Salary Guide 2020
Well hasn’t it been a funny year all around the globe?!
In the past few years we have seen strict salary bandings in most major ASX listed businesses, however this year we are finding, those hiring managers who are really serious about attracting the best strategy talent in the market, have put cases through to go above the current salary bands citing the need to raise the bar to hire the best consulting talent into their business units. Often these hiring managers went offshore previously to hire top talent but within their businesses salary bandings, but this has not been a possibility in 2020.
We have seen some top tier candidates obtain offers above market rates, mostly at the more senior levels, when moving into industry but usually with the larger more established organisations.
On the flip side, other ASX companies have been more focused on cost reduction and have looked to hire directly, also adhering to strict salary bandings which are often underwhelming for strategy consultants, resulting in some great candidates being overlooked or turning down offers.
Many consultants are interested in tech or start-up like businesses who tend to pay a lot less than competing roles in the ASX 50 businesses. It is a trade off some are willing to make, usually at the more junior level where they feel they can afford to take a risk.
Bonus’ this year have been greatly reduced due to COVID-19, as have any pay increases in industry businesses, meaning many are putting a higher emphasis on what their base salaries are going into 2021.
We are often asked for salary information by our clients who are looking to benchmark their own teams against the market. We feel this is a good idea, especially this year, as you want to ensure you retain your top performers who have been loyal. We have seen an increase in passive candidate activity and your team may be more inclined to have those external conversations to understand what else is out there.
Having this information to hand at performance review time is also very useful for both the manager and the consultant.
These salaries are base salaries only and do not include superannuation or bonus
Top Tier Consulting Salaries
The top tier management consulting firms pay well and up to a certain level, consultants can expect a commensurate level of base salary compensation if moving to industry at best. This changes at the Executive Manager level. Above this level companies will rarely offer parity. Decent bonuses can be achieved in the top tier consulting firms and vary at each level. Bonuses have remained strong in 2020.
Partner $380k +
Associate Partner $280k-$380k
Executive Manager $190k-$260k
Project Leader/Manager $150k-$200k
Senior Associate /Consultant $130k-$160k
Business Analyst /Associate $100k-$140k
Big 4 Consulting Salaries
Salaries in the Tier 2 or Big 4 consulting firms usually can be matched when candidates take a role in industry. We find some consulting firms, we deem, underpay their consultants in the market for the title they hold, but sometimes the titles do not reflect the level of experience. Bonuses are generally minimal and in a lot of cases, in 2020, they have been non-existent.
Partner $280k plus
Director $180k -$250k
Associate Director/Senior Manager $140k- $180k
Manager $110- $150k
Associate/Consultant $75k- $120k
In-house consulting roles in Financial Services
With most of the Financial Institutions fighting for the same talent, this has pushed up salaries a little in recent years. They generally pay better bonuses than non-Financial Services players in general. An Executive Manager/ Junior Director can expect circa 30-50% bonus in normal years.
Executive General Manager/Senior Director $300k +
General Manager/Director $250k-$340k
Executive Manager/ Junior Director $180k -$250k
Senior Manager $140k-$170k
Senior Consultant/Manager $110k-$150k
Associate/Consultant $90k- $130k
In-house Consulting Roles in non-Financial Services
The major players in this space are the telco’s, retailers, healthcare, airlines and to some extent the energy/infrastructure organisations. We find bonuses generally lower in these organisations ranging from 7% at the more junior levels to 30% typically until you get to the GM levels. Bonuses in 2020 have been hit & miss but many companies have not paid full bonuses.
Executive General Manager/ CSO – $330k +
General Manager/ Principal/ Head Of $250k-$340K
Senior Manager $160k-$220k
Senior Consultant $100k- $140k
Associate Consultant $80k-$110k
For further specific information please contact us directly.
Wow.. what a roller-coaster of a year it has been so far, and we fear there are more bumps, twists and turns to go. However, I am ever the optimist and if this is as bad as it gets then I feel this community is doing OK in comparison to some. There have been some casualties for sure, the most obvious being the big 4 consulting firms, and some exec level strategy & transformation roles, where we are receiving an increased amount of calls from those having been retrenched or at risk of being let go, but mainly strategy folk are still extremely busy and safe in their roles.
In April we saw many roles go on hold instantly, mostly as part of a whole of business directive. We understand that was not due to a lack of want or need for strategy hires, more that strategy teams and HR/talent teams had to urgently respond to Covid. Strategies changed direction quickly, execs were busy in recession proofing mode and talent teams were all pulled into hiring a vast number of new roles such as call centre staff. But it was not long before the strategy roles came live once again.
Interestingly, many of our recent roles are not as a response to Covid-19, where we would expect to see cost cutting or diversification due to the market conditions, in fact the roles remain focused on growth opportunities.
So where have the roles been coming from?
