Switzerland's top strategy and management consulting firms

01 July 2019 Consultancy.eu 6 min. read

A new study of decision-makers at Swiss companies has shed light on Switzerland's top strategy and management consulting firms.

The study surveyed over 230 executives and senior managers that have worked with a consulting firms in the past two years, and was complemented by some 200 interviews with leaders. Out of the feedback from consultancy buyers, a group of 20 consultancies have been identified as the leading players in the Swiss consulting market, valued by local management consulting association Asco at around €2 billion. 

The group of leading players – those that receive sufficient feedback from clients – are (in alphabetical orde): Accenture, AlixPartners, A.T. Kearney, Bain & Company, BearingPoint, Boston Consulting Group, Capgemini, Helbling, Horváth & Partners, Implement Consulting Group (formerly Abegglen), McKinsey & Company, Oliver Wyman, Q-Perior, Roland Berger, Simon-Kucher & Partners, Skyadvisory and Strategy&, and the consulting divisions of Big Four firms Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC. 

The study, conducted by Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences in collaboration with Swiss business magazine Bilanz, assessed how consulting firms perform across ten larger areas of expertise. When it comes to services in the strategy consulting segment, the results show little surprises. Global giant Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which has revenues of 150 million francs in the Swiss market and is led by Daniel Kessler, is voted the top player, just ahead of its larger rival McKinsey & Company. Both globally and locally, McKinsey is larger than BCG ($10+ billion versus $7.5 billion globally and a turnover of 220 million francs in Switzerland), but the American strategy consultancy ranked second to BCG in the categories for strategic planning and management & organisation. 

Switzerland's top strategy and management consulting firms

In the area of operations management, a segment within management consulting and the largest service line in revenue across Europe’s consulting industry, McKinsey trumps BCG however, with operations specialist A.T. Kearney – founded by a McKinsey partner in 1926 – sitting in between the two American boardroom consultancies. 

For strategic consulting services, Bain & Company, which generates local revenues of 120 million francs and is led by Thomas Lustgarten, is the undisputed number three in the eyes of Swiss business leaders. In fact, according to data assembled by the researchers on project portfolios, Bain can call itself the most pure provider of strategy consulting services in the market. Four out of ten projects the US-origin consultancy underakes, founded in 1973 by former BCG partners, have a complete focus around corporate and business unit strategy, a percentage that is higher than at McKinsey and BCG. 

This also follows from McKinsey’s and BCG’s strategy to expand into other segments of consulting. A blurring of lines between strategy and technology has seen McKinsey launch McKinsey Digital and McKinsey solutions, while BCG serves the technology domain through its labels BCD Platinion (IT architecture), BCG Digital Ventures (digital incubation) and BCG Gamma (data science). Similarly, McKinsey has ventured into the design thinking space (with the launch of McKinsey Design), and both firms have made a foray into the more creative space (BCG bought Maya and McKinsey bought Lunar). Likewise, both have built venturing practices to tap into the power of ambitious start-ups.

The top five of Switzerland's best strategy consulting firms is rounded off by Strategy&, the strategic consulting arm of PwC established after the Big Four firm purchased Booz & Company for a reported $1 billion in 2014, and Oliver Wyman, which generates a turnover of around 50 million francs. Strategy& Switzerland is led by Daniel Diemers, who succeeded Alex Koster last year after he left to join Boston Consulting Group in Zurich, while Oliver Wyman is led by Joris D'Incà, who has been with the firm for over 25 years. 

For management & organisation consultancy services, German-origin Roland Berger ranks third. The Swiss office, co-led by Matthias Hanke and Sven Siepen, maintains its position from the previous edition of the ranking. Oliver Wyman holds fourth spot, followed by Strategy&. In the operations management consulting landscape, Roland Berger ranks fourth, with local player Helbling closing out the top five.

Size of Switzerland’s management consulting industry

A growing Swiss consulting market

In the coming years, Switzerland’s top strategy and management consulting firms are set to face promising growth opportunities. According to Asco, Switzerland’s consulting industry will continue its growth path, with growth of more than 5% forecasted for 2019 and 2020. Digitisation is not unsurprisingly the main driver of growth – “there is virtually no project without a digital component,” said McKinsey’s Swiss boss Felix Wenger. Digital work spans the entire chain of consulting activities, from strategy and conception to implementation, and even paves the way for newer down the line business models such as solutions and managed services.

The opportunities offered to management consulting firms by digital transformation are “almost endless,” remarked local BCG chief Daniel Kessler, while Bain & Company’s Managing Partner for Switzerland Thomas Lustgarten said digital is shaping “probably the most exciting times in the consulting industry ever.” 

Switzerland's leading strategy and management consulting firms will however have to keep pace with the demand for their services, highlighted Dietmar Fink, Professor of Economics at Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences and main author of the research with Bilanz. Because; “already today many leading consulting firms are struggling to staff their projects in Switzerland.” As Bain’s Thomas Lustgarten put it, “at the moment we in fact have to reject many projects.”