them. Even if you like the type of work, if you feel like your personality is not parallel with the firm, might be a big problem.

Think and compare about your recruiting and interviewing experience with them. Which one did you have the most fun? Which one did you see yourself you will be working with?

Dec 11, 2014

why doesn't "your friend" ask this question himself?

Dec 11, 2014

Bain

Dec 11, 2014

If I was into consulting, I would take Bain in a heartbeat

Dec 11, 2014

McKinsey CF best option if you really like finance, dont want to be an investment banker because of the hours and still want the I-banking exit opps. Btw ofcourse worse pay better hours banking

Dec 11, 2014

I don't think you/your friend can go wrong with either. Ask yourself/your friend what company they like more, I'm a huge Bain-biased :"> so I would take Bain in a heartbeat

My formula for success is rise early, work late and strike oil - JP Getty

Dec 11, 2014

its not really that hard a decision... you want finance? McK CF... you want to dabble in a few more industries? Bain... case closed

Get it!

Dec 11, 2014

Just pick the firm you like more. McKinsey CF BAs (assuming you're a college student) get to do non-finance studies at times, and Bain does enough PE work that you can see plenty of that if you want it. The exit opps, etc. should be largely the same.

Dec 1, 2014

McKinsey without a doubt

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Dec 11, 2014

Think you're probably right about Bain's culture, at least for young people (they take significantly more undergraduates as a percent of new hires than McK or BCG, which take more MBA hires), but I'll let someone who actually works in consulting answer this (although I think the only regular posters on this board who work in consulting all work at McKinsey...).

Question: how did you already get offers? Were you on an accelerated path due to connections or something like that? Many firms don't even seem to have done first-rounds yet.

Dec 11, 2014

If you want international exposure, you should take regional staffing model from a Bain pro to a Bain con. McKinsey is the only one of MBB with a global staffing model.

Dec 11, 2014

Moosen: For my school (semi-target), consulting recruiting is really early. I believe the reason is to "pre-empt the competition" which is i-banking and recruits later in the year. So no special accelerated path, I guess my uni is just a bit odd.

Thanks for all the thoughtful responses so far. And I'd like to echo scleraxis's question, is the prestige difference between Bain and McKinsey at the undergrad level worth considering? Is the McKinsey name better for MBA applications?

Also, since I have yet to actually have any experience in consulting, I can't say with 100% confidence that I want to be a consultant for many years. However, what I can say is that the work sounds very appealing and I think it aligns very well with what I consider to be my skills. So... I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think I want to do consulting long-term.

Dec 11, 2014

Bain runs more of a pyramid structure (more people out of undergrad than b-school) while McKinsey runs more of a diamond structure (relatively fewer undergrad hires).

I'd go McKinsey, but I think you're pretty much right on the pro's and con's of each.

Dec 11, 2014

Your analysis of the pros and cons of both firms is right on.

I was cross-offered between all three MBB for my MBA summer internship, ended up choosing McKinsey, didn't like it, and switched to BCG for full time (where I've been for a while now, and it was definitely the right choice). McKinsey's culture isn't for everyone, myself included, but in your position I would still definitely choose McKinsey. In the short run, Bain may seem better, but McKinsey will be a lot better for you in the long run.

You're going to work a lot harder at McKinsey than at Bain - but the work will be more fulfilling because you'll be doing the same work as the MBAs (rather than grunt work, like at Bain). As a result, you will learn more and learn faster, and you'll set yourself up to be much more successful after you're done in consulting. If you decide to stick with consulting, you'll be compensated better at every level with McKinsey, and work for more interesting clients on more interesting problems. Moreover, the McKinsey name carries a lot more weight behind it, and will benefit you for decades.

Also, don't worry about standing out. A good consultant will stand out no matter what firm they are working at, and a bad one will stand out as well. If you're ok at Bain, you'll be ok at McKinsey. If you're great at Bain, you'll be great at McKinsey. As long as McKinsey gives you a full time offer, if you want to work at Bain (or BCG), they will be falling over themselves to hire you. Good talent is extremely hard to find.

Dec 11, 2014
redninja:

You're going to work a lot harder at McKinsey than at Bain - but the work will be more fulfilling because you'll be doing the same work as the MBAs (rather than grunt work, like at Bain). As a result, you will learn more and learn faster, and you'll set yourself up to be much more successful after you're done in consulting. If you decide to stick with consulting, you'll be compensated better at every level with McKinsey, and work for more interesting clients on more interesting problems. Moreover, the McKinsey name carries a lot more weight behind it, and will benefit you for decades.

