Consulting v banking: Where are you better off money wise ?

Where are you better off at entry level, mid-career and later in your working life ? has analysed remuneration figures from 1,690 London M&A bankers and Strategy consultants

Top level graduates in the final year of their degree are usually aggressively courted by the crème de la crème of city firms. Glitzy presentations and dinners, exciting prospects and potential paychecks are thrown around by top consultancy and banking firms engaging in a tug-of-war for top university brains,

The entry level mirage

Not only are graduates attempting to understand the difference between banking and consultancy distracted by very similar skill requirements, corporate jargon, and corporate culture, but the pay packages are also neck-and-neck, heightening confusion. Most grads focus on a base salary, with little visibility on the bonus element of pay to come into consideration later on.

Consultancy may even appear like a better choice

What can be misleading in representing earning potential in consultancy vs banking is the fact that some top end consultancy firms pay their junior employees more than banks: £82,000 in annual income for McKenzie’s juniors vs. £65,000 at large city banks.

The mid-career revelation

As bankers and consultants hit their fifth year of experience, their income start to diverge: with performance-related bonuses, M&A bankers are likely to earn more than 2x more than a consultant each year.

Emolument: Average income by level of experience


  ConsultancyM&A banking
Entry level £49,000 £54,000
Junior £60,000 £65,000
Mid-career £94,000 £212,000
Experienced £143,000 £320,000
Late Career £221,000 £441,000

Entry level: no experience
Junior: <5 years of experience
Mid- Career: 5 – 10 years of experience
Experienced : 10 – 15 years of experience
Late career: > 15 years of experience

Thomas Drewry, CEO at said : ‘With graduate decisions often triggered by a simple chat with a friendly executive, or an attractive brochure, few graduates are aware of the financial impact their decision will have over the course of a career. Their main concern being to join a prestigious, challenging, work environment to continue on the path of excellence set by their degree. Base salaries often seem incredibly attractive to graduates for them to worry about bonus gaps further down the line.’

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