Help Me Learn More About MBB (UK Student)

As many are inclined to do, it is very easy to fall into wanting to chase investment banking as a career path following university. But after actually realising the value in having some of my own free time, I'm beginning interested in learning more about strategy consulting.


The main thing for me initially was the allure of money in IB, but this was quickly challenged as I find some people discussing the fact there is more 'variance' between promotions - i.e. if you are a 'rockstar' you can get promoted significantly quicker than the 2-3 years typical of IB Analysts. So, my question to the consultants on here is  what are your experiences of promotions, what is the quickest people have been promoted, & what a 'rockstar' profile actually looks like to get such quick promotions in MBB.


Further, I was looking to learn more about what a typical day looks like for those within MBB in London. I'm aware of peaks & troughs for when you're on live projects, but I'm more concerned on what hours can vary between and how frequent these peaks in hours can be - and as I'm fairly new to corporate environments - I'd love to learn what benefits you actually have access to within your offices/what your typical working practices are like in a day. I'm aware of McKinsey's alumni network benefits or a similar concept, but some deeper insight into this would be great.


And finally, I would love to know about what international opportunities are available & how moving offices to a more tax-efficient location would be. For example, if you chose to move to Hong Kong from London offices, assuming HK is still one of the top financial hubs, how would this affect your career progression? I understand there are offices across the Middle East, but equally understand they aren't as well developed for careers in the financial services, so was wondering how a move here may affect your progression too.


TLDR; What does a 'rockstar' consultant look like, how quickly can they be promoted at each stage, what do your hours tend to look like at whichever stage you're at, what your hours are like at each stage / what is a typical day for you, what benefits do you get access to within MBB consulting & how does moving to somewhere like Hong Kong or the Middle East (from London) affect your career progression in this field.


Edit: I've been thinking about zoning in on an option between IB, Consulting (& eventually even PE as an exit common between both) for a while, and I feel selecting one with an opinion to stick to it long-term (should I get in from undergrad) gives me no chance to really explore other fields while I still might have the chance through internships at university or as a fresh graduate. Could you give recommendations on how people have gone about this i.e. perhaps if it is common or feasible for people to've done one year in IB, one year in CO, then transition to PE? I can imagine it is detrimental to career rep, however, I'm not sure to what extent given I'd have little experience.


Any insight appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

Rockstar is typically someone who does not shun away from responsibility and takes account of his or her actions. As usual it will involve (read “naive”) a mix of skills deployed at the right time at the right place. In other words rockstar is not something you can be. Rather you develop the quality of “rockstar-ness” within yourself gradually as you mature. Written by a non-IB person.

 

Makes sense, so more like an archetype than a direct copy. But I would imagine responsiblity & accountability are key actions of anyone working there; what makes them a 'rockstar'? Doing that to a very good standard?

 

Commenting now to remind myself to answer this at the weekend - got a bit of a busy week ahead of me [FYI, will be skewed towards Bain London]

[EDIT]

"Rockstar" consultant

  • Nothing to add to StratCo, everything they say is everything you should be doing
  • A "Rockstar" will be a function of how fast you can make it happen. If it takes you over 1 year, you're avg, if it takes you 1 month, you're smashing it

Promotion speed

  • McK will be best for that, period. At Bain we have admittedly a bit too many layers, and you can't flex very much in terms of speed (unless you hit the ground at breakneck speed, ie get top ratings from Day 1 and never anything lower,  and never slow down, then you can really fast track)
  • At Bain the expectation is:
    • AC - 2 years (you can speed this up by 3 months easy, 6 months with difficulty, 9 months with doing the above + being lucky)
    • SAC - 1 year (you can be 3-6 months faster, with comparable difficulty as above relative to tenure)
    • Con - 2 years (not much room / reason to speed up)
    • M - 1 year
    • SM - 2-3 years
    • AP - 2-3 years
    • P = infinity (though there is a hurdle before Senior Partner)

Hours by tenure

  • AC / SAC - 50-55h on avg (maybe 55-60h in our PE practice)
  • C - 55-60h
  • M/SM - 55-65h (+/- a couple of hours here and there)
  • AP/P - it might come down a bit to 55-60h

Typical day

  • Morning
    • arrive by 9am
    • 30mins meeting to align on prios for the day
    • crack on with work (maybe with a content session to discuss current plan in more detail) - that bit can include anything from slides to excel to expert calls to blanking out a secion of a deck, etc.
  • Afternoon
    • after lunch likely at least one more 30 mins meeting to discuss progress / align
    • work work work
    • end of day huddle to discuss day's progress + evening's prios 
  • Evening
    • dinner around 6
    • work work wok until 7 or 10, depending on the day

Benefits

  • Think we have a Virgin active discount (I dont use it)
  • Cycle to work (I think? I dont know, I dont cycle to work)
  • On premise doctor / physio / wellbeing specialist
  • Coffee / healthy snacks / etc. + subsidised canteen (good quality and good price)
  • Work phone (some may not like it but I do)

Moving to HK / ME and impact on career

  • Within the firm it wouldn't matter, it' up to you and whether you want to do that transfer and for how long
 
Most Helpful

I'm at McKinsey and so there is a bias here, I'm sure BCG/ Bain posters will be able to add their perspectives.

Promotions:
- There is variance here, exacerbated by external factors (did you do a secondment, go to B school, internal rotation, etc). Broadly think 2 years as a BA, 1/1.5 years as a SA, 2 years as an EM, 2/3 years as an AP. It is possible to go slower (although within reason). It is possible to go faster. Rockstars make Partner in 6/7 years. I know a Partner in NY who is 27. I know a Senior Partner in London who is 32.

Expectations:
- I have friends at BB and I think this is where things vary between MBB. McKinsey gives BAs a ton of responsibility very early and while there is coaching, it seems much more sink/ swim.
- e.g., I was 3 weeks into my first study as a BA (I'd graduated 4 weeks ago) and was flown off to dinner with the COO of a subsidiary of our client to try and understand what his 'angle' was on an upcoming reorg. Wouldn't say this is common, but certainly not uncommon.
- By 1 year in, a BA is expected to be 'standalone', i.e. able to work directly with a Partner on a study/ topic, without an EM. Your outputs are expected to be client ready, you are expected to know what needs to be done and get it done etc. There is no one telling you what to do- you are responsible for your own work.
- The bar is very high (this was relaxed during COVID, but we are going back). Higher than average ratings are historically only given out to exceptional performance. I know a BA who worked directly with the CFO of a F500 client to put together their material for an investor day. The CFO called him back the day of and asked him personally to fly back out and help him prepare for his speech and the Q&A. After, the client sent an email to the office head and the sector head praising the BA singularly for his outstanding effort. The BA got a 4 (out of 5)- the review committee felt he hadn't demonstrated well enough to justify a 5.

Hours/ work:
- I did a public sector study once where I worked 50 hours a week, I've done strategy pieces where we worked 110 hours a week where our client was on the verge of a meltdown and media/ political shit storm. There is variance.
- I would estimate the average day is 9-9 with 30 mins for lunch. Sexy strategy studies are generally longer, boring implementation pieces will be better lifestyle. DDs will almost always be 70 hours, occasionally less/ more. YMMV
- What a BA will spend their day will really depend on their study- I don't think I can truly tell you what the average BA does although if you'd like I can give an example.

 

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