Switching from IB to Consulting

Hi All -

Wanted to hear thoughts on a career switch to consulting from IB. I am currently a 2nd year analyst at a top M&A group at a non-BB firm. I am beginning the buyside recruiting process but to be quite frank, I do not have the desire to go into PE. I would still like to switch to a career that is more fulfilling and think consulting might give that while also providing better WLB and opportunities for travel. Ultimate goal is corporate strategy, so I think consulting will set me up better for this.

How would I go about recruiting for such roles? All the headhunters that I have talked to do not really focus on consulting. Would the best bet be to network with people via cold e-mails? If so what level and up should I target, are EMs general receptive to cold e-mails?

Also, I might be in a good IB group but I came from a non/semi-target and I know that consulting tends to care a bit more about school prestige. Would I still have a shot or should I focus on going to the traditional buyside roles?

Any input would be huge!

Comments (23)

hghgg, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Better corp strat opportunities post consulting than post banking

FinnesseGod, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey - let me see if I can provide my two cents on this. 

First off, with regard to how to reach out, I've found cold emails and cold LinkedIn messages to be quite effective. Of course, as with IB, it's a bit of a numbers game, but sending a ~2-3 sentence email with your resume attached can help you connect with some consultants. As for who to reach out to, I've seen Consultants, Senior Consultants and Engagement Managers often in charge of the hiring or recruitment process. Within consulting, there are internal community initiatives that are 'encouraged' at all of the consulting firms. Often, you can reach out to your local office (or top three offices) to learn about the hiring timeline. You should keep in mind that if you've worked in IB, the sectors you've focused on and the function of work (i.e. PE due diligence or corporate performance improvement) may be more or less relevant in some positions. 

Second, Consulting firms have a bit of a unique trajectory. Basically, anyone ~0-1.5 years is considered a recent graduate or new graduate for consulting shops. This position often called Consulting Analyst/Analyst and at Bain, Associate Consultant. Experienced Hires are classified as anyone who has ~1.5 - 3 years of experience, this is often due to the fact that analysts have an average tenure of 2 years before they're promoted or recruit outside of the firm. Given your experience, you could target the Experienced Hire pipeline and come in as either an experienced Analyst at some shops, or one level above Analyst. 

Keep in mind, the specific titles and years of experience differ from firm to firm. McKinsey for instance defines recent graduate from 0-3 years of experience and anyone with ~1.5+ years comes in as an experienced analyst. Whereas at another shop (like Oliver Wyman), they may be Consultant Level 2 or Senior Consultant. 

I would strongly advise reaching out to the firms in your area for lateral hiring availability since this is done heavily aligned to client work, and staffing of the offices, and sometimes, it's not done through a  formal job posting, so it can be opaque. For instance, Deloitte Chicago might need a Data Analyst in the Retail Space, so the consultants in that team speak to their friends first and see if anyone already has experience or exposure to the sector and work. 

As for the consulting landscape, how to land coffee chats and resources, I can share all of that as well. 

FinnesseGod, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've said this time and time again, but I honestly believe that Consulting and IB are near-parallels in the technical work and therefore, offer opportunities to jump between one field to another. 

There was a post just a week or two ago about it and I posted my dense reply. 

Here's the link to the post: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forum/consulting/equity-research-buyside-vs-consulting#comment-2910318


  • Consultant in Consulting

My answer is going to be MBB focused because that's what I know best, but it probably still applies to some extent to other firms.

First off, MBB doesn't use headhunters in North America for the most part; I would focus on networking with people who are currently on the first or second rung at your target firm. There are plenty of people in MBB who are ex-bankers, so that can serve as a natural starting point (in addition to things like common schools, interests, backgrounds etc.).

You can also try connecting Engagement Manager/Project Leader equivalents, but they are less likely to want to connect with you, and also less likely to refer you. That said, their referrals can have more weight, so it's a bit of a tradeoff.

MBB firms in particular have very generous referral bonuses and more broadly encourage employees to refer good candidates, so if you network well and come across well in coffee chats, there's a good chance someone will want to refer you. This dramatically increases your chances of landing an interview, especially given that you have IB experience (which is usually considered very relevant and transferable in consulting). 

Once you've landed an interview, you basically live or die by your performance on the case portion (assuming nothing goes egregiously wrong in the fit portion). Do as much case prep as you can, preferably with people who know what they are doing. Your resume and prior networking etc. is largely irrelevant at this point.

That's pretty much it in a nutshell - network well, get a referral, crush the case interview, and get hired.

Winnfield, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I switched from BB IB to MBB.

Are you sure you want to do corporate strategy?  It sounds like a nice title but day to day, i's pretty lame.  When I was in consulting, it was clear to me that was NOT the exit I was after. 

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.
  • 2
Most Helpful
Winnfield, what's your opinion? Comment below:

MBB is a lot more intense and fast-paced, but ultimately just as silly (if not more): the mad frenzy is usually to produce slides (ie. have something to talk about with the client).

There's a constant pressure to prove that you're worth the exorbitant rates that clients pay for.  While revenue per professional is probably similar to BB IB, in IB there's an objectivity to it: a transaction was completed and you paid your advisor a pre-agreed ad valorem for the outcome, literally.  In consulting, it's about client satisfaction.  Short of actually delivering value, you can at least reassure your client that you're constantly delivering some kind of analysis/insight/take-away/kick the can down the road. 

Banking - your time, as a grunt, isn't considered valuable.  As a result, it gets stretched to physical limits (sheer integral of hours) but each particular hour isn't optimized for output or productiveness.  The only value consideration is whether all the paper and process you push is conducive to winning/completing a deal. 

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.
  • 7
  • Analyst 3+ in PE - Other

Curious how is career like for moving from IBD to corporate strategy directly.

Lateraled from PE to a large bank with decent franchise across ibd/commercial banking/retail/etc. and is interviewing with the strategy team 

Could lateraling as associate at a large b/s bank be better than going to mbb if my ultimate goal is doing financial services related strategy work.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov

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