Cambridge Associates - Scheduled phone interview

hedgefund13's picture
Rank: Monkey | 41

I have a scheduled phone interview with Cambridge Associates for the consulting associate position in the Dallas Office.

To be honest, I am just interested in breaking into finance and from a cursory search I have found very mixed opinions regarding whether the opportunity is "worth it" or not ("kill yourself now" opinions). I understand that the pay is low, but I hear exit opportunities are good?

The way the description sounds, this position could almost seem like more of a research/data entry post. Would it be viable to break into Asset Management with this experience - or to parlay it into an MBA?

Also, what sort of questions can I expect for the phone interview/subsequent office visit interview?

To be honest, I have a fairly low GPA so I expect that will be one of the questions - should I bother explaining why, or should I just try to blow them away with the content portion and just basically (in more favorable terms) say that the GPA is what it is?

Thanks in advance, WSO

Comments (45)

Jun 14, 2011

I work at one of MBB and have run into two alumni of Cambridge Associates (one at my firm, one at another; both went out of undergrad and went to Top 10 b-schools before MBB).

I am also a little confused, as my impression was even tier 2-3 consulting firms were harder to break into than some asset management jobs. I don't think it will be hard to leave and go into an asset management position (but someone with more experience please feel free to correct me).

As for your GPA at the interview, I would say have an explanation ready in case the question comes up, but there is no need to address it proactively. They have chosen to interview you, so it is clearly not a dealbreaker. The content portion of your interview will certainly matter more, but it would be nice (if it gets mentioned) for you to have an explanation for the GPA as well (doesn't matter if it's generic or doesn't make you look great, remember that they already decided to interview you). The main risk here would be saying something that comes off immature (such as blaming professors or talking about how other students in your major cheat their way to better GPAs, etc). or admitting to an actual dealbreaking weakness (e.g. poor work ethic, sloppy work, etc.)

Jun 14, 2011

Cambridge is somewhat puzzling. The entry-level job seems pretty simple minded and they often get a lot of kids from non-targets (a lot of Villanova, Lehigh, GW off the top of my head). However, those kids usually seem to exit into very good stuff ranging from tier 1 consulting to PE/VC. They must be a well respected name in the industry and I'm assuming you learn a lot while you are there. It's not banking or MBB, but their alumni seem to do quite well despite the seemingly unglamorous first few years.

Jun 14, 2011

Obviously try your best during the interview to land an offer (and then decide) BUT if you have your heart set on investment banking or asset management then I would strongly suggest that you consider an alternative path. I took an investment consulting job out of undergrad after being rejected from several investment banking and asset management interviews. In hindsight I think it would have been better for me to have turned down the offer to go after what I really wanted to do.

I figured that after researching asset management strategies at an investment consulting firm I could try to transition to the buy-side. In reality this is a very difficult transition since you do not conduct security level research. In reality typical exit ops include consultant relations on the buy-side, research at a fund of funds, or perhaps a product specialist role on the buy-side. And yes, there is a lot of data entry type work when you first start out.

The best part of the job is that I have sat across the table from some very renowned investors in the industry. Some may say that the lifestyle is also a plus since your hours are far less than other finance jobs. At this point in my life though I personally feel that I am willing to trade the hours to be in a position where I am making actual investment decisions rather than analyzing the decisions of others.

If this is helpful feel free to ask more questions. I'd be happy to help.

Nov 15, 2016

Hello, I have interview with Cambridge this week and was wondering if I could ask you more about the company? Thank you!

Jun 15, 2011

Thanks for the responses.

Re: FatTail
I would eventually like to get into buy side, so I definitely hear what you are saying. However, wouldn't it be feasible to go back for an MBA/Mfin after a couple of years and then get where I want to be?

Are you still in the same role, or did you somehow make the switch eventually?

Looking for a Finance Job - currently unemployed.

Learn More

2,037 questions across 209 consulting firms. 11 Cases developed by a McKinsey Associate, 10+ hours of video. The WSO Consulting Interview Prep Course has everything you’ll ever need to ace your consulting case interviews. Learn more.

Jun 14, 2011

It is definitely possible; however I would equate investment consulting to back office type roles. Although they are very different and I personally feel that investment consulting is far more interesting work, employers/recruiters on the buy-side tend to view you in a similar light. I am not enrolled in an MBA program, but imagine that taking this route basically means that you will have to work harder than your peers to land the same buy-side job even with an MBA.

