Big Four and McKinsey in world's top 10 most attractive employers

26 September 2018 5 min. read

Business, engineering and IT students in China, Japan and South Korea have named McKinsey and the Big Four among the world’s most attractive employers in the latest annual rankings from employer branding consultancy Universum.

Now it its tenth edition, the World’s Most Attractive Employers (WMAE) rankings released by employer branding agency Universum (a Stockholm-based firm which was acquired earlier this year by German publisher Axel Springer) is compiled via a survey of nearly 230,000 students in 12 of the world’s largest economies, including China, South Korea and Japan – with the final ranking weighted by GDP.

Companies are evaluated on student responses as to 40 characteristics motivating their employment desires – with the almost 230,000 survey respondents split relatively evenly between business and engineering/IT students – and to be considered for the global rank, companies must feature among the top echelon of desired employers in at least half of the surveyed markets.

Backing up on last year, business students around the world have voted the Big Four accounting and consulting quartet among the globe’s top ten most attractive employers for 2018, with strategy and management leader McKinsey & Company this year joining them in ninth. Indeed, this year, all of EY, Deloitte and KPMG have improved their rank to crowd out the top five, while PwC slipped moderately to follow in sixth.Big Four and McKinsey in world's top 10 most attractive employersAll in all, while Google and Goldman Sachs held their first and second place ranking from last year, the 2018 list has seen Ernst & Young move up one place into third, Deloitte climb two spots into fourth, and KPMG jump from ninth to fifth – with the improved rankings thanks in part to a drop for Apple from third to seventh. Other firms rounding out the top ten were J.P. Morgan and Microsoft, while McKinsey has dislodged L'Oréal from 2017.

Examining the longer term trends, Universum notes that over the past five years financial and professional services firms have seen the most significant gains in attractiveness with both business and tech students, with EY, McKinsey and The Boston Consulting Group cited among them, due in particular to their strong associations with high future earnings and professional training and development.

Notably however, unlike every other market bar Brazil, the potential for high future earnings wasn’t a top-three motivating priority in the search for an employer for the business students in the surveyed countries of Asia, and professional training and development featured only for those in China. Instead, ‘respect for its people’ was the number one most important employer attribute for students in South Korea and Japan, and ‘a good reference for a future career’ for the undergraduates of China.

Altogether, the strategy & management consulting sector was cited as the preferred industry for 27 percent of the business students surveyed (followed by financial services and banks) while also leading preferences for 10 percent of the engineering and IT students – reflecting perhaps the greater demand from and attractiveness of firms in the strategy and management sector as they delve deeper into big data and digital transformation services.World's most attractive employers 2018


EY ranked first among professional service firms in China and cracked the top 50 for engineering and IT students for the first time. This year, the firm has increased its headcount by 4.4 percent across all departments in the Asia Pacific and aims to invest $1 billion into new technologies and innovation over the next two years, following on the from the launch of its dedicated wavespace innovation centres across the globe, including in Shanghai with Singapore and Hong Kong to come. Currently the firm has some 260,000-plus employees worldwide.

Mark Weinberger, EY Global Chairman and CEO: “We are honoured to be named the world’s most attractive professional services employer for the second consecutive year, and the fourth most attractive employer overall. At EY, our people are at the center of our business, they deliver the best results for our clients and help us realise our purpose of building a better working world every day.”


Deloitte, meanwhile, has a global workforce of approximately 286,000 supporting recently announced record revenues of $43.2 billion for its 2018 reporting year. The firm’s Asia Pacific arm – which recently merged into a single operational entity – experienced the largest rise in headcount of any region with a boost of 11.6 percent over the past year. As part of the merging of its regional operations, the firm announced it would spend a massive $321 million on talent development initiatives to attract and retain the region’s top talent.

Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Chief Talent Officer: “Deloitte is honoured to be ranked among the most desirable places to work. We are committed to building a diverse, inclusive, agile workforce to meet the needs of tomorrow. At the heart of the Deloitte talent experience is a desire to ensure all of our people have meaningful work aligned with their personal values, along with opportunities for personal and professional growth and impact.”


The third of the Big Four firms to make the top five most attractive employers list, KPMG, which had the most significant jump of any employer at the top of the list and was this year named as the overall second most attractive graduate employer in Australia, has also been investing in the Asian region, including a recently announced collaboration deal with the Singapore governments’ ASTAR to pursue advanced tech innovations for the professional services sector. Altogether, the firm has in excess of 40,000 employees in the APAC region.