If You Can't Land a Role At MBB, What's The Next #1 Firm You Would Want to Work For

*Hypothetically speaking, most people pedestalize MBB for good reason. Interested in how the other T2's, or boutiques fare/if any of the boutiques are actually more desirable than MBB depending on the vertical. 

Comments (55)

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 16, 2021 - 6:15pm

Ok now what would come after Oliver Wyman? I know this forum doesn't like rankings, but I think it gives newcomers a good idea of the industry.

Jan 16, 2021 - 8:22pm


And what would come after the firm that would come after Oliver Wyman? And the firm that would come after the firm that would come after Oliver Wyman?


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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 16, 2021 - 9:00pm

I think that's a step in the right directions but you forgot to mention the firm that comes after the firm that comes after the firm that comes after Oliver Wyman. And why Bain?

  • Intern in VC
Jan 16, 2021 - 10:22pm

What's the updated view on S& Deals? Curious to hear thoughts from people in the industry as the group has matured a bit over the past few years 

Jan 17, 2021 - 1:48pm

Doing fine. Establishing itself into a LEK-esque role i.e., good commercial relationships with a few, reputable funds and a sprinkle of casework from other funds and strategics


Not sure how profitable the team actually is within the grand scope of things but PwC seems to be invested in continually growing it out so probably an indicator that it's a commercially successful buildout  

Jan 18, 2021 - 2:15pm

lol coming from the guy who is a post mba IB associate...

Getting an associate role is trivial compared to undergrad consulting recruiting at firms like S&, LEK, etc.


  • Intern in Consulting
Jan 18, 2021 - 11:40am

Can one of the OW respondents elaborate on why it's so clearly the choice for you ? I was under the impression that once you reach T2, there are a handful of firms that are pretty equivalent. I've also heard that there isn't a ton of PE work at OW, which might be worth mentioning since this is a finance forum for the most part.

  • Intern in Consulting
Jan 18, 2021 - 6:23pm

Solely in terms of VC/GE/PE exits, OW does better than the rest of T2. If you research enough you will find this to be true (networking, linkedin, institutions' websites ranging from UMM firms to VC firms).


Also, I do not work there. Just interested in consulting and have been doing my own due diligence for the best options in consulting (besides MBB) for investing role exits. Don't listen to me though. I urge you to do your own diligence as that is what matters at the end of the day. 


Lastly, why do people MS other people's opinions..ow mbb s&....who cares. All good firms. So much more important things in life...we're in a pandemic. Work hard but most importantly stay safe and check on ur fam. Cheers.


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  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Jan 18, 2021 - 2:04pm

Surprised that nobody has mentioned Kearney yet. Tbh i think that Kearney, PWC Strat&, Delloitte S&O, and OW are all pretty equal in terms of exit opps -- at that point its more about which firm you vibe with / what group you get placed in. IMO though I would rather be at a firm that's leading in its space -- if I can't be at an MBB I'd rather be at a top notch specialist like an A&M for restructuring / turnaround or Altman for TMT than be at a T2 generalist program.    

Jan 18, 2021 - 6:11pm

Kearney is obviously a good firm. I do disagree with your take on specialist vs t2 generalist though. Altman Vilandrie's tech exits are no better than the T2s and restructuring is a very particular type of consulting that you would need a real interest in before committing. For the typical undergad who goes into consulting recruiting, the T2s still offer a great value prop to get wide exposure and solid exits (which is typically what they are looking for). It's also pretty straightforward to go from T2 ->Altman/Alix/A&M if you want to.

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jan 22, 2021 - 10:58am

Kearney just has a different focus. They are solid ops guys. All these firms are great.

Jan 18, 2021 - 6:03pm

Really depends on the geography. Unlike other responders, OW is not big in my country (emerging economy in Asia). It'd be Kearney or LEK here. 

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jan 22, 2021 - 10:59am

Choosing firms based on a +/- 10% pay differential is playing into the hands of consulting firm leadership teams who set prices as a false carrot to dangle in front of undergrads / MBA hires. That pay doesn't really matter in the long term.

Jan 22, 2021 - 4:56am

Altman Solon (formerly Altman Vilandrie) is really underrated for exits into big tech companies/startups (e.g. Netflix, Uber, etc.). Haven't seen that many exits to the buyside but it is possible (e.g. check out M/C Partners in Boston - they've taken a few Altman guys). 

Jan 22, 2021 - 11:46am

My 2 cents... 

At entry level OW, Kearney, LEK and the Big 4 Strategy shops are all somewhat comparable. I don't think the name of the firm will impact your future prospects as much as your hustle, staffing and how much Managers / Sr. Managers / Partners like you. People from all of these firms get into M7 schools if they have decent stats (albeit at a lower rate than MBB) and, in my observations, go to similar exits. PE exists may be stronger at the DD shops (LEK, S& Deals, EY-Parthenon in particular... I've actually never seen many people from OW go buy-side but maybe that's just me) but I don't understand why someone would go into consulting aiming for PE, just go into banking which has a much better pipeline.

