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McKinsey Vs. Goldman Sachs – 6 Differences

McKinsey and Goldman Sachs are two giants in their industries! If you’re looking to work in either, you should understand that they are two quite distinctive organizations.

McKinsey and Goldman Sachs offer quite different professional tracks, salaries, and even exit opportunities.

I’ve been around the consulting world for the best part of ten years now, and in that time, I’ve heard the biggest 6 differences between McKinsey and Goldman Sachs are:

  1. Brand value and prestige
  2. Salaries
  3. Job acceptance rate
  4. Employee count
  5. Inclusion and diversity
  6. Exit opportunities

In this post, I’ll take a really good look at these 6 differences. It might help you out with the choice of which to choose!

1. Brand Value And Prestige

Let’s face it – both McKinsey and Goldman Sachs have impressive reputations.

However, I’d say it’s also fair to say that they excel in different ways.

McKinsey is widely recognized as one of the top-tier (arguably the very top-tier) consulting firms in the whole world. For nearly 100 years (since 1926), it has built a really solid brand.

They are known to have market-leading expertise in strategy, problem-solving, and just quite honestly delivering impactful results to its Fortune 1000 clients. Some of them are:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Microsoft
  • The U.S. Department of Energy
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 


If you want to know what McKinsey is really known for, I’d say the three things are:

  • Professionalism
  • Thought leadership
  • Innovation (particularly in the consulting industry)

But let’s take a look at Goldman Sachs. Firstly, it is renowned as the most prestigious bank on Wall Street (no mean feat). It was founded in 1869, and this bank has a long-running reputation for excellence! (Source)

Although it does have a consulting arm, Goldman is primarily a finance-driven organization (just remember that!)

Goldman has expertise in:

  • Investment banking
  • Securities
  • Asset management expertise

It has long been a leading player in the finance industry, and it has advised major corporations, governments, and institutions.

2. Salaries – McKinsey Vs. Goldman Sachs

Of course, if you’re looking to get a job at either, then the salary is going to be high on your list of things to find out!

In a nutshell, salaries for lower and mid-level jobs at McKinsey tend to be better paid than those at Goldman. However, higher-level jobs can actually be better paid at Goldman rather than McKinsey.

At McKinsey, salaries depend on two things:

  • Location
  • Role

Let’s look at an example:

An entry-level analyst can expect an average salary range of $90,000 to $110,000. An experienced associate, with an MBA, can expect around £233,000 annually.

When considering career options at McKinsey & Company and Goldman Sachs, evaluating the potential salaries for different positions is also essential. 

At Goldman Sachs, wages also differ across various positions. The highest-paying role is Managing Director. They would get an average salary of $280,110.

The following table gives you a good overhead view of the salaries for different positions in each firm:

PositionMcKinsey & Company Goldman Sachs 
Analyst (Entry Level)$90,000 – $110,000 $72,507
Associate (MBA holders with experience)$233,000 $101,246
Vice President$250,000$140,526


3. Getting A Job At McKinsey Or Goldman Sachs

Getting a job at either can be tough!

McKinsey receives over a million applications for jobs per year! This means that they hire less than one percent of applicants. (Source)

The selection process is rigorous! The company are highly selective, and can afford to be because of the prestige in which they are held.

However, things are not too different at Goldman Sachs. It is a premier investment banking company after all, so obtaining a position there is no mean feat.

However, it appears the acceptance rate is around 4 percent, making it less challenging than McKinsey. (Source)

For those looking for top tips, the most important things required for getting a job at either are:

  • Persistence and resilience
  • Strong application and documentation
  • Professional social media presence
  • Preparation for the interview
  • Try Try Again…!

4. Employee Count – McKinsey Vs. Goldman Sachs

Both Goldman Sachs and McKinsey & Company Inc are enormous! They are prominent global companies!

They each employ thousands of individuals worldwide.

Goldman Sachs currently reports a global employee count of 48,500. This figure is going up from previous years! This indicates how the company is expanding.


On the other hand, McKinsey is slightly smaller. Focussing primarily on consulting services, they have an employee count of 38,000. (Source)

5. Workforce Diversity and Inclusion

McKinsey is big on diversity, and promoting a diverse workforce!

They report that 47% of their employees are women. This shows their strong commitment to gender equality. (Source)

It should be said that the most common ethnicity among their employees is White. White people account for 50% of the workforce.

They also have a really significant representation of Asian workers, making up 21% of their staff.

Let’s take a look at Goldman Sachs now. They are slightly more male-dominated, with 42.2% of staff being women from their global workforce. This percentage of women is an increase from previous years. (Source

Goldman has a target of 7% of their executive workforce to be Black professionals by 2025. This is only for the United States and the UK.

To summarize the ethnicity comparison, check out this table:

FactorsMcKinsey & Company IncGoldman Sachs
Asian Employees21%25.1%
Black Professionals13.1%Aiming for 7%
White Employees50%55%
Hispanic or Latino14%10.2%

6. Exit Opportunities – McKinsey Vs. Goldman Sachs

Pretty much everyone that gets a job at a company like McKinsey or Goldman Sachs will leave at some point. Very few will work there for life or go on to be partners.

It’s important to think about an exit opportunity in companies like this, and here are some of the possibilities available to you:

1. McKinsey Exit Opportunities

McKinsey has deep industry expertise, and so many McKinsey employees will pursue future positions such as:

  • CEOs
  • CFOs
  • C-Suite executives

They are able to leverage their business acumen and leadership capabilities. (Source)

Moreover, there is a real sense of entrepreneurial spirit at the company! This inspires many to venture into business or join early-stage start-ups.

You learn so many skills during market analysis and business planning! This equips them for launching businesses or contributing to the growth of companies.

A Quora contributor says, “Getting into MBB signals to all future employers that you managed to pass a very high bar and, if you stuck around for three years, that you’ve been trained, that you have the practice of working on the most complex problems, of presenting to the most senior leadership, and much more.”

2. Goldman Sachs Exit Opportunities

Goldman Sachs employees often seek further investment banking opportunities.

The skills they leverage include:

  • Knowledge of mergers and acquisitions
  • Trading
  • Risk management
  • Corporate finance expertise (Source)

Working for Goldman Sachs gives employees a deep understanding of the financial sector. They are ideally suited for future roles in:

  • Venture capital
  • Corporate finance
  • Technology-focused positions
  • Investment and portfolio management roles


  • Will Bennett

    Will Bennett is a Cambridge graduate. He worked as a Consultant and Senior Consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in London. Will is the Founder of The Cambridge Consultant.