For me, transitioning into IB was very difficult since i started working during a period where recruiting was freezing up ('08-'09). I am in the job search process right now and have managed to gain some traction through networking. I find that I have to be very persuasive when explaining that I am interested in the position and capable of doing the work. Perhaps this would have been less of a problem if I had a different background.

That being said, if you can distinguish yourself by passing the CFA (at least level 1) then you may have some luck moving to sell-side research before ultimately moving to the buy-side. I know of someone in IC that actually did just that after working for 1+ years, passing all 3 levels of the CFA, and aggressively networking.

I don't mean to turn you off completely from this job (it is a finance job after all and it can be very interesting); however I know that it would have been helpful for me to know that it is not a clear transition to a research job on the buy-side (or the sell-side for that matter). Fund of funds research (i suppose this is technically a buy-side job but not your typical direct investment research), client/consultant relations, product specialist is a far more common transition.

Mar 12, 2013
FatTail:

I don't mean to turn you off completely from this job (it is a finance job after all and it can be very interesting); however I know that it would have been helpful for me to know that it is not a clear transition to a research job on the buy-side (or the sell-side for that matter). Fund of funds research (i suppose this is technically a buy-side job but not your typical direct investment research), client/consultant relations, product specialist is a far more common transition.

So are you saying if one was working as a fund of funds research analyst at CA that it would be a better path for eventually transitioning to IB/PE/HF?

Jun 14, 2011

No. I'm saying that the investment consulting skill set transfers well to fund of funds research, client/consultant relations and product specialist jobs. Not any type of front office work on the buy side or sell side. Once you've spent a few years as an investment consultant you will need business school to rebrand yourself if you decide that is what you want. Its possible to move to front office but very unlikely.

Jun 19, 2011

CA alum here.

Overall, my experience was positive. Yes, the pay is going to be on low(er) side but the opportunity, especially for someone just trying to break into finance, is very, very good. A consulting role will not lead into investment banking, PE, or a hedge fund job but it CAN lead into something like a funds of funds or as a an analyst at an endowment or foundation. You might discover that that's what you after. I did. Sure, you aren't picking stocks but you're still involved in the investment decision and you need to be in tune with what's going on in various markets. plus they will (or at least use to) pay for your CFA charter which is a nice bonus.

Interview will probably be two to three rounds. Phone interview will typically be a lot of behavioral questions so have a good story to tell aka why Cambridge, why chose to go to xyz university, etc, etc. Second and/or third rounds will be more case based but nothing too off the wall.

The consulting associates I know who have gone onto business school have done quite well. I've know some who have gone onto Harvard, Sloan, Stanford, Yale, and Ross.

Mar 13, 2013

kys

Mar 13, 2013

kys?

Mar 13, 2013

"Kill yourself."

Mar 13, 2013

isnt Cambridge Associates a non profit?
I withdrew my application when I found out something like that...

.

Mar 13, 2013

LISTEN TO ME: don't even waste your time interviewing there. it's a hell hole. if you do take the job, KYS, sooner rather than later before your brain liquifies into an acidic mush that trickles from the cranium to the soul

    • 3
Mar 13, 2013

Hahaha at kys

Mar 13, 2013

These people are assholes. It's not a nonprofit. It's investment consulting. They consult a lot of nonprofit including most schools in the ivy league. The interview is very easy and straightforward. You should have no problem as long as you know a lot about the firm. My only suggestion, actually know what they do because its kind of niche.

Mar 13, 2013

I know a girl who got a job there. You don't want it; it sounded absolutely mind-numbing. It's better than nothing though.

    • 1
Mar 13, 2013

pay's also pretty terrible

Learn More

2,037 questions across 209 consulting firms. 11 Cases developed by a McKinsey Associate, 10+ hours of video. The WSO Consulting Interview Prep Course has everything you’ll ever need to ace your consulting case interviews. Learn more.

Jun 15, 2011

Hey, thanks for the reply.

I had my Phone Interview Friday. It lasted approximately 15mins - everything you said they basically asked. I think it went ok. The interviewer seemed to offhandedly ask for my GPA at the end (it's pretty low), otherwise it seemed to go well. Do they have a cutoff?

Do you know how long it takes to hear back if you're chosen for a second interview?

Looking for a Finance Job - currently unemployed.

