The Highest-Paying Consulting Firms

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The Highest-Paying Consulting Firms For MBAs

When it comes to MBA employment, consulting plays the younger sibling to finance. Finance is the big money industry, the path to becoming a master of the universe. It is packed with ambitious quants yearning to managing their own funds or hold the purse strings as an investor. Consulting? It is the Swiss army knife of professional callings. You get to travel and rub shoulders with high level executives. Sure, the rank-and-file regard you as the devil, but after paying your dues of mashing models and coaching clients, you’ll have so many exit opportunities.

In the meantime, you need to pay your rent – and your student loans – as a consultant. And that raises the question: Where is the best consulting firm to work? Well, you can’t go wrong with the big three – McKinsey, Bain, and the Boston Consulting Group. Take your pick and it’s all the same: Intensive training, high profile clients, and enviable benefits. When it comes to overall pay, none of these companies rank in the top three.

That was the finding from Management Consulted, a website dedicated to delivering education and interview and resume coaching to potential consultants. According to the site’s research, consulting firms experienced a 12%-18% increase in revenue in 2015. And higher demand means recruiters are adding MBAs to their payrolls with a vengeance.

Already, according to Management Consulted, many top consulting firms have boosted their starting MBA base pay to $140,000. The site adds that MBAs can land starting packages worth $170,000-$210,000. And it only gets better with experience. 2-3 years out of school, MBAs are earning $250,000-$350,000. After 4-5 years, that number climbs to $350,000-$500,000 as graduates move into the ranks of associate principals and senior project leaders.  Junior partners and principal pay ranges from $500,000 to $1 million, while senior partners and directors are pulling down anywhere from $1 million to $10 million after 10 years of experience. Even undergrads are reaping the benefits of the consulting industry growth, grossing anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000 a year after earning their bachelor’s degree. Best of all, Management Consulted reports, consultants who transition to the corporate world often generate a 10%-20% raise for themselves.

And that begs the question: Which firms are paying the most? Right out of business school, Deloitte is leading the pack with a total package of $228,000 to start. Its $147,000 average base ties BCG and tops McKinsey ($145,000) and Bain ($140,000). It is also tied with KPMG and Parthenon-Ernst & Young) for the best sign on bonus ($35,000). Mind you, its performance bonus tops out at $36,750, well below BCG, Accenture, and A.T. Kearney. However, Deloitte covers expenses up to $10,000 for re-location expenses (though local moves only get $2,500). In recent years, Deloitte has embarked on an aggressive strategy to move in on the Big Three. In fact, it rose to fourth in Vault’s 2016 consulting rankings, filling the void left by Booz & Company’s evolution into Strategy&.

Deloitte also represents across-the-board excellence. Regarded as the top consulting firm in operations, it also ranks among the top four consulting firms in 10 categories in the Vault rankings – a feat only matched by McKinsey (with BCG and Bain ranking in the top four in seven and four categories respectively). Despite the laurels, Deloitte struggles when it comes to perception. In the 2016 Vault survey, which is based on responses from over 9,000 consulting professionals, the firm ranked 24th in benefits and 25th in compensation. What’s more, it ranked just 19th when respondents were asked about the long-term outlook for the firm. Against this backdrop, Deloitte is seeming paying a premium to attract top talent.

Ranking second at $223,500 in overall compensation is A.T. Kearney, which is pushing to double in size as part of its Vision 2020 initiative. It pays $10,000 less in the signing bonus ($25,000) than Deloitte, but also offers nearly $7,000 more in performance bonus. Rounding out the top is Accenture, with nearly an identical starting package as A.T. Kearney.

BCG ranks fourth overall at $219,000 in total compensation, a shade above sixth-ranked McKinsey ($214,000) and nearly $20,000 higher than Bain ($200,000). In terms of base, BCG offers $2,000 more than McKinsey and $5,000 above Bain. All three hold the line on sign on bonuses at $25,000. However, BCG blows away its rivals in terms of performance bonus ($42,000 vs. $35,000 for McKinsey and Bain).

Surprisingly, you’ll find the highest base salaries at Parthenon EY, which pays $170,000 on average to start.  Like Deloitte, Parthenon’s higher pay is likely tied to market perception, with the firm not even ranked among the top 25 in terms of benefits and long-term outlook in Vault’s survey. It also fares poorly in formal training (25th), employee satisfaction (20th), supervisor relationships (19th), and vacation policies (17th). That said, it still ranks well in terms of ability to challenge (7th) and firm culture (12th), indicators that workload, not culture, are behind some of the firm’s low marks. Although Parthenon EY signing bonuses are tied for being the highest ($35,000), its performance bonuses (up to $9,000) are the lowest on Management Consulted’s list.

That said, the data isn’t perfect. Management Consulted concedes that only the top 5%-10% of consultants receive the full performance bonus, with the average bonus falling between $18,000 and $20,000. Still, the numbers offer some insight on the ranges they can expect in a standard package.

To see how your favorite consulting firms fare, check out the table below.


Source: Management Consulted

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