Which consulting firms have the highest compensation for starting analysts? Which are better for career advancement? For getting time off? Or for work-life balance?
With salaries that can reach $100K for first-year analysts or even interns, competition for a spot at the top firms can be fierce, and the interviews notoriously grueling. Let’s face it. Not every aspiring consultant is going to snag a position at one of the Big Three firms – McKinsey and Company, Boston Consulting Group, or Bain & Company, known in the industry as MBB.
“There are some great other firms out there: Oliver Wyman, for example, or LEK which is a little bit smaller and has a good reputation,” Patrick Curtis, founder and CEO of Wall Street Oasis (WSO), tells Poets&Quants. “MBB is still where everyone wants to be, but the Deloittes of the world, the PwCs, they all have great practices and can provide a great career in consulting. I would tell candidates that all is not lost if they don’t fit into an MBB. They can still build a great career.”
WSO is an online community, news site, and career center for people working and aspiring to work in finance related fields. It has almost 900,000 registered users who report a trove of data on the companies where they work. WSO’s 2022 Consulting Industry Report takes this user-reported data to provide insight into nearly 20 different metrics job hunters would be strapped to find anywhere else: How many hours employees work per week, for example, or how fair the company is when granting promotions.
WSO’s reports are constantly changing based on new information users report to the WSO Company Database which includes more than 50,000 submissions across thousands of companies. The report we are looking at today is up-to-date as of this month and includes year-to-date data as well as data for the prior two years. Because of this, some of the latest trends reported by users won’t start showing up until later reports. (WSO uses Bayesian statistics to create percentiles for companies with few observations.)
Read more about WSO’s report methodology here.
WHICH CONSULTING FIRM PAYS THE MOST?
For aspiring consultants chasing the highest paychecks, WSO tracks average salaries and bonuses for users at all career levels. On average, based on 409 respondents, interns/summer analysts make a base salary of $60,000 per year (or about $5,000 per month) and a $7,000 bonus. First year full-time analysts make about $75,000 a year with a $10,000 bonus while principals make upwards of $211,000 per year with an average bonus of $58,000.
Obviously, some firms pay more than average, others pay less. According to Wall Street Data, TresVista, a private financial services firm based in Mumbai, India, paid the one summer analyst that reported to WSO some $175,000 per year along with a $38,500 bonus.
Looking at companies that had 10 or more respondents to WSO, Boston Consulting Group paid its summer analysts (18 respondents) an average of $94,200 (or $7,850 per month) with a $40,000 bonus. Summer associates made an average of $68,800 ($5,733 monthly) with a $10,000 bonus while first-year analysts pulled in $84,700 with a $12,800 bonus.
McKinsey & Company paid summer analysts $72,100 per year ($6,008 monthly), summer associates $94,600 per year, and its first-year analysts $$83,800 with a $12,800 bonus. It was followed by the other firm in the Big Three, Bain & Company, which paid $66,700 per year ($5,558 monthly) plus a $1,000 bonus to summer analysts, $93,300 ($7,775 monthly) to summer associates, and $88,900 plus a $10,200 bonus to first-year analysts.
“We are seeing compensation going up in consultation as well, especially at the junior levels. Consulting firms do compete, not directly, but they do compete somewhat, with investment banks in recruiting top talent,” Curtis says. “So, as we’ve seen base salaries move up in banking, we are starting to see that in consulting. Not up to the $120K level, but I think at some places it’s close to $100K if it’s not $100k already.”
WSO’s data dives much deeper, also showing some very high-paying firms with far fewer respondents. You can also break its pay data down by sex and race, to see which firms live up to their DEI mantras. Pay for higher-level employees is available as well. Find the full report here.
When asked how well they are paid compared to people working similar jobs at other firms, employees at Cornerstone Research felt they were the most fairly compensated. Boston Consulting Group and Oliver Wyman employees also reported feeling well paid. (See chart below.)
NEXT PAGE: Consulting firms with best opportunities for career advancement