Thoughts on Accenture Strategy?

I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on ACN Strategy. I believe that it was formed in late 2013.
Specific questions:

  1. How many consultants work in the Strategy division relative to MC or SI?
  2. I've heard that for strategy projects, ACN Strategy engages with the client first and then it hands off the project to MC or SI for execution phases. Is that understanding correct?
  3. I've heard that ACN Strategy is one of a few groups within ACN that sponsors MBAs. Does anyone know how frequently it does so?
  4. Given that it is still a new division (at least, the name ACN Strategy is), what are your thoughts on the reputation of the brand? Will it be more highly regarded in the next few years because of the growing need for businesses to understand business strategy and IT intersections?
  5. What is ACN's reputation from a strategy standpoint?

What is Accenture?

Accenture is a multi-national, global company that operates across 40 industries. They aim to provide their clients with smart, innovative solutions to their business problems - usually from a technological approach. They have strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations divisions to help them accomplish this.

Wall Street Oasis:

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, It has approximately 236,000 employees serving clients in more than 120 countries. They have experience across all industries and business functions and have done extensive research on the world's most successful companies. Their goal is to work with their clients so that they become high-performance businesses and governments.

You can read more about Accenture on the Wall Street Oasis Company Database.

What Does Accenture Do?

Accenture Strategy has approximately 2,000 employees and has worked with numerous large clients including Nestle and the City of Amsterdam. They research and develop strategic plans for their clients bringing together business, technology, and operations in a way that solve real problems and create opportunity.

Take a look at some of Accenture Strategy's accomplishments.

What Makes Accenture Unique?

Unlike other firms which combine strategy consulting and management consulting, Accenture Strategy has the two completely separated. The two divisions will, at times, hand clients off to each other but not necessarily. Accenture Strategy will do research and create strategy for industry, for example, though not necessarily related to a specific client. At times, the research is industry specific more than client specific.

OpsDude:

I went to an MBA presentation about Accenture strategy. It's a unique model -they separate strategy consulting from management consulting. The strategy guys come in, and then hand it off to the MC team for implementation..so it actually ends up being more of a pure strategy role than firms like Deloitte S&O.

According to WSO member and Accenture Strategy employee, they've worked on some great projects that have put them ahead of the curve in the industry.

peteey:

I've been at Accenture Strategy APAC for the past 1.5 years and things have definitely changed. The strategy practice has been buffed up and there has been a marked change in Accenture Strategy's position in the market...the efforts are paying off. in the past 6 months alone, all 4 of the projects I've been on were won against Mck, BCG, and Deloitte.

I'm of the rationale that this is simply that the same shift we saw towards customer-centricity 10 years ago is going through a second evolution driven by the internet and tech in general. This means that there's hardly any strategy project that doesn't have a 'digital' element to it anymore which bodes well for Accenture Strategy because this is exactly how it has marketed itself - at the intersection of strategy and tech.

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Comments (49)

Sep 17, 2015

Last year I had an internship with Accenture strategy, take into account that it was in western/central Europe, not US.

1) In my country Accenture has somewhat near 9000 people, so it is quite big of a company here, in strategy we were around 200 people, and I think the ratio with MC is around 1:4

2) Mostly Accenture strategy does sell cheap projects to try to engage clients to sell implementation/sourcing projects, so yes, you are right.

3) In my country do not sponsor MBAs, and know no one at Accenture who has one (probably there are someone) even if you are a star analyst, and in the case you were (in my opinion you would not be at Accenture), the career path is somewhat slow compared to other firms, here is 4 years as analyst to promote to consultant.

4) Their reputation is significantly low, I'm currently at a top strategy house and they did not even care the least about my internship, I think the strategy brand is well regarded just INSIDE Accenture.

The recruitment process I had was a group interview and a really really easy case, close to the level 1 cases in the "case in point" from Consentino, the recruitment process was the same to that for FT. The problem I see is that is very easy to get in (in my country at least) and most firms know that, so if you try to lateral to a top strategy house, it's not going to be of much help.

5) They don't do much of a strategy work, so I think is pretty low, and as I stated in the previous point, to lateral is really difficult. If you want to exit to industry the perspectives are difficult as well as you are to compete with people at McK, BCG, Bain, S&, Monitor, ATK, OW, etc...