Interesting - do you think this difference in prestige is more important pre-MBA?

OP, I don't think you can go wrong here. If you aim to go to business school, either will be fine and both will enable you to jump into virtually any industry you want after a few years.

Dec 11, 2014
redninja:

Your analysis of the pros and cons of both firms is right on.

I was cross-offered between all three MBB for my MBA summer internship, ended up choosing McKinsey, didn't like it, and switched to BCG for full time (where I've been for a while now, and it was definitely the right choice). McKinsey's culture isn't for everyone, myself included, but in your position I would still definitely choose McKinsey. In the short run, Bain may seem better, but McKinsey will be a lot better for you in the long run.

You're going to work a lot harder at McKinsey than at Bain - but the work will be more fulfilling because you'll be doing the same work as the MBAs (rather than grunt work, like at Bain). As a result, you will learn more and learn faster, and you'll set yourself up to be much more successful after you're done in consulting. If you decide to stick with consulting, you'll be compensated better at every level with McKinsey, and work for more interesting clients on more interesting problems. Moreover, the McKinsey name carries a lot more weight behind it, and will benefit you for decades.

Also, can anyone else offer thoughts on redninja's opinion that, "In the short run, Bain may seem better, but McKinsey will be a lot better for you in the long run"

Dec 11, 2014

This is actually my nightmare choice due to McK's great advantage in projects in my country. Luckily, I ended up with a McK offer months before I could get an interview with Bain and had to accept.
What's your long-term plan? Do you want to go to partner? Switch to PE? Did you like interviewers more at one of the firms? These are additional point to consider. I've heard it's more comfortable to be a partner at McK due to a different compensation model.

Pros and cons seem stereotypically right. The question is, what's more important? Personally, I would choose culture over almost everything given I was sure it's really better at one of the firms. Yes, higher retention rates definitely mean people like it better. And speaking of international exposure I think Bain AC's get the chance to work at a different office for some time if they want to.
I don't think Bain does more operational work, I always thought they do about the same amount of strategy at least globally. (In my region McK are the operations guys while Bain are more strategy guys.)

Also, there is a thread called 'Comparing MBB' somewhere around, which I'm not allowed to post a link to as I'm a new user.

Dec 11, 2014

I'd take Bain, but you kind of come off as McKinsey. I chose against McKinsey because of its churn and burn culture and lack of promotion opportunities for BAs.

Name brand doesn't matter here in terms of exit opps, and unless you're a real psychopath, quality of life and experience should matter to you more than brand, especially if you're in this for the long haul. Except I'm a little concerned about your "Easier to stand out at Bain comment"...frankly, you kind of sound like the kind of super-competitive know-it-all who might be better off at McKinsey / hated by his classmates elsewhere. Less competitive environment does not mean you should be the most competitive, it means chill the fuck out.

Sidenote, I don't think redninja's point on grunt work is valid, because for your first year, regardless of firm, there's going to be a lot of grunt work. You don't know anything yet, and that's how you add value and learn.

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Dec 11, 2014
petergibbons:

Except I'm a little concerned about your "Easier to stand out at Bain comment"...frankly, you kind of sound like the kind of super-competitive know-it-all who might be better off at McKinsey / hated by his classmates elsewhere. Less competitive environment does not mean you should be the most competitive, it means chill the fuck out.

Sidenote, I don't think redninja's point on grunt work is valid, because for your first year, regardless of firm, there's going to be a lot of grunt work. You don't know anything yet, and that's how you add value and learn.

Interesting point, which I'm glad to hear. Also to explain what I meant by that, when I decided my universities I turned down much more prestigious universities to go to an instate school - which I think was the absolute best decision of my life. If I had gone to an Ivy, I doubt I would have been able to get MBB. Do you think this comparison is at all analogous to Bain v McKinsey? In that, Bain is a safer surer way to succeed with slightly less pay off, but McKinsey is the riskier road with higher pay off?

Dec 11, 2014
petergibbons:

I'd take Bain, but you kind of come off as McKinsey. I chose against McKinsey because of its churn and burn culture and lack of promotion opportunities for BAs.