We have seen several strategy manager level roles coming through in industry across all sectors, but mainly from the bigger ASX organisations as strategy teams add heads and continue to grow due to internal demand. Clients are taking advantage of the increased interest in industry roles currently from management consultants, many whom have had a glimpse of what work/life balance could look like and, due to working from home, have had more opportunity to talk to recruiters and hiring managers. Usually we would need to bolsters the local talent short market with international candidates but at the moment that is:
a/ not necessary due to an increase in on shore interest and
b/ not viable with many organisations putting a freeze on international hiring for the foreseeable future. This is even affecting some on current sponsored visa’s where businesses are reluctant to take over visa’s as part of cost cutting and risk reducing strategies.
At the senior end of the market however recruitment processes are moving somewhat slower. Whilst roles are definitely still there, hiring managers are focused on hiring not only very smart talent, mostly from premium brands such as McKinsey, Bain or BCG, candidates also have to exude executive presence. We are also seeing a renewed focus on diversity at the top end making life more difficult for some. Due to the increased competition in the market salaries are holding fast for most levels but at the senior end we are seeing clients increase their budgets slightly to secure the talent they select.
What is really slowing down processes is trying to get time in exec’s diaries for interviews. Strategy leaders have a lot on their plates right now and whilst hiring is deemed important, so is recession proofing their businesses and responding to the many issues arising daily due to the current economic environment.
All this being said, we are preparing to be busy until the end of the year. When budgets are released in July, we generally see a knock-on effect with an increase in mid to senior level roles in August/ September and then right until the end of the year. We are optimistic that this will be no different despite the obvious challenges. But we also do not see it being a walk in the park to secure the best roles. Candidates are really being tested in interviews with some very tough questions, hard case interviews and HR testing. There are more quality candidates applying for each role, as such clients have more choice. Our recommendation to anyone considering a move is to thoroughly prepare and be interview ready. Gone are the days when just having MBB on your resume and creating rapport is enough to cut the mustard, the bar has risen substantially. Preparation is key.
With Covid-19 keeping jet-setting management consultants home-bound, I’ve managed to pin them down for a chat under lockdown. I’ve had some very interesting conversations around how working from home has affected their work, their relationships and their health and I was interested in their thoughts around if the future of consulting will look very different when we move out of lockdown.
The collective feeling is that that, mostly, consultants are really enjoying being at home but generally feel they are working harder to get the same results as before and are starting to feel less fulfilled in their work. This is down to the simple fact that human beings, whether in an Agile or more traditional process are just more efficient working in person, and Agile is centred around being able to work closely and in person with sprint teams. Many cited that the quick informal coffee meetings or hallway chats with clients are often the best way to really understand the underlying problems a business may have, and are missing the interaction. Instead conversations have moved to Zoom or Skype and many consultants are experiencing Zoom fatigue and teething problems with technology – such as clients using different digital platforms to the consulting firms or not being technically savvy. Mostly, however, clients and consultants alike are quick to adapt but find interactions are just less enjoyable: web chats are being scheduled instead of an impromptu quick chats and this is resulting in longer and more formal conversations.
The most obvious downside highlighted by every consultant I spoke to was the inability to build deeper relationships with clients, especially new clients. The lack of small talk before and after meetings has made it harder to really connect the same way as they have been used to. Although their clients seem to welcome a quick call whenever needed, it just doesn’t seem to have the same impact.
Of course, the effect this is having on consultants’ personal lives has been enormous. Most love not doing the expected travel, and whilst they are still putting the same – if not more – hours in, they have swapped lengthy commutes and flights for exercise and family time. Although their frequent flyer points are suffering immensely, they are able to put their own kids to bed and read them bedtime stories. Their self care has improved, with sleeping more and eating home cooked food – well most are – some are still expensing Uber eats daily apparently. Their pets are wondering what is going on having never been walked by their humans so much in their lives. Generally, life is just better.
Some cited having their kids in the other room being really hard, and not for the reason I first expected… and yes there are stories of “zoom family bloopers” with cheeky toddlers running into the office at exactly the wrong moment, but mostly they are feeling guilt. Guilt for being present but not being present.
What the vast majority of the consultants I have been speaking to echo is that this unprecedented situation has given m a glimpse into what “normal” life could be like outside of consulting and many are liking what they are experiencing. This could see a rise in consultants looking to make a move into industry roles in the coming months.
It’s clear that the top tier consulting firms, such as McKinsey, Bain & BCG, are extremely busy right now as they are being pulled into Covid response projects. Their leadership teams are trying to figure out how and if they need to change the way they operate moving forward – it is the hot topic of the moment. Do they move to a more flexible working culture meaning consultants can enjoy a more tangible work/life balance? Or do they return to the Monday morning 5am dash to the airport? Or something in between? Many feel there is a middle ground that needs to and can be reached.