Most of the people I knew there were just OK people, there was one that was really bright ant now is at McK, I'm not saying that ACN strategy is crap, but it was built in-house to do other work than that of top strategy houses do, they pretty much were created to engage the client to sell eventually implementation/outsourcing expensive projects (really long projects)

I'm always talking from the point I know, and what I lived, I do not know if it can be extrapolated to US

Sep 17, 2015

No, it can be extrapolated to the US pretty easily. The only point that may change slightly is the MBA sponsorship since it is so common here in the US, but from my friends at ACN strategy it is a much smaller reimbursement package than offered at MBB.

Oct 8, 2015

Ex-ACN here. This is spot on. Very little strategy work. If there aren't many strategy projects, they'll have you work on implementations, etc.. so your billing rate doesn't drop.

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Sep 17, 2015

MBA reimbursement is up to $100K for 2 years. Ostensibly no cap on the total number of scholarships that can be given in a year. But you do need to meet some basic criteria (e.g. not under-performing, accepted into a top 10-15 school, etc.)

Sep 17, 2015

In terms of the work you do, the others are spot on - ACN Strategy isn't really "Strategy" in the classic sense but rather strategic penetration of a company to get the MC/Tech guys in for lower margin but higher reliability work (ACN's bread and butter). Put another way, your strategically working for Accenture, not your client. For example, instead of doing a market entry or product development project involving high level corporate strategy and that will benefit the client only, you're more likely to do a tech roadmap or internal operational assessment that may be a point of leverage to get the tech/SI teams in.

This knowledge is a couple of years old but I would venture to guess it's still relevant; unlike the Big Four who are trying to build out pure strategy practices to compete with MBB/elite boutiques (albeit with a slightly different value prop), ACN seems to continue to leverage its dominance in the tech/SI world. Like others have said, exit ops won't be near what you'd get at MBB or a pure strategy house.

Hee hee "strategic penetration..."

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  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Sep 21, 2015

bump

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Sep 21, 2015

This is not accurate at all (at least for US and major markets in Europe). The goal of Accenture Strategy (AS) is first and foremost to do real strategy work, regardless if that work leads to more work for Accenture's implementation and technology groups down the line. In terms of the types of projects, I've seen the full spectrum, from growth strategy to operating model redesign, and our main competitors for projects are typically McKinsey and Deloitte.

--

  1. How many consultants work in the Strategy division relative to MC or SI?

AS is ~6000 globally, compared to ~15000 for MC. SI is massive (I know it's at least double MC).

  1. I've heard that for strategy projects, ACN Strategy engages with the client first and then it hands off the project to MC or SI for execution phases. Is that understanding correct?

Depends. AS is brought in only if there is a strategy piece. If it's a pure implementation project, and there are def. a lot of pure implementation projects at Accenture, AS is not involved. Not all AS recommendations are carried out by MC/SI and the client has absolutely no obligation to do so.

  1. I've heard that ACN Strategy is one of a few groups within ACN that sponsors MBAs. Does anyone know how frequently it does so? (Example: if the Strategy group brings in 100 new analysts this year, how many could theoretically be sponsored 2-4 years down the road?)

If you're a top performer (roughly top 30-40%) who gets into a top MBA program, you will have a very chance of being sponsored. Also, to give you context, almost all of the students sponsored this year went to top 10 US MBA programs (including Stanford and Wharton) or Insead (which AS has a unique partnership with).

  1. Given that it is still a new division (at least, the name ACN Strategy is), what are your thoughts on the reputation of the brand? Will it be more highly regarded in the next few years because of the growing need for businesses to understand business strategy and IT intersections?

Strategy within Accenture isn't new. There has always been a decent sized group (few thousand), but it now has a differentiated brand.

Accenture knows it doesn't have the strongest reputation in strategy consulting and so has recently bulked up their strategy leadership with McKinsey partners. The head of Accenture Strategy is an ex-McKinsey partner, the head of the US Strategy practice is also an ex-McKinsey partner, and numerous recent leads are ex-McKinsey. They have instituted several major changes, including accelerating promotion timelines for top performers, changing the performance process completely, and increasing funding for MBA fellowships.