Name brand doesn't matter here in terms of exit opps, and unless you're a real psychopath, quality of life and experience should matter to you more than brand, especially if you're in this for the long haul. Except I'm a little concerned about your "Easier to stand out at Bain comment"...frankly, you kind of sound like the kind of super-competitive know-it-all who might be better off at McKinsey / hated by his classmates elsewhere. Less competitive environment does not mean you should be the most competitive, it means chill the fuck out.

Sidenote, I don't think redninja's point on grunt work is valid, because for your first year, regardless of firm, there's going to be a lot of grunt work. You don't know anything yet, and that's how you add value and learn.

I wouldn't characterize McKinsey as a churn and burn culture, I think given the global staffing model, up-and-out pyramid, and large size, there is simply a larger number of consultants who leave over time, and not necessarily a higher rate of consultants leaving.

I'm not certain what you mean by lack of promotion opportunities for BAs. Are you referring to DTA options? Most BAs leave for B-School and then come back (which is the encouraged route) rather than go straight to Associate (which is do-able but only if you're certain you want to go partner track).

Since I don't have too much first-hand knowledge of Bain, what's the day-to-day like for a Bain AC? I've heard AC's typically work on 2 engagements at a time, and consequently often work from home more often than on-site at a client. Not sure how true this is, wanted to see if you could chip in here.

Dec 11, 2014

That makes more sense in some ways. I don't think taking Bain over McKinsey is analogous to that. It's like taking Wharton over Harvard. Great choices, and there's no right answer.

I wouldn't use "stand out" and "succeed" interchangebly. Your job is to get your shit done efficiently, be competent, humble, and fit in.

In terms of your experience, and being succesful, the quality/type of projects you end up on is going to be way more driven by how good you are on your first few projects than the firm you end up at.

The people at MBB are equally intelligent, what drives success at any of them is tenacity, presence, and other things which you can screen for in interviews but will develop way more once you're actually working there.

Dec 11, 2014
Beowulf:

Here's what I'm looking for: I'd ideally like to stay at the firm past promotion/business school, strategy cases over operational cases, international exposure, meaningful work (i.e. do you think McK Business Analysts do less grunt work than Bain Associate Consultants?), mentorship, exit opportunities/prestige - potentially PE, and culture.

Based on what you described as important, I've provided my input using Harvey Balls (McK based on first hand experience, Bain based on 2nd hand hearsay - friends and colleagues). Obv, there aren't a whole lot of differences between the two, really should come down to how much you want to go international and the vibe you get from each office.

Stay at the firm past promotion b-school: McKinsey - full harvey ball, Bain - full harvey ball
- Literally no difference between the firms in this regard. If you do well, and want to stay at the firm, you'll be retained. Both firms sponsor MBA, and will take you back as an associate / consultant. I believe both firms have a DTA option as well.

Strategy over Operational Cases: McKinsey - 3/4 harvey ball, Bain - full harvey ball
- My understanding is Bain has a very small operational practice, and primarily does strategy and diligence work. McKinsey has a much broader practice focus, the firm does as much operations work as strategy work. As a BA, you are likely to get exposure to a wide variety of cases.

International Exposure: McKinsey - full harvey ball, Bain - empty harvey ball
- McKinsey has the greatest international footprint among the firms, and has a global staffing model. In my class, if you wanted to do a project abroad, chances were you got to go abroad. I don't believe that was the case for Bain.

Meaningful Work: McKinsey - full harvey ball, Bain - full harvey ball
- You're workload at each firm will likely be the same. McKinsey outsources much of its basic research function, and as a BA you are expected to do virtually the same job as an Associate. My impression of Bain is that it lacks the same back office capabilities as McKinsey, so ACs often do much of the research directly. In any case, both are meaningful experiences and I wouldn't discount either.

Mentorship: McKinsey - full harvey ball, Bain - full harvey ball
- No comments here...pretty self explanatory

Exit Opps / Prestige: McKinsey - full harvey ball, Bain - full harvey ball
- Really no difference between the two. It's not like there is a general belief that McKinsey is good at X and Bain is good at Y, and a Bain guy will never do X and McKinsey guy will never do Y. It really depends on your experiences at the firm and how well you do.

Dec 11, 2014
freeloader:
Beowulf:

Here's what I'm looking for: I'd ideally like to stay at the firm past promotion/business school, strategy cases over operational cases, international exposure, meaningful work (i.e. do you think McK Business Analysts do less grunt work than Bain Associate Consultants?), mentorship, exit opportunities/prestige - potentially PE, and culture.

