You probably realize that BCG is a really well-known global management consulting firm. It solves complex business challenges for clients from many industries. But does BCG belong to the exclusive club of the Big 4 consulting companies?
BCG is not one of the Big 4 firms, but it is a part of the renowned trio known as the “MBB.” It dominates the strategic consulting landscape. The Big 4 firms specialize in financial services, and their size and revenue easily overshadow BCG.
To further clarify, I’ll answer in this article:
- Is BCG a Big 4?
- What sets BCG apart from the reputable Big 4 firms?
Is Boston Consulting Group (BCG) a Part of the Big 4?
Simply put, BCG is not a part of the Big 4 firms. It is a major player in another group, which you know as “MBB.” The three companies in BCG are:
- McKinsey and Company
- Bain and Company
Let me show you why BCG is not a part of the illustrious Big 4 firms:
1. Expertise and Core Focus
The main focus of BCG for its clients are:
- Providing strategic advice
- Helping with operational improvements
- Aiding in technological adoption and organizational transformation.
What about the Big 4? They help their clients with accounting consulting services in audit and taxation. It also advises them on all financial matters.
It seems that Big 4 targets clientele from the same industries as BCG. (Source)
But, the huge difference in services and client size is one of the reasons why BCG is missing from the list of the Big 4.
2. Historical Differences
Every firm in the Big 4 has a rich and extensive history in accounting and auditing services. You can even trace their origin back over a century.
Well, BCG is a relatively new player in the professional services landscape. I mean, it’s not that new. Bruce Henderson founded it in 1963, and it grew stronger each year. (Source)
Despite BCG’s impressive rise, the difference in the historical timeline makes it almost impossible for it to compete and stand tall with Big 4.
It is mainly because of the extensive track record and experience the Big 4 gained over many decades.
4. Global Footprint
Each of the Big 4 firms has offices in many countries (More than 150). Who knows? You may even find one in the city where you are living.
That’s not the case with BCG and the other two MBB firms!
All three are more selective in terms of choosing their countries to open up their operations.
Here’s a chart that shows the global presence of the Big 4 dominating MBB firms.
|McKinsey and Company||65+ Countries|
|Bain & Company||40 Countries|
|PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)||152 Countries|
However, it’s worth noting that BCG and other MBB firms (may) undertake projects in countries where they don’t have a physical office.
It is quite clever, actually! They often open offices in countries with a track record of successful projects. It reflects their strategic approach to expanding their global footprint based on client demand and project opportunities.
But Big 4 firms open offices wherever they feel the need. No strings attached!
This freedom and unrestricted approach can be the reason why Big 4 is still Big 4, and not Big 5.
A former consultant at BCG and current consultant at Deloitte wrote on Glassdoor: While both firms hold their own unique strengths and areas of expertise, I must admit that my experience at Deloitte has been particularly enlightening. One aspect that stands out for me is the sheer size and scale of Deloitte’s global presence. During my time at BCG, I greatly appreciated the specialized and selective approach to consulting, which allowed us to focus intensely on strategic matters. However, my transition to Deloitte has revealed a different dimension of consulting. The multitude of offices means that I can travel across borders and gain extensive experience. It was a hard decision, but I will give Deloitte the upper hand! (Source)
The Big 4 firms are renowned for their massive revenue streams. They consistently rank among the largest professional services firms globally.
The earth-shattering revenue generated by the Big 4 firms is a result of their amazing business.
In contrast, BCG (although highly esteemed in the realm of management consulting) generates revenue from consulting fees only. It doesn’t reach the same scale as that of the Big 4 firms.
Let’s have a look at the revenue generated by the Big 4 firms and BCG in the last year:
- Deloitte: $59.3 billion
- PwC: $50.3 billion
- EY: $45.2 billion
- KPMG: $34.64 billion
- BCG: $11 billion
This is another big reason why BCG can’t be a part of the Big 4.
Another significant factor that sets BCG apart from the Big 4 firms is the difference in the number of employees.
Thesis a reason why there is a “Big” in the “4.” BCG has a workforce that is notably smaller in comparison to the Big 4.
Why is that? BCG’s employment model revolves around a selective hiring process that focuses on recruiting highly skilled and specialized professionals (more concentrated in terms of headcount).
However, the Big 4 firms employ many professionals globally (often numbering in the hundreds of thousands collectively). This expansive workforce is the key to providing necessary support for the range of services they offer to their clients worldwide.
In today’s in-depth talk, I’ve answered the most common question asked by many curious professionals: “Is BCG a Big 4?”
Through this discussion, it becomes clear that BCG and the Big 4 firms occupy distinctive positions within the professional services landscape.
The Big 4 firms are the true giants in the consulting industry. But MBB can give them a run for their money if they are willing to expand their horizon. So, if you want to pursue a career with BCG or one of the Big 4, both are sane choices!