Also, while it is true that we are cheaper than MBB and Deloitte S&O, our average rate has been increasing every quarter as we differentiate more and more from the rest of Accenture. I think AS is where Deloitte S&O was 5 years ago (look at posts on this forum about Deloitte 5 years ago), and I believe we will have very good strategy brand in the next few years or so. Thoug, I do not think AS will ever be on par with MBB, but it will form the next rung with Deloitte Monitor and PwC Strategy&.

In regards to people, for undergrad, we only recruit from the top 20 or so schools (list can be seen on Accenture's career site) and for MBA, top 15. Note that this is not the same set even for Accenture's Management Consulting group.

  1. What is ACN's reputation from a strategy standpoint?

Based on the ranking of other consultants, our strategy reputation is solid as we are ranked a Top 5 strategy consulting firm based on actual consultants' responses (visit Vault's Strategy Consulting rankings).

I think this forum has a lot of good stuff, but there is an awful lot of inaccurate information based on hearsay. Accenture def. has its set of shitty aspects, as does AS, but its not at all accurate to say that they don't do real strategy work or do work with the primary goal of selling IT. Hope this clears up a few things.

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  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Sep 25, 2015

Sounds like Accenture's public relations team wrote this one.

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Sep 28, 2015

overall very accurate write up, I can second all of your points from friends who work there and personal experiences with the firm. People on this tend to flame ACN way too much when in reality it's a great place and offers a lot of really good opportunities.

Sep 29, 2015

Until they bump you to CDO

Sep 29, 2015

Holy shit the level of Accenture PR is off the charts with this one.

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Sep 29, 2015

Sorry you had a bad experience implementing SAP at Accenture Technology. Better luck next time. But since you threw shit at me, ooh you're right - let's continue the Accenture circle jerk hate.

Nov 18, 2017

I'll second a lot of what is here. I don't agree that Accenture will be on par with the major tier 2 firms in terms of general strategy, but they outperform in their niche. They have definitely had some big partner acquisitions from better firms; this tends to lead to improvements in work as those partners retain some of their old clients.

It's important to note that a lot of the changes in Accenture have occurred in the past few years; many of the criticisms in this thread are aligned with things I'd heard about Accenture prior to that time frame.

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Sep 29, 2015

I''m a former Accenture Strategy employee who joined MBB post MBA. I concur with the write-up and agree that Accenture gets crapped on a lot on this forum. I'm not sure why everyone is able to differentiate Deloitte Advisory and Audit from S&O but unwilling to do so when it comes to Accenture Technology vs. Management Consulting vs. Strategy. Is Accenture Strategy on par with MBB in terms of prestige and pure strategy work? No, it's not but neither is Deloitte S&O. But that doesn't mean I didn't work on a lot of cool and interesting projects with a ton of extremely high caliber people who left for and came from top b-schools. So fine, Accenture is not MBB and I don't know that it claims to be but based on my experience - it is not that different than Deloitte S&O, despite what WSO believes.

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Sep 29, 2015

There's a lot of good advice on this thread that I agree with. Distilled:

  1. Accenture DOES indeed to shit on too much on this forum, so do the non-Deloitte Big Four for that matter. It's not MBB but it's still a good shop.
  2. Speaking of Deloitte, I think Deloitte S&O is the most overrated group on this forum. The prevailing notion of "MBB > Deloitte S&O (just a little bit) >>>>>>> EVERYONE ELSE" is just silly and is being self-perpetuated by posters here. My 2 cents, but between Deloitte S&O, OW, E&Y-Parthenon, Strategy&, ATK, or Accenture Strategy for that matter.... they are all solid places to work. Don't get so caught up in rankings and aim more for what is a better fit for the industries and cultures you want to work in (although I would say the middle-market is becoming a dangerous play....). And remember, you can probably lateral between any of those firms at some point in your career if you make the most of your situation... I've seen it before (although some of those shops are harder than others). That said, I don't think there are many junior staffers at those firms that would turn down a MBB offer....
  3. That one post really did sound like Accenture's PR team :)
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Sep 29, 2015

Deloitte S&O is the solid number four, and there's a reason the other big 4 firms are viewed less favorably (they're still great firms though). At Kellogg, you have a lot people who interned at ATK / Strategy& / Accenture Strategy / etc recruiting for Deloitte full time. I don't think this forum over-rates Deloitte....if anything, they under-sell it, viewing it further away from MBB than it actually is. MBBD is becoming a fact.

