Q&A: Restructuring Consulting

I've done various corp fin jobs over ~14 years. I've been in the restructuring space for a few years now as a senior consultant (not MD) for a top firm. WSO is great, but I find that it has shit for info on RX consulting. A lot of folks speculating on what it is or infer what you'll be doing because the firm does a lot of other weird advisory shit (the firm I work for also does a lot of random ass advisory work). Hoping I can add some content here to folks that are actually considering this path as there is a lot of hiring going on right now. So ask away...

 

Thanks for the questions. They are all good. I'll come back and update more thoroughly but for now:

Generally, travel does not decrease with seniority. You may have more flexibility on when you arrive and leave and if you are running a case you may opt to have your team not travel from time to time....but from my experience it is firm culture and most firms want you on the road. UCC / credit advisory seems to travel much less frequent and some folks like that.

Re UCC work, I am not as familiar so I'll keep my comment brief. You'll have the chance to review a lot of analysis and interact with a lot of constituents which may be insightful, but to me, it seems a bit niche and I personally wouldn't want to get pigeon holed in any group as I become more senior. The experience is valuable but if your career plan is broader, I'd say try it out and then make a move after a year or two and try to do some debtor side work.

Technical skills: 13 week cash flows and a business plan (3 statement model). thats the foundation. learn about credit agreements and capital structures.

Soft skills: be personable it is very much a relationship business. ask a ton of questions when you're new. always strive to do more and help the team. dont make plans Monday - Thursday... haha

 

Copied from my response in a different thread:

There is certainly some overlap and they work very closely together on most projects I've been involved with. Very generally speaking.

Consulting - You're traveling every week onsite at the client building out their operational plan. Cash flow, business plan, turnaround / performance improvement plan. You're helping management evaluate bids and financial terms and giving them the day to day guidance of going through a distressed time. You're helping to craft a turnaround business plan that can go to market. If it goes to BK, you're providing the day to day coordination to get the company and all he advisors aligned so that nothing slips. A CPA is a nice to have but not have to have especially if you are trying to pitch some interim management work with everything you are doing. This seems like a misconception on WSO that this is an accounting job vs a management consulting job.

Banking - You're FINRA licensed. You're trying to help them find a capital structure solution. Finding new financing, investors, running a process. Consultants can help facilitate but this is really marketing of securities and is banker type work. Probably means you're up until 4am building slides haha!

Hope that is helpful.

 
Most Helpful

I spent some time in both IB and RX consulting. You are completely correct that it is more of a career destination than other finance careers. If you look through the backgrounds of some of the people that land in the space from the top firms (Alix, A&M, etc.) to smaller boutiques you will see CPA backgrounds but also a number of ex-IB and PE associates.

I think the appeal of the job is more of a personality type. I went in thinking that it would be a pit stop into a distressed investing role and completely fell in love with the work. Given that you generally come in as interim management during some form of crisis, the debtor side is a very different skill set than you’re traditional finance roles. Someone who stays in it long enough will see a number of different roles that they are expected to step into and fix / figure out in a short amount of time. Since the main purpose of the job is crisis management, cash is generally king and you are tasked with stoping the bleeding as soon as possible. After speaking with many people that stay in the turnaround space, it becomes extremely difficult to work somewhere else because the pace is so much slower.

There are ample exit opportunities and I have seen old colleagues go many different routes. I would definitely say that RX IB is the most popular route from people that start straight out of undergrad. I have seen numerous people exit to PE, mostly on the distressed side. With that said, it is definitely easier for them to get an operating role, but deal team is not out the question. Have also seen people get hired by their client in a management role, go into strategy consulting, or go the startup route. To your earlier point, there is also a fairly decent amount that stay in the their current role or switch firms.

 

I think it is tough to say because some small boutiques do a lot of assessments (I.e., creditor wants a report on what is going on within the business). These are still considered “debtor” side work because the creditor provides a few contacts and the scope of the engagement letter, but ultimately the debtor signs the contract. My experience is that most businesses box these players out and only feed them what they need to get a report done.

On the other hand, there are some small boutiques that solely do interim management work and might do an assessment beforehand, but that is not their bread and butter. These are interesting because they can be extremely flexible with how they structure the engagement and associated fees. These firms usually also do some form of performance improvement and might get engaged prior to an issue arising.

Overall, I think anything with a capital structure under $100mm is tough bring through a RX. This is mainly because the cost of a RX whether in court or out of court is so high and it is tough without a lot of additional capital. The other factor at play is that the banks that are lending money to these size businesses do not want to own the business and do not have the resources to operate it on their own. That is why a large portion of cases in this range go to chapter 7 and the advisors work on a lot of shut down / wind down.

 
Bullied_Bear:
That is why a large portion of cases in this range go to chapter 7 and the advisors work on a lot of shut down / wind down.

I mostly agree but there are consulting groups in the MM space that simply specialize in liquidating savable companies because they can extend their stay and pump up billings. (and they are lazy and lack courage). I witnessed one group close 3 companies in a row while we bought the assets and restarted one of them after they had left. The big banks who hire them care about nothing but return of capital, the owners get railroaded into liquidation, jobs get wiped out, community suffers and the consultants just move on to the next one.

I'd say at least half of these could be saved with talent and commitment but liquidation is the easy path. 90% of all failed businesses could have been saved with earlier intervention - which is a BoD failure. I'm watching one right now, $200M revenues, 3rd generation, universal brand name, obvious fixes everywhere and being driven right off a cliff by delusional owners. In Europe owners are not allowed to destroy their own business (for obvious societal reasons) but in the US no one can stop them.

Whoops, got on my soapbox a bit there.

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