Big4 Valuation to IB

Hi all
I managed to land an analyst position at the valuation practice in one of the big 4.
It's my first after-graduating job even though I have some extra experience (I'm 27. Where I come from we start academic studying a bit later).

I do consider it as a starting point for investment banking eventually, preferably an EB.

My question is 1. whether the experience I'd gain where I am now can leverage my case into IB, or is it not that relevant for investment banks since I won't actually work on transactions and mostly do the valuation/PPA/OPM/audit support.

  1. I've read that it is recommended to go for the transition within 6 months-year into big 4 experience. Is there a reason for that? Trying to transfer after 3 years for instance would lower my chances?

Thanks in advance.

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Comments (19)

Most Helpful
  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Aug 17, 2021 - 10:16am

I made my way into IB from a valuation firm (non-Big4) so I have a fair amount of insight here. Valuation is essentially the perfect field to land in as a next best thing for people who are unable to land offers in IB due to the transferable skills. In the valuation field you will go down to a far more granular level of financials diligence than in IB so from a technical standpoint you'll be set. The biggest hurdle I found and the biggest knock against me when interviewing for IB was that I had very little experience in PowerPoint and while I did study and know the ins-and-out of a deal process I had no real hands on experience, so when interviewing against people who had at least a few months of actual IB experience I was at a disadvantage. Making the transition within a year is definitely key but not impossible if it takes longer than a year, I did it after 3 years and was able to lateral in as a 3rd year analyst which is pretty much unheard of considering I had no actual IB experience. The issues is that if you have 2-3 years of experience you'll be "over qualified" for a first year analyst spot but but since you don't have IB experience you'll be "underqualified" for a 2nd and 3rd year analyst spot.

Aug 17, 2021 - 11:14am

Associate 3 in IB-M&A

I made my way into IB from a valuation firm (non-Big4) so I have a fair amount of insight here. Valuation is essentially the perfect field to land in as a next best thing for people who are unable to land offers in IB due to the transferable skills. In the valuation field you will go down to a far more granular level of financials diligence than in IB so from a technical standpoint you'll be set. The biggest hurdle I found and the biggest knock against me when interviewing for IB was that I had very little experience in PowerPoint and while I did study and know the ins-and-out of a deal process I had no real hands on experience, so when interviewing against people who had at least a few months of actual IB experience I was at a disadvantage. Making the transition within a year is definitely key but not impossible if it takes longer than a year, I did it after 3 years and was able to lateral in as a 3rd year analyst which is pretty much unheard of considering I had no actual IB experience. The issues is that if you have 2-3 years of experience you'll be "over qualified" for a first year analyst spot but but since you don't have IB experience you'll be "underqualified" for a 2nd and 3rd year analyst spot.

Thank you for that insightful reply!

So to clarify what your saying: I should aim for a transition within a year for higher chances not to fall into that over/under qualification circle of the analyst years spots?

Also, any recommendations to avoid that PPT gaps required for the IB job? Like what specific knowledge I should bring in for the process?

Btw, is it a BB you got into after your valuation job?

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Aug 17, 2021 - 11:30am

Definitely ideal to make the transition within a year. To fix my PPT knowledge gap I bought the Breaking Into Wall Street PowerPoint Pro course, best $200 I ever spent. I'm sure there are plenty of Youtube tutorials but having a very guided approach tailored specifically for IB was second to none. I went to a MM firm, I like working with mid-size companies still in their growth phase so I had no interest in working on the big buyout deals that BB typically cover.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 17, 2021 - 2:27pm

I can attest to this. I'm also non-Big4, major valuation service background and just recently landed an offer at a MM IB after 10 months into the job. I was surprised at the number of looks my applications were getting from other banks given my valuation background. I'm pretty sure it's partially due to the high turnover and hot lateral market right now, but I think my background certainly helped.

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Aug 17, 2021 - 5:50pm

Analyst 1 in IB - Ind

I can attest to this. I'm also non-Big4, major valuation service background and just recently landed an offer at a MM IB after 10 months into the job. I was surprised at the number of looks my applications were getting from other banks given my valuation background. I'm pretty sure it's partially due to the high turnover and hot lateral market right now, but I think my background certainly helped.

Thank you for your reply!

