Am I Crazy To Leave a 500K Job for Consulting?

Question is in the title.  Currently at a hedge fund but concerned about sustainability of career, and a bit tired of studying one market continuously.  Always was interested in consulting and being engaged in multiple industries and developing a versatile skillset.  Have an offer from MBB for a post-MBA level role.  This has seems like as good a ticket out as any but still concerned about a few things.

Currently, I work about 50 hours a week with a young family and a great office culture.  I am worried, frankly, about the 70+ hours and office politics that I have read about.  Would anyone start this type of role with a young family especially with a big pay cut?  Also, I am a more independent minded person who gets demoralized with busywork or things that have to be done but aren't useful.  I don't know if this will mesh necessarily with being on call for a client and fulfilling project requests.  Lastly, I am on the techier side of finance and am interested in exits in tech.  Any views on how often big tech companies engage consultants and what value they see in them for roles afterwards 3 or 5 years in?

 

I would stay put. Use the extra free time to indulge in a hobby and chill with your family. You’re literally living the dream exit op that Consultants fight to have. Just live and enjoy life outside of work. 

 

Exactly. His colleague Associates and Engagement Managers would shiv a stranger and risk getting jailed to have his job.

 

Only do this if you’re absolutely certain you want to get out of finance. And even then, it’s an 18-month pivot until you hit the eject button.

Otherwise, you’re doing this the wrong way around. People do MBB to get a shot at other things, incl what you do now.

You’re going to hate MBB. I didn’t hate it, but it’s just a means to an end.

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
 

Thanks for the response.  The thing I know I would really dislike is the unpredictability (responding to requests at night), the travel, and possibly doing busywork that you don't think should be done.

Can you comment on your experience?  Do you think that post-Covid will see an improvement in (less) travel permanently?  Were you doing interesting work and learning for most of the time so that you could be self-motivated, or did you have to do things because you had to?  (ie justifying conclusions that were already made, doing it just because someone asked, etc)

 

The latter.

For me, in addition to the obvious “preftigiou resume reset (finance —> general “business”), the main I value I got from actually working at MBB was:

  • taking charge of meetings where everyone in the room (clients who are industry veterans) knows more than you on the subject (I knew fuck-all)
  • getting into the habit of immediately enacting what was just agreed (being more efficient/pro-active, I suppose)

But the projects were lame, there was a lot of yelling and politics, and I spent most of my time making slides.

I even got good at slides. But we almost never had anything original to say. Often, you’re just helping knowledgeable but intellectually incoherent clients make sense of their own thoughts. Much more often, you’re just regurgitating the situation in a pretty chart that your client’s management uses as background to figure out what they want to do.

Anyhow, “making nice slides”…. That’s something you’ll hate yourself for. I’m much happier in my post-consulting life.

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
 

I think having a young family makes this a very different decision. In consulting you will not be replying to requests at night. You will generally be 100% plugged in until 10pm to midnight at MBB, expected to be at your laptop and working. There will be calls but when you “check out” for the day at 5-6 or whenever your team does it there will be work to finish by the end of the night.

On bad projects it’s not unusual to be up until 1-2am and you will have worse nights.

Most partners and projects are good about weekend work but you can’t always pick your partner / project.

At the post-MBA level it’s bad and it gets worse every level until partner. Pre-partner is the worst level to have kids at.

It’s worth it for some people who make the sacrifice but it might not be worth it for you, if you’re making 2x outside of consulting and get to spend meaningful time with your kids.

 

Thanks for the responses.  It's more strictly professional vs personal but I agree on the sentiment- as I've gotten older, hobbies, family and friends have definitely added more meaning than work.  Definitely enjoy taking my kids on a walk in afternoons more than re-wording some slides.  

To add a bit color to explain why this (might) in my mind not be crazy:

1. The market I am involved with is extremely small- think 5 to 10 other firms in the world who really trade this space and offer decent roles.

2. Career progression is not monotonic.  You can easily make a 7 figure bonus one year but you restart from 0 the next year so it's not clear where you will be in 5, 10 years.

I am definitely very grateful to be in this spot though.  Nearly financially independent, working with great people, and have protected time on nights and weekends.  The reason I am considering this at all is that 5, 10 year horizon.  I know for sure it will be worse on almost all metrics for the first few years.  

To put it in concrete terms- are the exits from consulting that great?  I've never actually worked in a 'corporate' job before.  But the increased stability and perhaps more clearly defined progression is what appeal to me.  Or is that just grass-is-greener thinking?  

 

If you do end up liking consulting, there's a lot of upside. It won't take long to hit 500k again at MBB and of your comp will reach 7 figures at the partner level.

However, for most people, the idea of consulting ends up being much more enjoyable and much better than the reality. Is there the chance that you have the right attitude and interests to make partner, enjoy it, and have the decision pay off? Possibly, but it's not like that for 99% of people.

I was at Big 4 and now at a cushy corp strategy job, but the fears you have are a definite reality. One of the worst parts of the long hours (similar to IB in the absurdity), is that the longer hours are often spent doing low value activities for overly anxious over achievers. Changing the format of a whole slide deck past 5PM feels incredibly stupid when you realize your client won't notice or won't care.

