Q&A: Big 4 to MM IB

Been lurking on this site for 5+ years (though not with this account), which has provided invaluable advice (and amusement) so gonna try and give back!

Background:

  • London based, went to a semi-target university in the UK
  • Joined the Deal advisory programme and ended up in lead advisory 
  • Transactions worked on has ranged from GBP 50m to c.GBP1bn
  • I started recruiting for IBs a few months ago and accepted an offer recently to join a reputable global MM IB. I had the opportunity to join a BB and was in a few other processes but decided to go with MM as I enjoy MM transactions, the pay is the same as BB and really like the team. 

Happy to answer questions around the big 4, how to deal with internal transfer/secondments, interview processes from Big 4 in London and anything else relevant.

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Comments (34)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - CB
Apr 13, 2021 - 5:24pm

Hey thanks a lot for doing this. I have a few questions.

  1. Could you brief on how you ended up lateraling? Did you just apply online or network? How did it work out? I'm from a BB from a continental European office trying to lateral to London.
  1. Does your group do a lot of modeling? Or some to none at all? How much of a focus was this during your latérales with BBs and MMs
  1. The usual ones about comps. What level did you join at the mm? What is the signing bonus offered?

Thanks again :)

Apr 13, 2021 - 6:43pm

1. For the role I took it was via a headhunter who reached out to me directly, this particular recruiter only did EB/MM recruiting. However in general in the UK I'd say a lot of the recruiting is done via headhunters and top recruitment firms (from my personal experience and observation of friends at BBs). Many banks do post lateral jobs on linkedin and I did apply to a BB for a lateral via linkedin and got through for several rounds of interviews, defintely give linkedin a go, look on the jobs postings but also add/ follow in-house recruiters for the EBs as quite often they just post job openings as soon as they open via their feed. There are quite a few threads on WSO with the top recruiters in London that you should reach out to: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/london-european-headhunters

2. My group does a bit of modelling but not that much, I passed every single modelling test because a 1-2 hour test is not that hard if you know the basics behind an LBO/DCF etc. and any gaps can be learnt through a few courses. All processes I took part in had a modelling test and 1 interview. When comparing the 4 MM IBs and 2 BBs that I interviewed with, I'd say that the BBs were definitely more technical (one BB in particular during a 3rd round interview included two 30-minute technical interviews).

3. I had c2.5 years experience so am joining at A3 level. Salary at the MM is actually slightly higher than the BB comp and bonus is 70-100%. No signing bonus.

Apr 14, 2021 - 5:41am

Thanks for the Q&A!

1. In addition to deal size, what were the factors for picking the MM over the BB? For example, what were your considerations on exposure to other products at BB vs. MM? Was culture also a consideration?

2. Given you mentioned you've enjoyed MM transactions, what were your motivations in moving to an MM IB given your Big4 also covers MM?

3. How many years exp did you have at the Big4 firm in total?

Apr 14, 2021 - 6:54am

1. I generally liked the team better in terms of how well I got on with the people during the interview stage at the MM.

 A key consideration was they level of client interaction for the MM IB role - from my personal experience I'd say that as a junior in MM at Big 4 you get a lot of client interaction and responsibility early on and deal teams are very lean - I  know this isn't the case all the time and is dependant on a few factors e.g. complexity of deal. When comparing my experience against friends at BBs and MM IB, I've been left with the impression that you get less client interaction as an Analyst/Associate at a BB vs MM IB. When catching up with former colleagues that left Big 4 for BB/MM IB, I've always been told that a key difference between BB IB and Big 4 is the level of client exposure i.e. less likely to be in a room with with a client and you never get to speak etc. Friends in MM IB never complain about the level of client exposure/interaction.

2. The MM IB I'm joining has a much larger median deal size than the Big 4. Whilst at the Big 4 you can work on larger deals, the median is still quite small (less than 100m GBP). Working on very small deals can be incredibly frustrating and painful because the client may not have a strong finance function with proper systems or accounts nor a competent CFO/ CD team that know how to run a process, which results in far more hand holding and quite often going above and beyond the scope of an M&A advisor.

