Leaving GS for MBB

I'm currently a first-year analyst at GS and am becoming interested in switching career paths to consulting at a MBB firm. The primary reason is that I don't find the work in IB interesting. There is not much thinking / problem solving involved as you are mainly just creating decks / valuations based on guidance from MDs / clients. 

I'm primarily interested in the PE-groups of MBB as I would like to keep the option of going to PE later on and also would not like to travel 4-5 days a week. What type of work does a junior consultant at the MBB PE groups do?

Is there any independent thinking involved at the junior level or would you mainly be doing stuff like data digging for CDD reports, formatting slides and taking notes on calls?

Most Helpful

Hey there,

I was in the PE group of Bain until just a few weeks ago, so can shed some light on the work.

As the junior person on the team (think AC / BA / A) you'll mostly be trusted with execution at first, focusing on finding out and analysing data points, sourcing & scheduling expert calls, but as you quickly ramp up and show you can do that part easily (which won't be a problem for you with your background) then you could be entrusted with a bit more answer-cracking, such as

  • running an expert call to figure out the competitive landscape or USP of each player (might need to draft an interview guide to ensure you know what you need)
  • refining assumptions on the model to help the team assess the market size and growth outlook (which has a big impact on attractiveness of the target, obvs)
  • (if you get a supervisor & EM / SM / PL who trust you) owning a discrete part of your workstream (normally shared with a Consultant overseeing you) such as figuring out actual synergies between two online retailers and quantifying potential upsides, blanking (meaning structuring) the slide loop needed for that section to help drive the answer, etc.

Now, if you have a bit more experience (say ~3 years or so), you could join as an SAC (between AC and C) and be trusted with a workstream from the get go.

Thanks for your answer, indeed very helpful. Seems like it is quite similar to IB, where you will start doing at least some level of independent at the associate level.

A little.
The AC / BA / A usually tends to be focused on doing analysis "right" and learning to minimise mistakes/errors. Makes sense since most people there are new grads.

The C / A / C is the one responsible for figuring out the answer on their individual work stream, supported by their allocated AC / BA / A.

However, in your case with your prior work experience, you could get over that part of the AC / BA / A journey more quickly (like I did) and actually start contributing and helping shape the answer more. 


I'm interning at one of the IB EB's but am also really interested in pursuing MBB consulting (specifically PE group/Corp.fin. groups). Do you feel as though the skillset you are developing is helpful for eventually becoming an investor of your own? How would you compare the skillset of a banking analyst from one of the good groups on WallSt. vs. a junior consultant at a PE group? 


Hey I'm not super experienced but I am also interested in this topic. I interned at a top M&A group and am completing a long term internship at a pe fund. The work is very light on financial modelling and very heavy on strategic and operational DD for fast growing companies.

I think this type of strategy work is great for becoming a better investor, especially if you want to drive value creation through organic growth (and not deleveraging). This skillset will be relevant in pretty much all non-quant investment styles.

What banking helps with is (1) knowing deal processes and negotiations and (2) becoming financially literate in terms of valuation and structuring. 1 is super important in PE because if you can't sell an asset, then you can't realise any cash from it. It also makes you really well versed in strategic M&A rationale so helps with inorganic strategies. 2 is super important if you want to work at more 'classic' LBO firms which do financial engineering and drive more value through de-leveraging.

To illustrate the difference, when asked to evaluate an investment a consultant would construct a well thought out, beskope market sizing to understand how much room there is to grow and present a very well diligenced plan of how the business will grow. They will also understand key risks well as they know at a more granular and operational level what has to go right for the investment to succeed. A banker can do this if they are curious and bright but will naturally be behind. What they will know really well is which kinds of companies they can do something to in a short ish time frame and sell for more than they bought. Of course they will know the modelling aspect in great detail too.

IMHO I think a PE firm with a 60/40 split between consultants and bankers (maybe a few operations people) would be ideal, but some backgrounds are much more suited for some investment styles. The reality is there is opportunity cost to whichever route you take so I would recommend choosing the path which resonates with you in the long term.

Starting with the obvious (echoing the post above): the banking analyst will be able to run laps around consultants all day long on financial modelling. That's not our strong suit (since we have little to no reason to do any, other than occasionally building an income statement and maybe doing a small forecast, which is really super simple), so usually that's something where we need to invest significant time during recruiting.

As for what I have seen people who jumped from Bain to PE bring it was usually twofold:

  • having a complete & strong commercial approach to the asset: What is its market? How defensible is its competitive positioning? How fast is their segment growing and why? Why do customers buy their products and not their competitors? If you're looking to do an add-on acquisition, do customers actually care about it at all? Is this really solving their problem? Is the adjacency a real adjacency or just a pipe dream?
  • being able to discern where to invest your time on the answer changing questions, being super 80/20 (as much as I dislike the phrase itself), having a relatively well-informed early hypothesis that you will then pressure test, looking for what might kill the deal in decreasing order of importance: market growth/size, defensible moat, customer engagement, etc.

That's where we usually have the edge because that's obviously our bread & butter.

Just FYI - this is a very Bain-specific answer.

At least at BCG, Consultants generally do not have an allocated Associate; both As and Cs report to a PL or Principal, are typically given their own modules to run, and are responsible for figuring out the answer for their own module. The only exception would be Consultants on the verge of promotion to PL, who may take on a 'mini-PL' role, and may have As and Cs informally reporting to them.

Oh that's interesting! So, a typical BCG team would be your PL + some Cs / As who all directly report into them? Even those who may be working on the same workstream?

That is a bit different indeed, at Bain you're typically expected as an SAC to start managing new ACs and as a C you often manage 1-2 ACs/SACs depending on your tenure.

Yes - the 'BCG way' of thinking about cases is in terms of modules. On a typical strategy case, you may have 2-4 modules (maybe one for each business unit or one for each focus area etc.), with one A or C assigned against each. More tenured As and Cs tend to get the meatier modules, but either way, it's not BCG's usual model to have multiple people share a module. A PL or Principal oversees all the modules.

In North America, we don't have a Senior Associate level for people who started as Associates - the Senior Associate level only exists for external hires who come in with 2-5 years of experience. It's basically the same as Associate in terms of job responsibility, but has higher pay and a faster promotion cycle to Consultant. If you join as an Associate, you get promoted directly to Consultant after 2-2.5 years in role. 

Even as an Associate promoted to Consultant ("APC"), you will usually not have Associates reporting to you except perhaps informally as a mentoring/apprenticeship thing. 

The first level at which anyone can formally report to you (i.e., you write their reviews, evaluations etc.) is PL.

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