Tech does hire a lot of MBB (and ex-consultants in general), but strategy is fairly low on the totem pole. A tech consultant at Big-4/Accenture who pivots into product management at Big Tech will honestly have a much better time than someone from MBB who pivots into strategy at Big Tech. It's fairly easy to break in as an MBB, relative to other positions, but strategy roles are second fiddle to the real money makers at tech firms (product/engineering and sales). 

 

Agree with this. Strategy is an overrated pursuit both within consulting as well as when it comes to consulting exits. Even MBB is doing much more technology consulting and these can set you up better for some of the more desirable exits such as project / marketing mgmt and sales / sales enablement (an underrated and overlooked consulting exit IMO).

 

I would squeeze the juice from this sector for as long as you can. That consulting offer will likely improve in tandem with your expertise in your current field and likely still be there when you need to hop out. Btw, are you hiring?

VP
 

I mean, I can see everyone here is pretty negative about the move, but if you're actually interested in management consulting (I see that's why you prepared yourself case interviews and shit while working 50+ hours a week?) and potentially want to work in strategy at F500, I'd say go for it. If you successfully grind for 6 years and make partner at MBB, the exposure you have, your optionality and career potential in business not even comparable. I see your role is not investing role at hedge fund? then 100% go for MBB.

You said you want to work in tech? MBB on your resume with at least 4 years of exp. will 100% get you strategy role in Big Tech.  

 

Are you actually interested in many industries/problems that consulting offers or are you more concerned about the constant grind (and risk) of a HF (and if a mix of both which ones matters more)? I’ll start off by saying that your post doesn’t sound like a person that wants to go into MBB (all the things you say you don’t like and are worried about)  

If I were you, I would see if I could leverage your existing role into a long only fund, asset manager, or large pension fund. The reason I say this, is that it is usually much easier to incrementally move  than to completely reset your career. If you are trying to move more into tech, but you are already a “tech like” finance person, can you do a move into a tech/tech strategy role at a large AM? That way you bring your expertise of the markets, can help them setup strategies, but you are also starting to move into a more strategic/management role yourself (or even fin tech, so at least you aren’t throwing away what you have learned). Basically you take your existing experience and expertise and couple that with the new thing you are aiming for (and try to get 50% or so of the new role to be that), those moves are usually much easier to make and will usually be closer to your current comp level. I’ve had a few friends/colleagues make the jump to AM/PF and those firms have many opportunities to be a “strategic leader” since they are so large and don’t just need to manage money, but people, infrastructure, private and public investments, etc. 

As for consulting, it sounds interesting to have many projects and industries. You feel like you are going to learn a lot (and you do), but there is much less independence, a lot more “layers” of management, and what I disliked the most is you never really complete anything. You research, advise, and move on. If your client decides to implement anything that’s up to them, and if what you suggested fails in 6m it isn’t on you, you were just the advice, it isn’t “your project” to continue to build on, pivot in a new direction, or completely destroy and start over. You are long gone before any of that happens. I didn’t enjoy that part of the job. 

 

Consulting industry is as fucked right now as banking. Everyone is so short staffed you will be overworked and underpaid. This is coming from someone who switched to a better firm during the pandemic. My rockstar Managers and MDs are also being crushed. No one is escaping the staffing issues and everyone is having to wear multiple hats. 

 

First of all, I appreciate the candid (and hilarious) responses.  I haven’t been a consultant, but after time at some of the most “reputable” firms in my space, I am constantly amused by the amount of nonsense work that goes on (research analysts or programmers wasting most of their time due to miscommunication or an ill thought out task that is impossible or has no purpose, luckily dodged this more often than not).  So I am not really shocked that people are regurgitating client views or making pretty slides to summarize the obvious in consulting.  What I am surprised by is the fact that this field is somehow so highly valued by industry and that is considered so versatile.  If I manage a complex tech project from grabbing domain expertise from executives to data extraction, modeling, and presentation, FAANG just does not care.  The only ones who seem to care are people who operate adjacent to the same domain, which goes to the point earlier about incrementalism in switching.  That’s my biggest motivation is that this field is somehow seen (perhaps I am being too rosy on this) as this career catalyst and you can do whatever you want afterwards. 

 

The problem is you can’t do anything afterward, you can do a lot of junior/mid level “strategy” roles, but even then it is much easier within the industries you specialized in. You want a senior tech role? Mid/senior investment role? Etc. you’ll have a hard time getting one, still possible, but not the clearest path.

MBB is a filter, and they take top graduates from all the top business schools and expose them to strategy problems across industries. So yes, firms want to hire them, at a minimum so they don’t have to pay the ridiculous consulting fees (if I just hire that one guy/girl from MBB to lead strategy then I don’t have to pay those insane consulting fees…ok joking here). But mostly because these are smart people who have been exposed to many problems, so firms are happy to take a chance on them. If you aren’t sure what you want to do, it is a great way to see a fair bit and have some doors opened. But as soon as you get into the more senior roles that require specialization, you are no longer looking for the MBB type (outside of a few strategy roles).