Where do you sit on this topic, and do you think there is a happy medium? Let me know in the comments below.
Not a day goes past that I don’t speak to a strategy management consultant with aspirations of moving from consulting into a “sexy” start-up environment… bring on the free lunches and foosball!! From juniors to senior level consultants, it seems everyone wants a piece of the dynamic, fast paced rollercoaster lifestyle that comes with working for such a business.
So I decided to investigate the allure of this trendy industry and see if it really does meet the hype…. I spoke to my esteemed network, consisting of serial entrepreneurs who have worked in many a start-up or tech environment, and some have been there and done that in both start up world and the ASX corporates and have war wounds to show. I have compiled and analysed their input and have come up with my top 10 things to consider when considering this career path.
So it seems that… yes, there are some definite pro’s with this career path. Start-ups can offer you massive amounts of freedom; you get involved in a wide variety of tasks for a company where every day is different. You get direct access to C-suite, you are at the centre of power, and decisions are made quickly. It is a casual working environment and there is usually a strong culture filled with missionaries (rather than mercenaries) and there can be some equity incentives for the right roles.
However you also need to consider…
1/ A lot of the “tech start-ups” in Australia are actually local branches being set up by tech companies that HQ’s are based in the US/London/Singapore. The reality is being based in Australia and working for one of these satellite branches removes you from the centre of power and decision making. The Australian team will often be handed decisions and key strategic changes as fait accompli and won’t have any real input into it. This can often mean regular shifts in strategy and tactics without much advance notice which can be extremely frustrating, especially when the decisions are being made by people who don’t really understand local market conditions. So you need to go into such a company and role with your eyes open and a realistic assessment of how much impact you are going to be able to have on the business.
2/ With regard to a “local” tech start-up, my veteran contacts believe most people they talk to have a completely unrealistic view of what it will be like when they are leaving a management consultancy or industry position. They cite “They are used to the trappings of the corporate environment…nice offices, good pay, bonuses, expense accounts, business class travel….and also very defined roles where they can focus on say “pure strategy” because there is a whole hierarchy of other support staff to look after everything else for them. In a true start-up, you need to be prepared to pitch in and work right across the business, often doing work that is tangential or completely unrelated to what you see as your core role. There aren’t big teams of support staff so suddenly you are doing everything yourself and there certainly aren’t big expense accounts and luxury travel. Working in a true tech start-up is not like what people see at Google or Facebook. It is unglamorous, often involves “unsexy” work, very long hours, and few perks while the business is struggling through its first years”.
3/ Because of the points above, the people who thrive in start-ups are typically different to people who love corporate consulting. To really enjoy your start-up experience you need to have a high risk tolerance, a huge degree of comfort with ambiguity and uncertainty, a willingness to work across a really diverse range of activities (so you might be a strategy consultant but suddenly find yourself having to attend an expo, man a stall, and sell the product face-to-face to a potential customer). Have no pretensions about the work you are doing, and an ability to get on with people from very different backgrounds to yourself (you will no longer only be working with commerce-law and engineering graduates from UNSW and Sydney Uni).
5/ Many typically have completely unrealistic views on the likely success of start-ups. An almost infinitesimal number of start-ups become unicorns. The vast majority of start-ups fail. So you have to go into this with the mindset that you may devote 3-5 years of your life to this business and end up with little more than a modest salary and a huge amount of experience. Some scale ups can burn out in spectacular fashion but the experience certainly can be character building.
6/ People also often also have unrealistic views about the value they add and therefore the equity stake they should be given. Unless you are a founder or one of the senior management, if you are lucky enough to get any equity at all, your stake is likely be very small and simply as part of a general employee equity scheme. You are very unlikely to get super rich on this due to the high level of business failure and the small stake that you have been given.
7/When thinking about career development generally start-ups (and digital business generally) do a better job of accelerating capable people through levels of seniority quicker. You often see people with 5-10 years of experience reaching quite senior levels in digital businesses. In corporates, this is less the case – promotion tends to be more a balance of experience gained and capability. However unless a start-up really hits it big, then the brand recognition is likely to be far less than any brand name corporate. Therefore, a future corporate employer could undervalue your experience.
8/The lack of structure can be a real issue for some people, especially those who are coming straight out of a top tier management consulting environment like McKinsey, Bain or BCG. In start-ups people often work outside of the traditional org structure, and tenure is often just as important as role title.
9/Many have visions of changing mindsets and being a thought-leader when they join a start-up however it takes a special type of entrepreneur to listen to an outsider and admit they are wrong. In many cases they will just plough on with their gut feel, so gaining their trust is key, but this is also difficult as most of the other execs have also been on the journey with them.
