#3 Bain – an overview of the top four consulting firms 2008

  1. McKinsey & Company
  2. Boston Consulting Group
  3. Bain & Company
  4. Booz Allen Hamilton

3. Bain & Company

Organisation type

Private company


Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Key people

Steve Ellis, Managing Director. A Stanford MBA, Ellis co-founded Focus, Inc., a Silicon Valley consulting firm, before coming on board at Bain.

Orit Gadiesh, Chairman of the Board


3,700 employees in 38 offices across 25 countries


$US1.3 billion (2006)


The first consultancy of its kind to establish a private equity practice. Bain & Company is well-known for offering services like due diligence, IPO preparation, portfolio profit improvement and revenue enhancement geared toward leveraged buyout and venture capital firms.

One of Bain’s areas of expertise is the luxury sector.


Helping make companies more valuable


To help companies achieve sustainable results.

Guiding principles

Bain measures its success by the results of its clients. It distinguishes itself from competitors like BCG and McKinsey with its notion of results-oriented consultancy. Bain pioneered the idea of aligning its incentives with its clients’ results and occasionally taking equity in lieu of fees.


Bain’s engagements are divided between small- and midsized companies, with roughly 40 percent of its engagements coming from this demographic. Bain also works with Fortune 500 and private equity clients.


BCG is purported to have a relatively high proportion of undergrads relative to BCG and McKinsey. Creating a more lively office culture.

Work/life balance seems to be important at Bain but is achieved on a six month time frame, rather than being balanced every week.

Bain’s results-oriented culture means that consultants can choose when the want to work and schedule free time for important events.

Bain appears not to require as much travelling as McKinsey and BCG. Consultants will go to a client when they need to collect data or to make a presentation.

Bain has a non-hierarchical and meritocratic system, people work in teams and are hired and promoted on merit.

Exposure to clients and top-level executives is purported to be given at an early stage.

Bain encourages consultants to work on a range of project types across a variety of industries in order to develop strong generalist skills before being tied down to one area of expertise.

Recent publications

2007Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth

2006The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth’ by Fred Reichheld .

2004 Mastering the Merger: Four Critical Decisions That Make or Break the Deal by David Harding and Sam Rovit

Brief history

1973 Bill Bain and others left BCG to form Bain & Company

1984 Bain Capital, a successful venture capital firm was founded by Bain partners (including Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney). Bain Capital has around $27 billion in assets under management. Bain Capital’s funds include private equity, venture capital, public equity and leveraged debt assets.

1985 Bain was incorporated in 1985 and over the course of two years the Employee Stock Ownership Plan was established.

2000 Bain founded a non-profit group called The Bridgespan Group, which offers fresh management strategy approaches for clients in the non-profit world, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bain’s consultants rotate into Bridgespan from the parent consultancy for six-month rotations.

2006 Bain is a late comer to India, in 2006 it opened a full-fledged office in New Delhi

Nota bene

2008 Ranked 3rd most prestigious consulting firm by the Vault Guide.

2007 Ranked as the best firm to work for every year for the last five years by Consulting Magazine.

2007 Ranked as the best workplace in France by the Great Place to Work Institute

2007 Ranked as the best place to work in Europe and the UK by the Financial Times

Careers information

In a Financial Times interview, Bain partner Bill Neuenfeldt identifies the desired qualities in potential hires as “intelligence, integrity, passion and the ambition to make a difference”. Bain also looks for candidates with an enthusiasm for problem-solving and an analytical skill-set.

Bain has a tradition of pro bono work and aims to make a significant investment on important social issues.

Bain is purported to be just as selective as McKinsey and more selective than consultancies like Booz Allen, Monitor and A.T. Kearney.

Intelligence is important, but demonstrating energy and professionalism is also very important.

One consultant interviewed in the Vault Guide indicated that it is important to “make sure you have a compelling and customized story about why you want to be a consultant at Bain.”



Subscribe to our mailing list