Consulting firms are stepping up their game in the bid to attract top talent. In particular, they are increasing both financial and non-financial incentives. Here’s how firms are increasing the consulting benefits they offer candidates. Get more in-depth compensation info in our Consulting Salary Report.
Consulting Firm Benefits
While these perks are not brand new, the following offer add-ons are becoming more widespread across the industry:
- Higher performance bonus caps (ex: a minimum $60,000 performance bonus for MBA hires at AlixPartners – with no cap!)
- More generous profit sharing (ex: up to $40,000/year as an MBA hire at L.E.K. as guaranteed comp!)
- 2nd year tuition reimbursement (offered to returning MBA interns at firms including Deloitte S&O, ZS Associates, L.E.K., and Accenture Strategy)
- Higher signing bonuses for MBA interns who immediately accept full-time offers (ex: Accenture Strategy offers a $17,500 early sign-on bonus on top of the standard $35,000 for MBA hires)
- Cost of living adjustments (ex: ZS Associates offers a max COLA of $17,400)
However, don’t get suckered in by these extras. Max performance bonuses are typically only given to the top 5-10% of performers, and this compensation is variable year-to-year. Tuition reimbursement and signing bonuses are nice, but they are a one-time perk. All other things being equal, go for the higher base salary.
Even more important, pay attention to company culture – a few thousand dollars here or there is not meaningful in the long-run, while ensuring you’re a good fit for the firm you join will make or break your experience.
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Firms are improving the non-compensation, “intangible” benefits they offer as well. The most notable of these is the increase in PTO. Firms like EY, Grant Thornton, and Huron have introduced unlimited PTO, although the cynic in us must note that this reduces the cost of termination for these companies as well, as accrued PTO no longer has to be paid out at the end of a consultant’s tenure. A study by Namely also showed that employees under an unlimited PTO policy took an average of just 13 days off per year.
In addition, firms are introducing more generous 401k matching policies. For example, Strategy& offers a 4% automatic match, and then matches 25% on the first 6% of an employee’s contribution in a separate account. BCG deposits profit sharing proceeds directly into your 401k, and Bain deposits 4.5% of your total comp into a retirement account without requiring a contribution from you.
Finally, some firms are extending paid parental leave. For instance, Bain now offers up to 26 weeks of paid leave to all new parents in the U.S. and Canada. That’s pretty impressive.
Overall, consulting salaries are highly competitive compared to other industries you may be considering, such as tech and internal consulting. The outlier is finance, where salaries are higher but work-life balance is often worse. Overall, consulting continues to offer faster promotion cycles, broader industry exposure, and a better path to business leadership than these other industries.
So, how should you prepare for this year’s application cycle? Build relevant experience (i.e., do our Strategy Sprint) and then work with our team to optimize your resume and cover letter for applications. Put in the work and land a role to take advantage of the firm’s consulting benefits!