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Oct 6, 2015

Anyone that is out of college and still of the belief that Deloitte is near MBB needs to get their head on straight.

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Nov 18, 2017

....I was under the impression that Deloitte no long hires full time? They only extend offers to their interns? It's been ~2-3 years I believe since they last hired full time from MBA.

Deloitte's true competitive advantage is paying second year's tuition for their MBA hires. This is honestly the number one prevailing reason why they win almost every cross offer. A lot of those students are then surprised to learn that their full time comp might not be on par with some of the other firms they wrote off. Regardless, for 2-3 years and out consultants, the second year tuition makes it a no-brainer unless you have clear aspirations that don't align with Deloitte (i.e. PE DD vs Parthenon, FS vs OW, etc). Take away that incentive and the firms are much closer in candidates minds. It's a great firm, I'm not bashing S&O at all and I think they've done a great job with the integration of Monitor, but people overlook the impact of a $65k handout in these discussions.

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Oct 7, 2015

Just look at the bill rates, guys.

That's how the market values these services. Deloitte's bill rates are pretty far off MBB.

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Oct 8, 2015
BigPicture:

Just look at the bill rates, guys.

That's how the market values these services. Deloitte's bill rates are pretty far off MBB.

S&O makes more revenue per consultant than Bain, so I'd push back. McKinsey's bill rate is considerably higher than BCG/Bain also, so by your definition, MBB shouldn't even exit. It should just be M.

Oct 9, 2015

What's your source on revenue per consultant for S&O vs. Bain?

Also, are you talking blended average or at-level comparisons? Bain has a lot of junior people. Still a good point to make, but something worth considering.

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  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Oct 7, 2015

European Acn Strategy employee here.. AS was around since years, but only recently there is a strong push to promote Strategy (as well as Digital) as they did another re-org followed by rebranding of divisions.
So what is AS? Yoh tell me, they label everything Strategy, including Capability Netwotk which is internal CoE doing purely operational consulting and IT, and at the same time they talk about competing with McK, BCG..
It's like one day Ford has decided to compete with Bentley just because one of their model s priced at 100k$, you get the picture?
No mba financing in Europe by Acn, as opposed to real strategy competitors.. .
Rgds
Luk

Oct 8, 2015

Yup, no MBA financing in Asia too

Oct 9, 2015

I'm in AS in US. Our performance rankings are tied to how much strategy work we do, so you are definitely expected to do only strategy work--this was stressed in our last town hall. In the US at least, you also have MBA sponsorship, strong up and out culture, and there is definitely a lot of interesting strategy projects. I've seen a bit of everything, but the bulk of the work that I've seen are in zero-based budgeting, digital and technology strategy, operating model strategy, and growth strategy.

Regarding MBBD, I think Deloitte S&O has done a great job building its business and reputation, but it's certainly not at the same tier as MBB. @opsdude1" I bet that most people who intern at Deloitte S&O also try for MBB full-time, right? How many BCG interns try for McKinsey, Bain, or Deloitte full-time? Yep, I thought so.

Oct 9, 2015
aviance:

I'm in AS in US. Our performance rankings are tied to how much strategy work we do, so you are definitely expected to do only strategy work--this was stressed in our last town hall. In the US at least, you also have MBA sponsorship, strong up and out culture, and there is definitely a lot of interesting strategy projects. I've seen a bit of everything, but the bulk of the work that I've seen are in zero-based budgeting, digital and technology strategy, operating model strategy, and growth strategy.

Regarding MBBD, I think Deloitte S&O has done a great job building its business and reputation, but it's certainly not at the same tier as MBB. @opsdude1 I bet that most people who intern at Deloitte S&O also try for MBB full-time, right? How many BCG interns try for McKinsey, Bain, or Deloitte full-time? Yep, I thought so.

Only 4 out of 22 are re-recruiting this year, everyone else who interned signed with Deloitte for full time. Last year 3 out 19 re-recruited. About equal with MBB people who choose to not go back (whether it be to go to another consulting firm, or not do consuting).

