What services are worth £500 an hour?
October 13, 2011 3:32 AM   Subscribe

Are there any skillsets for which a consultant in the UK could charge £500 an hour?

What could a consultant do that they could charge £500 per hour for, and expect to get it? What kind of skillset and/or service could command that? Under what circumstances? In which markets?

I'm talking about services for which there is at least some demand - not services for which you could theoretically charge £500 per hour except that they're unwanted in practice.
posted by tel3path to Work & Money (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by devnull at 3:59 AM on October 13, 2011

Interim Programme/Project Manager?
posted by hot soup girl at 4:04 AM on October 13, 2011

I know of people that offer performance improvement services (in the aspect of computer software and hardware) to the finance community and they charge between £250--£2500 an hour depending on what they're doing.
posted by gadha at 4:41 AM on October 13, 2011

Bloomberg, 2009: "U.K. regulatory lawyers advising clients on the financial crisis and scandals like those involving Bernard Madoff bill as much as 1,000 pounds ($1,440) an hour -- 50 percent more than mergers-and-acquisition lawyers did during a takeover boom two years ago."

Wall Street Journal, 2011: "Nearly 2.9% of partners at a group of 24 large U.S. and British law firms asked for $1,000 an hour or more in U.S. cases last year, up from 1.5% in 2009, according to Valeo. 'A thousand dollars an hour was a choke point for some clients,' said Peter Zeughauser, a consultant to law firms. 'I don't think there will be another significant psychological barrier until rates reach $2,000 an hour, which they will do, probably in five to seven years.'"
posted by Houstonian at 4:51 AM on October 13, 2011

£500 per hr is roughly analagous to the minimum charge-out rate for City corporate law firm partners (they go much higher than this), so I think this would be a fair proxy for the consultancy rate a suitably qualified lawyer could charge for things like (as mentioned above) M&A advisory and other corporate legal work.
posted by bright cold day at 5:08 AM on October 13, 2011

Management consultants charge more than this.
posted by xingcat at 5:21 AM on October 13, 2011

Sorry, I should be clearer: £500ph would be a proxy for the minimum consultancy rate for corporate legal services.
posted by bright cold day at 5:27 AM on October 13, 2011

I knew a finance guy who would get $1,400/hr to testify at court cases as an exert witness.
posted by entropone at 5:28 AM on October 13, 2011

Lawyers, definitely. At this level we aren't thinking "litigation"--though there is some of that--nearly as much as we're thinking "transactional counsel," the latter of which can look a lot like consulting. This is really how a lot of the national and international firms make their money: you were going to have to hire a lawyer anyway, so why not have your lawyer also be your consultant? Less chance of a communication screw up and fewer bills to pay. Also helps if your consultant is the one that can go yell at the regulators if they give you any guff.

And I don't really know how it works in the UK, but physicians testifying in court in the US charge up to $4,000 for a half-day in court--and won't come out for less than that.
posted by valkyryn at 5:51 AM on October 13, 2011

As to why they're worth that much? Now we're talking about significant business deals with national and multi-national corporations. If you've got a few billion pounds/euros/dollars on the line, spending a few million in legal fees to make sure everything goes as planned is totally worth it. Similarly, if you do happen to be on the receiving end of an eight- or nine-figure lawsuit, you're going to be willing to spend pretty much whatever it takes to make that go away. A lot of these firms won't even pick up the phone if there's less than $25 million at issue.
posted by valkyryn at 5:53 AM on October 13, 2011

Most secondary care doctors, in private practice, in London, bill more than this, both for outpatient visits, and for procedures. However they also have big costs, including secretarial and nursing staff, malpractice insurance, and rental of their premises.
posted by roofus at 6:47 AM on October 13, 2011

Legal experts frequently get rates that high, but it's usually for no more than a few days or weeks at a time. It's not something that can be done as a full-time job usually (or reputably).

People I know who do act as expert witneses privately do it a few times per year at most.
posted by bonehead at 7:48 AM on October 13, 2011

Any remotely specialist auditing or accounting expertise would command these rates, plus more.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:32 PM on October 13, 2011

Very interesting! A belated thanks for the info.
posted by tel3path at 2:15 PM on November 11, 2011

High-end escorts can make that much in an hour, though I'm sure you might want to think twice before going into that field.
posted by shesaysgo at 4:10 AM on May 2, 2012

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