Consultancy: how to aim for top pay packages?

Across professional and financial services, consulting is often banded as one of the top-paying careers. A confusing statement as 'consulting' is a wide-ranging label, covering IT, Strategy & Management and Big 4 activities to name the most obvious., the salary benchmarking site, has taken an in-depth look at the sector and how it compares to other blue-chip careers with which it contends for top talent. Our salary guide is a great tool for bench marking your consultancy position, as well as developing your approach to the industry.

Best Paying Consultancy Firms
EmployerConsultant salary & bonusSenior Consultant salary & bonusBonus Satisfaction
Boston Consulting Group63,00097,00075%
OC&C Strategy Consultants52,00092,00086%
McKinsey & Company48,00092,00050%
Bain & Company46,00098,00050%
Ernst & Young34,00045,0000%

This table was made using the data from 397 Consultants (1-2 years experience) and 290 Senior Consultants (3-5 years experience) in the UK and working in Management and Strategy

The Big 3 top the board! Both at junior and senior levels with pay packages averaging 100,000 for Senior Consultants. As blue-chip firms, McKinsey, BCG and Bain could perhaps afford to scale back pay packages, relying on their reputation rather than pay as a magnet for talent. As it is, they make a clear statement, rewarding their staff beyond market levels. Dark Horse in the rankings! OC&C ccupy an unexpected 3rd place, which clearly works for their employees' morale with 86% bonus satisfaction, by far the leader on that basis. (Accounting & Audit) where pay is considerably lower. With total packages at about 50% of the industry leaders however, they will clearly struggle to retain your interest, as corroborated by low pay satisfaction levels (0-32%).

Big 4 want a seat at the table: Firmly established alongside leading consulting firms, the Big 4 have had to some extent un-peg their consultant's pay from their core business (Accounting & Audit) where pay is considerably lower. With total packages at about 50% of the industry leaders however, they will clearly struggle to retain top talent, as corroborated by low pay satisfaction levels (0-32%).

Best Paying Career Paths: Consultant vs M&A

Consultant (Management and Strategy)

Years of ExperienceSalaryBonus
Graduate (0)35,0000
Junior (1-4)40,0001,500
Mid-career (5-9)65,0005,000
Experienced (10-14)88,6006,250
Late Career (15+)105,0006,000
This table was made using data from 1,235 people in Management and Strategy in the UK 

Banking (M&A and Leveraged Finance)
Years of ExperienceSalaryBonus
Graduate (0)45,0000
Junior (1-4)52,00020,000
Mid-career (5-9)100,00050,000
Experienced (10-14)150,000133,000
Late Career (15+)190,000170,000

This table was made using data from 1,192 people in M&A & Leveraged Finance in the UK

Bankers earn more across the board, with bigger bonuses (0 vs 20k at junior level!) and an exponential pay raise.BCG is the exception paying its juniors more than banking does with close to a 20,000 uptick. Could they be eyeing young banking talent?

Banking or Consulting: the route to happiness?


Years of ExperienceNoUnsureYES
Grand Total35%25%40%


Years of ExperienceNoUnsureYes
Grand Total38%23%39%

Frustrated bankers? Think again. Despite expectations to the contrary, both professions have the exact same level of satisfaction with 39% saying they are happy with their bonus.

Young bankers are not unhappy, just confused. Fresh graduates are in the dark about bonus expectations: 78% of them do not know how they should feel about theirs. Lack of sleep due to impossibly long hours might go some way to explaining their confusion!

How much would it take to make them happy? Only 39% bonus contentment across both industries despite some of the highest pay packets in the working population? thinks politics, paranoia and lack of transparency account for such high levels of dissatisfaction rather than outright bonus amounts.

What about pay in other fields?

TitleManagement & StrategyITRiskInvestments
(1-2 yr exp)
Sr Consultant
(3-5 yr exp)
(6-8 yr exp)
Sr Manager
(9-11 yr exp)
Director/Principal (11+ yr exp)125,000106,000115,000100,000

This table was made using data from 1,235 people in Management and Strategy, 594 people in IT, 170 people in Risk, and 107 people in Investments 

Don't overlook IT Consulting: With a steep pay increase from junior to senior, IT Consulting pays nearly as well as prestigious Strategy Consulting. Highly skilled consultants, constantly evolving technical jobs and the fact that IT has become a keystone in for most businesses builds up to a perfect storm for the sector.

Graduates often make a choice between banking and consulting without knowing the financial implications of their decisions. Both seen as prestigious next-steps to their university degree, they imply vastly different working environments, and rewards. With more and more graduates looking to work for startups or start their own business, Management & Strategy as well as IT Consulting may well become more appealing than banking, giving graduates a more hands-on approach to running a business


Emolument provides bonus and salary statistics based on data submitted directly by professionals like you. It is free, anonymous, and already a trusted tool for thousands of professionals worldwide. Are you paid enough? Click here to find out now.

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