International Exposure: McKinsey - full harvey ball, Bain - empty harvey ball
- McKinsey has the greatest international footprint among the firms, and has a global staffing model. In my class, if you wanted to do a project abroad, chances were you got to go abroad. I don't believe that was the case for Bain.

Bain has an internship program allowing you to spend 6 mos at any Bain office during your second or third year with the company.

Dec 11, 2014

The Bain ACI summer is really hard to top. You'll have a huge amount of fun, and spend quite a bit of time hanging out with other ACIs and the full time ACs. Really, it's incredible.

Furthermore, it's a great place to work. The culture is incredible. They go out of their way to make things NOT competitive. There isn't a fixed amount of promotions to the next level or anything, so it ends up being really chill. They invest a huge amount in your training, more so than the other firms.

As far as exits, PE/finance is great, hard to top private equity Bain experience. The admit rate is also quite high for B school. Literally everyone I know who applied this round got into GSB or HBS. I'm sure it's great at McK too, but I cannot see it being significantly different.

International exposure, the opportunity to spend 6 months abroad in a country of your choosing is pretty hard to top. Strategy vs. Ops, varies by office to office I'd say. Prestige, maybe McK is a bit higher (but what does that really even get you?), but ultimately the reason one chooses Bain is because people are amazing to work with and they really do care about you having a good lifestyle and making sure you are learning. If these are the things you care about, pick Bain, otherwise pick McK. There's no right or wrong, but there definitely is a significant difference in the firms.

Dec 11, 2014

Freeloader made some excellent points about the differences; I may duplicate a couple of thoughts but having gone through this decision two years ago I can walk you through my pro/con list.

Petergibbons had an excellent point about performance - if you are great, you will be great regardless of where you go - but I think was quite myopic in his assessment of the "typical McKinsey" consultant. Which brings me to my overarching point...

...I truly believe that more variability in culture / experience / colleagues can be explained by location/office differences within a firm than can be generalized across firms. The variability within my own firm is quite large between say San Francisco, Atlanta, and New York - you are almost joining a different firm from a day-to-day perspective. Make sure you get a good sense of the people you'll be working with - I ended up making my decision purely on a gut check about the people, as you really cannot go wrong with either choice.

However, at the highest level these are the differences I see among the two firms:

+ Entry role: Bain ACs are given a good deal of responsibility around solving a component of the broader problem but the implication of a more bottom heavy pyramid is that the ceiling for branching out into more client and thought leadership early on is lower; McKinsey BAs are treated more like post-MBA hires and after proving they are capable of the basics have a higher ceiling for doing "more interesting work" [for the record client interaction comes with its own downside] - the result of this is that BAs legitimately work longer hours than ACs [to put an average 60 - 65 hour weeks for ACs and 70 - 75 hour weeks for BAs for the first year] so I suppose with great responsibility comes lack of sleep

+ Culture: Again to reiterate, intra-firm location differences are the main driver - but the general view of Bain having a more relaxed, fun culture across the board is directionally correct; from interactions with folks at McKinsey, I think that "arrogance" sometimes gets thrown around rather than "socially awkward" - the firm seems to attract people that are smart in a different kind of way that often dovetails with some personality quirks - but in general I've found McKinsey people to be friendly and open

+ Staffing model: This is a true difference - the regional staffing model [Bain] has the benefit of reducing overall travel but has the diversity limitations; the global staffing model [McKinsey] creates the potential for consultants to get staffed on projects around the world - reality would say that in a two - three year tenure, a BA would not get to do more than a few international projects but if you extrapolate over a career it can have real implications; to the points earlier both firms have the ability to transfer offices for six months to a year later on

+ Exit opportunities: Overall I would say no difference - if you're a high performer at either place, you will have a wealth of options; at a more granular level I would say that Bain holds a slight advantage when it comes to finance exit opportunities due to the built in P.E.G. rotation but that McKinsey holds a slight advantage for non-finance opportunities [e.g., start-ups, social/public sector, policy] - for business school I call it a complete tie

+ Career path flexibility: At the time two years ago, Bain provided many more options to deviate from the typical "two years and out" path; my understanding is that McKinsey has now gone to a much more flexible model within the last year - I would pressure test this with both firms as the stakes have changed and I don't want to lead you astray

+ Training and mentoring: If you ask someone at Bain they will tell you "we invest more in our people than anyone else", if you ask someone at McKinsey you will get the same answer - call it a tie because I don't think anyone has done the analysis on which is true; in general the reason that these jobs are so sought out is that you evolve in the equivalent of "dog years" - two years of mentoring / training / experience at one of these firms will put you in a much different place than two year of a "typical" career path

That's about all I've got - I would really urge you not to think of things as "typical Bain" or "typical McKinsey" because the firms really are more similar than they are different.

