Can anyone elaborate on the differences in the services that Big 4 Transaction Services Groups offer compared to that of an investment bank? They seemed to be related but I'm not too clear on the differences. Thanks a lot.

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Big 4 Transaction services basically provides Due Diligence (DD), asset valuation, and transaction tax services. None of this is "doing deals" in the same sense as investment banking or corporate/business development (the internal group in a company that hires bankers). Instead, these services are all services offered to companies that are doing deals to make them easier.

This usually takes the form of due diligence (basically making sure you know all available information about a company before purchasing it, usually this happens during the exclusivity period after an offer is accepted, pending the results of DD.

The tax group in transaction services helps structure deals to be tax efficient (asset purchase v. stock swap, NOL, deferred tax assets/liabilities).

Finally, the asset valuation group helps value the identifiable assets of a company for purchase accounting purposes (if you're interested in this group, I assume you've taken some consolidations accounting).

From a career perspective, Banking is a lot more intense and presigious. The compensation is also significantly better. However, if you can't get into banking, or care more about work/life balance, then Transaction Services could make sense. Just keep in mind that the Big 4 firms only hire a few people into these groups at the undergrad level and they usually do less interesting things. The more typical career path would be to be in audit and switch after making senior.

I looked at this group but decided banking fit my interests better. I base much of what I know on conversations with a director in my group who worked her way up to senior manager in E&Y's TAS group before making the switch.

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I have second round interviews coming up with a valuation group at a big 4. Would it be possible to lateral to an ibank after a year and receive advanced class standing? Or would I have to start as a first year analyst?

Or maybe this isn't really a possibility?

Do you know anything about other exit options?

Thanks in advance


Based upon the people I know, I think that if you want to do banking, you should get a banking job.

I know that E&Y has a niche group that does something with hedge funds and those people typically do laterals over into hedge funds. However, this is an incredibly small group (less than 20) and my understanding is they only have a few slots which were primarily filled by people who interned.

As for people I know who are accountants, many of them started to do what you are thinking about. However, they found that it's not quite so simple. I know of several who did 2-3 years in audit at Big 4 and then had to go get an MBA in order to make the switch.

As for your advanced standing question, the short answer is it would depend on the bank and the exact circumstances of your switch (keep in mind that most places like to see at least 2 years per place, 1 year is an awfully short amount of time). I know someone where I work who worked for D&T for two years and is now switching into banking and is starting as a first year analyst.

If I'm not mistaken, the big 4 hires valuation people from schools like UPenn, which are also banking target schools. If this is you, I'd strongly recommend just going into banking rather than waiting. If you know what you want to do (it sounds like you want to do banking), then that's really what you should go into. So many times people plan on doing one thing and then switching, but making a switch is not easy unless you go get an MBA.

If you are already signed on for Big 4 (I'm pretty sure both Big 4 and banking hiring season is over), then I'd say your best bet is to work two years and then get an MBA (all the analyst in banking will be doing it too). Otherwise, try to meet people through your work who can help you make the switch. Meeting the right contact in banking is the most important thing to make the switch go smoothly. Also, several senior level bankers are former big 4 people, so they will appreciate what you've been doing at Big 4.

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