Big 4 or Boutique Investment Bank

As I am graduating soon, I will like to ask if I will like to work in a bulge bracket but I think that I am not qualified yet. Hence, I am choosing either to enter big 4 (deal advisory/ consulting) or boutique investment bank. From these few options, which one is more reasonable and why? FYI, I am planning to enter either one as a stepping stone.

Comments (23)

2y
mthw19, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would consider EB if it's possible, but from the comments, it seems to be more practical to go after boutique than big 4. I am considering working in Hong Kong or China, so I would like besides Lazard, Evercore, Greenhill etc., are there local EB that I am misssing out. Thank you very much.

2y
mthw19, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for providing me a benchmark to refer. I will use those being provided as a guideline to evaluate whether the boutique is the right one

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
6mo

Was wondering if you had any updated insight? Currently at a very small regional IB shop (deal size typically less than $25M in EV and I am the only analyst) but have the opportunity to jump to strategy consulting in NYC. Long term I think my goal would be to end up at a larger investment bank in NYC.

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2y
ItsFreeRealEstate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As someone who went from big 4 TAS to boutique IB, if your eventual goal is BB I would highly recommend going to a boutique. In general, actual deal experience will trounce what you learned in TAS. I found that a sizable amount of my coworkers at big 4 TAS failed to get a banking offer right out of undergrad (if that was their original plan), so the competition to lateral to IB was very high as many others were in the same boat. In busy season, the TAS hours can rival banking depending on how active your group is, but for ~1/3 the all-in compensation. The few who I knew were successful at lateraling to IB usually went to boutique or MM. I'm sure BB is possible, but it is very difficult when your competition will be boutique and MM analysts who already have deal experience.

That being said, ymmv greatly based on the bank. If you have a boutique offer in hand or have some names in mind, I would suggest reaching out to past analysts from the firm to not only get an idea of the firm culture, but also to gain candid insight of whether or not the experience was valuable to their career trajectory.

The one advantage that big 4 TAS has is the huge alumni base that you can leverage. It was one of the easiest ways I found common ground in networking when I was trying to lateral, but if I had to do it over again I would have tried to more aggressively network for a boutique offer right out of school than take the big 4 offer I had in hand.

2y
mthw19, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for your advice. Right now, because Hong Kong market is not that performing well, I think I will listen to your advice, to perform a more aggressively network for a boutique offer right out of school. This would take lots of courage and effort but I am ready to do so. Thank you very much for your reply!

2y
Synergy_or_Syzygy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you're in HKG / Asia I don't think the boutique banks do very much if at all, it's a totally different landscape compared to the USA/Europe. Meanwhile the Big 4 network and platform will be much bigger. I would heavily investigate any boutique you may join before accepting an offer as the Big 4 will be a good overall training ground.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • 1
2y
Synergy_or_Syzygy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Totally different story if they are truly focused on expanding in APAC, although to be fair they are very small in their existing footprint. On balance I would take the opportunity though with EB over Big 4 in Asia despite the headcount, because you can be more entreprenurial.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • 1
2y
eloquence, what's your opinion? Comment below:

EB > regional boutique IB >/= consulting > big 4 TAS > tiny boutique (BB for IB then go with regional IB, but speaking outside of IB big 4 consulting has equal or better exit ops compared to a small boutique

Edit: Just saw you're in Hong Kong. My advice is from US experience only

Array

  • 1
2y
dollachimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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