One last point on the operations / strategy work - strategy work sounds sexy but doing that for two full years would limit your skill building and probably make you go crazy. I still think the best work is an upfront strategy piece where you outline the problem and solution followed by a short implementation phase where you lay out the 90 day plan, start coaching client teams, work out the initial bugs, and let the client take it from there.

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Dec 11, 2014
PrivateEmpire:

Petergibbons had an excellent point about performance - if you are great, you will be great regardless of where you go - but I think was quite myopic in his assessment of the "typical McKinsey" consultant. Which brings me to my overarching point...

I know it's a sample size of one, but you'd be pretty myopic too if you had the run-ins I've had with McKinsey when at the same client.

It's been a few years since I made the decision, so if McKinsey provides more flexibility for promotion than before, that's great, it makes sense they should want to retain talent.

OP, are the offices of similar size/strength?

Dec 11, 2014

I am at Bain now, have to agree with most everything that's been written here so far based on my experience and interactions with people who are at McK. Only exception is the strategy vs. operational difference that was called out. There really is none among MBB, all are moving more into operations work and it has represented a sizable chuck of each firm's business for a while now.

Yes, Bain is probably growing faster than the others (don't really know the numbers at BCG/McK) just by virtue of its smaller size. I think the bigger point, which has already been raised here, is that there are more promotion opportunities at Bain.

Honestly, just not sucking is enough to clear the bar for promotion to SAC and even direct promote to Consultant in some regions. It is really not competitive; my AC class are some of the best friends I have and there is plenty of space for those who want to stick around for a 3rd year and come back after B-School.

Bain loves nothing more than when FEMPs (former employees) come back after school. Much better than hiring an MBA who is an unknown quantity and doesn't know the first thing about consulting. Not as sure about McK's attitude towards promotion and offers to return, but my impression is that they don't try quite as hard to hold on to the people they've got and are fine to burn people out and let them go.

Sounds cheesy, but I've talked to several other ACs and all have agreed that Bain really cares about us and whether we are enjoying our experience. That is not to say that you won't work 80 or even 100 hour weeks, but those cases are looked down upon by leadership and viewed as something to get under control for the good of the firm long-term.

Dec 11, 2014
consultant09:

Bain loves nothing more than when FEMPs (former employees) come back after school. Much better than hiring an MBA who is an unknown quantity and doesn't know the first thing about consulting. Not as sure about McK's attitude towards promotion and offers to return, but my impression is that they don't try quite as hard to hold on to the people they've got and are fine to burn people out and let them go.

I completely disagree with that. When I was at HBS, McKinsey and BCG were falling over themselves to hire back alumni who had gotten into the school. A lot of people leave McKinsey after their first 2-3 years to do something else, then get into b-school - McK couldn't be more excited to hire them back.

In contrast, two of my classmates who worked as ACs at Bain then worked in PE but wanted to go back into consulting ended up switching from Bain to BCG because Bain didn't want to take them back.

Look, I work at BCG so I don't have any horses in this Bain v. McKinsey race, but one thing that I have observed is that McKinsey people are typically very honest about their experience, while many Bainees tend to blow their experience out of proportion and do quite a bit of fibbing to get people to say yes to their offers. OP, tread carefully.

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Dec 11, 2014
consultant09:

Bain loves nothing more than when FEMPs (former employees) come back after school. Much better than hiring an MBA who is an unknown quantity and doesn't know the first thing about consulting. Not as sure about McK's attitude towards promotion and offers to return, but my impression is that they don't try quite as hard to hold on to the people they've got and are fine to burn people out and let them go.

I think that's true of every firm. Consulting firms survive by having good people. Why let proven assets walk out the door? Each of M/B/B sponsor MBAs and give offers to return, I'd be surprised if any one of them are different.

Dec 11, 2014

.....

