Salary of consultants

The management consulting industry tends to have a relatively low transparency in the area of remuneration policy. Basic salaries are hardly communicated in job ads and consulting firms tend to tightly hold back details over their benefits & rewards packages during recruitment events and job application procedures (until the last round).

In addition, there is a large variety in remuneration across the advisory industry, depending on a range of factors such as the type of firm (business model, performance management system), the type of industry/service area a consultant is working in and individual performance.

Although remuneration data such as salaries, benefits and bonuses does not lie out in the open, there are a number of sources that regularly conduct research in the field (typically recruitment firms specialised in the industry and/or analyst research firms). An overview of estimates on salaries and benefits:

The data reveals that average total salaries in the Indian consulting industry range from roughly R2,00,000 at a junior level to approximately R1,000,000 for partners. On average, bonuses range between R5,000 to R1,50,000 at both ends of the spectrum respectively.* 

Salaries per market segment

As mentioned above, salaries of consultants differ widely. One of the key determining factors is the type of services – as a general rule of thumb: the more prestigious a firm and/or consultant role, the higher the pay. Data shows that junior consultants employed by the leading strategy consulting firms earn substantially more than their peers in operations consulting (+30%) or project management (+25%). Differences remain throughout a consultant's career path, which, according to the data, is mainly the result of the increasing importance of variable-based pay. For example, at the Manager level, the differences between remuneration are significantly smaller across the main areas.

Firm type, region and more

Another factor that has an impact on the height of salaries and benefits is the type of employer. A recent international study shows that for exactly the same level (junior consultant) and role (Finance) ,the Big 4 firms pay slightly more than other large peers (mid-sized professional services firms, large IT consulting firms) and nearly 5% more than mid-sized management consultancies.

A third factor is geography. In South Africa, for example, consultants in Johannesburg earn 3% more than the national average, whereas their peers who work for the same firm in Cape Town earn 8% less than the national average. The gender of consultants (unfortunately) also still plays a role. Although data in South Africa is not available, recent studies conducted abroad reveal that, on average, male consultants in every level earn more than their female counterparts. The gender pay-gap increases as consultants progress through the ranks, although this can also be explained by differences in work-life attitudes and the design of performance-management systems among other factors.

More than just pay

It is important to keep in mind that total remuneration covers more than just primary and secondary benefits such as salary, benefits and bonus. Contracts typically also include other financial aspects such as holiday allowance, private health coverage, pension contribution schemes and lease agreements. To properly compare remuneration, an integral view should be taken to ensure all elements are included.

In addition, consulting firms are increasingly adopting non-financial incentives that can largely benefit the well-being of consultants. Examples include flexible mobility budgets, part-time working, sabbatical arrangements, more holidays, career customisation and training budget. Such incentives can make a real difference down the line, which makes it important to take these under consideration when choosing a firm.