In discussion with an econ professor, he mentioned how working as an accountant at the big four can be a good in to the investment banking world. I found this to be an intersting opportunity, as I think some individuals could use this to their advantage. But is it possible or better yet, reasonable. If so I was going to take an off-cycle internship for a accounting firm, then use it to my advantage for next summers internships hopefully under an investment banker.
Can I Go from Big 4 to Investment Banking?
When considering the OP's original question about whether or not you can go from a Big 4 role into Investment Banking, it is important to note that it will almost always make more sense to start in IB if that is an option for you. That being said, our users have shared conflicting opinions about how difficult it can be to change between these career paths.
Some users believe that the transition would not be hard considering the fact that you are working for large relevant clients on transactions, which lends itself easily to the job of investment banking.
User @5000 Meters, a private equity analyst, shared that the transition wouldn't be too hard:
It depends what you are doing at one of those firms. If you are doing transaction advisory, valuation or due diligence, that experience can be good for banking. Maybe even audit might be ok. I would stay away from the typical tax type jobs though.
Who will banks take: someone who has transaction experience with large clients having worked at a well-known, high quality financial services firm that had its own competitive recruiting process or a bunch of random applicants from a no name shop with no known standards and insignificant deals? Big 4 would probably be a much safer start to your career than a random 10-man boutique. Boutique is more relevant experience for sure, but Big 4 is a better indicator of quality in most cases.
However, User @Sil, a corporate development associate, shared that the accountant experience is not super relevant and therefore when it comes to taking lateral hires, it makes more sense for a bank to hire an applicant from another BB or from a middle market bank that wants to make the jump upwards.
Think about it this way: when it comes time to lateral, who will banks take: the accountant or the hoards of applicants from tiny M&A boutiques? It's certainly possible, but you will be facing extremely tough odds. A better start to your career would be a boutique if you're not able to break into a BB, EB, or MM.
If you had the choice between Big Four (non-relevant experience) and a "no-name" boutique (relevant experience), I'd take the latter 100% of the time. The "transaction experience" you gain from audit/tax is not relevant to IB. Even if you sit around all day at a boutique and put together pitches, that is still more relevant.
No disrespect to Big Four employees meant, but hiring hoards of kids from just about any school is not exactly "quality", at least not in the IB sense of the word.
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