Money was also a motivation, whilst the Big 4 pay c.33% less on the base salary compared to IB for Analyst/Associate, which is fair enough because we work fewer hours on average, the bonus is the real killer as it's only 10-30% at the Big 4 for juniors. 

3. c. 2.5 years in lead advisory

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Apr 14, 2021 - 7:13am

1.  I joined straight via applying for the graduate programme. The Big 4 in the UK generally shy away from internships and having worked with HR to help with recruitment in the past, I can say that most of the full time offers are made to people people that applied with no prior internships at the company. If I look at my intake accross all of Deals Advisory (TS,Vals, Res. and M&A), virtually no one came in via the internship route.

2. It depends on which team you join and your career aspirations. If you joined audit, you'll do anywhere from 2.5-3.5 years before you can second out to any other team. If IB is what you want to do, you're best off going to M&A (or a team that deals with transactions e.g. TS), spending 1 year there and then jumping to IB as an analyst 2. If you've started in lead advisory from day 1, after 3 years people join MM IB as an analyst 3/ Aso 1 or BB IB as an analyst 2/3. Some people will stay 4 years, and go directly to LMM/ MM PE, I've seen this move quite a lot.

3. Only just joined so can't fully comment but I'd say expectation of hours are longer, at my Big 4 there was no notion of a staffer and I'll be expected to work on more deals at any given time. 

Apr 14, 2021 - 7:40am

Hey, I'm based in london too

I'm currently 7 months into my TS/FDD Grad scheme at a Big4, but my plan is to go into VC (most likely through banking?)

Do you think there's merit in trying to leave after 1 year at Big4 to go into Banking to then make the jump, or do you think the only sensible option is to finish the ACA before making any moves

I've already had a resit, so won't have first time passes by the time I qualify aswell

Also, do you know of anyone who's made the jump straight from TS/M&A > VC?

Thanks in advance

Apr 14, 2021 - 8:10am

I don't know much about how to get into VC/ anyone actually in VC but what I'd say is:

  • The ACA is quite a handy qualification to have, some banks/ funds don't care about it whatsoever but overall it's quite well resepected in the UK especially in MM PE and certain investor roles. I don't know how it's perceived by VC but I imagine it might be quite useful on the actual job e.g. having knowledge about different types of tax relief, entrepreneurs relief, knowledge of accounting, what tax losses are available etc. Maybe reach out to people in VC or find people in VC via linkedin who have Big 4 experience and see what career moves they did/ ask them for advice to determine whether an ACA is beneficial vs going to IB
  • First time passes shouldn't matter, most places don't care quite frankly (from experience)  
  • I don't know anyone personally who has gone into VC from banking or Big 4 but if you've determined that VC is what you want and if you've qualified that IB is the best way to get there, then it may make sense to make the jump to IB now if you don't care about the ACA. 
  • Alternatively if you don't make the jump to IB now, you can always do a secondment at a relevant team in the Big 4 (it's fairly easy to do this before you qualify at my Big 4 if you're not in audit, not sure about yours), maybe try and get into lead advisory for 6+ months, and then join IB as an A2/3, do that for a bit then go to VC.
  • I don't know about this next point and you'd need to qualify it but it might even be possible to go VC with lead advisory experience at the Big 4 as deal sizes are much smaller and therefore probably more relevant probably for VC. Worth checking on Linkedin for people from Big 4 that have made the jump directly to VC.

Hope this helps (somehow!)

Apr 14, 2021 - 7:43am

Hey thanks a lot for doing this.

1. I am about to join the Big4 UK in Assurance and will have the option to choose which sector I work in - Financial Services or another specific industry. My end goal is to move internally to the M&A/Deal team and then lateral to an IB. Which group do you think is best suited to move internally to the M&A team? I have heard that FS is a good group to join but this is not from a reliable source so I would really appreciate another opinion. 

2. Do you have any advice for the internal transfer process in terms of networking/applying for the role (if you have seen anyone in your group make this move)? Should I learn the technical skills (modelling) before applying for an internal transfer? 