If you do know what you want to do, then in my opinion it isn’t worth it. That being said, a HF path is pretty narrow, especially if you are covering a sector/asset/etc and figuring out how to invest. Like I said before, working at a larger fund that operates more like a “traditional” business will give you a chance to manage a team, work on strategy, etc and will pay you well and open doors (I also have friends in the industry that have gone on to FAANG jobs from more fin tech or quant funds). 

You just need to build up your resume that way, and I wouldn’t recommend doing it through MBB, not at the comp level you are at (and with how you describe what you don’t like). 
But your choice, last thing I’ll add is that with a new family, you don’t want 70 hrs and less pay. 

 

Sounds like you are in some weird esoteric credit or quant product. If so, I can understand your desire to get involved with something more "business-ey" like MBB. What I mean is if you were a fundamental equity investor at a single manager fund you wouldn't be asking this question.

I also imagine whatever you're doing can't be deployed on your personal assets, so there's an element of developing a skill set that is deteriorating in value over the next decade and is not directly useful outside of that.

If I'm right on those points, your dilemma is a little more understandable. But be advised that even at your dream exit opp of FANG strategy or whatever, you'll still probably have to deal with a bunch of bs (inevitable when you're dealing with people in a big organization).

If I were you, I'd stick it out, clip your low to mid hundred grand coupon, be frugal, invest it as best you know, and you should be financially independent in the next 5 years. Then you can explore tech or product strategy if you're really still interested - but not because you need to. With that financial independence / passive income, you will have more of an abundance mentality where you can go work on product or strategy at some cool startup where you're not wholly dependent on it working out.

 

Why not be entrepreneurial? You said you're pretty close to being financially independent. Why not get a couple more good earning years added to your savings and then go raise a fund or raise capital for a business that could offer solutions to the sector you currently cover?  It's more of an adventure than consulting.

 

I was working at a financial services company at an "entry level finance" position which turned out to be a call center type job. Absolutely terrible. Horrible hours, high-pressure, boring yet strenuous work, on-call 5 hours a day getting yelled at by people, low pay and no benefits at all, literally no time off without getting in HUGE trouble, I'm talking even an hour off on a Friday was a no-no.

I'm working at a big tech company now that's paying more than 5x what I was making at the call center job, much better WLB, great benefits, learning a lot and actually passionate about what I'm working on.

 
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Decided against it.  But appreciate the feedback.

Also, to share some perspective coming from someone who is probably now on the older side (30!) of these forums, people can feel “stuck” happens no matter where you.  Whatever you aim for, once you got it, it just becomes normal.  And I’ve been used to “aiming” rather than savoring which is hard to break.

With that being said, I do think it’s probably best with a family now to focus more on adjacent roles.  Less of a mental and physical ordeal than abruptly switching to a sweaty, up or out environment.  I think I am too old and too committed to other things for this if I am being honest with myself.  Research/investment analysis is getting a bit repetitive, but have discussions to transition into a trader role which they are supportive of.  Have been upskilling my tech knowledge for years and will continue to do so.  Not sure yet where it will go ultimately but going to try to enjoy the journey.  Thanks!

 

last line was key - enjoy the journey, it's not about the destination. i think you'll be fulfilled if you're constantly learning, working on new thing.

i'm in the same age bucket as you, will make about 20% less than you but my corp job averages about 45-50 hours also leaving me time to pursue a side gig helping a tech co with biz partnership and hopefully list this winter. This helps to further build out skill set and position me eventually for a cfo or vp finance role at same time of company which i think is where i want to land next

 

I worked as an Associate-level consultant at a top level firm in the region (not MBB but we competed against them in our region) and I can tell you right now that this is an absolutely stupid idea.

You will work longer hours, deal with more bullshit (shitty clients and consulting partners who are diagnosable psychopaths), and make less money. 

Not only is the grass not greener, it doesn't even look greener.

If you're interested in tech you should be able to do that from where you are now.

 

Earning much less then you but same dilemma here. Staying at a comfortable well paying job which im not in love with but getting by, or trying myself out in consulting for half the salary and double working hours. The general feedback/opinion i got from others are: 1) the salary cut is huge and after the "im so excited cause its consulting" purple cloud settles down, high changes that the reduced money will be very upsetting 2) most people go to consulting to learn and get insights into ever part of the business, but most want to exit in the medium term for a secure and much better paying and calmer job (what sounds like you have already) 3) jumping into +70h working weeks after a certain age/experience is very difficult, there is a reason why most people start consulting right out from uni...

Ofc joining consulting has a lot of strong pros as well, but especially cause of your family situation, i would really advise to you to think through this twice cause all my consulting friends from B4s said that the turnover is massive cause of the work-life balance.

 

My friend, I completely understand the need to exit when stagnation sets in. I've been there myself. However, may I suggest some alternatives; rebuild a '91 911 Carrera, learn to play the fiddle, sign up for salsa classes with your wife, or write a novel. Hell, if you're feeling altruistic start a nonprofit. Don't saddle your extra weekly hours to reclimb a ladder with spikes on each rung. Time is the only real finite resource, and you can handle market forced exits as they arise.