I was intrigued by the comment that KPMG doesn't work in the consulting space at all?!
Non-compete agreements have meant that KPMG and others have had to be very careful about how they position and describe the work they do. Hence why some of the accountancies have described themselves as building up capabilities in "business advisory" rather than "consulting".
But these non-compete agreements have been coming to an end in recent quarters and all four of the Big 4 had a major presence at our Consultancy Careers Fair last Friday.
We'll be publishing videos of the presentations the firms gave at the Fair in the next weeks - so very soon you'll be able to watch for yourselves what the firms had to say about their consulting activities and judge for yourselves. But I would say that all are active in the space and recruiting quite heavily.
In terms of how I would 'rank' the firms, this always differs according to the person you're advising and their individual requirements / circumstances. However, what I would say is that Deloitte were the only one of the Big 4 that chose to keep their consulting arm when the Enron debacle brought accounting firms' activities under the spotlight.
So in terms of brand strength, I'd have to say that Deloitte are therefore the most well-known. E&Y sold their consulting arm to Capgemini (which was called Cap Gemini Ernst & Young remember) and have started a rebuild strategy with the ending of their non-compete. They've hired a lot of people from really top brand consultancies, so the calibre of people is certainly there for them to rival all the other firms in the coming years.
PwC sold their business to IBM and they don't seem to have been rebuilding this capability as aggressively as E&Y - from what I've seen at any rate. It seems they're focussing on certain types of work, as other posts here suggest, so they'll be great employers for some readers and not suitable for others.
KPMG in the UK sold their consulting business to Atos (and in other parts of the world to the business now known as BearingPoint). I suspect their non-compete was the most water-tight, as they seem to be the Big 4 firm that's been the most cautious about getting back into the consulting market. But again, they now seem to be recruiting in numbers - so should be lots of opportunity to make an impact if you join them.
I guess this debate could run and run and run. So I'll finish by repeating my usual mantra - the most important consideration is whether you gel with and like the types of people you meet at the firms when you're interviewing. Being surrounded by a great team of people you like can go a long way to keeping a consultant sane and satisfied with their career. Equally winding up at a place where you do not feel like you belong is a sure way to have a consulting career that needs a change of employer within just a few months of joining...
Good luck with your choices and hope this is helpful.
Tony Restell (Top-Consultant.com)