Should I say F*** It and Take the Plunge (UK -> US)?

Ok I'm tipsy and here's the deal. If you read this and you already know me then you know me and there's no going back, but I'm not ashamed.
I basically grew up in the Capitol in the Hunger Games, in a rich part of Sydney followed by lakeside Switzerland (no I'm not telling you which one). I think it's even better than Westchester or some American boarding school because parents there are way more anal and the pressure is way higher and it's toxic, but anyway that's not the point. 
The point is that I'm from neither of those beautiful countries -- I'm instead from and live in this shithole called the UK, London specifically, currently an assistant manager in non-Big 4 audit (albeit ex-Big 4), a job and a profession I stumbled into somehow, I don't even remember at this point. My only goal in life is to make a lot of money, have some fun adventures, be respected in my future field (something in finance, ideally Corp Dev I'd say) and yes, eventually buy one of the many nice multimillion dollar (even in Australia/Switzerland, and even at the time, not just now) houses I grew up in and allow my kids to have the same lifestyle that I had growing up (though I must admit I played a lot of video games, particularly MMOs, but that's ok). 
The sticking point is obviously that I'm poor as f*** right now (just crossed 5 figures in savings after 4 years, and I've dipped under that now that I've bought flights to Japan for this spring, screw this peasant bull) and that looking around it's kinda tough to get into finance in London, the job market is terrible and I genuinely don't see how I could get any sort of front-office M&A role here just going from audit. I know the common route is to go into valuations/corporate finance and then go into M&A after 2 years or so, but even those stepping stone kinda jobs have all dried up in the present environment. And deep down I know that if I moved to Australia I'd sort of be in a similar'ish situation in terms of long-term economic outlook, probably even worse in decent professions sadly though life there is 100x better than this godforsaken rock.
So this leaves me with one option and one option only -- go into six figures of debt for an extortionately expensive US MBA and try to achieve financial stability over there. I have a US passport, so that's not an issue. The issue is that a. I know how s*** life is in the US - my dad has a second family there and even on $350k in nyc their lifestyle day-to-day is laughable compared to mine growing up, just incomparable, and more importantly their relative social status in the city/country is pathetically low as well, yuck, and b. it's such a risky proposition, with the debt, the job insecurity, the stress, the cost of everything (have you seen the cost of skiing, even going to lake tahoe from LA or Mont Tremblant from NYC, and compared it to the cost of going to France from London, it's not even in the same universe)... I think I'll end up being a homeowner later in the US than I would here in the UK/Australia, and I'd only see the benefits of living there begin to really compound in my mid-to-late 40s, at which point I would want to return to Sydney and buy a nice house there with my US savings anyway, if and only if I don't actually find a community/wife/whatever there and settle down there first. One bad move and I'm f***** forever financially, one good move and I'll never move back to Australia and live in my incredible electorate of Wentworth again. Everything seems worse in the US except money, especially compared to Switzerland. And this is all assuming I get into a T15 MBA and get a good job (MBB or so) in the US straight away, by the way. 
I've bought the GMAT guidebook. I've got a big holiday coming up before audit busy season, at which point I'm going to leave this godforsaken profession no matter what. I might just sit the GMAT and hope to get a 730'ish anyway and then make a decision. Anyway, what do you guys think? Is it worth taking the plunge and going on an adventure to the US and all that soul-crushing debt that no-one in my family knows anything about despite all the risks that come with it and my lack of enthusiasm for the lifestyle itself aside from the money?
I don't know guys, I'm so scared ... I don't have any adult figures to talk to about this, my mother's Australian/European and out of touch with the US, my dad's solely American and has much more money (well, on paper) but doesn't know about life outside of his shitty little unsophisticated bubble (yuck). WSO is all I have. I love you all. Please respond somewhat constructively my friends. Thank you and good night! Will Smith might not need profanity to write his posts on WSO, but I do, so f*** him and f*** you too !!! :) To be completely fair to myself, I do often feel like how Eminem must have felt in his factory job in 8 Mile in this dead-end audit job haha.

 
Most Helpful

To get this straight, here's what you're saying:

- You grew up in wealthy areas of Sydney and Switzerland, but now you're living in London, working as an assistant manager in audit.
- Your main goal is to earn a lot of money, have fun adventures, and eventually buy a luxurious house like the ones you grew up in.
- Right now, you're struggling financially and finding it tough to break into finance in London, considering the job market and your background in audit.
- You're thinking about pursuing an MBA in the U.S., despite concerns about high living costs, lower social status compared to your upbringing, and the risk of significant debt.
- You feel isolated and uncertain, lacking guidance in making this big decision about your future.