Dec 11, 2014

McKinsey

Dec 11, 2014
Der-Riva-Tief:

McKinsey

And one more thing, answers like this scare me because I feel like a large reason for choosing McKinsey is of the vein of "duh it's obvious, McKinsey is #1." Der-Riva-Tief, could you expand a bit on why you would choose McKinsey over Bain?

Dec 11, 2014

I don't want to complicate this but can anyone go into greater depth regarding the regional vs. global staffing model between the two firms? If you wanted something in your city at McKinsey would you have a good shot at getting it? Would it be in any way possible to get an international assignment at Bain? Lastly, how does the global staffing model work? If I'm in Chicago and have a project in Singapore would I travel back and forth every week or would I stay in Singapore for weeks at a time?

Thanks for your help!

Dec 11, 2014
Jeff8700:

I don't want to complicate this but can anyone go into greater depth regarding the regional vs. global staffing model between the two firms? If you wanted something in your city at McKinsey would you have a good shot at getting it? Would it be in any way possible to get an international assignment at Bain? Lastly, how does the global staffing model work? If I'm in Chicago and have a project in Singapore would I travel back and forth every week or would I stay in Singapore for weeks at a time?

Thanks for your help!

Global staffing model basically means there are no geographic limitations on where you can be staffed. Meaning if you want to work local, you can, if you want to work global, you can.

At the end of the day, staffing at McKinsey is a bit like dating. You check on the staffing board to see what's available, ask friends if they've heard about any new projects. Once you find something you like, you go get coffee with the partner or engagement manager to learn more, talk about your goals, and see if there is a mutual attraction. If the attraction is there, the partner will tell staffing you are spoken for, and then you and your manager discuss how to best make the relationship work in terms of travel. For local/domestic projects, it's pretty straightforward M-Thur travel model. For international projects, it's more flexible where you would stay on-site longer and return to home office less frequently.

Dec 11, 2014

Which firm has better exit opportunities? I am surprised to see so much McKinsey love on here. Typical WSO prestige whoring I suppose. I'm at a top 5 MBA, and there aren't many fans of McKinsey around here. I see more love for BCG and Bain (based on culture and people mostly).

"Just go to the prom and get your promotion. That's the way the business world works. Come on, Keith!" - The Boss

Dec 11, 2014

Once I got an offer from Bain, I canceled my McKinsey interview :)

Dec 11, 2014

am i crazy for suggesting that, since both Bain and McKinsey are neck and neck in terms of prestige, go with the one where you think you'll enjoy yourself more? where did you like the people better?

Dec 11, 2014
snakeplissken:

am i crazy for suggesting that, since both Bain and McKinsey are neck and neck in terms of prestige, go with the one where you think you'll enjoy yourself more? where did you like the people better?

I think that's a pretty rational way to approach it, but I there is one specific difference that is stopping me from making a decision as simple as that:

I've come to the conclusion that the McKinsey Business Analyst and Bain Associate Consultant positions are different. McKinsey BAs get treated the same as MBAs while at Bain, ACs have to earn their tenure until they get thrown into high responsibility situations (such as leading a client meeting). There are pros and cons to both systems, but it's something that I'm taking into consideration.

Does anyone disagree with this observation?

Dec 11, 2014

Should be an easy decision:

McKinsey vs. Bain:

+ Much better exit opps into finance (prestige counts for a lot), slightly better to even for everything else
+ (Much?) more likely to do international work (global staffing)
+ Much worse hours, more political atmosphere
+ More money (especially at partner levels)

The combination of better exit options and a worse work culture is why people do't tend to stick around McKinsey for the long term. Its a pretty easy decision between a very demanding work atmosphere that gives you more future options and a less lucrative but potentially easier to tolerate one.

Very simple

Dec 11, 2014
dazedmonk:

Should be an easy decision:

McKinsey vs. Bain:

+ Much better exit opps into finance (prestige counts for a lot), slightly better to even for everything else
+ (Much?) more likely to do international work (global staffing)
+ Much worse hours, more political atmosphere
+ More money (especially at partner levels)

The combination of better exit options and a worse work culture is why people do't tend to stick around McKinsey for the long term. Its a pretty easy decision between a very demanding work atmosphere that gives you more future options and a less lucrative but potentially easier to tolerate one.

Very simple

Do you think the fact that this is only for a summer should affect my decision? I.E try the less tolerable one first, and if I don't like it for full time - NETWORK SUPER HARD to try and move to the more tolerable atmosphere?