3. How do secondments work at the Big 4? I have heard they offer then but I am not sure how I would go about completing one during the graduate scheme?

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Apr 14, 2021 - 9:29am

Not OP, but did Assurance and moved to Banking. 

1. Do not choose Financial Services under any circumstances. The hours are so much worse than other Assurance teams and the pay is the same. I don't usually post here but am writing this specifically because Financial Services Assurance is awful. The businesses you are auditing (e.g. Life insurers) are so large and complicated that you barely ever look at the financial statements. Therefore you don't get the main benefit of doing Audit (knowing financial statements inside out). Further, it will likely pigeon hole you into doing FIG banking when you move, that's fine, but just be aware of that if you do now want to go down that path.

2. Networking is by far the most important thing. Don't both learning modelling beyond the basics, Big 4 M&A doesn't really do any. Their interview process is much more likely to be a company profile than a model of any kind

3. They are usually offered after you have completed your ACA (used to be able to do before you were qualified, but Audit make it harder and harder). You apply internally or hear about it through your network.

Apr 14, 2021 - 9:40am

Can't comment on 1) but this makes sense, also agree with points 2) and 3)

Re. point 2, modelling is massively overhyped at Big 4 M&A IMHO but knowing basics is still important for any internal move. Also certain groups at my Big 4 would give fairly meaty take home DCF tests just to test people.

Apr 14, 2021 - 9:35am

1. My take is that if you do FS assurance and then FS M&A at Big 4 (which is FIG), you'll stand out really well for FIG teams at IB but it might be more difficult to go to other sector teams/ generalist roles in IB. I think in most cases it's always best to go for this industry that you are most interested in but if you choose FS you should be fully aware of that fact FS might make it more difficult (though not impossible) to go to other sector teams.

2. The process for internal switching massively depends on your team; how reasonable the partner is and the company policies etc. If you're in external audit it's very very very difficult to move from audit to anything else during the graduate scheme in 99.9% of cases. Given you are in assurance, it might be easier but you will still need to spend 6-12 months in the team before you make any internal move (for any new job, you can't just turn up and say I want to do something else on day 1).

In terms of process/ networking, reach out to people maybe 1-2 grades above your level, introduce yourself, say you want to learn more about their team etc. and would appreciate a call/coffee.

When meeting, remember it's not an interview but at the same time it sort of is: be friendly but also prepare for it like an interview e.g. if it's lead advisory/ M&A, make sure you know what an M&A process looks like, the basics to vaulation and most importantly why you are interested in the team. Make sure you prepare a few sensible questions e.g. maybe ask them why they moved to the team, the dynamics to the team, interesting deal experiences etc; don't ask about the hours etc.

Ultimately you want to end the meeting with the other person liking you/ thinking you're a normal person that knows their stuff. 

Re. technical skills, you should learn technical skills beforehand but don't go too crazy as they won't ask you to build a model or anything during a meeting, they might ask some basic process/valuation questions. There are some teams that will ask you to do a modelling test (take home usually) if they are running an internal recruitment process. 

3. Regarding the actual secondment process, it's actually quite tricky to write this up as there is no 'one size fits' all approach as there are many factors in each situation: how good/bad the partner is in your team, how busy you are in the team/ critical to a project etc.

A secondment request would work out if:

  • The team you're targeting like you enough, have a current or upcoming resource requirement AND want you to join,
  • AND you are not super busy in your current team,
  • AND your partner is relaxed about letting you go and not overly protective of their people (this is a big factor if you try and move within the grad scheme IMO)

You should bear in mind that some teams actually advertise positions internally and carry out full interview processes for internal moves/ secondments, in these cases there isn't much you can do other than apply, do the interviews and tests and see what happens.

