Getting from CorpDev in Russia into IB/PE in UK

Hi everyone!

I see that there are lots of experienced people here and I would really appreciate your advice as well as any opinions and even critics.

I live and work in Moscow, Russia. My background summary:

2 years at KPMG, Analyst (Valuation and M&A)

 1 year at the largest Russian OTT VOD, Senior Analyst (Corporate Development, raised $250m in Series D, also was responsible for IPO preparation)

■ Currently at the Russian leading eCommerce-player as Associate (M&A and Corporate development).   

After 6 months at eCommerce-company I realized that I started feeling bored being in industry: I see some growth ceilings for my professional skills, I really want to change the environment and work on more intensive projects. Taking into account my experience (both sell-side and buy-side) I am now considering options to get into Investment Banking or Private Equity.

First of all, I started exploring different options in Moscow (talked to some people from IB and PE), but faced the fact that (a) investment banks in Russia have quite small teams and they rarely hire and (b) there are only a few reputable Private Equity firms with unchanging teams and there are no plans to hire anyone in the nearest future. I also have some concerns about Russian market: taking into account current situation around Russia and Ukraine I am currently looking for opportunity to work abroad (primarily UK) as I expect economic conditions in Russia to get even worse and I have already saw its huge negative impact on career prospects in the past. Additionally, I have always wanted to get an experience of working abroad since I was a child.

I have solid corporate finance skills (financial modeling, presentations etc.) and clear understanding of deal process (both IPO and M&A) and think that my experience would be relevant for IB and PE as I understand from the inside (a) how strategic investors look at deals and what the internal processes look like and (b) what does it mean to walk the company through the full cycle of IPO preparation, how to communicate with management and shareholders in difficult situation. I also have some industry experience, which I personally find really useful.

As I understand, it is almost impossible to just get a job abroad at Private Equity firm (correct me if I am wrong) and most of people pursuing this goal firstly get into Investment Banking, so my questions will be primarily about IB:

(1) Is it possible to get an associate position at IB without previous investment-banking experience?

(2) How realistic is it to get such job abroad? Is it possible for foreigners to compete with local candidates and use their background as a differentiator? When foreigners get a job abroad (as I know there are plenty Russians in BB-banks in London), what is the main reason for banks to hire them instead of local candidates (who almost always have better English)

(3) What can you recommend?

Comments (13)

  • Associate 3 in Consulting
Jan 31, 2022 - 9:59am

I imagine visa would be main issue

Maybe explore doing masters or MBA then using postgrad visa to snag a job and hope they continue sponsoring

Any chance you got some Baltic ties to get EU citizenship?

Yadachi, Sam ya tyt davno natyrilizivoran tak chto takoi pyti ne prishlosi proxoditi

Most Helpful
Feb 1, 2022 - 10:31pm
Monettonsofit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Alright, this is a pretty long post you have here, but I'll try to be concise in my answer. It's all good experience you have out there and you are definitely spot on regarding opportunities in Russia, but I won't dive too deep into that. Regarding your questions:

1) yes, it is possible to move from big4 corp finance into an IB associate role, especially in the current environment, although Valuation would be a bit easier than TAS. However not from Russia.

2) you need to understand that all Russian experience you have will be divided by 3 in a developed market and you will have to start from scratch. Reasons for hiring are the same as anyone else - firms need hardworking people. Research sponsorship requirements to the country you're applying to so that you can show that hiring you won't be an administrative challenge - although I believe that getting a UK work visa became very easy in the past years

3) very unlikely you'll be able to lateral straight to IB in UK, especially on the associate level. My recommendation would be move to big4 (i know it sucks, I've been there too) corp fin, preferably valuation. After 1-2 years - use that time to settle in, improve your English, and find friends in London - you can start looking for a role in IB, then you'll be treated as a local candidate who just happens to need visa sponsorship. Maybe you'll choose VC/growth equity instead, given your startup experience. Also, consider UAE as an option. Удачи!

P.S. Don't hesitate to PM me if you have any concerns or follow up questions!

Feb 2, 2022 - 9:45am
Alr48702, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Have you considered doing an MBA or post experience masters in Finance in London? I think you profile is good enough for a very good/potentially top program, for example at LBS. This will help you to get network in London and potentially find a job here 

Feb 4, 2022 - 3:22pm
wosowos22, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Fellow Russian here who eventually made it into BB in London after a B4 stint in Moscow and changing jobs in-between.

Sad to disappoint you, but from personal experience I know there is absolutely no chance of lateraling directly from Moscow if it is not an internal B4 move: you absolutely need to do MBA / 1-year masters to be on banks'/recruiters' radars.

I can definitely say that 90% of what helps me at work today is what I learned in Moscow, however nobody cares and all your experience will be discounted to zero because you have tons of local / EU / Hong Kong / NY folks while nobody knows about wtf is going on in finance in Moscow, so you need to go through a degree locally to stay here.

On the bright side, nowadays you get a 2-year visa after graduating which is super helpful - for me it was such a pain to go through recruiting with visa issues when 90% of firms reject even to consider you just because of that.

Good luck!

Apr 21, 2022 - 6:52am
Sever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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