Dec 11, 2014
dazedmonk:

Should be an easy decision:

McKinsey vs. Bain:

+ Much better exit opps into finance (prestige counts for a lot), slightly better to even for everything else
+ (Much?) more likely to do international work (global staffing)
+ Much worse hours, more political atmosphere
+ More money (especially at partner levels)

The combination of better exit options and a worse work culture is why people do't tend to stick around McKinsey for the long term. Its a pretty easy decision between a very demanding work atmosphere that gives you more future options and a less lucrative but potentially easier to tolerate one.

Very simple

That first point is just false - there are not 'much better' exit opps from McK as opposed to Bain. The greater prestige associated with the McKinsey name is really just for lay people, as it's the one firm more professionals (outside finance/consulting) are likely to know.

Dec 11, 2014
dazedmonk:

Should be an easy decision:

McKinsey vs. Bain:

+ Much better exit opps into finance (prestige counts for a lot), slightly better to even for everything else
+ (Much?) more likely to do international work (global staffing)
+ Much worse hours, more political atmosphere
+ More money (especially at partner levels)

Very simple

1. Exit opps: Entirely false. McKinsey and Bain both have strong DD practices and place equally well into PE. The difference in number of placements is probably due to McKinsey's size. (McK is 1.5-2 times Bain.) Same with corporate. The only way exit pops would be a deciding factor would be if the OP wanted to go into government/public service, since McK does have much more presence in that space than Bain or BCG.

2. International work: True.

3. Hours/politics: Probably depends more on engagement/office.

4. More money: MBB pay almost the same at undergrad and MBA level. Partner-level pay is indeed higher at McK (or so I've heard), but I think it's ridiculous an undergrad would choose the firm based on partner-level pay. Too many unknowns to make that a significant factor.

So it's not that simple.

Dec 11, 2014

I really don't think that the decision is as "clear" as people are making it. The fundamental differences between prestige, exit ops, etc, is nominal at best. Just pick where you feel you would enjoy the atmosphere more. I would personally choose Bain as I liked the people there more than the people at McKinsey. You know your personality type better than any of us and which firm that aligns with.

Dec 11, 2014
IBTeaching:

I really don't think that the decision is as "clear" as people are making it. The fundamental differences between prestige, exit ops, etc, is nominal at best. Just pick where you feel you would enjoy the atmosphere more. I would personally choose Bain as I liked the people there more than the people at McKinsey. You know your personality type better than any of us and which firm that aligns with.

Hmm okay, but what about in terms of the different functions of the jobs (diamond versus pyramid)? I.E at McKinsey, I'll be front-line right off the bat versus having to earn tenure at Bain?

Dec 11, 2014

.

Dec 11, 2014

Hello again! First, I'd like to say thanks to WSO/Consulting. I'm still shocked by the level of interest and support this forum provided. And to update, I decided to go with McKinsey for the summer. It was a tough frickkin decision, but I think I've made the right one. Let me try to quickly explain my reasoning:

It's just a summer so it's potentially reversible, and I may have regretted never trying out the intense (often described as "less tolerable" environment at McKinsey - who knows maybe it's right for me?)

I decided that the first year responsibilities of a BA are more suited to my skills than that of an AC (AC being more quant and modeling heavy - though I know I'll still have to do that as a BA)

I'm excited by the client facing opportunities that the BA position provides.

The international reputation of McKinsey could provide incremental benefit over Bain down the road should I choose to pursue work in Latin America

There were also a few other micro-reasons unique to my situation that I don't want to mention for the sake of anonymity, but above are the more general reasons.

Anyways, thanks WSO/Consulting. You guys/gals are the bomb. I plan to stick around and give my 2 cents in the future should anyone need it.

Dec 11, 2014

^lol yes we are bomb

Dec 11, 2014

For a summer, I think you made the right choice. If you like McKinsey (and most people do), you'll be exposed to a super non-hierarchical team structure where you are given the same responsibilities as post-MBA consultants. If you don't like it, you can recruit again and Bain or BCG would love to have you.

If you went to Bain, you'd probably have a blast and re-sign the day they gave you an offer. I haven't heard of anyone turning down a Bain offer to return and it's a fantastic firm, but the two are very different and I always think it's worth trying the "more intense" of two options before defaulting to a more comfortable choice.

Disclaimer: I work at McKinsey.

Dec 11, 2014

.