Also bear in mind that even if another team are happy for you to join them, when you appraoch your current partner about it, they could simply say no/  push back if you are swamped with work or they have a personal rule of not letting people go before the 3 years are up (some partners can be like). This is where it can become messy and drag out but generally if you have indicated you want to leave to another team, eventually they will have to let you go to another team because quite frankly if someone tells you their career interests are else where, they're as good as gone. It just might take anywhere from 1 month to until the end of the graduate scheme for the move to take place. If they outright say no, you need to turn that into: "ok I can't leave now but when can I leave?"

Best of luck!

Apr 14, 2021 - 7:44am

Hi again,

If i'm in TS/FDD and have next to 0 financial modelling experience , how would I go about developing this for interviews (should I try do a secondment in M&A)

What resources would I use to be able to fly through modelling tests and practice etc

Thanks again

Apr 14, 2021 - 7:50am

Just to take some of the burden of the OP - WSP is very good and WSO have a financial modelling course as well but I can't speak to it. They're well worth the money imo (as in either one of them, not both).

Apr 14, 2021 - 7:52am

Worth noting as well that some of the WSP content is 2014 (although still relevant) whereas the WSO was very recently updated.

Apr 14, 2021 - 8:44am

Thanks very much for the Q&A!

1. How difficult would you say the jump from Big4 M&A to IB is? Is it the case that only a few lucky and talented people make it through, or that most people who are competent and dedicated will be able to make the jump eventually? Also curious to see how this differs for MM and BB.

2.  In terms of networking, it appears that most of the job opportunities come from external recruiters who often reach out to you. Would you say that spending considerable amounts of time reaching out to people at banks in order to get a referral is less important? Most of the posts on WSO are in the US where networking seems significantly more important.

3. Do you think there is merit to waiting until ACA qualified before making the move to IB? Or does the additional IB experience outweigh the issue of being part-qualified?

4. I would be really interested to hear what materials/courses you used to prep for the interview and the modelling test.

Thanks very much in advance.

Apr 14, 2021 - 12:21pm

1. I'd say it's tough but definitely doable if you want to make the move from Big 4 to IB. It's more the case of being competent AND dedicated rather than being part of a "select few". However it ultimately ends up being a select few people at the Big 4 leaving for IB/PE because you need to realise that most people in Big 4 (tax and audit) won't be thinking of leaving to IB. The majority, year in year out, will leave to fairly well paid finance jobs in industry or leave finance all together. From my observations, for those that leave my Big 4 lead advisory group to IB, it's probably 30/70 between BB/MM. Some wait until manager (c.5 years total) and go to MM PE or corp dev.

I know a few that started out in audit and with enough persistence and patience ended up making the correct internal moves before they made the jump to IB.

2. My personal experience and observations tell me that networking is less important in the UK than in the USA (would be interesting to gain perspective from others). My direct experience was:

  • a) I saw lateral roles advertised on Linkedin for BB and MM (posted directly by the banks), applied for these and more often than not would be invited for interviews. I didn't know a single person at these banks and didn't reach out to anyone to network before applying.
  • b) A bunch of recruiters email you or approach you via Linkedin, you will do an introductory call which is essentially an "interview" to make sure you sound normal and competent and for the recruiter to understand your career aspirations. When they receive mandates from their clients for hiring, they'll determine the best people for the role and call you if your profile matches. There are a small number of headhunters and recruitment firms in the UK that place people into BB/MM and PE.

3. Waiting for the ACA really depends on you. I personally didn't care about the ACA. I was intending to leave before qualifying but then COVID hit and put everything on hold and I thought I may as well qualify and then leave. That being said, the ACA is certainly useful, especially for various MM PE jobs later on. Certain banks and funds absolutely love the ACA and state you need to be qualified whilst others don't give a damn, it's a real mixed bag. I actually know of a person that left before completing the ACA for an EB, and ended up completing the ACA in their own time there (i.e. studied weekends and took time off to sit the exams).

4. For modelling, I used internal training materials which were quite good and used BIWS, that was more than enough to be fine in technical interviews and modelling tests.

Apr 14, 2021 - 2:10pm

Hi, 

I am currently in audit (big listed department) for 1 year in Paris and I come from a non-target french BS. Not very bright I agree.

