The financial consulting industry is one of the main subspecialties of management consulting and includes a variety of types of firms.
Large national or multinational management consulting firms are the most prestigious firms that consistently generate high revenue. The “Big 3” consulting firms—McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company—have sub-practices in financial consulting. Many large consulting firms have offices throughout the United States, and top firms also have offices worldwide. A large number of aspiring consultants, analysts, and people in other professions seek to work at these firms, but competition is strong for these positions.
Large professional-services firms (which were known as accounting firms in the past) are also major providers of financial consulting services. The “Big Four” accounting firms are Deloitte, EY, PwC, and KPMG. In 2021, Vault.com ranked the following financial consulting firms as the best in terms of prestige and a good work environment. Note that both traditional management consulting firms and professional-services firms are featured on the list.
- Deloitte Consulting LLP
- McKinsey & Company
- EY LLP Consulting Practice
- PwC Advisory/Strategy
- Bain & Company
- The Boston Consulting Group
- KPMG LLP (Advisory)
- Oliver Wyman
- Grant Thornton LLP (Consulting Practice)
Boutique consulting firms specialize in financial consulting or a specialty in the field such as financial reporting, tax advisory, regulatory compliance, or mergers and acquisitions. Others focus on a smaller number of industries (retail, biotechnology, health care, etc.). Some people think that a boutique firm can only be a small firm, but these firms are classified as “boutique” because of their specialized focus. A boutique firm can be helmed by a solo practitioner, consist of a small group of 10 or 20 consultants and support staff, or be a large 1,000-employee firm.
Internal corporate consulting divisions of large businesses employ a large number of financial consultants. The use of this consulting model (rather than hiring outside consultants) reduces costs and allows corporations to have a team of experts at the ready who are knowledgeable about the company and its industry.
Solo practitioners provide financial consulting services to corporations and other businesses, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and wealthy individuals or families. Approximately 15 percent of management consultants are self-employed.
Other employers include nonprofit organizations; local, state, and federal government agencies; and wealthy individuals or families.
Services Provided by Financial Consulting Firms
Firms and solo-practitioners in the financial consulting industry offer services in the following areas:
- Accounting Advisory: basic accounting services (verification of profit and loss statements, balance sheets, cost studies, and tax reports), financial reporting, regulatory compliance (such as International Financial Reporting Standards)
- Corporate Finance: financial restructuring (including alternative investments in hedge funds, venture capital, managed futures, etc.), working capital management, capital markets (shares, bonds, and other investments), corporate and capital markets strategy, lean finance, finance-talent management, and initial public offerings
- Crisis and Recovery: insolvency or bankruptcy management, restructuring, turnaround advisory, debt management, business continuity management, crisis simulation and wargaming
- Forensics and Litigation: assistance in expected legal disputes or existing litigation, including dispute advisory, forensic accounting, litigation support, and electronic discovery
- Real Estate/Property Management Advisory: location advisory, real estate valuation, transaction support on property deals, real estate portfolio optimization
- Risk Management: financial risk assessment (via internal audits and other activities), risk control, risk response, and compliance; a growing specialty is financial risk due to cybersecurity issues
- Tax Advisory: corporate tax strategy, tax-aligned supply chains, location advisory, new tax law evaluation,
- Transaction Services: mergers and acquisition strategy, target screening, company valuations, real estate valuations, and due diligence in the pre-deal phase, as well as post-transaction integration support after the deal is completed