When your supply chain is choking and you need to transform but don’t know how, who are you going to call? For a lot of business leaders, the answer is McKinsey & Company. While the 96-year-old consultancy has had some stumbles in recent years, it emerged as the gold standard for business leaders in Forbes’ inaugural ranking of the World’s Best Management Consulting Firms.
Often known simply as “The Firm,” McKinsey has built a reputation for hiring the best to help its powerful clients discreetly solve tough problems from transforming business models to coping with climate change. That’s enabled McKinsey to expand to 38,000 employees in more than 65 countries worldwide.
To compile the ranking, Forbes partnered with market research company Statista, which surveyed business leaders in the U.S., Germany, France, the U.K., Switzerland and Japan. The firms that received the most recommendations were ranked according to star ratings: from five stars for “very frequently recommended” on down. For a full methodology, see below.
What’s clear is that the value proposition for the industry itself was reinforced amid the pandemic. With economic uncertainty, digitization and a workplace that has fundamentally shifted over the past two years, corporate leaders are feeling an increased need to bring in outsiders to help with key initiatives and decisions worldwide. Accenture derives more than half of its revenue from consulting, which was also the fastest growing part of its business last quarter with 24% year-over-year growth.
For Jack Azagury, Accenture’s head of strategy and consulting, that growth reflects not just the demand but also the urgency for solutions. “Our clients want results and they want them faster,’’ says Azagury. “They want capabilities, they want outcomes a lot faster.’’
Azagury notes that clients’ needs are also changing. In particular, demand is high for help with the challenges and opportunities around new technologies—Accenture has doubled down on data, AI and helping clients navigate the metaverse—as well as energy sustainability and security, especially in Europe, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The company also turns its consulting prowess on itself, from having new employees spend time in the metaverse to finding new ways for its 710,000 people to thrive in a hybrid workplace. As Azagury puts it: “We’re starting to learn what works well remotely, and when you need to be in front of a whiteboard in person to brainstorm so we’re starting to find a new normal.”
The same is true at Mercer where Martine Ferland had been president and CEO for barely a year when the pandemic hit. She draws on her training as a pension actuary—a background that emphasizes precision, as well quantitative and data-driven thinking that she mixes with empathy. That emphasis on listening and adaptation are what she believes have helped Mercer stand out from other firms. “When I was younger, the client would hire us and we’d come in with five options with pros and cons,’’ Ferland says. “Now, time is too precious for that, and the client expects us to know better for the client.’’
In the Statista list, Mercer ranked especially high in its core focus of human resources and coaching, as well as in organization change and management. Of the 230 firms ranked on the list, 98 are headquartered in the U.S., with 37 in the U.K., 36 in Germany and 30 in France.
To reach the top of the list in 2022, global consulting companies had to be greatly adaptable from inside and out to remain competitive during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also means adapting how they work internally to better provide services to their client’s new needs.
In 2017, Accenture committed to reaching an entire gender-balanced team by 2025 and it still has some work to do to achieve full parity. According to Accenture, 60% of the company’s board of directors is racially and ethnically diverse, and 50% are women. However, the company has not yet reached the full gender balance, as women currently represent 47% of Accenture’s team.
“I’ve lived in Japan, in France, in the U.K., and diversity in all its forms is essential to get the best ideas, the best points of views, the best thinking,’’ Azagury says. “Whether it’s geographical diversity, gender diversity, ethnic diversity, religious diversity, or neurodiversity, everybody can look at one problem, but everybody’s looking at the same problem from a different angle.’’
For the full list of the World’s Best Management Consulting Firms, click here.
Statista has established several worldwide top lists in the field of management consultancies, and has conducted such analyses across the U.S., Germany, France, the U.K., Switzerland and Japan. To determine this list, Statista looked at the results of these country-wide top lists and created a top list of the World’s Best Management Consulting Firms. All six top lists are based on a similar methodology and take into account numerous recommendations from consultants and clients of consulting firms. The ranking is divided into 13 sectors—from aerospace and defense to financial institutions—and 14 functional areas—including strategy, sustainability and digital transformation. The 230 firms that received the most recommendations are ranked according to star ratings: five stars for “very frequently recommended,” four stars for “frequently recommended” and three stars for “recommended.”