My goal is to go to TS in London and then join IB as an associate. I plan to take the CFA level 1 to show my motivation and try to get over my BS. 

1. In my situation, is CFA is more helpful than ACA? I know that neither is required or very rewarding for IB but I think it can help me. My idea is that the CFA is more prestigious than the ACA. (I'm open to other suggestions).

2. What is your opinion on the level of difficulty for a move from Paris to London, from audit to TS ?

3. Do you have any ideas of companies to apply in my situation (Big 4, A&M, Grant Thornton, FTI...) ? I'm having trouble finding TS rankings in London..

Thanks a lot for your time !

Apr 14, 2021 - 3:03pm

1. I think CFA is a bit more favourable than the ACA if IB is your long term goal but it won't make a huge difference in my opinion for the UK. For Big 4 and accounting jobs you need the ACA. Some people I know did both but I'd argue that is overkill. 

2. Two routes to consider:

  • Apply to the Big 4 + other accountancy firms for TS roles in the UK, I don't know what your chances are but you may as well give it a go.
  • I couldn't understand whether you are already in Big 4 in France but if not, apply for Big 4 in France and request at some point to do an international secondment (18-24 months, I was considering this myself at one point). I think making the move to UK from France is definitely possible and certainly easier if you are in TS France and want to move to TS in the UK. Generally most of the Big 4 have loads of options for international opportunities and will advertise global secondment opportunities internally, plenty of people I know do these type of global secondments.

3. I'd apply to all the Big 4 + the other accounting companies too. Within the Big 4, there are many different TS teams, some only work on large cap transactions and are sector focused, some only specialise on complex carve-outs, some only focus on large PE transactions and some only on small PE transactions. Outside the Big 4 I assume the other accounting firms are similar.

Hope this helps!

  • Analyst 3+ in CorpDev
Apr 14, 2021 - 3:37pm

Hi.

Can you name a few of the recruiters which you were in contact with and thoughts on them. That would be really helpful!!

Thanks.

  • Analyst 3+ in CorpFin
Apr 14, 2021 - 6:51pm

Firstly, congrats on the move mate, good to get a London perspective and good luck in your new role.

As someone in a similar-ish boat its been helpful to see OP and other's responses to questions on this thread.

For context i'm currently 2.5 yrs into TS/Audit ACA and hit a bit of a wall, considering a switch to MM IB or internally to CF-M&A team. I see weekly that there's shit loads of recruiters on LinkedIn sharing mandates to fill which suggests now might be a good time to move. Couple questions to get your perspective on:
 

1.) Do you think it would be worth internally trying B4 M&A before moving to MM IB, or would experience/type of work be similar (MM IB v B4 M&A)?

2.) Do you have an expectation of hours and how they will vary to B4 M&A (vs MM IB)? Keen to do IB but also want to try where possible to keep some sort of social life (recent publicity suggests this may be a challenge).

3.) When moving with this 2-3 yrs experience, what is best analyst grade to move at? I.e. Do you find jobs posted specifically state An1/An2/An3 or is there scope for negotiation during interview process. Do people ever come across from B4 in as associate?

Thanks for your time!

Apr 14, 2021 - 7:27pm

Thanks! The market is extremely active right now for hiring and everyone I know is getting calls on a daily basis from recruiters to fill roles at many of the banks. Banks are probably realising they need more people to handle the crazy deal flow and the media attention regarding hours thanks to the 13 Goldman analysts has probably only accelerated things (I think).

1. I'd say if you're dead set on IB and can make the move without doing Big 4 M&A, do it. Think about it, you'll do similar-ish hours at Big 4 but earn way less (c.33% less on base and bonuses are only 10-30%...). That being said, trying out M&A in Big 4 before jumping ship can be a good training platform in a less intense environment. Also if you realise you don't like M&A at Big 4, it'll save you the hassle of joining a bank, realising you hate it and then having to find something new. At least if you hate it whilst at Big 4, you can find a million other things to do at Big 4.

