Should I take a 50% pay cut to join MBB? (Career change)

TLDR: corporate lawyer with 2yrs work experience considering whether to take a 50% pay cut and accept an entry level role at MBB.

Hi - would really appreciate some advice on whether I should take this job offer to join MBB at entry level aged 25.

As background I’m 25 and based in the UK. I’ve just qualified as a corporate lawyer in our equivalent of US Biglaw and earn £120k (≈$150k - UK salaries are lower in general but as context this is on the higher end of law salaries). I’m a high achiever and well liked by my team but I don’t find the work interesting. I have a total of 2yrs work experience.

I had applied to MBB roles such as McKinsey’ Junior Associate, BCG’s Senior Associate and Bain’s Senior Associate Consultant - so one level above entry level. The only offer I have received is from one MBB for the BA/A/AC role (ie undergraduate entry). 

I’m excited about joining MBB but am worried that this role is too junior at this stage in my career. The comp is around £60k (≈$70k) and the average age of my peers will be 22 so I will be three years behind and taking a 50% pay cut.

My long term goal would be to make it to manger-level at MBB (or consultant/associate at least) and then consider next steps. I’m worried also that joining at a more junior level just statistically increases my chances of being CTL’ed before that given the number of promotions it’ll take.

Is it madness to turn down the offer or should I consider an alternative route? Is there anything I can negotiate?

Thank you!

 
Most Helpful

I jotted a few points below, being at Bain London, and knowing people who made that transition:

  • The pay cut is about whether you can wait several years before you're back up the curve in terms of compensation
    • As an FYI, at Bain, you'll have to wait to be an SM before you make >120k
  • Career opportunity will obviously be a lot more diverse from MBB, which really only matters if you do genuinely want to do something else long term (e.g. healthcare, tech, consulting ,etc.)
  • If (i) you're a high performer at your law firm, (ii) you can case well enough to get an offer, (iii) you have a structured approach to problem solving, and (iv) you are willing to learn, your odds of being CTLed should be substantially lower than your peers (the job can be demanding / difficult at times, but this isn't rocket science). My expectation would be that you'd be performing above average throughout your BA/A/AC tenure, and then it might level off as you make it to A/C/C (the skills required there will be a tad different)
  • If time is a factor for you, McKinsey is the best when it comes to fast promotion for high performers (although this may be tempered at the moment with the way business is going, but someone from there will be better placed to speak to it). Bain would be substantially more difficult in that regard (though not impossible). At Bain, going fast and starting as an AC3 (2nd year AC), you'd take 3-3.5 years to make Manager, vs. 4 years normally (so nothing life changing..)
  • As for being "behind", your ability to work well under pressure (as shown by your current performance at work) should be a big differentiator allowing you to make up for it. If it doesn't, then consulting just isn't the career for you, which says nothing about your skillset (after all, it's a weird job)
  • One last point:
    • I know some people from law found that consulting can feel unimpactful at times. As a lawyer, you know you are crucial to a lot of processes. No you = no process. But Consulting is just providing advice, therefore sometimes it'll be impactful (if you're correct + client does what you said + things don't  materially change before implementation), and sometimes it'll lead to nothing, say because the client didn't do the thing, or did it differently/wrong, or changed their mind, or something else happens
    • Be prepared for that difference, otherwise you could be disillusioned quite early. Personally, I enjoy the process more than the outcome. My current project is a very cool one where we're seeing the impact live as we're doing it (which is cool), but enjoying the "journey", to so speak, will make it more fun I believe

In any case, best of luck to you! I never had to make that type of choice, so I understand it can be difficult

 

On the point of average age of peers, that's not necessarily the case. In my cohort as an BA/A/AC who started this year, the age range for new joiners is 21-28 in London. As you move up the ladder and become an Associate/Senior Associate in 2 years, the average age for an associate at MBB in London is 25-40 so you'll be on the younger side of your cohort in just 2 years so would consider other factors instead.

Seconding the point that McKinsey promotes the fastest: there are partners who only worked here 6 years since undergrad (or 5 years if started as JA) and you're more likely to make it there (fast) given your background in another commercial field.

 

If you stay in consulting beyond the entry level, you will be one of the youngest people in the office at every level you'll reach (Associate/EM/AP/Partner) throughout your career so definitely shouldn't worry about that part

 

Fundamentally, do you want to be a lawyer or a consultant? Consulting gives more career optionality. Law is a very vocational job and much harder to do non-law things after. Money wise, law pays better at every level. But your hours will also be materially worse. Work/seniority-wise I wouldn’t worry. Age-wise you’re young, and skills-wise you probably have quite a few ‘business skills’ to learn, and it’s better to do that when expectations are lower. If it turns out they judged you too low in the ranks they will promote you quicker, so in the end it’ll all work out and it’s all in the round. 

 

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