Strategy& Recovery

Hello,

Would anyone have a good view on the current state of Strategy&? We've all heard the horror stories of the alleged mass exodus of partners and the overstaffing and subsequent layoffs, but those events (if they happened at all) seem to be from 2016 or so.

Where are they now, in terms of strongest practices, and current comparisons to rival T2 shops (OW, LEK, ATK, EY-P, Deloitte S&O)?

Comments (41)

 
Sep 5, 2018 - 10:41pm

Hey ansible, I'm the WSO Monkey Bot and I'm here since nobody responded to your topic! Bummer...could just be unlucky but one of these topics will help shed some light:

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  • More suggestions...

Any pros willing to rescue this discussion? Pulkit-Durgvanshi JohnnyForeigner AustinKorbel

Fingers crossed that one of those helps you.

 
Most Helpful
Sep 8, 2018 - 3:46pm

Hi,

I'm an EM at an MBB firm and actually made a throw away account just to respond to this post, as I've grown tired of reading the false rumors on this subject across WSO (many coming from people who are clueless and only consider prestige when making career decisions).

From what I understand, and many of my colleagues agree, the integration issues that Strategy& has experienced with PwC, while real, are incredibly overstated. My firm still competes with S& for projects and they even win the work that we don't from time to time.

For your questions, I don't know where I'd rank them in terms of Tier 2 shops, these things are very fluid depending on the industry, but they are certainly near the top and have recovered much of their prestige from the legacy Booz days (if pressed, I'd say they are best along with OW, LEK, and Deloitte). In terms of partners leaving and over staffing, I don't have any firsthand experience with that, but the industry perspective, at least in my view, is that the firm is quite stable and beginning to excel within the PwC framework. If you're not given the chance to start your career at an MBB firm, I cannot think of a better place to start than S& or any of the other top Tier 2 strategy consulting shops.

 
Dec 21, 2018 - 5:43pm

Yes, some of our EM groups have struggled. In the U.S. there has been a hard line placed against cross staffing PwC and S& - this isn't the case in all of our markets. It's very, very regional specific so I won't comment on the breakdown. The situation in the U.S./Europe is much different than in LatAm though. I can't speak to Asia/ME.

 
Dec 17, 2018 - 10:44pm

Happy to chime in here. I recently joined Strategy& from a top ivy league school and my impression before joining, as well as since joining, is that S& is the best T2 shop along with OW (on campus S& is the #1 choice for students after MBB).

Having spoken to peers at MBB firms, the quality of projects is certainly on par *if not better than what they've experienced), the people are incredibly intelligent, and the exit opportunities have not diminished since the PwC acquisition. Like the MBB EM said above, the rumors on this forum are incredibly overstated (though my sample size is certainly small; I've only been at the firm since August).

To answer OPs "horror stories" more directly, I personally haven't seen any of the leadership depart the firm and we have actually brought in top Principals/Partners from MBB since I've joined to continue winning in the marketplace. As for layoffs, again, I haven't personally seen anything beyond what one would expect from a top consulting shop with an up-or-out model.

 
Dec 21, 2018 - 5:44pm

Strategy& Update? (Originally Posted: 06/19/2018)

I heard that the legazy Booz Partners received their final cash-out on May 1st. Has anyone at S& seen a mass exodus or any kind of major change? It seems like Strategy&'s merger has finally settled down.

 
Dec 21, 2018 - 5:45pm

imthelord, sorry about the lack of response. Maybe one of these topics will help:

If we're lucky, maybe these professional users will respond: Sandip-Devani margo rkckjhk

Hope that helps.

 
Dec 18, 2018 - 11:29am

Agreed, I think the firm is doing a great job of competing for strategy work. I'm in the deals practice, which is growing even faster than the rest of S&, being a newer group. We had a 80%(!) acceptance rate for campus candidates and several higher level outside hires as well.

I'm only an associate, but I personally think the team has done a great job leveraging the tools that being part of a company as vast as PwC gives. Some of the tactical things include having to do no implementation work (PwC MC does that), having resources such as PwC India to outsource work to, and just having a vast network. On the project side and from an associate's limited exposure, we win a lot of work over other firms including MBB just due to being able to offer a whole package. Plenty of our work gets sold alongside other PwC groups such as tax or MC and clients appreciate having everything in one package.

I personally think most of the horror stories of integration are grossly overstated. Our team does exclusively strategy work, we have fun events of just S&, and we have compensation differences between us and the rest of PwC because of higher expectations and work hours.

