Top consulting firms are one of the highest-compensating payers outside of financial services or corporate law. A typical compensation package is made up of the basic salary, the bonus, and the pension contribution.
Consulting also has a fast career progression and meritocratic pay, which means that top performers stand to gain a high sum in a comparatively short period of time.
Basic salaries at top firms
For recently graduated undergraduates and Masters students, the base salaries at McKinsey, BCG and Bain in London start from £40,000 and can be as high as £45,000. This is comparatively high compared to graduate salaries in most other fields.
For experienced professional with 2-5 years of experience outside of consulting, the basic salary is higher as they enter at a higher position. Their salaries typically start at £55,000 and can be as high as £65,000.
For new MBA graduates basic salaries are between £80,000 and £90,000.
Room for negotiation?
Salary negotiation is highly unlikely at these levels. Each firm has a set base salary at a given entry point and decides the entry point based on the candidate’s experience and interview performance. If there is any room for negotiation it will be with the sign-on bonus.
The practice of offering a sign-on bonus of 2-10% of the base salary varies widely from firm to firm. Some firms offer this as part of their standard package, while others don’t.
However, if you have a good rationale for requesting a sign-on bonus you should ask. This might be the case, for instance, if you have to give up your end of year bonus at your current employer. If this is accepted, do not expect more than a few percents of your base salary, but you should also be ready for your request to be declined.
Bonuses at top firms
Bonuses are typically based on individual performance at McKinsey, BCG, and Bain unless the consultant has only been at the firm for less than a year, in which case a standard amount if given to everyone at this level.
Bonuses at the undergraduate entry-level have been as low as £0 and as high as £6,000 depending on the firm. For experienced hires joining below the MBA level the bonuses are typically around £10,000 and up to double this amount for top performers. For candidates joining at MBA level the bonuses can be from £15,000 and again double this amount for the very top performers.
Although a pension contribution may not be top of mind for some, the percentage contributed by each firm varies widely. All consultants receive the same contribution and this ranges from 6-12% of salaries at different firms
Differences between firms
Overall, our data shows that there isn’t much difference in compensation between firms. It is unlikely that a consultant would move from one top-3 firm to another because of a difference in compensation, especially not below Partner level.
There are a few differences though.
McKinsey does pay less than other firms at the lowest entry-level, but beyond that, the differences with other firms are not large enough to be meaningful.
On the other hand, McKinsey’s pension is the most generous at all levels and is comparably high across many industries. The pension funds can also be managed by McKinsey’s internal hedge fund, which has a great performance track record and includes investment vehicles not typically accessible to the general public.
BCG offers the best base salaries of the top-3 firms and is likely to offer the highest entry-level to experienced professionals.
Bain promotes top performers faster and rewards them better than at other firms. They are very generous with top performers towards the top percentage of the cohort, so the average total compensation over a typical three year period may be higher for top performers at Bain versus other firms.
Overall, if you’re looking for a high paying job that isn’t in finance or law, consulting is a very strong option, particularly for driven high-performers.
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