Meet America’s Best Management Consulting Firms 2023

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While many economists and analysts spent last year anticipating a 2023 recession, one industry that has consistently grown in market size over the past five years is management consulting.

Currently, there are almost 1 million management consulting firms in the U.S. (a 2% increase from last year), which generate a collective revenue of $329.9 billion, according to IBISWorld. Whether the economy is booming or busting, the need for consulting persists.

“Either you’re helping companies on the growth trajectory or you’re helping them on the recession trajectory,” says Robert Kelley, Ph.D., distinguished service professor of management at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. Kelley adds that consultants this year helped companies handle layoffs, particularly in tech, advised on which areas of businesses to keep or dissolve, and offered guidance on innovation.

Which consulting companies are optimally positioned to help businesses tackle the known and unforeseeable challenges in 2023? For the eighth straight year, Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to create our list of America’s Best Management Consulting Firms.

The list relied on surveys of partners and executives of management consulting companies, as well as their clients. Participants were asked if they would recommend a firm within 16 different industries (such as automotive, insurance, and health care) and/or recommend the firm’s services in any of 16 functional areas (including leadership, sustainability, and legal and litigation). In total, 199 different firms were given star ratings: five stars for “very frequently recommended,” four stars for “frequently recommended” and three stars for “recommended.”

For the second year in a row, both Bain & Company and Deloitte were the most-recommended consultancies, with star ratings in all 32 categories. Deloitte being the only firm to receive 4 and 5 stars in each. They were followed by Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company, with star ratings in 31 categories. Accenture received the most 5-star ratings, with 25.

Jack Azagury, Accenture’s group chief executive for strategy and consulting, says that one of the keys to staying relevant is to prioritize technological development and skill building. “Our research reveals that even if we enter into a recession, 75% of companies plan to accelerate their focus on reinvention and their investment in digital capabilities and new ways of working,” says Azagury. Accenture is investing in its teams’ own digital capabilities too: “All of our 738,000 people at Accenture have to pass Technology Quotient assessments on the latest technologies, from cloud and AI to quantum computing and generative AI such as ChatGPT.”

After three years of pandemic life and remote or hybrid work, Carnegie Mellon’s Kelley says one of the biggest questions facing consulting firms now is whether they will go back to the old model where consultants are on the road for weeks and months or will Zoom meetings prevail.

Dan Helfrich, CEO of Deloitte Consulting, says that’s a case-by-case decision.

“Our clients have perspectives on this issue that are as varied as the opinions in society at large,” says Helfrich. “So our approach is to allow the configuration of the way that people work to match the rhythms that make sense for that team and that client.” Then again, he adds, allowing consultants to work remotely under certain circumstances makes it “a more attractive profession” and helps firms retain talent.

In other words, instead of the classic road-warrior model where consultants travel each week or set up camp somewhere for months at a time—and potentially burn out—employees may be given more freedom to work from their home base more often. “We think that’s a really positive outcome of changes in business norms over the last few years,” Helfrich says, “and are excited to see that flexibility be part of the permanent future.”

IBM Consulting received a top rating in 19 categories. Jesus Mantas, IBM’s global managing partner, says that the company prides itself on being a management consulting group inside of a technology company; IBM consultants are well-positioned to combine their deep knowledge of all things tech with their acumen in management consulting. One focus area for IBM, Mantas says, is in growing partnerships with cloud-technology companies like Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, which better enables IBM clients to transfer their data and services to the cloud, as well as build cloud-based applications.

Mantas also notes that IBM (along with other consultancies) is evolving by taking a more global view of the industry.

“You cannot take a management system from the United States and apply it in Brazil, Japan or Spain, and expect that it is going to work,” he says, adding that consultants must “understand that different cultures will react to different value sets.”

Accenture’s Azagury says sustainability is a focus that needs to become even more pressing.

“Our research of the world’s 2,000 largest companies suggests that only 7% of companies will meet their net-zero targets,” he says. “There is significant work needed to move to actionable, science-based targets,” which means that consultancies will be called upon to help companies meet those sustainability goals. Carnegie Mellon’s Kelley says that, in fact, young consultants are gravitating toward sustainability.

“I have students who now want to go to work for utilities because they want to be part of the electrification of what’s happening in utilities,” says Kelley. “In the old days, nobody wanted to go to work for utilities. Now, that’s where the action is.”

Helfrich, Deloitte’s CEO, adds: “Moments of intense change create incredible opportunity for those consultants who are the most agile and the most innovative [to meet] the demand for companies and governments to evolve. And that’s what we’re in the business of doing.”


America’s Best Management Consulting Firms 2023 was built through two surveys: one for partners and executives of management consulting firms and one specifically designed for clients. Firms were considered for the industries in which they consult (such as automotive, insurance, and health care) and for the functional areas in which they offer services (including leadership, sustainability, and legal and litigation). The firms with the most recommendations in each category were given star ratings: five stars for “very frequently recommended,” four stars for “frequently recommended” and three stars for “recommended.”

As with all Forbes lists, companies do not pay any fee to be considered.

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