Dec 11, 2014

Just want to chime in here as I'm currently in the same shoes as OP. Offer from both Bain and McKinsey and currently trying to decide. This thread was very helpful to read through so thanks to all the contributors. I want to clarify the comments being made about Bain ACs doing more grunt work vs. McKinsey BAs doing more interesting work. Can anyone elaborate on this?

Dec 11, 2014

Bump. Starting to have conversations with consultants, and one of the big selling points mck people are trying to push is that they spend more time on the client site and do more meaningful work as a result. I know that they do spend more time on the client site, but how big of an impact does that have on the type of work you do?

Dec 11, 2014

It has a huge impact. At McKinsey, you will work directly with clients to understand their problems, test hypotheses and track down data sources. That doesn't mean that you're having lunch with the CEO every day, but you will be given your own "workstream" with a set of clients that you manage to drive it forward. You aren't reporting to a post-MBA consultant, you have your own piece of the problem that you are responsible for. Being on-site is a big part of making that model work (e.g., if you're based out of the home office with only the manager and more senior consultants traveling, you will inevitably be doing more of the analytics work rather than the client-facing stuff).

Of course, there are positives and negatives. On one hand it's a very steep learning curve and you will get a TON out of even just your first six weeks as a BA. The negative is that you could be staffed somewhere un-interesting and wish that you could be back home with your friends Monday through Thursday. There is enough flexibility after your first year to make things work with your preferences though. I didn't particularly enjoy travel, so I spent almost all of my second year working with local clients and sleeping in my own bed.

What I know about Bain is all anecdotal, so won't comment on their model.

Dec 11, 2014

Disclaimer: Interned at Bain, and have no experience at McKinsey. Don't know about where the lack of on-client time at Bain is coming from; virtually everyone in my office was at the Client site Monday through Thursday, which I understand is the model at all of MBB for most cases. I think the key difference is that Bain, with it's local staffing model, has a lower percentage of teams that are actually flying out to a client every week (as opposed to simply driving or taking the subway). There are pros and cons to the local/regional/international staffing models of Bain/BCG/McKinsey, but I would think that the time spent at the actual client site is about the same.

Dec 11, 2014

Maybe it's office-dependent, but numerous people at Bain at the office I have an offer from have admitted that they spend less time at the client site. In fact, they bring it up as a selling point: "we only spend the amount of time at the client site that we have to".

I was under the impression that Bain ACs also have their own workstream. Are they really reporting to post-MBA level consultants?

Dec 11, 2014

Interesting to hear different perspectives. At McKinsey I'm not aware of any BAs that aren't at the client site M-Th except for studies that traditionally aren't done at the client (namely, PE due diligence).

I'm sure there are a couple studies out there where for idiosyncratic reasons the team doesn't stay at the client for all 4 days, but I haven't seen any.

Dec 1, 2014

I think BCG's "nerdy" stereotype is a bit misleading. While the people I've met at BCG are extremely passionate about their area of focus/study, they're also some of the most social and outgoing people I've met. Drink carts rove around the office on Fridays serving beer and cocktails, office outings are frequent, and the vast majority of the younger staff meet up every weekend for dinners, drinks, and house parties.

That being said, I've also heard great things about Bain. People at both B's seem to really enjoy their work and the company of their coworkers, and this super positive atmosphere has won them a surprisingly large percentage of cross-offers

Dec 1, 2014
SFlemming1:

I think BCG's "nerdy" stereotype is a bit misleading. While the people I've met at BCG are extremely passionate about their area of focus/study, they're also some of the most social and outgoing people I've met. Drink carts rove around the office on Fridays serving beer and cocktails, office outings are frequent, and the vast majority of the younger staff meet up every weekend for dinners, drinks, and house parties.

That being said, I've also heard great things about Bain. People at both B's seem to really enjoy their work and the company of their coworkers, and this super positive atmosphere has won them a surprisingly large percentage of cross-offers

Agree. In order to get into MBB you have to have extremely strong social and quant skills. Everyone at Bain is going to have 720+ GMAT and everyone at BCG is going to be able to present to senior clients. But I do think they attract different personality types.

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Dec 3, 2014

FYI, p&q posted an article today about Bain. Although it's primary focus is what they look for in applicants, it does include a bit about Bain's culture.

http://poetsandquants.com/2014/12/03/what-bain-co-...

Dec 4, 2014
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