2. Hours at Big 4: when on 1-2 live deals, hours are more or less the same as IB but less extreme (i.e. people don't do all nighters and generally less weekend work). If you think about it, it's the same work essentially, and you can expect to work well past midnight + some weekends during key periods for a deal. When you have absolutely no work, you can genuinely finish at 7pm or even earlier, there is no facetime culture in my group.

To summarise: when on live deals at Big 4 expect 65-75+ hours and when not on a live deal expect 45-55 hours. There are plenty of threads recently about hours in IB which is more like 80-90+ when on live deals. 

3. If you have 2-3 years of good AND relevant experience (i.e. several sell-side deals completed from start to finish), you can expect to go to IB as an analyst 2/2.5/3/3.5 (note that .5 means you don't do a full year to promotion so analyst 2.5 means 18 months Aso1). Most IBs tend to discount your experience at Big 4 by 0.5-1 year. A lot of places specifically mention A1/2/3 on job posts and recruiters will always tell you if it's A2/3 etc. In my experience, for a few of the processes they were quite flexible with the leveling and said that I'd get placed at the relevant level (A2 or A3) depending on the strength of my interviews/ modelling tests. I've seen people go from Big 4 to a decent EB/MM as an Aso1 twice, and in both cases they were managers (i.e. minimum 4-5 years experience), I haven't seen anyone ever join a BB as an associate.

Hope this helps!

Apr 15, 2021 - 5:50pm

It's difficult but I'd say WFH has made it easier as there is no need to do it in person. Obviously if you are in a meetings all day it's tough but I found it easy to schedule interviews early (8am) or after 5pm. I never managed to organise anything midday.

It was fairly common for my interviewier needing to rearrange at the last minute.

Apr 15, 2021 - 11:22am

Hi offthepiste,

Congrats on the new job.

I'm a 2nd year trainee auditor (ACA) at a regional firm. Planning to move to big 4 audit (at AM on qualifying), then transfer to TS (hopefully avoiding a second busy season).

Hours in Big 4 CF seem fairly ok (I'll have exams done by then so will be fairly similar to now I imagine).

Then if I'm not burnt out after all that I'll look at moving to IB approx 2 years PQ.

Couple of Qs:

1) If big 4 CF to IB is such a routine move, why would anyone stay in CF? Assuming a CF AM earns around £60-70k in London and you could move to IB for £120-160k for a few extra hours a week?

2) I understand CF/deals experience is really valuable, what other exits did people from your class take?

3) Interested to hear your opinion of my planned moves. All fairly common moves - although I am unsure how fast I will be able to internal transfer to TS as an external hire.

Also is there any opportunity to get out of audit faster? Only thing I can think of is move to B4 part qualified but I think this is a very difficult move.

4) Would it only be possible to lateral to Associate 1 at smaller banks, even with ~2 years PQ experience? After being a senior for 3 years Id rather not come in at analyst

Thanks for doing the Q&A,

Chilli

Apr 18, 2021 - 8:13am

1) Most people don't stay in CF, they leave to IB or LMM/MM PE or Corporate Development at FTSE100/250. Some leave the industry all together. Note that a few extra hours can add up but if you compare the % increase in pay vs hours worked for big 4 CF and IB, the economics of switching absolutely makes sense i.e. working 20-30% more for 60-100% more depending on your level. The only caveat is 20-30% increase in hours worked is still quite a lot.

2) LMM/MM PE is as common as IB moves I think. Every now and then someone from a top sector team will get into UMM PE (but they usually will have a very strong CV and deal experience). Loads go into a variety of IB from Tier 1 &  BB, MM, EB and random boutiques. It's difficult to pinpoint which type of banking exit is the most common but I'd say it's somewhere between BB and MM. A bunch will also go into Corp. Dev. 

3) It's difficult to answer this. Have you considered applying to TS at the Big 4 and if that doesn't work, just reapply for Audit? I assume you wont be applying for graduate  roles, therefore you can do this? It may take a while to go from Audit to TS, I'd say at least 6 months as it will take time to network, win the respect of your team etc. you can't just start a new role and on day 2 say: this was fun, I want to do something else. 

