There is no question in my mind that committing to a consulting role in one of the top tier strategy consulting firms will set you up for a very fruitful career no matter if you progress right through to Partner or decide to pursue a role in the industry after reaching manager level. However, if it is the money that matters, going down the Partner track is probably very attractive for any aspiring management consultant.
This being said, in my experience many MBB consultants simply do not want to take this route. These high achievers realise that going from being a very smart adviser to an all singing, all dancing sales person with the pressure of huge sales expectations on their head is a very different kettle of fish. The sales person X factor simply does not come naturally to many grown out of these firms. In my experience, the top earning Partners often exude gravitas and really know how to influence. For many consultants this expectation pushes them beyond their comfort zone and can be very hard to fake.
For those that do tick all the boxes and go on to succeed as a partner, the compensation can be enormous. Although MBB are very guarded when it comes to the actual formula when it comes to paying partners' annual salaries, the answer to the question is anywhere between $500k - $5m+.
There are many considerations that contribute to salary packages to include the following:
MBB do not like to breed pushy or aggressive sales people, as such there is no set commission structure however despite the ambiguity there is a direct correlation between value of cases sold and the salary package earned. Most experienced MBB Partners would be expected to bring in $5m + of sales per year.
They are partners in a true partnership so if the firm has a good year, they receive a generous bonus.
Things like recruiting take up a huge amount of time. (Only 1% of applicants to McKinsey actually get hired.) As does speaking at conferences, boosting the business’s brand, mentoring and alike.
The exact method of how each of the MBB calculates what each contribution is worth is kept under lock and key but in a great year, the bonuses can be as much as $4.5m +.
So all in all the total compensation for a junior partner can be between $500k and $1m.
And for a senior partner we are looking at a salary of up to $5m+
Disgraced ex-McKinsey partner Ragat Gupta’s annual salary was estimated at $5 - $10m USD prior to his conviction in 2012 on insider trading charges. During Gupta's time as head of McKinsey, the firm opened offices in 23 new countries and doubled its consultant base to 891 partners, increasing revenue 280 % to $3.4 billion USD.
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The journey to senior partner is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. With the “up or out” culture in MBB, many have tried and failed. It takes blood, sweat and tears, or rather long hours, perseverance, and many hours in airport lounges. Many Partners personal relationships suffer and hobbies and leisure time is sacrificed. And once they reach the top, it is very hard to get out, they get used to the salaries and few roles in the industry will come close to the salaries they have become accustomed to.