Management consultant is 3rd highest earning job in Switzerland

25 June 2018 5 min. read

The median wage in Switzerland before taxes was 6,502 francs (€5,450, $6,497) for a full-time worker last year. While the financial services sector is notoriously lucrative in Switzerland, management consultants are also among the top earners, new statistics show.

The Swiss Earnings Structure Survey from the Swiss Federal Statistics Office (FSO) has revealed that in Switzerland, the highest median salary – meaning half of all workers in the sector earned more than this amount and half earned less is found in the pharmaceutical industry (9,835 francs a month). This is followed by finance and banking (9,742 francs) and management consulting (9,616 francs). While the position of finance and banking will come as little surprise, due to the stature of Switzerland as the world’s largest hub for wealth management, this also sees management consultants at a significant advantage to workers at the other end of the scale, including those working in personnel and HR services (4,076 francs a month), hospitality (4,332 francs) and retail (4,798 francs).

The consulting industry of Switzerland is estimated to be worth around €1 billion, holding a share of 11% to 12% of the total DACH consulting industry, which is valued at approximately €9 billion. Germany holds the lion's share at circa 86% of the total, with the region’s smallest consulting market, Austria, assessed to be worth around €300 million. A large share of the globe’s top consulting firms are based in Switzerland, including McKinsey & Company (based in Zurich and Geneva), BCG, Bain, Strategy& and Oliver Wyman. Also big in the region are German origin consultancies because of their natural language benefit – Roland Berger, goetzpartners, Simon-Kucher and Q_Perior in Switzerland.

Gender pay gap

While management consultants take home the third largest pay cheques in Switzerland, however, women in the field still receive significantly less. In fact, high-paying industries in general see a marked difference between the median salary for men and women. In insurance this disparity is just over 31%, while in banking and finance it is 30.1% percent and in management consulting it is 26.8%.Management consultant is 3rd highest earning job in SwitzerlandAs is the case with markets around the world, Switzerland is currently coming under scrutiny for its gender pay gap – an inequality which continues to dog women at work even in the 21st century. Across the Swiss labour market, the median salary of women was 12% lower than that of men in 2016, down from 12.5% in 2014. One of the key sources of this divide noted by researchers was the tendency for different duties to be carried out by women in the workplace, differing levels of responsibility from men – as a glass ceiling still blocks many aspiring business people from accessing the highest paid jobs – as well as wage differences between industries.

Even in the cases where women did scale businesses to reach senior positions, however, the FSO noted that the median salary for women in a position with a high level of responsibility was 8,861 francs a month, compared to 10,878 francs for men in an equivalent position – an even larger difference of 18.5%. The salary difference between men and women in positions without responsibility was a lower 10.5%.

In spite of this, Swiss workers still saw their pay gap shrink significantly between 2014 and 2015, placing the nation in the global top ten in PwC’s annual barometer on gendered pay, as Switzerland seeks to further address the issue.

Cost of living

While Swiss wages are high when compared to other European countries, they should however be contextualised in terms of the cost of living in the Alpine nation. Living in Switzerland is very expensive, with Zurich and Geneva regularly making it into top ten rankings of the most costly cities to survive in.

Eurostat figures from 2017 have also shown that consumer prices in Switzerland stood at 61% above European Union averages. Meanwhile, prices for food and non-alcoholic drinks were 72% higher than the average of their EU neighbours.

Despite the reputation of Switzerland as being a home for global wealth, poverty subsequently remains an issue in the country. The FSO also recently published data which found that around 615,000 Swiss people were living in a state of poverty as recently as 2016. In total, 7.5% of the population were found to be below the poverty threshold in that year, having risen continuously from 7% in 2015 and 6.7% in the previous year.