I'm not aware of the Big 4 hiring people who are part qualified (but could be wrong, at the very least it's uncommon). They might only consider you once you have qualified at your current firm. There will always be demand for senior/ qualified audit hires in the Big 4 as they are constantly losing people and there is a growing emphasis on audit quality in the UK due to a few high profile failures, hence more hiring. 

4) I have never seen this type of move (2 years of CF experience ---> Aso 1 at a bank). With 2 years relevant experience (i.e. CF) you'd be looking at Analyst 2 or 3. Just to give you an idea, managers in Big 4 go to IB as an associate 1/2. 

Hope this helps and good luck!

Apr 16, 2021 - 9:47am

Many thanks for doing this!

I have a similar background to you, so this is very useful.

Some questions which I had were:

  1. Prior deal experience – how many deals did you put on your CV (all of them, vs. 3-4 with more detail), how in-depth did you speak about them during interviews, and did the size of these matter (GBP50m or below versus GBP100m and above)
  2. How "common" / "expected" were the technicals asked – were they the types you'd find in graduate IB guides or were they (presumably) harder, given you'd be coming in as an Analyst-2, Analyst-3?
  3. Following on from your previous comment that each process had a modelling test, were these UK-centric (e.g. use of loan notes in an LBO), or were they quite standardised (like the ones you'd find on the internet / taught by US modelling courses such as WallStreetPrep)?
  4. How important were the "Why this investment bank?" questions? Did you feel that desktop research was enough or would you need to reach out to team members before to get the "inside track"?
  5. Did you feel that you had more luck going through recruiters, or applying direct (via LinkedIn)?
  6. Were there common differences between the BB and the MM processes besides technical-focus? (Personally interested in MM)

Congratulations on your offer, and all the best at the new place!

Apr 18, 2021 - 8:36am

1. I put something like 3-4 completed deals on my CV, stated the size and a few short points summarising what I did e.g. writing the CIM, building the model (state what type of model), Q&A, supporting negotiations etc. From my experience in my recent interviews, what matters more is being able to talk through an entire deal in terms of what you did and personal contributions. The bankers I spoke to were asking things like: how did the process go/ what was the split of trade/PE buyers and why, how did you add value to the deal, and significant personal contributions, what could have been done better on the deal, the structure of the deal team etc. You want the interviewer to take home that you are dependable and able to get the job done, make sure you know your deal inside and out and be able to make it sound interesting, perhaps write a few brief scripts to practice (I did this to prepare).

2. Technical questions were ok I'd say. It wasn't as simple as walk me through a DCF. It was more like why would you value XYZ company using a DCF and based on ABC factors relating to the company, what would you sensitize in the model and would you have any particular considerations when building the model etc.

Some interviewers would ask me to open up an excel, give me some basic numbers and ask me to work out the IRR for example. Other questions would be around, why would you use a locked box completion mechanism vs completion accounts for a certain type of business. Senior MDs would never ask technical questions but would typically love to ask questions around process e.g. they'd give you a bunch of facts and ask you to determine the timeline you'd propose to a client for getting a deal done and considerations to raise with them.

3. These were much more UK centric if I'm honest and also far more straight forward than the mock tests I've done using the American prep guides. HOWEVER, it's still worth practiing with the US modelling courses, it's better to overprepare IMO.

4. Far less important than I expected. Desktop research was more than enough for me and I didn't bother reaching out to people cold in advance of any interview. Sometimes the bank would send a creds pack about their team/ division (usually via you recruiters).

5. I had much more luck going through a very small number of solid recruiters (there are loads of recruiters in the UK but a lot of them aren't that great). Some of my colleagues have had the opposite experience (i.e. did much better applying directly for laterals). I'd suggest to apply to the banks AND make use of recruiters.

6. They were mostly the same, most required you to complete a 1 or 2 hour modelling tests (DCF of LBO) and those that didn't would instead have 1 hour of technical interviews (which I hated as the questions would sometimes be very random).

Hope this helps!

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