Malaysian IBD or Singaporean Non-Big 4 TAS?

Hey all,

I am currently holding 2 offers, one from a local top IB (MY) and another from a mid-tier non-Big 4 accounting firm (SG). I am struggling a little as to which one should I take up. To put it simply:-

Offer 1: AM, IBD

Offer 2: SA, TAS

The packages are rather comparable, so it really boils down to whether I should join the IBD and move to SG/HK (hopefully) in the near future, or join the mid-tier accounting firm that PROMISES an entry to SG after a year or two of working in my country. The perfect scenario would be that I have an IBD offer in SG/HK- which is my eventual goal- but I only managed to get half of it from both my offers. To give just a bit more context on the companies, the MY IBD is definitely one of the best in the country, but less heard of outside ASEAN, and the non-Big 4 firm is offering me a TAS position that does mostly Valuation and FDD.

Comments (22)

Most Helpful
Feb 28, 2022 - 1:36pm
rabbit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's a tough call. 

When you say one of the best banks in the country, I assume you mean like a CIMB/Maybank type firm or something a bit more regional like DBS. I'd say if it is something like DBS, more recognized than the others in SG/HK.

I don't know how much has changed since I left Asia but Malaysia was always interesting from a creds perspective. You had the large local clients like Genting and Maxis but also firms like Axiata that would be doing deals on subs across the region. Again, been a while since I was last in Asia, but deals were usually led by a large global with a Malaysian bank a small part.

On the flip side, you're in the thick of it in SG, as it's a regional hub. And easier to lateral too than from Malaysia. Plus SG is fun as fuck (not as much as HK), though expensive. Albeit your experience would be TAS, not banking.

Singapore marginally wins it for me but not sure which way I'd go tbh. Would be curious to know what you end up taking.

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Feb 28, 2022 - 6:20pm

Assuming you want to go into PE or IBD in the long run, take the IB role. I'm from Malaysia myself and would definitely pick IBD, way more relevant skillset and its always a viable option to get an MBA and lateral somewhere. Caveat here is that in MY you'll get paid peanuts and work just as hard. Also, MY banks usually does mainly ECM and DCM work and will have the large BBs lead M&A out of SG. 

Feb 28, 2022 - 11:46pm
bizzbiz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just curious, any plans to move out of MY to SG/HK?

On a side note, the IB that offered me is quite ASEAN-centric and they do a lot of cross-border deals that is led by the MY office. So on the exposure bit, it is definitely not an obstacle- I will be able to take up as much as I want to.

Feb 28, 2022 - 11:39pm
bizzbiz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the answers, guys. 

If it's a straightforward question, i.e. TAS vs IBD, the answer would obviously be IBD for me but factoring in the locations has made the equation a tad more dizzying. I have partially relied on the contents found on for the decision-making. 

The local IB has footprints in SG too, I have spoken to the MY Director and he commented that they do support regional mobility/ internal movements but no promises can be made- which is perfectly understandable. Imagine if a guy totally sucks at his job and you're still going to absorb him into another office and execute all the nitty-gritty for him, i.e. visa, relocation package etc. 

@rabbit I am slightly inclined towards the local IB, as it is what I am passionate about- like you've mentioned, TAS work is, albeit within close vicinity, not exactly IBD. I read this statement "Easier to lateral cities while working in a very competitive industry (IBD) than break into IBD while you're on the outside. " and thought it made sense, too.

Again, any further inputs are dearly appreciated!

Mar 1, 2022 - 2:41am
purplepenguinzz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's a challenging decision but I would opt for local IBD. It's always easier to switch from IBD to IBD given the nature of the industry is highly competitive. The reason being is that IBD usually only hire people from their competitors or from other offices due to the deals and exposure. Not to claim that the M&A / deals team in mid tier accounting firm is not a good choice, but you have to accept the fact that the deals you will be doing wouldn't be as big as bulge bracket IBD. The skillsets and exposure would also be lesser as compared to IBD or even Big4 Deals team. Personally think that location should not be major decision factor for the time being. Would suggest IBD if you wish to stay in the industry in long run. 

Mar 1, 2022 - 4:46am
scrubmonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've been told to avoid the local bank (Maybank, etc.) IBD like the plague. It's not really IBD.

I'd take Big4 in Singapore and try my hardest to lateral. Probably, after 4 years in big4, you'd be able to lateral to local IBD shop as A2 or something.

Mar 1, 2022 - 8:43am
bizzbiz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Would you mind elaborating on the reason behind avoiding the local banks? I have heard rumours that in smaller CF/ advisory shops, the junior people usually only do nothing more than paperwork. But for larger banks, e.g. CIMB, RHB etc. they have really established workstreams.

Mar 1, 2022 - 6:56am
jadeninib, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Aside from the specific roles(Ibd/tas), you may take into account points that could be deal breakers assuming u want to ultimately go SG/HK. If u were not citizen of SG, will yr employer confirm u a visa given now the finance EP has to be >5.5k. If u r not a mainlander or native in mandarin, how u can get most chances in HK (yes there are non Chinese there, u tell me the deal flows percentage). best of luck.

