The Key Things to Know About “Boutiques” – Small Consulting Firms

 

The term “boutique” applies to consulting firms of where the staff is of modest size. These firms are typically SMEs with a maximum of 20 consultants. These consulting firms are not structured in terms of internal organization. Because of their small size, they usually do not have departments or practices. Similarly, their support services to consultants are weak or non-existent. The consulting boutiques are most often founded and led by a senior consultant with strong experience and a lot of business contacts. After resuming his activities on his own, the founder hired consultants to increase the firm’s activity volume.

 

cabinet de conseil boutique

 

These small consulting firms are strongly affected by the experience, network, and personality of their founder. Somehow, it is also the case of large firms because BCG, for example, kept the corporate culture of its founder Bruce Henderson. But in a large firm, this influence is limited to corporate culture, as lots of formalized processes structure the way to hire, to train, to staff, and to fire – also L – their employees. In a boutique, the weight of the founder in decisions and processes is greater.

 

Benefits To Working In A Small Consulting Firm

 

The main advantage is to evolve in an environment where each person always has his or her place, given the small size of the teams. You will soon know all the staff and the turnover will be lower in general than in large firms. The customer portfolio is generally stable, so if you want to work in an environment where continuity prevails on change, a boutique might be a good choice. Moreover, personal development is heavily mentored, with stronger working relationships between seniors and juniors; this can be an excellent opportunity to learn. Finally, for junior candidates, consulting boutiques often have financially more attractive offers than large firms. I personally got an offer from a boutique that offered me more than 10,000 Euros more per year than McKinsey!

 

Disadvantages Of Working in Small Consulting Firms

 

In a boutique, the role and influence of the founder is greater. In a way, this situation could create situations of dependence on the founder. We do not find this phenomenon in a large firm where you can absolutely have no chemistry with certain partners without it blocking your career, especially for the next steps in your career, when you leave the firm. Now, if you are on bad terms with the founder of your boutique, you will not be in a good position so that the founder opens all possible doors for your future employment. Or a consulting boutique being by definition low conspicuous, this experience will not be as value added for your career as one in BCG or Bain. This is why the role of the founder is crucial in this context.

You will need to integrate the profile of the founder in you upstream choice of firm. For example, a former senior partner of McKinsey will probably open doors at McKinsey for employees working in his boutique. The evolution of career and salary reach quite quickly a limit and favors careers in big firms in the medium term. Finally, all benefits cited above can be disadvantages depending on your personality and your professional expectations.

 

Other Resources On Consulting Firms

 

Links of interest - Management Consulting Firms Overview in The US
Videos on this topic - Management Consulting Firms Association
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