Boutique Consulting Firms

Boutique consulting firms have some unique attributes as opposed to their MBB counterparts. Not just in related to prestige or size, but many other factors are different. If you’re looking at working for a boutique consulting firm, you’ll want to make sure and understand these distinctions. Pay, travel, the actual role itself, culture, and much more can be different at these boutique firms. Listen to Jenny Rae, ex-Bain consultant, as she helps you navigate these differences and the importance of each as it might impact you!

Boutique Consulting Firms

Boutique Consulting Firms Youtube Transcription:

Boutique consulting firms. What are they and how do they differ from MBB firms? I’m Jenny Rae Le Roux, the Management Director of Management Consulted, and I’m here today to talk about boutiques. How wonderful they are, how they’re different, and what you might want to stay away from in boutiques, as well as why you should run straight for them. And so we have a lot of information to cover, let’s get started.

How Boutiques Are Different Than MBB Firms

The first thing that I’m going to talk about is how boutiques are different than MBB and Big 4 firms. There are two primary ways. Boutiques either focus on a different business problem they solve. So for example, not strategy but risk, and operations. Or supply chain. Or sexual harassment training. One key element, one key topic of training, or coaching, or consulting. Or, they focus on an industry. They’re an aviation practice. They’re a TMT, tech media and telecom practice. They are a retail practice. And some of them even cross section the two of those, they’re even smaller usually, but they’ll cross section the two of those and they’ll be like sexual harassment training for the aviation industry. So they’re really specifically focused on one industry and one practice area.

So because of this, there are thousands and thousands of boutique firms in the world. And boutique consulting firms are amazing in the way that they apply those specific targets for what they do. They’re also amazing candidates for sale to larger consulting firms, and they could be really great places to work, so we’re gonna talk about a few of those things. Now, first of all you need to understand that these firms are different than MBB firms. And there are a lot of elements through the way that they’re different. I’m gonna take you through a few of them.


Number one for travel. Usually for boutique firms they travel less. Now there are some exceptions, Galt Consulting for example, their travel is a hundred percent, because they don’t even pay for offices. So you are always on the road with Galt. But for other ones, you’re working on very similar projects, with a very similar team, and you’re able to gather the information in a limited fashion from the client, you don’t have to travel as much.

Client Interaction

The client interaction is actually pretty similar to MBB. You’re gonna have pretty good client interaction, usually from a pretty junior level, and you’ll have exposure to clients. Now your clients might not be as senior as they would be at MBB, but you’re still gonna have a good client exposure.

Project Duration

The duration of the projects are usually longer. The focus is on selling fewer but selling longer, deeper, higher revenue per project, projects in the consulting firms. The type of work usually has less variety because the firms themselves focus on an industry, a practice area, or even a practice area inside that industry.


The culture is, I would call it- smaller families, smaller world. Which means that you’re closer usually the people you work with directly, it’s not this loose organization of a very large group. So it’s not just like a Deloitte for example where you’re close to your team, but you’re not necessarily close to the rest of the organization. However when you leave or when you’re working on your broader network, I also call it smaller world, just because these firms have smaller networks. So the power of loose ties, says that actually knowing a little bit and having some commonality with them, gives you the broadest network. And so this network will, by nature, be smaller.

Exit Opportunities

In addition, there are lots of exit opportunities, but the exit opportunities that are the closest and easiest from a boutique firm, are the ones in a similar industry, or similar business problem. So again if you have a really limited subset of industries and business problems, that is going to limit the scope of your exit opportunities.

Professional Training

Professional training is also different inside most boutiques. Most boutique firms, while they have onboarding processes, have a mentorship process, but they don’t do as much training off-site, and they don’t do as much repetitive training. There either aren’t the budgets, or there aren’t the time, or there’s higher utilization, so less people that are able to go through trainings in any given time.

Cost of Consulting Services

The cost of the consulting services is usually less than MBB, but occasionally more. The more specific and things that MBB doesn’t do, then you might find those things outside of it. But usually, they’re around 20%-40% less than MBB per month. The analyst pay commensurate with that is usually less than for MBB firms.

Reasons To Work For A Boutique Firm

Now, why would you want to work at a boutique firm or a big 4 firm. There are a lot of good reasons.

Number one, it’s a great stepping stone. So if you don’t come from a target school, if you didn’t have a perfect GPA, but you’re able to network into, or have some experience in one of these consulting firms, that’s a great place to start. They’re also amazing places if you’re in your sophomore or your junior year in undergrad, and you’re looking to transition maybe from an initial degree where you started, into a consulting space. Good brand name builders without actually ending up there. In addition, if you know what you want to do, you know you want to work in the healthcare space, then go to a healthcare boutique consulting firm. You’re gonna get jobs later in healthcare and your whole pathway is gonna be very linear, and you’re not gonna have to sell somebody on the fact that you, “Oh yeah, you did this great retail project, but sure it applies to consulting.” So you don’t have that story murkiness that you have to explain.

Boutique Firm Focus Area Examples

Finally, just a couple of examples of boutique firms and how they focus their work. We highlighted a few of these just because there are some that will help you see the differences between a couple of those areas.

Booz Allen Hamilton

So first of all, Booz Allen Hamilton, really focuses on government, government consulting, they’re Federal, and they do work with large Federal contractors as well, but they focus on the US then even internationally, their focus is really on public sector work.


LEK focuses on healthcare and life sciences and they’re strategically focused in healthcare and life sciences- great firm, really cool culture. But again, smaller and different from a lot of the MBBs for that reason. However, LEK does pay really well, so pay attention to that in our salaries report.


In addition, Marakon. Marakon focuses on highly regulated industries. They focus on industrials, and health care, and energy, and financial services. So they really focus on those high regulation industries, navigating through those with strategy and some implementation.

Oliver Wyman

And finally, Oliver Wyman has really focused on financial services. Although they have a large range of other practices that’s really what they’re known for.


So in conclusion, boutique consulting firms, first of all there are thousands of them, so you’ve got some research ahead of you if want to get to know them. But they really are characterized by the industry that they focus on, or the business problem they solve. If they’re not clear about that, get good at asking questions about it, so that you can know whether a boutique consulting firm is right for you.

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Filed Under: Boutique Consulting Firms, Consulting Firms