10/And finally a word on remuneration. For most start-ups, a significant proportion of income can be through equity in the business. This has the potential to be quite lucrative over the longer term but won’t pay the mortgage in the short term. When candidates come to me asking about roles in a start-up the first thing I tell them to consider is if they can currently afford it… Many are unaware of the drop in base salary that will be offered compared to many corporate or consulting roles.
So there you have it… there is certainly a lot to think about when considering a move into this space, it can be hugely rewarding for some but it is certainly not for everyone.
If you have anything to add to the above I would love to hear your thoughts.
1. Have a “can and will do” attitude
When presented with promotion opportunities, women tend to focus on the skills they don’t have for the role as opposed to what they can actually offer and then back themselves to learn the rest on the job. Their male peers on the other hand, readily put up their hands for bigger positions often beyond their current remit and capability.
Be brave when presented with opportunities and in spite of self-doubt go for it anyway! If it doesn’t work out, so what? There is always a plan B… or C and you may actually learn something about yourself along the way.
2. Ask for, and embrace opportunities
Look for ways to get yourself seen and heard. What is keeping your boss up at night and how can you be the one to solve some of their biggest problems. Identify which projects are going to get you noticed and promoted and ask for them, especially if they stretch and develop you further. You need to show your potential and not just how well you perform in your current role.
3. Build your tribe of leaders
Build your tribe of leaders “deliberately”. Women are often too focused on excelling at the role at hand and do not take time to look up and identify: (1) mentors, “who know your heart” and can guide you in making important decisions in your life, not just your career; (2) sponsors “who will put their reputation on the line for you” and present you for specific opportunities; (3) coaches who will “help you close specific gaps” in your people and technical skills; and (4) role models, who you choose to emulate, but whom you may not know personally.
4. Courage & Character
Woman leaders need to have excellent communication skills. Written and oral communication skills are crucial for success. In the past, for a woman to make it to a top position, they would often have to behave in a more aggressive, command and control and masculine style similar to their male counterparts. However, we are now finally beginning to see women in top positions embracing their authentic and often feminine styles in their behaviours which exudes gravitas too. Often a coach can help you discover where your blind spots in this area may be.
5. Be mindful and work/life balance
Burn out is prevalent among women striving to emulate their “superwomen’ role models. We need to find more balance in our lives, be kind to ourselves, listen to our bodies and the warning signs.
Aside form the burn out issue itself, it’s not uncommon for stressed, under-pressure female leaders to engage in behaviours that can be perceived as aggressive. This can have a knock-on negative effect on the team, which in turn can lead to untimely attrition and can also lead to difficulties in attracting new talent. If you begin to feel like this, there are a number of avenues you might want to explore, ie hire a life coach, book a yoga class or explore a meditation retreat, the idea is to find your outlet.
6. Learn to say no
With the above in mind, you may feel you have no time for yourself. Log your time for a week, both personal and professional. Notice where the big time and energy sappers are and figure out how you can reduce them and increase the things that enhance your well-being. Find a way to delegate or merely learn to let go of “stuff. The world will continue to turn, I promise!
7. Don’t take it personally
Women are often perceived as being more “sensitive” in the work environment. It is important not to change your character or behave like an iron maiden and don’t let comments or criticisms throw you off your game. If you do face patronising remarks, remind yourself how valuable you are, that you’re doing your best and let it roll off your back. Don’t allow those comments to have power over you and never give up. Use it to empower and embolden you!
8. Never stop trying
Talent is innate, but skill is developed with practice and perseverance. You must practice relentlessly to perfect the skill in whatever it is that captures your interest. Seize every opportunity to speak at events or even publish an article. No one is perfect the first time around so be kind to yourself and enlist the help of someone you trust or revere to practice with and get their guidance.
9. Pull other women up with you.
It is crazy that some women in top positions, consciously or unconsciously, make it more difficult for other aspiring and talented women. They believe they have fought to get where they are and are not embracing the opportunity to share their journey thereby encouraging other women to follow in their footsteps. Don’t be one of these! Be an active mentor, coach or sponsor. You will not only be giving back you will broaden your own skill set and be seen as an authentic female leader that top organisations are looking for. Moreover, they also know you’ll be bringing an entourage of talented female followers with you!
10. Take the advantages that come with being a woman and a minority.
When I speak to women about this it is always slightly controversial. It’s perfectly normal to want to be seen for what you can do and bring, not just because you are female.
There is, however, an agenda to promote diversity, which includes providing opportunities to women from consulting backgrounds to further progress their careers. The higher up you go within an organisation the less women you will encounter, however in both Management Consulting firms and in-house corporate Strategy and Transformation teams, senior leaders are open and actively looking to progress their diversity agenda and in particular talented women. Use it!
They are often bonused on having diverse leadership teams and are actively seeking out opportunities to sponsor or mentor junior female talent. Ask for their advice and you will often get their attention and be noticed.