And going to the US might fix this.

Do it.

Remember, always be kind-hearted.
 

I don't see a way out of this impasse from my current situation aside from this nuclear US MBA option. I'm tipsy now but even if I were sober I would've posted the same thing in a much less gaudy way (the part about the houses and social status is so effing cringe, but I swear guys it's how I really feel though I'd never tell anyone in real life, I know how cringe it comes across).

What do you think about just applying to corporate finance or corporate development jobs in Oklahoma city or Charlotte or something like that from London and just going there directly with no mba? Would that even be possible?

 

As a junior from an American target school how bout you use ur brain first dipshit. Try looking for a job or possibly a paid internship in whatever industry you want. It’ll take up to a year to secure something or could be less if you’re really focused on leaving. THEN head out to the us for the mba so you have something ready to start. And who fucking knows maybe you might just get a into something that pays for the mba. Shit in the U.S. is all about selling yourself anyways so figure out your sob story.

 

The MBA path is not a golden ticket. 

I went to grad school at a T15 school (Dartmouth/Cornell/Duke) and it was a pain in the ass to land on the buy side in a good market with prior experience. Since I graduated the market has only gotten considerably worse with the uncertain macro backdrop and industries like consulting are pushing start dates, which likely means fewer spots for future classes in the short term. 

You’ve got an audit background so you likely wouldn’t struggle technically as an associate if you pursued IB. Landing anything buyside in this market even with prior experience I’d think would be like hitting the lotto and not worth pursuing. 

The other popular path out of an MBA is the corporate route, which pays less than you’d make as an IB analyst. Tech, which has been popular feels like it’s going through a correction as money is no longer free which likely means lower headcount’s and heavier workloads moving forward. There’s a chance you find the fully remote $250K/year job going this route but I personally don’t know anyone who’s ever actually done this. These jobs seem elusive and something I wouldn’t factor into your plans if this is your goal. 

Your read on life in the US is spot on, but given your hesitations and motivations I’d recommend not coming here. Instead, try out Switzerland or Australia as that’s where it seems like you’ll be happier regardless of the outcome (correct me if I’m wrong). 

In a similar headspace as you and roughing it out in the US has only made me more unhappy. I love living in California and would never live anywhere else except Vail, Aspen, etc. in the US but the tradeoff has admittedly gotten worse as I’ve grown older. Most days I wish I had never left Sydney (studied abroad) and tried to make a life for myself in Australia. 

Any advice for someone on the opposite side of this equation? 

Strongly considering moving back to Sydney as I’ve never been happier anywhere else than the 6 months I spent there or trying out Auckland in the next 2-3 years. I know I’d have to take a hit on comp but would hope that being able to afford a nice house in the suburbs wouldn’t be out of reach if I were to make the move. Real estate out there is obscene though so I’m not sure how realistic it would be. Given my grad degree I think I’d qualify as a skilled migrant making it easier but have also considered going the PHD route at the University of Sydney if not. 

 

Hi, Thank you for your thought out comment and I'm very glad that you enjoyed your time in Sydney so much! I'm going back for the first time in 13 years next year and couldn't be more excited. I have a blinding headache but I'm glad I posted this now.

I think you would definitely be a competitive candidate on the buy side over there, I just question how many jobs there are and even how many hedge funds operate there overall. I'd aggressively contact recruiters on linkedin and try to speak to any alumni of your institutions who are in finance in Australia. There are probably 1% of the opportunities there compared to the US, but if you can grab one of them you would be in an incredible position, that would be a dream come true for me. Real estate is expensive but it's not more expensive than california for what you get and where you get it, and most nice suburbs are less than a 30m drive to the CBD as you might remember - our house was 8 minutes away! I think you should absolutely go for it despite the hit in comp, it sounds like you'd be much happier there though I'm obviously biased.

I'm just trying to think of what my trajectory would be in the US now, even if I went to somewhere like Dartmouth. I'm 28 so post-MBA I'd be, best case scenario, an associate at 32. Pay off the debt by 35, buy my first ever apartment by 38/40, finally buy a family home suitable for someone in finance by 45 or so. I mean, what's exciting about that? And if I burn out in 2-3 years like 90% of people I'd just be in some 'random' finance job making $200k anyway, I mean couldn't I have just made that or somewhat close to that considering the cost of living in London (£120k is even achievable in audit) or Sydney anyway without all this stress? And you know all about the negatives over there in terms of day-to-day life, though I'm sure it's better in LA than it is in New York (I didn't mean to sh** all over my family but it's not like they're living in the Paddington of NYC on $350k on a single income in a family of 5).

