So yes, in consulting you will most likely work fewer hours than in investment banking. However, weeks of 70 to 80 hours spread over five days still translate into days of 14 to 16 hours. First, let's get a clear picture of what a typical work schedule looks like for a consultant. It doesn't include a 1-hour lunch break, although you can take an hour at night for dinner or ride a taxi to a hotel.
Being mentally prepared for a full workload in one day reduces stress when things don't go as planned. For example, when you don't have staff on a project, you are considered to be on the “beach” or “the bench” and, in this case, you often perform random tasks internally to support the office and other teams, which means that hours and intensity are reduced. Now, taking a look at the detailed list of to-dos for the day, I highlight those that I can't control 100%, that is, those that depend on customers, the support team, etc. Around the world, there are several studies that have confirmed the long working hours of consultants over the years.
This leisure comes to an end when the next major project is presented, for which consultants have to return to work all working hours. Male consultants who hold positions of responsibility work the longest, with an average of 9.9 and 12.4 hours, and this last number is comparable to the average overtime of partners in the consulting sector. However, keep in mind that there is no “typical day” for management consultants: our work varies on a daily basis and is assigned according to the workflow. As a result, most management consultants have to work 50 to 80 hours a week to get the job done, giving consulting a reputation for its difficult work-life balance.
Boutique consulting firms have the highest proportion of consultants who don't work overtime (33%), and the average number of overtime hours per week is also the lowest among other business services. Many of my readers are curious to know what a day in the life of a consultant is like, so this is my best chance to answer that question. On average, the consultants surveyed work 9.3 hours per week more than they are paid (consultants are generally not paid overtime). After that, I'll probably sit down and finish all the work on my to-do list that day, which might include gathering data, calculating numbers, calling industry experts for information, or syndicating with customers.
Measures are also emerging that make overtime more structured, for example, requiring overtime on fairly fixed days. The data also reveals that consultants with a longer seniority in a company work less overtime on average, which highlights that investment consultants often need to familiarize themselves with a new environment. Those who work more than 90 hours are literally doing nothing more than working for a week even though they are earning more money. Also, reading this description of the “day in life” won't give you the best idea of working in the management consulting industry.