The MBB nomenclature is just making less sense every day. Most people still would choose Bain over Deloitte (although certainly not everyone)....but most people would pick McKinsey over Bain. The distance between Deloitte and Bain is less than the distance between Bain and McKinsey, so it's strange to make the cut off MBB instead of MBBD.

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Oct 9, 2015

I'm sure that has a lot to do with MBA re-imbursement for returning interns. Everyone I knew who interned with Deloitte (or any firm non-MBB) undergrad aimed to get MBB, so that's certainly not the case at the analyst level (where there is no additional compensation incentive).

Also, where are you getting these numbers? Simply looking at interns who rejoined is not sufficient to say they didn't recruit anywhere else.

I definitely disagree with you about the difference point. There is a marginal difference among any of the MBB while there is a much more significant difference between Bain and Deloitte. There's a ton of reasons for this, but I guess the easiest quantifiable measure might be to use Vault's prestige score (http://www.vault.com/company-rankings/consulting/b...). The difference between McK and Bain is .5 and the difference between Bain and Deloitte is roughly 1.5. And yes, I know that this is Deloitte Consulting overall and not Deloitte S&O. Anecdotally, I have personally never meant someone with an MBB offer and Deloitte and choose Deloitte--I'm sure there are some, but that's rare.

I don't want to come across as I hate Deloitte or anything--I have a lot of good buddies that work there and most like it--but MBB is such because of how marginally different they are. Deloitte has definitely come closer to them, but their not there, yet.

Oct 12, 2015

I think your figures may be screwed. Potentially 3 out of 19 Deloitte interns did not return but that is not to say that more tried to re-recruit other places like MBB and could not find a better offer and therefore returned to Deloitte given they have almost a month to accept the return offer they received after their internship ended.

Oct 13, 2015
saresnaps:

I think your figures may be screwed. Potentially 3 out of 19 Deloitte interns did not return but that is not to say that more tried to re-recruit other places like MBB and could not find a better offer and therefore returned to Deloitte given they have almost a month to accept the return offer they received after their internship ended.

My numbers are not screwed up. I know everyone this year and last year who interned. You know if people are re-recruiting , it's not a secret. I even seperated people who tried to re-recruit versus people who successfully did so in my post....

The internship ends on the 21st, and early signing is due September 8th... early interviews are very rare, especially within that time frame.

To further my point now that closed lists came out, for a point of comparison, pretty much everyone who interned at strategy&, ATK, and Accenture applied for Deloitte for FT.

Oct 13, 2015

By screwed, I meant skewed.

My bad. Thanks for clarifying the source of your numbers.

Lots of respect for Deloitte S&O.

Best Response
Nov 17, 2017

about time this question got an update 2 years later... i've been at acn strat APAC for the past 1.5 years (experienced hire) and things have definitely changed. the strategy practice has been buffed up and there has been a marked change in acn strat's position in the market. personally, i think they have gone a bit nuts with the hiring - our strat practice head knickrehm is a former Mck senior partner and almost all the new MD's and SM's in my office are ex-Mck and BCG. but the efforts are paying off. in the past 6 months alone, all 4 of the projects i've been on were won against Mck, BCG, and Deloitte (Bain isn't even in the game anymore - everyone in the industry knows they won't exist in the next 5-10 yrs).

imo the rationale for this is simply that the same shift we saw towards customer-centricity 10 years ago is going through a second evolution driven by the internet and tech in general. this means that there's hardly any strategy project that doesn't have a 'digital' element to it anymore. which bodes well for acn strat because this is exactly how it has marketed itself - at the intersection of strategy and tech. it's for this same reason that we see mck and bcg desperately trying to scramble together a digital arm as part of their overall strategy branding. also explains why bain can't compete anymore because it's too poor to invest in digital capabilities

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Nov 17, 2017

Bainbridge has increased their Business Development and Capital Markets division hiring in the SoCal/local markets. They are not able to attain top talent, so this makes it highly difficult for them to get business.

I did an interview with them awhile ago, but nothing solid.

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Nov 20, 2017

You do realize Bain & Company and Bainbridge are not the same company nor have anything to do with each other in any way?

Nov 18, 2017

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