I am a consultant at a non-MBB firm in London: AMA

Paps's picture
Rank: Monkey | 62

Hi everyone,

Quick bio: I have, I like to believe, a non-traditional background. I obtained a liberal arts degree in the UK at a target university. Strangely enough, when I first started, I did not even know what Investment Banking was or the difference between sales and trading. Fast forward three years, a number of awkward networking events and here I am, looking to work in finance. With some luck and a lot of perseverance, I managed to obtain a job with a large wealth management company (think AUM of over USD 300 bn).

Unfortunately, I did not find the work challenging enough and career advancement seemed to progress too slowly to my liking. Rather than stay in finance, I decided to switch to a non-MBB consulting firm in the UK. Two main reasons for it:

1) I had done some corporate strategy work and thought the experience could be of great value for any future career

2) When I finally decided to switch, most IB analyst positions had been filled whereas consulting firms do year round recruiting

About my current position: I specialize mostly in the Financial Services sector with the occasional commercial due diligence work.

In terms of location, I have mostly worked in the UK but have on occasions had to travel to Europe.

Please feel free to ask me any questions - I will try to reach out to colleagues or contacts should I not be able to answer your question.

Comments (15)

Mar 23, 2014

How hard would you say it is for non-Euros (Im in North America) to be hired at a firm like yours?

Mar 23, 2014

I am assuming you mean getting hired in the London office and that you are currently studying in the US, right?

While not impossible, I do think that it would be harder for a non-European candidate mainly for two reasons:

1) The interview process: interviewing is done at an office level. Sometimes, we will rely on another office doing a first round interview for us. The number of people which will be offered this option is likely to be low. Furthermore, if you make it through the first round, you will 100% have to come to London for the final round. The company is unlikely to pay for it. However, if you are willing to travel to London, then it is a different story.

2) Knowing the university you attended. It is likely that people screening CVs (most likely HR and consultants) will only know a limited number of schools outside of their home country. Unfortunately, this means that if you are from a non-Ivy league school, you are unlikely to pass the screening process.

These are off the top of my head two of the most important reasons why it would be harder for non-local candidates (i.e. that haven't studied in Europe).

    • 1
Mar 23, 2014

Thank you so much. Always great to have opinions from London, or anywhere outside the US for that matter.

Currently at university in the UK and strongly considering consulting. Can I PM you?

Many thanks,

Mar 24, 2014

Happy to help. Application process is difficult enough as it is.

You are more than welcome to PM me but if you can, try to post on this thread so other readers can benefit from it.

Mar 23, 2014

You mentioned that you have travelled to Europe. What's the rough split between projects in the UK and Europe? Why would the work not be done by the continental European offices?

And also, where in the UK do you usually go to for projects?


Best Response
Mar 24, 2014

Hi Dece,

With regards to your first question, it is quite hard to say in all honesty. Right now, I would say the vast majority (90%+) of projects occur in the UK.

As per the second question, there are actually several reasons to this:

1) Office structure. Not all offices are structured the way MBB firms are; i.e. with a global P&L. A few firms operate with an office P&L (I think the big 4 operates this way). As such, in these firms, each office has incentives to use its own staff (to avoid paying other offices).

2) Project structure. You may be working for a UK based client but have to undertake some international work. In this case, it does not make sense to use a consultant from another office.

3) Partner relationship. As you grow within the firm, you will strike relationships with some partners. These will sell sometimes projects all over the world and will want to staff people they trust.

    • 2
Mar 24, 2014

Thanks for doing this.

I'm going to be in the UK later this year doing a masters at a target. I have experience in a related field and I was hoping to gain experience in the consulting field before I decide whether it is something I want to do for the foreseeable future.

I was wondering are there any off cycle internship opportunities?

Also, do you find the work engaging?

Mar 24, 2014

Applying while doing your masters degree is a good call. While it is possible to get in with only an undergrad degree, the caliber of applicants is getting more impressive year on year.

I know our firm does off cycle internships and I think quite a few others do so as well. This is simply my opinion, but I reckon getting on an off cycle internship is generally easier simply because there are less applicants.

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to your second question. Overall, yes, I do find the work very engaging. You deal with very senior people in companies that generate often USD 1bn+ in revenues. You work on a wide variety of projects (pricing, new operating model, client segmentation, etc.) and are given significant responsibilities on day one.

Even a due diligence can be very interesting. Yes, you often learn about very random industries. However, it also allows you to realize how many opportunities exist in traditional markets. Quite a number of times I have worked on a company which generated several hundred million dollars in turnover but was managed in a fairly atrocious way. This is enlightening if you ever wish to start your own business. At least that is my opinion.

    • 1
Mar 24, 2014

How many years of experience did you have before moving to your current gig? You are at the analyst position right now? What salary point did they start you off at - if you can share this?


Mar 24, 2014

I had 1-2 years of experience before moving jobs but yes, I moved to the bottom of the ladder but have been promoted since. Several reasons why I decided to do this:

1) Consulting is not an easy job. The hours are long and you are required to master a wide variety of skills in a short amount of time. I have seen too many people hired for a position they did not have the skills for and simply crash and burn. I preferred to take a bit more time to climb the ladder but still be there after a couple of years.

2) You get promoted faster if you have prior experience. While I did start as an analyst, I was able to master some of the skills a lot faster than if I had started with no prior experience at all.

3) It is easier to get hired. No explanation needed for this one I think.

In terms of salary, it is pretty much similar to an IB salary. However, bonus is a lot lower and salary does not grow as fast. Also, while hours are long (regularly finish after 23h00 on projects), they are nothing compared to IB hours AND you rarely have to work on week ends (at least within my firm).

    • 1
Apr 1, 2014

When you mentioned target university in the U.K. Oxbridge comes to mind, did you anyone of them? If yes, what did you study?

"It is our fate to be tormented with large and small dilemmas as we daily wind our way through the risky, fractious world that gave us birth" Edward O. Wilson.

Apr 1, 2014

Hi Nomadchimp,

I may be crucified for saying this but in my opinion, there are four target universities (one of which I attended). These are Cambridge, Oxford, LSE and Imperial. After that, you will have plenty of other very good universities that, while not ranked as highly by recruiters, still give you excellent chances of being hired.

This is only based on my own opinion and you may certainly disagree with me. However, having attended a fair amount of interviews, these four universities were always overrepresented in comparison to the rest of the UK unis.

As for my degree, it was in the vain of history, politics, etc. It was certainly not quantitative and the focus was very much on writing essays.

    • 1
Apr 1, 2014

Hi, i am quite interested about your work in AM. Can you please talk about how a day is like working in your AM?

Apr 1, 2014

Hi Allenn,

I did not have the greatest of experiences in WM/PB but would be happy to talk more about it.

Just to give you a bit of background, I worked in the Investment Management (advisory) arm. While there was no typical day, there were indeed some tasks which came up on a daily basis.

- Analyze the client's portfolio and point out any gaps/red flags. These could be a need to rebalance the portfolio, exposure to a stock which we recently downgraded, etc.
- Calculate the portfolio's performance (yes, calculate, IT was that bad)
- Research a particular market, company, country, etc for a relationship manager
- Create investment proposals for the relationship manager to show to the client

Pretty standard stuff all in all. In terms of hours, I was in the office generally around 7h00-7h30 to study for my CFA, officially started working at 8h30, left around 18h00-20h00 depending on the day, studied CFA for two more hours and then went home.

I don't know if this helps, let me know if you want a breakdown hour by hour and I'll write it down if I find some time this week.

Apr 2, 2014