I don't know where I'm going with this but thank you for posting, I think we'd both be miles happier in Australia but unfortunately I'm not sure if the jobs are actually there for us. DM me or reply to me here with anything else you want to know of course!

 

Wouldn’t PE make more sense to shoot for given its focus on buying businesses?

I could be wrong but due to superannuation it just doesn’t seem to make sense to pursue HF jobs over there as there probably isn’t a ton of demand. There’s a big short seller out in Sydney whose name I’m currently blanking on but am not sure how effective I’d be at doing that. I’m on the distressed/HY credit side of things, which would lend partially to that kind of investing but in my opinion would be a complete 180 career wise. 

PE on the other hand seems pretty geographically agnostic globally in that people will always want to buy and own businesses with there being a few exceptions. Given there are only 26.5M people your opportunity set is probably much more concentrated and you’d be competing with the same 3-5 names on most deals. That doesn’t seem like a bad place to be though assuming you believe that the population will continue to grow and honestly seems like a better trade than PE in the US if you can make partner. 

Any insights on corporate strategy or corporate development jobs over there? 

Due to the smaller population it seems like fewer seats means I’d probably get more hands on exposure and the ability to drive impact on a business that I could leverage if I ever wanted to come back stateside. 

Any insights on how a T15 MBA would be viewed over there? Is it comparable to a group of 8 degree? 

I know they aren’t a common path so there won’t be an established pipeline of jobs like there are here. Just curious as to whether or not a Dartmouth/Cornell/Duke MBA would be a differentiating factor that could aid in help landing a job from a credentials standpoint. 

MBA:

I think your read on the situation is spot on and I think we’re actually in the exact same position in many respects. The idea of going to school for 2 years and taking on a moderate debt load is a risky proposition given the turnover at a lot of these jobs. 

I’d say around half of those that go MBB or similar paths are gone after 2 years for a variety of reasons (laid off, managed out, not promoted and in limbo, leaving for corporate, etc.) and a fair amount likely won’t make similar money again, which makes paying off those loans sting a little bit more. 

Once you manage to pay off the loans you’ll be able to get a solid apartment for around $1M because houses in California in that price range are either in the hood or glorified shanty’s. 

Then you need to make partner to afford a decent house in a good part of town, which will set you back $2M on the low end. If you go corporate making $200-300K the only way you manage to achieve that lifestyle is with a spouse making similar money and no children. 

Completely understand where you’re coming from regarding the family. $350K for a family of 5 is going to be extremely tight no matter where you are in major cities given private schools cost $40K and up per kid. They can probably afford the essentials on something like that and an emergency but they’ll never be wealthy. Having more than 2 kids here now is effectively a way to ensure you’ll perpetually be living in poverty for the average person.

 
  • Your opportunity risk in the US is reduced as you don't need to find a company to sponsor you. Although taking this much debt does carry a risk, you will eventually have some job to pay that back.
  • The job market atm is not great to make any changes within London, so I doubt you could move from audit to M&A. You can try your luck though and see what comes out of it.
  • There would also be another option - find any job in the US prior to an MBA. This will increase the time you'd need to attend business school and then break into banking afterwards, but should at least help financially. Starting in banking above 33 is not impossible, but more difficult. Your peers may be significantly younger than you.
 

I am curious what your concern is with the UK. Obviously understand the economic and demographic issues long term but I've heard London is great if you can afford it. I am in the reverse boat, looking to jump over there to be closer to family and also feel like my life would be far more enriching with the rest of the world practically at your doorstep ie trips to Europe, ME, Africa, Asia for a fraction of the cost versus the annual trip to Florida or the Caribbean. I make very good money in a tier 2 SE city and now that I have reached that plateau I am realizing there is so much more to life. I would take a pay cut to build stronger relationships with family and exposure to other cultures.

 

- The cost of living often outweighs the income, this is accurate for a lot of people in the UK
- The quality of life isn't particularly high, depending on the exact comparison or where you came from originally
- It is extremely unlikely to own a house in London on "a regular salary" (in a safe/good area) - but the same can be said about NYC, Tokyo, Hong Kong, ..

