Current and former strategy consultants see largest pay differential since 2020

Charles Aris recently published its hallmark compensation reports for both current and former strategy consultants, which reflected major trends from 2023.

Notably, these reports showed one of the lowest increases in average consultant compensation year-over-year since we began tracking it in 2010 and revealed that compensation for former consultants surpassed that of current consultants by an average of 19% across every post-MBA class.

Download: 2024 Charles Aris strategy compensation studies

This information helps us understand the consulting industry and identify important developments from years prior, but further context is always helpful when referencing these reports for your own hiring initiatives or career search.

In this article, we dive deeper into the key findings from this year’s reports and share our opinion on what they say about the marketplace for strategic talent.

Average consultant compensation growth lower than years prior:

Our studies have shown that the 7% year-over-year growth in average consultant compensation marks the lowest increase for post-MBAs in the last decade, a notable departure from the high-water mark of 23.6% in 2021.

This decrease in compensation growth reflects the broader slowdown in the consulting industry as well as recessionary fears, which resulted in industry-wide delays in promotions and new class start dates in 2023.

Related: How to find your ideal exit opportunity from consulting

We anticipate that the compensation figures for 2024-2025 will improve and align more closely with the 10-year average of 13% as the industry adapts to new challenges and opportunities.

Current consultant versus former consultant compensation:

In 2023, former consultants were paid more than current consultants across every post-MBA class by an average of 19%, marking the largest pay differential since 2020.

This is likely the result of several macro conditions we saw between 2021 and 2023:

1) The labor market was incredibly busy, and strategy talent was in high demand. As a result, companies were paying more to attract consultant talent than they have historically.

2) As referenced above, year-over-year growth in average consultant compensation has decreased due to a broader slowdown in the consulting industry, further widening the gap between current and former consultant compensation.

While former consultant compensation remains higher than average, we’re mindful that these numbers are not a concrete representation of what it takes for corporations to hire top-tier strategy talent.

Related: Leveraging a one-person strategy team in private equity portfolio companies

When compensation does not perfectly align with current market rates, non-monetary job benefits such as location, lifestyle, culture, etc. become even more important for candidates during the hiring process.

Leveraging these reports with context:

Our connections use Charles Aris compensation reports to either scope out the job market for themselves or prepare to add new talent to their teams, but it’s crucial to remember that every hiring scenario is unique, and compensation is just one piece of the puzzle.

By examining the unique market conditions that fueled this year’s reports, you will be more equipped to effectively navigate the complexities of the strategy talent market and drive success for yourself or your team.

To learn more about this year’s strategy compensation studies, contact Jacob Watkins at (336) 217-9151 or