For mid-level and more senior-level folks, the difference between the "true" consulting firms (OW, Kearney, LEK, etc.) and Big 4 Strategy becomes more apparent. I personally think the Big 4 model is more future-proof given the scope of services they can provide and the power of cross-sell but I prefer the "true" consulting firm model where you won't be conflicted out of deals, be pressured to cross-sell to Advisory / Tax teams, have more international exposure and generally have a better "one firm" mentality. Ultimately, though, this is a consolidating industry and I wouldn't be surprised if in 15 years pretty much MBB (Bain is a question mark) and Big 4 are the only shops left standing (besides small boutiques), but that's a topic for another day...


TLDR; after MBB (the clear top three), at entry level I think people tend to overstate the differentiation between the T2 firms listed above but, as you move up the ranks, they generally sort into two buckets, Big 4 and non-Big 4, with pros and cons to either model.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jan 24, 2021 - 4:24am

I don't understand why everyone says OW. First decide if you want a generalist or specialist experience. For generalist, I'd go for S& probably. If not generalist then just go for the ones with expertise in your desired vertical. OW has very undesireable verticals if you ask me (FS, Risk, bleh) but that's personal. 

  • Prospect in Consulting
Jan 24, 2021 - 1:31pm

Pretty sure you join a certain group when you recruit/get into strategy& while in OW you start off as a generalist.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 25, 2021 - 1:13pm

OP I feel the need to be clear that I was kidding. The acronym is not, in fact, MBBD (as shown by the MS, which was appropriately given assuming I was commenting at face value)

In my experience, however, is that outside of MBB, it's less clear cut on what's the next best. The gains one could have from 'prestige' are likely marginal at best and the answer should really come down to people, location and other personal considerations / interests you may have (e.g., OW = financial services, parthenon = DD only, etc.)


Jan 29, 2021 - 1:17pm

It depends, I'm healthcare focused so the firm I'm at now, regularly beats out MBB

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

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Jan 29, 2021 - 2:03pm

Work at OW - I agree with the people saying there isn't that much of a difference between the T2's. I would personally also choose by industries you care about on top of the people aspect. OW is pretty strong in a few core industries in the US (FS, industrials, airlines, health insurance) and at exits to tech bizops and FS ops roles. I'm sure similar things can be said about all the other T2's, but I won't speak to them since I probably have a skewed view of where they do the bulk of their work as an outsider. 


With no context, OW is probably a "safe" choice but by no means is it the "best" choice. And is definitely not the best choice if you have a strong interest in stuff OW (US) just doesn't do much off, like high tech, pharma, retail, etc.

Feb 3, 2021 - 12:58pm

Apple or Netflix.


Oh, another consulting firm... 


Oliver Wyman.


The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
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Feb 19, 2021 - 10:46pm

This forum is biased towards finance, which is why OW is getting a lot of love here. If financial services is your cup of tea, that's great. But for me, some of that stuff can be pretty dull - e.g., regulations, compliance, etc.

In any case, there are honestly a set of firms that I think that if anyone hypothetically had offers to all of them, they wouldn't be making a wrong decision. OW, Kearney, LEK, and some of the B4 strategy groups (S&, EYP, Deloitte S&A or whatever they're calling it nowadays).

Personally, my preference is more towards the "truer" consulting firms (i.e. the former 3), but can totally understand why some people would lean towards one of the B4 strategy groups. 

And then on top of all of that, you have specialized boutiques that are very well respected in their niches that can attract recruits (e.g., Clearview for healthcare).

Note that it's also slightly market dependent. For example, in Canada, the next best options are undoubtedly Oliver Wyman and Kearney with a significant gap after that. The B4 strategy groups are much weaker in Canada and also pay a lot less. In fact, Big 4 strategy is weak in many regions outside of the U.S.

  • Prospect in Consulting
Feb 22, 2021 - 2:45am

For money: Galt & Co, or A&M Restructuring (These both pay more than MBB)

Interest: Altman (they do a lot of cool TMT work), or Dalberg (Intl relations and EM projects)

Feb 24, 2021 - 2:58pm

Kearney, Oliver Wyman and Strategy& in that order, but this would vary slightly by geography.

Kearney is probably the only other pure-play global consultancy in the world that works across a diverse range of industries, followed by OW which is less pure-play given M&M ownership and heavier indexing towards FS work (with a lot of it being risk work). Strategy& has maintained a good consulting legacy from Booz & Co and is growing a strong Deals team, but their premium consulting work gets diluted given the constant pressure to cross-sell downstream consulting and audit services through the PwC network. 

Gimme the loot

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Feb 24, 2021 - 4:31pm

K is ultra focused on sourcing, how exactly does that constitute a "pure play strategy" firm? 

Agreed that OW does a ton of work. But if anything, if you measure by % strategy work done, S& probably comes out ahead of other T2s of similar scale, despite not having much presence in APAC

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