A lot of expats simply don't like living in the UK, especially if your family members are not nearby. And most people don't work in IB/PE/VC.. and wouldn't be afford a normal lifestyle they could have elsewhere.

I know these are flawed/generic lines, but if a professional was born & raised in a developed nation they would be surprised about a few things in London and the UK.

 

US to UK is taking the plunge. UK to US is simply the way.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 

I have moved from a place many people here would call a “third world” country in Africa. I moved here for undergraduate but am older than many students from my grade. Because I have study here I have gotten an analyst job in finance and if I stay where I grow up I would not have been able to find job similar to what I find here. 

 

Greetings from Wentworth, where dogbox 1 bed apartments are A$1m+, a house you're looking at A$3+ for a semi, A$5+ free standing .

If I can recap before moving on. You have a "triple play" residency, Australian citizenship, US Citizenship, UK residency (or passport) and potentially Swiss. That's a very good start but with very awful tax implications from the US. You have some form of Accounting qualification (Chartered preferably) and are stuck in a rut in London. You think that one option is the expensive nuclear MBA option. 

My observations (my career having been in London, Asia & Australia so far) is the following. If you want to live in the US an MBA is probably a good idea. Elsewhere the premium is somewhat less and when hiring, I personally (as would many around me), would rate the Chartered Accountancy qualification (or a CFA) much more relevant than an MBA

In terms of cash, as an MBA Associate, you will be paid reasonably well, but will also burn through a lot on NYC rent, tax and services much as youre burning though cash in London. Getting a coveted MBA slot may also be tough in the current market, assuming no crash or recession hits. 

I would probably suggest the following, have a really good think about what you are good at and where you want to go with the accountancy qualification. Audit sucks, but there are avenues which may work well.

1) Tax, this is the financial equivalent of specializing in "diseases of the rich". Personally I have found non big 4 outfits really good at giving international tax advice to HNWs and this is an area you can travel the world with. An alternative for you would be to consider either law school or asking around your current firm what tax openings there are, or look at a lateral move in the US

2) Insolvency. This is an area which is highly complex, needs chartered accountants, and if you do well, lends itself to PE and private equity, especially vulture funds. Hourly rates are good and the US is very fertile ground for fee fiestas. 

3)  Move to Asia. This is all the rage amongst Aussie expats, specifically Singapore. If you want an MBA, look at INSEAD in Singapore, especially if you picked up enough French or German in Switzerland growing up. You get the MBA in half the time too and get to network with a bunch of Aussies looking to move to Wentworth, the dreaded Northern Beaches (of course, ignore them) or worse, the Gold Coast.

4) Stick it out in London, I know that the Church has closed down some time ago, but its still an big international finance centre. There are a number of Aussie firms/fund managers with offices there, so perhaps network your way into them, and plot a triumphant return to Sydney in a few years time. 

My observation so far, is that the people I've met since my recent return in the area are either

1) Lawyers, massively over represented

2) Business owners, they've been patient and in some cases done very well

3) Fund Managers / PE Types

Under represented are M&A bankers and management consultants, perhaps as they're stuck in their offices and missing their kids growing up, or the rungs are disappearing to the top of the tree. When I was on the buy side, the quality of a lot of the advice I was getting was of increasingly variable quality from these last 2 categories..

PM me if you want to discuss further.   

 

Paddington represent! :) In all seriousness, thank you for your comment, it genuinely warmed my heart to know that there's someone out there who knows what I experienced growing up to some degree. I'll DM you so that we can discuss this further. Thank you so much!

 

This is the third time you have posted this on WSO and you've posted it on r/mba once or twice. 

At some point you have to take accountability for your own life, and quit asking internet strangers to make decisions for you. 

Also consider therapy. 

 

My Brother!  Apologies for not responding to your DM a while back.  We had a back and forth on your previous thread, and you can probably find my replies if you look into my profile.  From a Diplomat/Business South Asian family as well, and grew up in similar circumstances as yourself.  

I've moved into the Federal Space, within consulting recently, and this is one area I see a decent amount of growth potential.  Prior to that, I was in commercial, and to me the heydays of MBB/generalized strat consulting are gone.  If you need an intro into the Federal Space, I'm more than happy to help, though I must say that DC isn't the most happening capital city, and the work tends to be horrifically dull.  Unfortunately, I don't have too much exposure to audit, tax, IB/PE, but from what my cousins tell me, the US market is still significantly more liquid, than the EU or APAC.  