Mar 13, 2013

Probably the best regarded shop that is staffed with employees who are completely full of themselves, way overestimate their own prestige and net worth, and get paid $40k a year to start.

The only benefit that I could imagine is the good placement rate to HBS, following which you can get a real career.

Mar 13, 2013

Very insightful analysis

Jun 20, 2011

I also worked at CA, and I know people who have gone into PE and IB after a couple of years as a CA, though FoF, Endowment/Foundation, and B-school are more common exit opps. You can really spin the position anyway you want to. The position is great for entry level. If you do a good job, you are given lots of responsibility quickly (writing memos, interacting with clients directly, etc). The people who have said KYS definitely worked in the performance reporting branch of the company.

As long as you have above a 3.0 and interest in investments, GPA will not be a deal breaker, fit is really important.

Mar 13, 2013

Its fund of funds.

KICKIN ASS AND TAKING NAMES

Mar 13, 2013

I had a final round with them - all fit. PM me if you want more insight.

    • 1
Jul 21, 2011

Does anyone have any idea what the e-mail format for CA is.

Mar 13, 2013

I've heard that this is not really a consulting position. and there isnt a case, all fit. but someone should confirm

Mar 13, 2013

Both rounds fit oriented, some basic financial knowledge -investments and the such. Very focused on teamwork, being relaxed and someone they would like to work with. Also stress smaller firm, unique, more responsibility, niche clients etc...No cases at all. Associate consultant position I think is more toward being a wm position -looking over portfolios, working with the client on allocations, risk analysis etc...

Feel free to ask more questions

Nov 15, 2016

Hello I have an interview with Cambridge Associates tomorrow. Is there any way you could tell me more details about the interview process? Thank you

Jul 22, 2011

I went through the interviewing process at CA and got to the final round...No offer but I heard back like a month late so my guess is I was an alternate or something--I was a half hour late for my interview due a transportation fuckup so that may have dinged me.

Overall, very non-stressful interviews (compared to my IBD ones, anyway), and I liked mostly of the people I met with, although the senior person I sat with seemed like a douche--if I recall he was at the Manager level, but had spiked hair, a Gekko shirt, and French cuffs with links. By comparison, I accepted an offer from GS/MS/JPM and I rarely see MDs in cufflinks, let alone white collars on anyone who isn't a well-known hitter.

I will say that out of every case study interview I had, I enjoyed CA's the most. It dealt with choosing between two PE funds for a client, one new but with experienced professionals and one older with mixed performance. I didn't get the sense I made the correct final choice given the available information, but I got very good feedback on my line-of-thought and how I worked prior experience into it.

Anyway, just wanted to share that insight, obviously the people that have posted who've worked there can be more helpful. My friend's brother has worked there for several years, enjoys it, and seems to be doing very well for himself so CA must be pretty legit.

E-mail format is [email protected]

Mar 13, 2013

good if you wanna do FoF stuff. Also amazing if you want to continue with PWM. Not the best for banking, but banking isn't everything.

Jul 22, 2011

Great information, thanks cubechimp!

Jun 19, 2011
mikemurph309:

I have a phone interview with this firm fast approaching. Any advice on what questions to expect and how to prepare? any help is appreciated.

CA alum here but I'm not a recent alum.

Phone interview should be very behavorial in nature. Expect questions like "walk me through your resume", "why ABC University". etc, etc. Be able to say something intelligent about why you'd want to work at CA and what they do. I wouldn't expect anything too technical but never a bad idea to have a general view on the economy and where you think the stock market is headed.

Mar 13, 2013
Isuckatlife:
mikemurph309:

I have a phone interview with this firm fast approaching. Any advice on what questions to expect and how to prepare? any help is appreciated.

CA alum here but I'm not a recent alum.

Phone interview should be very behavorial in nature. Expect questions like "walk me through your resume", "why ABC University". etc, etc. Be able to say something intelligent about why you'd want to work at CA and what they do. I wouldn't expect anything too technical but never a bad idea to have a general view on the economy and where you think the stock market is headed.

Thank you for the heads up, might I ask if you enjoyed your time there? I'm interviewing for their Summer Associate position by the way

Mar 4, 2012

Sorry for bringing up an old thread.

Does anyone know much about the research analyst role at CA? How does it compare to the investment consulting role? and what are some opportunities down the road?

Thanks.

Jun 8, 2012
Comment
Nov 15, 2016
Aug 18, 2012
Comment