Thoughts on Restructuring Groups?

I was wondering if anyone here had experience with or knows anyone that works at a big 4 restructuring group? I know A&M, Alix, and FTI are top for restructuring (consulting), but how are the big4 viewed in regards to restructuring? is the work any different? ops? etc.

Referring specifically to the US

 

Sure, I'll bite.

So, Big 4 rarely touch Investment Banking's version of restructuring (e.g. Chap 11 and debt restructuring). Big 4 touches on the Company restructuring. Specifically, operational restructuring.

Basically, Big 4 fall into these buckets;

Operational restructuring aka FTE management (e.g. firing/hiring), process efficiencies (e.g. controls/checks to improve ability to pay, debt coverage, etc.) Business turnarounds: Strategy (but this is really MBB type work. Big 4 hardly gets a seat at the table here) Bankruptcy assistance: Essentially project management Supply Risk Management: Vendor project management

If you're looking for financial restructuring and securities work, Big 4 is not best execution.

 
Best Response

RX consultant here (at one of the market leaders, non-Big 4). Completely disagree with the above. My take on the industry is following: - MBB - they do not have a big presence in actual financial restructuring or real CRO work. McK RTS or BCG Turn rather deliver big transformation programmes and not any meaningful debtor or creditor advisory to distressed companies. - Big 4 rather focuses on financial restructuring. The typical work delivered here would be:

1) Independent business reviews (restructuring due diligence) and debt/cap structure negotiations and advisory. This would be relatively similar to what banks do however Big 4 work typically for mid-market firms and often for creditors. 2) Support in chapter 11 and insolvency proceduresa and Cash Flow/liquidity monitoring 4) Working Cap Advisory - some of the Big 4 in certain markets have dedicated teams to WC improvement within Restructuring, which offers a good mix between financial and ops work. 5) Big 4 also deliver Ops Restructuring work, often to mid-caps however this share of work is far smaller. Bigger operational transformation programmes (so rather performance improvement than advising distressed companies) are rather done by the consulting/advisory arms not Transactions (where restructuring sits). And they actually DO get a a table at large transformations, especially when it comes down to long-term execution programmes.

And there is A&M, Alix and FTI who deliver both financial and ops work and I would consider them market leaders in RX consulting.

 

Not that I am aware of. I do believe however that you can get a very good experience at the Big 4 restructuring groups and you will definitely build out strong financial/modelling skills. My key advice here would be to avoid getting stuck only in one group (e.g. Chapter 11/Administration, Creditor Advisory or WC) and try to move around as much as you can. In certain big markets Big 4 has a habit of placing graduates into fixed and very specialised teams. Working for mid-caps could provide you with a very valuable experience too - it is often more hands-on and you work closer with managemnt, which is exactly what is needed in restructuring.

EDIT: Look into Duff & Phelps as well. They are a solid firm delivering valuations and sometimes restructuring work.

 

They all do, however AM/Alix/FTI rather favour experienced hires and you might find more luck with the Big 4. The former often serve as an exit op for people from the Big 4, MBB or banks who want to deliver more hands-on work. That said - this is a relatively small industry and if you are really interested in RX I would cast a wide net and apply everywhere - Big 4, AM/Alix/FTI, Duff & Phelps, RX groups in banks and try small boutiques (e.g. spin-offs from Houlihan Lokey, PJT or Lazard) if you can find any. Even 2nd tier accounting firms like Grant Thornton, Baker Tilly or BDO sometimes have RX teams (they often call them Debt & Capital Advisory). Once you are in, it would be easier for you to move around. It's a numbers game when it comes down to recruitment! Good luck!

 

I think this is a very good background to move to restructuring as you have solid financial knowledge and due diligence is an inherent part of restructuring work. What you will have to pick up on the job though is the operational element so basically how the supply chain works, how to effectively take out procurement cost, how to optimise sales and pricing etc. It would be good if you did some reading prior to any interviews to understand the link between sales/operations and the financials and what the key leverage points to improve the business are. RX consulting combines both financial and operational stuff and since there aren't many people on the junior level who combine those you aren't expected to know everything but you will need to learn quickly on the job. From my perspective, since in RX people come from so many different places I haven't seen anyone "excited" or overly impressed with MBB or top IBD background, no one really cares tbh. What really matters is the ability to execute fast (i.e. no endless startegy PPTs, high-level and detail level diagnostics or designs but real cash/EBITDA impact) and be well-versed in many facets of a business turnaround (financial, strategic/operational, legal). The critical element for you would be to a) to proove that you understand many aspects of the business (as mentioned above) and you are able to learn quick b) to actually find any open positions in the locations where you want to work - RX firms are not the same size as MBB/big 4 or banks and there are far fewer spots open.

 

I work at one of the big 4. We have a specific turnaround advisory team (that I sit in) that does operational restructuring. Note that this is very different work from fornal insolvency engagements such as bankruptcy and IAs. Projects i have worked on include a profit improvement program in FMCG, an executive workshop for a Mining giant, and a half-billion dollar cost out program for Government. We compete directly against McKinsey and BCG in this space, along with other boutique firms. A number of partners/directors at my firm are ex-McKinsey and there are great opportunities to work closely with them and tap into their knowledge. Teams run pretty lean so for Analysts you get quite a bit of responsibility early which aids development.

Happy to elaborate further if theres any interest. Cheers.

 

Sure. The first stage to any engagement is requesting transactional sales data. This data comes in varying degrees of quality depending on how good Finance is. Once data is received we can start slicing and dicing in Tableau. This involves building out visualisations to confirm early hypotheses and interactivity to be able to take execs on the journey and deep dive into specific problem areas. Insights may be that the SKU tail is extremely long and needs to be rationalised, there are low margin products that should be discontinied, or there are certain products that sit under the efficiency curve re: promotions and discounts. More strategic decisions may be to sell goods at an everyday low price to capture and maintain client base (as opposed to cyclical aggressive discounting). There are other options to consolidate warehouses and optimise national footprint - cant elaborate too much on this since it was part of another workstream.

Once a first pass at analysis is done, it is then about liasing with senior leadership to test the logic and refine benefit calculations. There are always external factors that affect realisation of benefits such as supermarket requirements re: product range that may impact decisions to rationalise low performing products.

Very brief i know but hope it gave you some flavour of the job. Happy to elaborate further if you want.

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