From a cultural standpoint, and I know we bonded over this before, I totally get where you're coming from lol.  America is really fucking working class the more I think about it, and doesn't really possess 'elite culture', like European or Asian countries do.  It's really hard to find like minded people here, because so so few americans get to grow up like we did.  I'm not really sure why Australians are that much more worldly in comparison, but they are, and that travel esque lifestyle is so much easier to live in AUS where people actually plane out regularly, at least among the UMC and above.  If you do move to the US, California, DC, NYC, and maybe Texas (lol, but its pretty international these days) might be the best places to work from.  Just don't move to Canada, it's winning the race for the fastest 1st word to 3rd world transition.  

I remember you telling me you're Italian?  I know europeans tend to have mixed feelings about the UAE, but for many in MENA and South Asia, Dubai is literally turning into a mecca of UHNW families of all originations and stripes.  The sheiks (who are the richest people to have ever lived) seem to really want to turn the UAE into the 'capital of capital' as coined by Kevin O'Leary.  It would be a good place to possibly work, with the inherently present tax advantages (though I would really be careful here with the American passport, and its obviously criminal global tax obligations).  Tons of hyper wealthy Indian, Turkish, and Arab families opening up family offices, which function as mini PE firms in most cases.  They're less anal about credentials (In comparison to Israeli or European investors) so you could possibly get a tax adjacent job, without having to go through a gladiatorial interview process.    

Wishing you the best of luck!  If you do move to the US, def try to find an European friend circle so you don't feel left out.  I have the feeling that the typical suburban anglo american isn't your cup of tea, so you need to filter them out in advance.  

Best of Luck!

 

Nemo omnis quam est eos enim dolorem. Quia est nisi ratione atque. Iste rerum ex fugit voluptate explicabo accusamus. Modi labore repellendus doloribus ipsam non minima laborum.

Optio veniam exercitationem distinctio. Quaerat earum aspernatur sunt vitae. Minus eum consequatur mollitia qui perspiciatis ab rerum. Tempora eligendi iusto quae ipsam sed. Perferendis et rerum maxime recusandae ea. Placeat amet animi omnis aut vel enim eveniet.

Blanditiis odio minima accusamus similique et laudantium. Sed dolores illum ullam reiciendis. Non ut autem aperiam aspernatur nulla. Explicabo pariatur reiciendis pariatur quisquam ab reiciendis quos. Magni est porro voluptas.

 

Nihil et quae ex nostrum et. Dolorem nisi rerum ullam in voluptatibus quos id. Illum alias rerum et cumque. Commodi id in voluptas aspernatur. Consequatur placeat doloremque sint excepturi. Similique ad sed accusantium qui voluptate qui.

Ea vel aut esse est. Quis voluptatem in aspernatur at autem.

Eos id officiis ullam quasi quae et. Est quis consectetur nulla et qui iste minima. Corrupti soluta iure sed et sint. Vel architecto in illo error adipisci explicabo. Voluptas esse in quia porro illum velit.

The only difference between Asset Management and Investment Research is assets. I generally see somebody I know on TV on Bloomberg/CNBC etc. once or twice a week. This sounds cool, until I remind myself that I see somebody I know on ESPN five days a week.

Career Advancement Opportunities

March 2024 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company 02 99.4%
  • Goldman Sachs 19 98.8%
  • Harris Williams & Co. (++) 98.3%
  • Lazard Freres 02 97.7%
  • JPMorgan Chase 04 97.1%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

March 2024 Investment Banking

  • Harris Williams & Co. 18 99.4%
  • JPMorgan Chase 11 98.8%
  • Lazard Freres 05 98.3%
  • Morgan Stanley 07 97.7%
  • William Blair 03 97.1%

Professional Growth Opportunities

March 2024 Investment Banking

  • Lazard Freres 01 99.4%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.8%
  • Goldman Sachs 17 98.3%
  • Moelis & Company 06 97.7%
  • Lincoln International 04 97.1%

Total Avg Compensation

March 2024 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (5) $648
  • Vice President (19) $385
  • Associates (82) $263
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (12) $184
  • Intern/Summer Associate (32) $172
  • 2nd Year Analyst (62) $169
  • 1st Year Analyst (194) $159
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (142) $101
notes
16 IB Interviews Notes

“... there’s no excuse to not take advantage of the resources out there available to you. Best value for your $ are the...”

Leaderboard

success
From 10 rejections to 1 dream investment banking internship

“... I believe it was the single biggest reason why I ended up with an offer...”