  • Incoming Analyst in Consulting
Oct 17, 2021 - 11:17am

I am about to enter a very similar role and was wondering how long you waited to start networking? And what types of banks to target, BB/EB/MM? I am looking to stay in M&A.

  • VP in IB-M&A
Oct 17, 2021 - 2:48pm

It's never too early to start networking and developing relationships but I would make sure you have your story down and know your technicals in the event that a casual chat shifts to more of an interview. When it comes to what banks to target there seems to be a mentality on WSO that if someone comes from a non-target school, or doesn't have any internship experience, etc., that they need to limit themselves to only reaching out to MM or Boutique banks because they feel they have no shot at the BB or EB. This is a really dumb approach in my opinion, target every bank because the worst they can do is say no. Maybe target your banks of choice first and after that initial outreach to your preferred banks then just blast your resume out to anyone and everyone. 

Aug 17, 2021 - 12:18pm

I made the transition recently as well. Non Big 4 valuations to a BB IB coverage role.

The big hurdles for me were the lack of transaction and PowerPoint experience at my valuations role. I was able to navigate this due to previous PE internship experience. But it was still a concern from some firms I interviewed at

I think I did this right

Aug 17, 2021 - 12:54pm

WS_Jerry

I made the transition recently as well. Non Big 4 valuations to a BB IB coverage role.

The big hurdles for me were the lack of transaction and PowerPoint experience at my valuations role. I was able to navigate this due to previous PE internship experience. But it was still a concern from some firms I interviewed at

Nice to see another guy that made it happen and thanks for your reply.

After how long in valuation you made the transition? And did you actually get rejected because the lack of experience you mentioned?

Aug 17, 2021 - 4:15pm

I made the same move recently from Non-Big4 vals into IB. I spent half of my 3 years of valuation experience in a big4 vals team.

The best advice I can give for someone trying to lateral is to make sure they have a detailed/working knowledge of each the valuations they have put on their resume. You should be able to talk in detail about how you modeled each component and how you handled/ thought about some of the more complicated areas of valuation.

I found that the interviewers were comfortable that I didn't have transaction experience - after all it was their decision to interview me. But they wanted to know that I had experience building models from scratch - this seemed to be their biggest concern and it took me a while to start making a point of driving this point home in each interview.

PPT never seemed to come up as an issue as we use it a lot in vals. I don't think it would be difficult to learn either.

Ideally I would want to make the move after 18months, this gives you enough time to gain decent vals experience which will help later on if you choose to move to the buy side. However the market is so hot right now you may as well take advantage if you can.

Aug 17, 2021 - 6:00pm

BadNeighbor

I made the same move recently from Non-Big4 vals into IB. I spent half of my 3 years of valuation experience in a big4 vals team.

The best advice I can give for someone trying to lateral is to make sure they have a detailed/working knowledge of each the valuations they have put on their resume. You should be able to talk in detail about how you modeled each component and how you handled/ thought about some of the more complicated areas of valuation.

I found that the interviewers were comfortable that I didn't have transaction experience - after all it was their decision to interview me. But they wanted to know that I had experience building models from scratch - this seemed to be their biggest concern and it took me a while to start making a point of driving this point home in each interview.

PPT never seemed to come up as an issue as we use it a lot in vals. I don't think it would be difficult to learn either.

Ideally I would want to make the move after 18months, this gives you enough time to gain decent vals experience which will help later on if you choose to move to the buy side. However the market is so hot right now you may as well take advantage if you can.

Thank you for your detailed reply!

Yes the timing is tricky, however I tried many of the big names banks before shooting at this Big 4 opportunity. I wasn't confident enough to pass these interviews that time.

Also, at my firm, it seems like most of the modeling work is done from previously used templates (which I heard IB and consultants work is being done as well). I'm saying this because you mentioned you were talking about models from scratch. Is it important for me to be able to actually create these models from scratch?

Aug 17, 2021 - 7:51pm

There are obviously elements that make sense to be templated. Like a WACC or the basic lay-out of the DCF.

By "from scratch" I mean modeling out a 3 statement model which can feed into your DCF. A lot of vals teams just take client forecasts and put them through an existing DCF model. You need to try demonstrate (or at least know that you can demonstrate) that you've had mandates where you've had to build out an operational model. This is where the key transferable skills lie as this where the key modeling skills and valuation assumptions are applied.

Aug 18, 2021 - 10:00am

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