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Vault Consulting 50: Deloitte’s Reign Over the Big 4 Has Ended (2021)

For the past five years, Deloitte has cozily sat in fourth place in the Vault Consulting 50, which was tops among the Big 4’s consulting practices and only a few spots behind the usual suspects: Bain, Boston Consulting Group, and McKinsey. But in Vault’s latest ranking of the 50 best consulting firms to work for in 2021, Deloitte got knocked down a few pegs, and a new Big 4 leader has emerged.

Based on the results of a survey sent to consultants, Vault uses the following weighted formula to put together its annual ranking:

  • 30% prestige
  • 15% firm culture
  • 15% satisfaction
  • 10% compensation
  • 10% work/life balance
  • 10% level of challenge
  • 5% overall business outlook
  • 5% promotion policies

Overall, the Big 4’s consulting practices finished in the top 16, which is pretty good given the glut of competition they face year in and year out. But the big news is Deloitte is no longer fourth; in fact the Green Dot dropped to eighth in the 2021 Vault 50. EY-Parthenon now sits on the Big 4 consulting throne.

Here are the top 20 consulting firms in the 2021 Vault 50 (Big 4 consulting practices in bold):

  1. Bain & Co.
  2. Boston Consulting Group
  3. McKinsey & Co.
  4. Booz Allen Hamilton
  5. EY-Parthenon
  6. Oliver Wyman
  7. ClearView Healthcare Partners
  8. Deloitte Consulting
  9. PwC Advisory/Strategy&
  10. Putnam Associates
  11. Alvarez & Marsal
  12. The Bridgespan Group
  13. The Keystone Group
  14. ghSMART
  15. Kearney
  16. KPMG (Advisory)
  17. The Cambridge Group
  18. Cornerstone Research
  19. Blue Matter Consulting
  20. Roland Berger

EY-Parthenon cracked the top five with a score of 7.779 out of 10, after being ranked seventh in the 2020 Vault Consulting 50. Deloitte had a score of 7.607, PwC Advisory/Strategy& finished with a score of 7.554, and KPMG’s score was 7.199.

People must really like working for EY-Parthenon because it’s hard to find a recent nasty review from a verified employee on Vault about the firm, outside of the usual negative ones like “long hours,” “no work/life balance,” and “leadership transparency.”

There are a couple employees who have had an unsatisfactory working experience at Deloitte Consulting. One said:

Pooe work life balance, toxic project culture, poorly sold projects (staffing and scope not well planned and defined), ridiculous working hours, contractions in the top leadership’s vision and project leadership’s execution. The project leadership cares only about their profits, the resources are just dime a dozen.

The other person has something to say to all the young’uns who are considering Deloitte Consulting after graduation:

If you want to do mundane work, not be developed, and have no opportunity to be promoted, but be overworked and underpaid – apply now!

Here’s what one unsatisfied PwCer had to say about working for Strategy&:


The unrealistic work expectations – personal sacrifices given and selling your sole to a corporation

Advice to Candidates

1) Your entire being is owned by PwC

2) you are on call 24/7

3) Your life will NEVER be the same..

4) Outsource / write a check for anything and everything personally you can have done. You will never have “personal” time

5) Tell your family to live their lives without you.

Two other PwC employees said leadership at the firm is the biggest problem. One said, “Be aware that they talk about listening when in reality they don’t care,” and the other said, “Not a meritocracy; Leadership talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk.”

And over at KPMG, it’s not unusual to find a few unhappy KPMG kampers, like this person:


Compensation is the worst. Work Life Balance is claimed to be good; but varies between each Director/MD/Partner. Travel perks were the vail hiding all the downsides of the job until COVID hit and exposed them all. Internal Technology capabilities are so scattered it appears a toddler is running the IT team. No Seamless storage solution that covers end to end capabilities in the 21st century often bottlenecks teams.

Leadership focuses on Chargability, not curating talent development via specific projects to further knowledge base.

Advice to Candidates

If you want to be undervalued (monetarily) for the work you put in; go here.

Another Klynveldian said, “KPMG makes their employee’s life more miserable with each passing year.”


Hours, pay, work/life balance and the perpetual grind on emloyees – great model for partners, miserable model for non-partners.

Discuss the top 20 as you see fit.

Related article:

Deloitte Gets Big 4 Bragging Rights In 2020 Vault Consulting 50

6 thoughts on “Vault Consulting 50: Deloitte’s Reign Over the Big 4 Has Ended (2021)

  1. I agree with this assessment. I will add that while Deloitte may not compensate their people well at the moment, they are making efforts to rehire and retain as much as they can. From personal experience, I can say that PwC is a great firm with upper leadership that has the right mindset, but the upper leadership may have no idea that the NY market team HR and middle managers in tax are toxic and systematically eliminate black people by starving them of project opportunities, assasinating their characters with outright lies where necessary, and holding back from giving adequate, clear career guidance for advancement. NY HR in particular also could care less about respecting people with disabilities. PwC does not have the dilemma of needing to take extraordinary leaps to not layoff their people because their people are leaving the firm at enormous rates- their HR and managers are simply making the lives of people on their teams a living hell until they leave. Look at the retention numbers past senior associate over the last decade for a measure of this. I have seen too many cases of this and the behavior needs to stop.

  2. A few years back, I suffered a massive heart attack while working at Deloitte….. 24/7 … in the office … at the ripe old age of 40. Deloitte tried to terminate me while still in the hospital. I got a bulldog of an attorney and they finally settled after putting up a fight.

    That’s all I got to say about that.

  3. If someone can explain to me how a no-nothing analyst out of college who makes a pretty deck somehow is valued more than an experienced professional who can actually understand what the problems are at the client and create solid future proof business solutions with Modern tech stacks, but is left with little time for decks. If someone from a Senior manager to partner level can explain that. I’d love to know

    1. Pyramid style approach. We have plenty of senior managers to partners. Unless you have an untapped client book worth millions… sorry Charlie.

  4. From a client side… a business person unable to use excel or have fundamental understanding of a table is not a business person. So please stop giving them director and leadership titles.

    1. > From a client side… a business person unable to use excel or have
      > fundamental understanding of a table is not a business person. So
      > please stop giving them director and leadership titles.

      In my B4 observations, Directors are promoted to Director not for technical ability nor leadership ability but mostly for sales.

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