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Retainer/Upfront Deposit for Consulting

What percentage up front do you pay or charge for a consulting project? Or do you advocate different retainer models not based on a percentage?


Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

Depends on how you quoted the work. If project, then I have seen 10-20% to start the project. If hours, typically would not require retainer, but rather payment of billed hours on a shorter cycle (net 15 days). Hope this helps.

Topic Expert
Jaime Campbell
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Tier One Services, LLC
(Chief Financial Officer, Tier One Services, LLC) |

Thank you, Malak.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I agree with Malak on project (depending on whether there are misc expenses involved (travel, special software, etc.).

On daily, hourly rate you need to get a feel for the client, but based on how many days, I would get a weeks worth up-front. So if in one week on average you work 2 days, take a 2 day retainer.

NEVER START A PROJECT without a contract, proposal or some sort of document signed by the client that details the scope of the project, your responsibility, theirs and the terms (rates)..

Jake Feldman
Title: Managing Director
Company: Global TaxFin Advisory Group LLC
(Managing Director, Global TaxFin Advisory Group LLC) |

If there are milestones or interim deliverables, I would recommend estimating the charge time to the first milestone and request that amount as retainer.


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