 
Dec 18, 2018 - 1:56pm

I received an offer from Deals Strategy a while back that I turned down, though I did have a good experience interviewing. One thing that confused me was whether Deals Strategy (I guess broadly, DS&O) was actually part of Strategy&. Seemed like they were not part of Strategy& based on discussions with people there and the offer letter, but it was a bit tough to tell. Is there a S& Deals Strategy and PwC Deals Strategy that are separate entities?

Gimme the loot

 
Dec 19, 2018 - 1:06pm

It is a big confusing, but essentially, we straddle Transactional Services and Strategy Consulting (aka S&). In other words, we mostly work for clients within the TS horizontal but only strategy work.

What this means for us is that we work alongside other TS groups to deliver integrated works, especially DD work that'll be PwC branded. If it is just a CDD or Deals Strategy only team, it'll be S& branded. So no, we're not "technically not S&" we just do a bit different work and are bit more specialized. Our team participates in all S& events, is aligned to S& pay, and is represented at our leadership meetings.

If you think about it, the DS (and now Private Equity Value Creation team) is probably what PwC leadership had in mind when they bought Booz. You have a group that does exclusively strategy work alongside traditional MC to help deliver a complete product to the client.

 
Dec 21, 2018 - 5:38pm

Insider popping in to clarify the S& Deals questions.

Basically, the best way to think of S& nowadays is as three distinct businesses under one organization. There is the old Booz practice, which is what most people think of as Strategy&. Then there is a group called PEVC (Private Equity Value Creation), which used to be a company that PwC acquired called PRTM that was brought under the S& umbrella. Then there is Deals Strategy, a group grown organically (well, through seeding with a few experienced Booz folks that did Deals work and then recruiting senior folks at practices like LEK, BCG, Marakon, etc).

All three of these groups are considered Strategy&, but they have separate staffing models, office footprint, and operating models. They are 100% aligned with S& for compensation and promotional cycles. My business card and email signature says Strategy& and we are part of the overall umbrella.

The best comparable situation in the market is Bain's PEG. Separate from Bain, but the same, and focused on a slightly different client set and type of work. If you were to break out Bain PEG into all of their PE cost cutting/ops projects (i.e. analyzing cost synergies and then big carveouts in the first 100 days post deal) then that would be pretty similar to the PEVC group.

Then there is Deals Strategy, the growth strategy practice. Private Equity Value Creation is a bit of a misnomer since Deals Strategy is also private equity oriented; we focus on growth strategy for PE firms, portfolio companies, and mid to upper middle market corporations. We focus on questions around market share and positioning - what are attractive markets to invest in and how attractive are each of the players for a particular buyer. So the CDD and growth strategy work at Bain's PEG would sit here.

This gets more confusing because PwC has a general Deals platform, where S& does not sit but Deals Strategy/PEVC do. This platform also contains PwC management consulting groups that are not part of S& that do long term implementation/integration for acquisitions.

This is purely a go-to-market strategy and has little effect on the dynamics within each group for junior staff. There is no cross-staffing with PwC or between the groups and PEVC/DS both focus exclusively on their areas of intent, outside of intentional 6-12 months rotations between the groups.

For partners, they think of all of this in terms of go-to-market strategy. PEVC and DS can go to market with PwC partners on the Deals platform who service every major private equity firm in the world (for financial diligence, accounting, PMI, etc) - part of what allowed DS to scale so quickly to be a major competitor to Bain/LEK/Parthenon/McKinsey in this space. They also get to leverage the S& brand name in selling work.

For junior staff, in terms of the work, it differs by the operating model of the three groups. However, for recruiting, exit ops, business school placement, etc the Strategy& brand name is more prominent than the individual group you are placed in. Recruiters that reach out to me almost exclusively do so because I work for Strategy&. Exit ops are broadly aligned between DS and legacy S& (I can't speak for PEVC).

Both Deals Strategy and PEVC have a lot of street cred in their specific markets and are great groups to work for if you're interested in private equity ops (PEVC) or inorganic growth strategy (Deals Strategy). They also both work across industries; most people will work in 10-20 sectors across 3-5 industries their first two years at Deals Strategy.

To clarify, there is no "DS&O". Deals Strategy is all growth strategy work. PEVC is operations and the strategy around how you tackle operational questions. I've never heard that term used, nor does it reflect the work.

 
  • Associate Consultant in Consulting
Feb 10, 2021 - 6:24am

[UK centric views]

 

Here Strategy& has been doing really well, growing substantially in the past years and established itself as a top contender in the T2 space, competing with MBB in many sectors, Tech and Telco in particular where S& has a real powerhouse of credentials in the UK.

