Poets & Quanta previously reported on the astounding first-year salaries being reported by investment bankers working in the industry. Imagine starting out with a first-year analyst fee of $143,000 — a 14% increase in just five years. We also reported on starting salaries for first-year consultants, which weren’t that high, but not terribly shabby—about $75,000 with a $10,000 bonus.
Patrick Curtis, founder and CEO of Wall Street Oasis, expects the competition for top business school talent to continue to drive up salaries in both industries over the next few years. “We are seeing compensation increasing in both advisory and investment banking, particularly at junior level. Consulting firms don’t compete directly with investment banks, but they do compete in some ways when it comes to recruiting top talent,” says Curtis. “Just as we’ve seen basic salaries in banking go up, we see the same in consulting. Not to the $120,000 level, but I think in some places it’s close to $100,000 if it’s not already $100,000.”
If the impressive salaries are enticing, it helps to know a little about entering the industry. To help you, WSO’s 2022 Consulting Industry Report has compiled the top schools for recruiting and hiring from 57 of the top consulting firms. The data is reported by WSO users who actually work in the consulting industry.
NORTH WESTERN UNIVERSITY IF TOP ADVICE FEEDER SCHOOL
WSO is an online community, news site, and career center for people who work or want to work in finance-related fields. It has almost 900,000 registered users who report a wealth of data about the companies they work for. The WSO’s 2022 Consulting Industry Report uses this user-reported data to provide insight into nearly 20 different metrics that job seekers wouldn’t find anywhere else: like how many hours employees work per week, or how fair the company is in granting promotions is.
It also provides data on which colleges and universities consultancies recruit the most from. (If investment banking is more your thing, here are the top 25 feeder schools for that industry.) The Consulting Industry Report ranks the schools based on responses from 1,577 WSO users working at the 57 consulting firms represented.
So which college or university offers the best pipeline for a top consulting engagement? Northwestern University, home of the Kellogg School of Management. But the top companies seem to have good recruitment programs across a wide cross-section of schools.
THE TOP FIVE SCHOOLS MAKE UP 10% OF CONSULTANT HIRING
Overall, the WSO report covers school representation at 57 different firms with consulting positions. As we look at the top 5 to 10 companies in terms of number of employees working for this story, you can see much more detail in the full report here.
According to employees working in this field, Northwestern University (home of the Kellogg School of Management) is the top school for a top consulting firm with 2.2% of the 1,577 respondents to the WSO survey. That’s 35 WSO users now working in the industry, down 14% from Northwestern’s share from last year’s report.
In fact, in the February 2022 report, there is little space between the top five guidance schools – a difference of only about 0.3%, or about 5 employees. So, each of the schools in the table below has strong guidance pipelines built into their programs.
The University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) followed Northwestern with 33 respondents who worked in the industry, or 2.1% of the total. That was an improvement of 1% over the previous year.
The University of Southern California (Marshall), Harvard University and the University of Michigan (Ross) rounded out the top feeder schools. In the chart below, you can see how well they did at five top consulting firms.
Of 1,577 WSO Reporting users who work in consulting, 160 come from one of these top five feeder schools — about 10% of consulting firm hires. That percentage increases to 19% when you look at the top 10 feeder schools.
A LOOK AT THE MBB PIPELINE
Many aspiring consultants want to know how to secure a spot with one of the Big Three: McKinsey and Company, Boston Consulting Group, or Bain & Company. The reputation of these companies has earned them their own acronym in the industry – MBB. When you break down the data, the WSO report can provide clues as to which schools MBB companies prefer to recruit.
Of the 1,577 users currently in positions at the 50+ consultancies, 168 are employed by McKinsey. Of these, nearly 20% come from six colleges: University of Toronto, Northwestern, Harvard, University of Michigan, Dartmouth College, and Georgia Institute of Technology.
The next tier of the most popular feeder schools accounts for nearly 14% of McKinsey recruits. These include the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Brigham Young University, Rice University, the University of Sydney in Australia, and the University of Chicago, Stanford University and Cornell University.
Bain & Company’s top universities (representing 21% of the 145 WSO member employees) are the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Virginia UVA, Harvard, the University of Michigan and Duke University. The next 20% of recruits come from Vanderbilt University, Dartmouth College, Crown University, University of Western Ontario, Columbia University, Southern Methodist University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Hong Kong.
The University of Pennsylvania, on the other hand, is the most popular feeder school for the Boston Consulting Group, accounting for 10% of the company’s 120 WSO recruits. Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the London School of Economics follow.
Second-tier schools for BCG include Southern Methodist University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, Harvard, Columbia, and Northwestern.
WSO’s reports are constantly changing based on new information that users report to the WSO Company Database, which contains more than 50,000 submissions from thousands of companies. The report we’re looking at today is as of this month and includes data for the current year as well as data for the previous two years. Because of this, some of the latest user-reported trends are only shown in later reports. (WSO uses Bayesian statistics to create percentiles for companies with few observations.)
Read more about WSO’s reporting methodology here.
Next page: Counseling for Students Not in a Top Feeder School + The Top 25 Feeder Schools for Top Consulting Firms