Consulting Q&AWhat are the main differences between McK, BCG, Bain?
Adrianna LandvikAdrianna Landvik asked 1 year ago

1 Answers
Hélène LaffitteHélène Laffitte answered 1 year ago
The Big Three, or as we call it, MBB (McKinsey, BCG, and Bain), is known to be the largest and most prestigious strategy consulting firm.

MBB typically hires the most intelligent people, pays the highest compensation, and has the best exit opportunities. In addition, MBB consulting firms have the most prominent name clients, the most challenging and impactful projects, and the highest billing rates.

Well, there’s a reason why these three are the top dogs in the management consulting industry. Now let us look at the difference between the MBB firms in terms of size, breadth, and reach in the table below:

Metric McKinsey BCG Bain
Year Founded 1926 1963 1973
Annual Revenue $10.5B $8.5B $4.5B
Number of Employees 30,000 21,000 8,000
Number of Offices 130+ 90+ 59

Source: Company website, Forbes

MBB History:

McKinsey started in 1926 as one of the first consulting firms (even though 40 years after ADL, at the start focused on accounting and high-level strategy following the great depression.

In 1963, BCG became the world leader on strategy under the impulse of Bruce Henderson, exclusive focus on strategy led to the creation of Bain & Co in 1973 as Bill Bain wanted to accompany clients from strategy to execution


All have broad offerings – BCG tends to be very strong on the Strategy front. At the same time, McKinsey developed a massive offering on Excellence, helping all enterprise functions excel in their respective capabilities. Bain is pushing a solid one-stop shop position at the top; Bain tends to leverage the PE aura of Bain Capital as experts to optimize value creation.

Working Style: 

McKinsey is the gold standard of consulting, so you can expect pretty much all the clichés about consultants. High-quality work delivered by consultants in black.

BCG tends to be more very pro but more innovative and relaxed. Probably the strategy or the marketing culture. The delivery model is more collaborative. They used to be at the forefront of thought leadership with a grasp on the HBR but got Netflixed by McKinsey in recent years.

Bain is described as work hard, play hard type by experts like Management consulted. Tends to create polarised relationships with strong promoters and detractors within the clients.


Standards are pretty much the same (base around 90/100K for undergrad and north of 150 for MBAs). All companies with a partnership structure outlook are the same (senior partnership, practice lead, regional lead, etc.). McKinsey has a strong reputation for placing its alumni in excellent roles. Those alumni become, in turn, clients of the firm.

So, the conclusion is that McKinsey has always been the apparent market leader. As the youngest of the three firms, Bain is the consistent upstart of the group. The firm’s lack of experience is compensated by colossal risk-taking and market-differentiating moves. BCG generally falls somewhere in between competing with McKinsey and Bain by striking a balance of expertise and creativity – and when selling, they are “more creative” than McKinsey and “more seasoned” than Bain.