The Deals practice that was spun out of PwC transaction service arm seems to be attracting leading talent with very high offer acceptance rates by grads and a  number of senior experienced hire. I saw a lot of posts on LinkedIn advertising senior positions, so they must be doing very well.

I believe this holds true in some other countries such as Germany, where S& is often seen up there with the best.

 

That said, I am sure there are parts of the PwC ecosystem that S&-profiles may not find attractive; but I am sure they were grateful to have an Audit parachute during the dark months of May-September

 

Source: SO works for S& in London

 
  • Associate Consultant in Consulting
Feb 10, 2021 - 10:21am

I cant comment on the pharma practice; but I suspect limited presence.

On the energy front they definitely have a solid presence. Bear in mind PwC as a whole has had the largest share of contracts with the British government and they are working a lot on advisory towards net zero goals. Again, these are very UK-centric views; but consulting shops strengths have a strong geographic variance across. This is true even for MBB (e.g.: Bain software/tech practice in Europe is definitely underweight compared to the US and in London I would personally rate BCG and S& superior; but not in NYC. This can be seen by the RfP companies win against each other as price differences are quite marginal)

 
  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Feb 10, 2021 - 7:23pm

Worked with them as a client. Nice guys and seem to be doing fine. It's clear you're not buying an MBB team but that's only fair given the substantial price difference. Seperate market than the McKs and Bains of the world but good value for money, and there's definitely a time and place for them. A bit unclear on their branding though, difference between Strategy& and PwC is not obvious beyond their email signatures

 
Mar 2, 2021 - 9:50am

How would you rank OW against S&? Received full-time offers from both and unsure which one to pick. On the one hand, it seems like S& has gained more traction over the last couple of years and had a stronger growth trajectory than OW over the last two years (Linkedin employee growth). On the other hand, OW is still bigger than S&.

Furthermore, given the PwC network, I feel like S& is better prepared for future changes in the consulting industry.

Any thoughts?

 

 

 
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 2, 2021 - 10:03am

not much to add but one thing i think you'll find useful is that OW also has a parent company (MMC). Its fairly large so it provides the same cash cushion in times of stress in terms of 'facing challenges'. OW still operates independetly but has the parent company just in case

 
  • Associate 2 in Consulting
Mar 2, 2021 - 10:27am

I disagree.

(1) Remember OW's parent company is a publicly traded company, this means (a) there's short-term profitability pressures that privately held firms don't face and (b) comp is lower

(2) S& is part of PwC. PwC is massive and diversified. It's not like LEK where they were screwed when the pandemic shut down a few PE DD's

 
  • Associate 2 in Consulting
Mar 2, 2021 - 10:31am

Congrats on 2 great offers, cant go wrong

I picked S& over other T2s (not OW to clarify, didn't recruit for them) and don't regret it. Our comp & comp trajectory are strong and we do interesting strategy work (IMO at least)

One thing to consider is the vertical for your offer -- are you interested in your vertical's industry?

 
Mar 2, 2021 - 10:54am

Thanks!

What were the reasons for picking S& over other T2s? I've also heard that S&'s comp trajectory is stronger than that of OW's (at least in the medium term).

Both offers are for generalist positions (OW: Senior Consultant, S&: Associate 2) where I don't have to affiliate myself right away.

 
Mar 3, 2021 - 11:29pm

I'd pick primarily based on industry (my understanding is the industries each are good at are fairly different), and where you liked the people more.

Secondarily, I'd decide if you fall into any of these categories and pick accordingly:

-Want to do ~2 yrs and exit to tech: go OW (although i dont know a ton about S&, seems like OW exits quite favorably into tech)

-Want to spend 3-10 years in consulting: go Strategy& - the comp you give up at OW in this timeframe is SIGNIFICANT (I'm talking like 10-20% paycut every year)

-Want to shoot for Partner: go OW - Partner comp is the same, and very little up or out pressure at OW makes it much more achievable to make partner if you want it

(I'm at OW)

 
Mar 4, 2021 - 4:01am

Thanks, this is very helpful! Would you say that progression is generally faster at OW than at S&?

And how do you see OW prepared for future growth - feels like the growth of OW has been slower over the last three years than that of competitors 

 

 

 
  • Prospect in Consulting
Mar 4, 2021 - 12:19am

Agree with the above-would add if you want to exit into investing roles go to OW.

 

 

But for sure s& if you want to stay in consulting through the mid-level positions (because of the comp gap).

 

 

At the partner level I've been told OW partners make bands. But I assume strategy& partners do as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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