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CONSULTANTS: The lowdown on McKinsey

Senior executives tremble when McKinsey and Co comes in to examine a bank - its consultants' fixation with the bottom line is legendary. But is there as much myth as substance to the reputation? Michelle Celarier examines the performance of those high-flyers who've left the consultancy to occupy top positions in banking and the McKinsey philosophy they bring with them.

Like many partners at elite consultancy McKinsey & Co, George Feiger was offered a prominent position at a financial institution he had once advised - in his case, newly-created SBC Warburg. Feiger, say insiders, had been instrumental in providing the conceptual framework that gave Swiss Bank executives the courage last year to make a successful bid for Warburg. It was thus no big surprise when the man who had been the brains behind the operation was asked to join the firm to help integrate the two institutions.

But controversy has dogged the tactics of 36-year-old Australian-born Feiger, who heads investment banking. Former Warburg bankers have heavily criticized his introduction of a product-led approach at the expense of a traditional corporate advisory one, saying it has led to a downgrading of client relationships. One former director who left says that, under Feiger's direction, bankers had to give up long-term relationships and were put in the awkward position of advising companies which were competitors. Moreover, each client was given revenue targets and bankers were told they'd better meet them. "It isn't very far from this to a confrontational situation with a client if you're desperate to produce revenues - even if it's not in the client's best interest," he explains.

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