Mar 1, 2022 - 8:46am
bizzbiz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

That's correct, given that it is my final goal, it certainly is something that is quite pivotal. I have mentioned that to the Director and SM, they sounded positive enough on it- but obviously it all boils down to individual performances. On a side note, for whatever it's worth, I am native in Mandarin and Cantonese.

Mar 1, 2022 - 8:56am
agedleaf, what's your opinion? Comment below:


Malaysian here as well - I'm in one of the MA programs for one of the top banks - working towards IB here. If I were you I'd go for the IB role. It makes more sense to me to gain directly relevant modelling experience and lateral out to Singapore if that's where you want to emigrate to or work towards an MBA (more options afterwards).

General sentiment at the bank amongst senior management is that we're training grounds for IBs with an international presence - people who leave the IB part of the bank head towards Singapore usually.

Mar 1, 2022 - 9:07am
bizzbiz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

That's nice, buddy. Are you getting rotations? Heard from some of my juniors that it's quite tough to "choose" the dept that you want to stay in, I mean, usually it's the M&A team being the most sought after, but there are seriously limited spots out there, too.

Mar 1, 2022 - 10:21am
agedleaf, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Luckily enough, the program manager identified me as someone "suitable" for IB (however that criteria is determined?), so I'm getting the rotations that lead to IB. Though, I'd like to work outside of Malaysia - I am  a recent graduate and I did study overseas, so hopefully I'm able to find an opportunity where I studied.

It's definitely true that people do not get the rotations that they want, and at the start, the program manager will make it clear that "you might not get what you want, and you should accept that". Most people I've spoken to who went through or are in the program have a poor opinion of it.

MAs I know seem to push through all the rotations until they find something that's enjoyable enough and doesn't have a terrible WLB. The few MAs I know who pursued IB ended up in DCM or on the operational side of the IB business. Seems to be a recurring joke between MAs that the program is hell and the managers are unreasonable but comparatively speaking I'd say we're on the upper tail of graduate employment.

Mar 1, 2022 - 8:57am
Uamirah, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Would defo take the MY IBD offer for the fact that it's actual IB, not some TAS/Deal Advisory roles unless geographically you really really want to be in SG (since the packages are similar, although this is surprising as I thought SG would usually pay higher after conversion). Also given that it's one of the top local shops with strong deal flows (I assumed Maybank/CIMB) and the TAS offer isn't even coming from a big4 firm. If it's Maybank/CIMB, you can try to move from their MY office to SG office (have seen people done it before), then possibly recruit for SG BB from there. Anyway best of luck!

Mar 1, 2022 - 9:04am
bizzbiz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Your suggested path is exactly what I aim to realise. It's not Maybank/CIMB but definitely in the Top 5, with presense in SG- that's the key. 

Mar 2, 2022 - 10:57pm
Ironuts, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You're not going to be starting at the accounting firm in SG, right? They've just made a "promise" that in a couple of years you can move across. 

If you're cynical as I am, this is a IBD v TS decision.

Even from an external mobility perspective, wouldn't IBD at the regional bank create more opportunities for you in SG than a non big 4 TS position would?

If you choose not to rely on a "promise" that costs the form nothing to make, then it seems like a no brainer. 

Mar 3, 2022 - 2:06am
bizzbiz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your comment, it's really insightful. I think to add another dimension to the question, the non-Big 4 is still world-renowned, imagine BDO, GT etc. but the IBD is a top MALAYSIAN name- and that adds to the complexity. In other words, if it's an international IBD, e.g. JP IBD in Malaysia, I would take it up in a heartbeat. I hope I clarified myself and propped my question a bit further.

Mar 3, 2022 - 4:36am
Ironuts, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The way I see it, with the IBD job, you got into IBD and that's it. Doesn't matter that it's a regional/local bank because you can easily come up with a story as to why you took it. Eg wanted to remain in Malaysia at the time and do IB, and there aren't so many international banks in KL. (A quick google search tells me there is no GS, no MS etc. so it's a plausible story.)

When I hear TAS at non Big4, it makes me assume you didn't get into IBD and that you also didn't get into Big4. How do you paint a plausible story as to why TAS at a tier 2 accounting firm was always your preferred option? I would struggle.

I'll also share my view that the tier 2 accounting firms don't have as much brand value as you probably think they do. I work in a non western tier 2 financial center and I am convinced that many people at the Big4 are utterly useless here. Consequently, I wouldn't even think about engaging a tier 2 accounting firm to do work for me. If you're going to go for the accounting firm, don't delude yourself into thinking that people will believe you've had the same training, and are of the same competence, as your London or New York "colleagues", because it's not the case. 

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Mar 3, 2022 - 12:35am
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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