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Best Boutique Consulting Firms

Which are the best small, mid-sized and specialist consulting firms to work for?
Survey Methodology

What is a boutique firm?

While there is no hard and fast definition, the term is generally understood within the consulting industry to refer to firms that are narrower in focus and smaller in size than the larger, generalist firms that can offer advice across a wide range of practice areas and industries. Thus, each of the firms on this ranking are specialists in their practice areas--some have, in fact, just one area of specialization, and all had fewer than 750 consultants at the time of publication.

Why work for a boutique?

There are many reasons why someone would choose to work for a boutique consulting firm over one of the larger competitors in the industry. For example, boutiques tend to offer better work-life balance opportunities. Some staff employees locally, as opposed to firms that operate on 100% travel models. And sometimes, it just comes down to specialization: if you're only interested in economics or public sector consulting, it might not make sense to work at a firm where you'll be expected to rotate through a variety of practice areas in your first two years.

Every year, we look at our consulting survey data from a number of angles, trying to find insights and takeaways about the consulting industry that we haven't seen before. One of those insights led directly to the creation of the Best Boutique Firms ranking--that when you compare responses of employees from large firms and those who work for boutiques, one major factor stands out: big firm consultants are much more likely to value the prestige of their organization than those who work for boutiques.

Interestingly, the remaining factors that motivate employees at the two groups of firms are almost identical and, when prestige is excluded, are also weighted almost identically.

As a result, we decided to examine our data from that perspective: to eliminate prestige as a concern, and simply rank the boutique firms based on the remaining factors that consultants identified as being important to them, weighted as closely as possible to their relative importance in our survey data. The result is this ranking, which is weighted as follows:

25% Firm Culture
20% Satisfaction
20% Work/Life Balance
10% Level of Challenge
10% Compensation
10% Overall Business Outlook
5% Promotion Policies

As ever, our survey is only open to consultants who are currently employed at reputable firms in the industry. When rating quality of life issues, consultants are only permitted to rate their own firm. For prestige and practice area rankings, however, consultants are only allowed to rate competitors, and NOT their own firms.

Take Our Survey

Each year Vault invites eligible consulting firms to participate in our annual Consulting Survey. Please contact us if you’re interested in having your firm considered for inclusion.

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2024 Best Boutique Consulting Firms

SCORE 9.702
2023 Rank 1
SCORE 9.594
2023 Rank 2
SCORE 9.092
2023 Rank 22
SCORE 9.062
2023 Rank 14
SCORE 8.987
2023 Rank 11
SCORE 8.908
2023 Not Ranked
SCORE 8.889
2023 Rank 12
SCORE 8.836
2023 Rank 23
SCORE 8.799
2023 Not Ranked
SCORE 8.754
2023 Rank 6