Salary benchmarking site Emolument.com analyzed pay data from 668 Senior Strategy Consultants working in the United Kingdom.

While the elite strategy consultancy firms do not readily reveal how much their employees earn, Emolument.com asked professionals at the top three “MBB” firms how much they took home each year. Graduates seem to think that Bain, McKinsey and BCG offer similar levels of remuneration, but the survey reveals that is not necessarily the case.

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Bain pays lowest base salary but highest bonuses by far

Strategy consulting is a fairly well-paid sector. When it comes to base salaries, Bain pays $115,000 compared to $126,000 at McKinsey and BCG. However senior strategy consultants at Bain report receiving bonuses of around $43,000, which is more than triple than those at McKinsey ($14,000). Senior strategy consultants at BCG receive an average bonus of $24,000.

Bain appears to be believe that performance-related bonuses are a good way to motivate its staff, while McKinsey’s amazing reputation may allow them to pay less than their top competitors. Bain pays the highest overall compensation thanks to its generous bonuses, with senior strategy consultants making an average of $158,000 per year.

Those at BCG take home $150,000 while McKinsey pays its senior consultants $140,000 per year.

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Strategy consulting offers intellectual challenge rather than stellar pay

Although these pay packets are certainly far higher than the national average wage, there are other sectors in which it would be easier to earn larger amounts of money.

“Many are drawn to consulting by the intellectual challenge, or the prospect of working in diverse industries. If it’s really all about the money, then jobseekers should look to M&A or investment banking, where total compensation often adds up to twice that of consultants,” said Alice Leguay of Emolument.com.

Graduates looking for an interesting position which will stretch their intellect should consider a job in strategy consulting, but M&A or investment banking pays a lot better in the long run. As another Emolument.com survey shows, graduate salaries are higher in strategy consulting but after around 5 years experience bankers gallop ahead.

Many graduates are attracted to high base salaries without considering bonus gaps later in their careers, but those who want to accumulate wealth should look past the flashy figures.