The salary of consultants in the UK consulting industry

02 April 2020 Consultancy.uk

How much do consultants working at leading consulting firms in the UK earn? Consultancy.uk explores a range of compensation & benefits data in the consulting industry. 

There are several reports in the UK and Europe that track the salary data of management consultants. Most of these are published by recruitment agencies, yet the issue with these reports is that the insights are typically based on a small number of respondents, rarely more than 500 consultants. As a result, reports may lack a statistical foundation, especially for the more senior consultant levels for which there is less data available.

To gain an in-depth and statistically grounded view of pay and remuneration in UK’s £11 billion consulting industry, Consultancy.uk partnered with Movemeon, a platform that provides curated jobs for consultants and alumni. Movemeon's compensation report is based on over 35,000 salary data points of consultants.

Base salary

At Analyst or Junior Consultant level, the average basic salary ranges between £40,000 and £50,000 per year. At Associate or Consultant level, this amount rises to between £52,000 and £59,000 per year. Meanwhile, a Manager in consulting – a consultant with typically between six to nine years of experience – earns £64,000 and £74,000 per annum. Directors or Vice Presidents enjoy an average base salary of between £79,000 and £106,000 per annum. Average basic salary by seniority in GBPThe type of company a consultant works for or the segment he/she is active is relevant for the height of the base salary. Across the board, consultants in strategy consulting or in management roles tend to earn more, with the difference larger in the more senior ranks.

Consultants working in operations – including fields such as process management, supply chain, finance operations and procurement – tend to earn slightly lower than the average. 

Bonus

In consulting, the base pay represents 75% or more of the total remuneration package, with bonus & equity payments becoming more important as seniority increases. At Associate or Consultant level, the base pay accounts for 83% of the total compensation package, with bonus at 12%. At Director or Vice President level, the share of base pay drops to 75% with the share of bonus jumping to over one fifth of the total package. 

Factors that determine the size of the bonus include company performance, service line performance, to what extent sales targets are achieved at company level and individually, contribution to thought leadership, contribution to internal practice development and non-financial metrics.Total compensation breakdown by company typePartners in the consulting industry don’t receive a salary, but earn a remuneration based on their equity stake in a firm, and the performance of the consulting firm. As a result, their earning can range from very high in good years (an average partner at the Big Four consulting firms of Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC earns more than £600,000 per annum in good years) to very low in bad years, when some partners can in fact earn less than the Directors or Senior Managers they employ.

For example, in 2018, one of consulting’s best years between 2010 and 2020, Deloitte’s bullish performance meant that partners pocketed an average of over £800,000 each, while at the MBB strategy consulting firms, average partner earnings stood at over £1 million.

Salary per consulting firm

The data reveals that the type of firm has a significant bearing on potential long-term earnings. At Analyst / Junior Consultant, consultants working at the MBB – the trio of McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company, the three largest strategy consulting firms in the world – have the highest total compensation, at £59,000 per year.

Consultants working at smaller strategy houses such as OC&C Strategy Consultants, L.E.K. Consultants, Oliver Wyman or Roland Berger earn slightly less, at £58,000 per year. 

Total compensation - progression by consulting background

Across all levels, consultants working at the top three strategic consulting firms and the strategy houses earn more than their counterparts at other firms, which spans a range of different firms types including the consulting arms of the Big Four, the large IT services firms, functional specialists and mid-sized and boutique national consultancies. At Director / Vice President level, the gap between consultants in strategy consulting and other firms is 20% or more. 

Salary of independent consultants

Around one fifth of all management consultants in the UK work as an independent consultant. These consultants don’t have a salary from being employed, but instead earn their money through fees charged to clients, in most cases based on a daily rate. 

Again leveraging Movemeon’s database, a freelance consultant working at Analyst level charges on average a day rate of £350, which translate to just under £44 per hour. An independent consultant working at Associate or Consultant level has a day rate of £540, with that amount rising to £650, £850 and £3,000+ for Manager, Senior Manager and Director level respectively. At the Director level, day rates vary more according to expertise and background. 

Average day rate + How much freelancers reduce day rate

However, in practice, most independent consultants charge a lower day rate that advertised. The data shows that freelancers are often willing to reduce their day rate by a significant amount (up to 30%) for the right reasons. Key reasons include being part of a high impact project or if they are guaranteed working longer than 6 months on a project, which can lead to a 20% or more decrease on the day rate. 

While a day rate remains by far the most popular and frequent payment method, with 75% of independent consultants being paid this way, there is an emerging trend among freelancers towards alternative payments such as fixed price per project or working on a performance based contract.


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