2nd tier consulting company in a "Hub" city vs 1st tier (MBB) in a satellite (regional) city // (in Asia)

Hello everyone,

I'm considering to decide on multiple options and here to ask for any useful advice.
Though I'm talking about the Asian market here, I would appreciate if you can share any personal experience/thoughts as I don't have many consultants around me to ask for advice.

Option 1. 2nd Tier Consulting Company (think Strategy &, AT Kearny, Accenture, Oliver Wyman) in a major city (Singapore / Hong Kong)
(I don't have to worry about housing since my boyfriend is starting his work in the same city I got the offer from and he is going to be sponsored for his housing - likely that we'll be staying together)
- Pros: global exposure (definitely!), low tax & higher salary & nothing to worry about housing, new challenges!
- Cons: prestige, prestige, prestige...

Option 2. 1st Tier (MBB) in a regional city (Tokyo, Seoul, KL, Mumbai, etc)
- Pros: prestige, parents living in the same city, possibly better exit opps / better b-school placement
- Cons: very localized market, very conservative working culture with long, long working hours

Career goal: PE (I've done internships in both PE and i-banking beforehand)
If getting into PE right from consulting is difficult, I'm willing to go on an MBA, work some years in banking and then transfer to a private equity firm.

Honestly, I really love the first option. Though it's a second-tier company I think it'll bring me more diverse experiences and global exposure than the first-tier company in a regional city as the market is highly localized (it's almost unlikely for me to have global exposure if I choose option 2). I really want a refreshing start after the graduation and want to challenge myself by living in a new city. I also like that my boyfriend is going to be together with me, which will help me much better to adjust to the new environment, make our relationship more solid, and save housing fee (LOL).

Yet, the fact that this "prestige" will hamper me from getting into PE industry makes my decision so hard.
I also heard that if you're from a 2nd-tier consulting firm, you're one of the best possible options after the b-school would be getting into MBB, not into a new industry (IB summer associate or PE).

I would deeply appreciate if you can comment anything on my situation :)


Consulting Case Interview Course

  • 2,037 questions across 209 consulting firms. Crowdsourced from over 600,000 members.
  • 11 Detailed Exclusive Cases developed by a McKinsey Associate and 10+ hours of video.
  • Trusted by over 1,000 aspiring consultants just like you.

Comments (6)

Best Response
Aug 19, 2017 - 8:10am

I will comment more on the consulting part and less on the PE part.

First of all, im not clear on your differentiation between "hub" and "regional" cities. In some companies, Mumbai, Tokyo and Seoul would be considered major/large offices. What is your specific definition of hub vs regional?

It's probably more important to understand the staffing model of the firms of your choice. Is it a global staffing model, or regional? And by regional, is Asia considered one unit or are SEA, Greater China/North asia, ANZ separated? Whether the work is "localized" or not really depends on the specific offices under consideration and it's hard to make that call from the broad list you provided.

From the 2 firms I worked for, it's common for people within India/China/Korea/Japan for consultants to only work within the country because of 2 reasons - there's enough business going around and also partly due to language requirements. So really, it depends on how your firms define the "pool" of consultants to meet the project demand.

On the PE part, what I will say is that be very careful about which firm you choose because you may not get the necessary relevant experience you want/need. Working a year in Bain's private equity group is very different from doing a year of ops / cost cutting.

Aug 19, 2017 - 8:30am

Hello StreetShark thanks for the comment!

Yes, it's mainly due to the staffing model itself and the language requirement.
I heard that in India/China/Korea/Japan, since 1. specific language (Chinese/Korean/Japanese for sure) is required, 2. enough business is going on within the market, and 3. the staffing model prioritizes consultants to stay within the market, consultants do not have chances to explore the outer world.

On the other hand for my option 1 company, the staffing is made within the whole Asia so I would have chances to explore Hong Kong / Singapore / some other Asian cities / Austrailia, and though in rare occasions London or New York as well (I heard it directly from the consultants and associates working there). I think the global staffing is possible as the Hong Kong and Singapore are the biggest and also considered as "head" offices internally within the Asian market. I am also curious if I will have chances to move up to other companies (MBB or BB ibd as well) while working there.

I am also aware that it would be great if I can have enough PE experience at consulting firms if I really want to break into the industry. I think there is enough PE DD pipeline in both options I have.

Thank you again for your comment :)

Aug 19, 2017 - 8:53am

MBB is the only option to get have a realistic shot at PE. I'd take it. You can always transfer to a different city after 1.5-2 years. Also you can likely easily transfer from MBB to ATK/OW/S& in a 'major city' down the road, but the other way around will be much harder.

I don't get your classification in regional and major though, but that might be my lack of understanding of Asia.

Aug 22, 2017 - 12:59am

Second what Carmbar said - i would also advise taking MBB first, as the jump to ATK/OW/S& is much easier than the other way around.

Also, I would advise you to clarify with the consultants in your choice of companies on the DD pipeline. What % of projects (by number) are PE projects? How many consultants do they know have done a decent number of DDs?

My assumption is that while PE is growing in Asia, its still not as large as in North America / Europe. So while there is definitely deals, it won't be the biggest practice, unless its Bain where friends have claimed it is one of their top practices. Also, would be good to clarify if the PE pipeline are "global" or "regional" cases vs local cases, because my sense is that its more likely that travel cases wont be PE focused.

Could very well be that by getting your 'global' experience, you dont get any PE experience.

Just another point i would like to share: i've learnt that at the end of the day, staffing is still a game of demand/supply + relationships + luck. You could very well be in a 'hub' city and be staffed on local projects just because that's how your roll-off dates aligned with the pipeline OR turns out the partner/manager you like working with tends to sell more cases locally. So its no guarantee that by joining a 'hub' office you'll get that travel exposure. Of course the chances are much higher, but its something for you to weigh amongst other factors like prestige, relevant pipeline etc.

Aug 22, 2017 - 2:18am

In addition to the hub comment, most PE DD work is done from your home office. So if you're set on exiting to PE, which is more doable with DD experience usually, you'll be staffed locally anyway significant parts of the time.

Next to that, PE work at MBB (with Bain head and shoulders above everyone else) is looked upon differently than e.g. PE DD for S&. So even if they actually have a strong pipeline it's still not the same experience you're getting

Aug 24, 2021 - 4:32am

Blanditiis sint laborum aut eum nesciunt est quisquam. Excepturi voluptates molestias vel quaerat voluptatum. Qui fuga assumenda architecto quos. In voluptas omnis doloribus minus animi quia nobis eius.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

November 2021 Consulting

  • Principal (22) $269
  • Director/MD (43) $260
  • Vice President (35) $246
  • Engagement Manager (79) $217
  • Manager (133) $165
  • 2nd Year Associate (128) $137
  • 3rd+ Year Associate (96) $129
  • Senior Consultant (284) $128
  • Consultant (503) $114
  • 1st Year Associate (453) $113
  • NA (11) $111
  • Engineer (4) $110
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (117) $107
  • 2nd Year Analyst (260) $97
  • Associate Consultant (143) $95
  • 1st Year Analyst (884) $85
  • Intern/Summer Associate (143) $82
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (398) $67