Consultant to banker - did I make the right choice?

Danny_ish's picture
Rank: Monkey | 39

Hello all,

I am new to this board, and really glad that this resource exists. By way of introduction, I am a b-school student graduating in 2008, with a long term aim of private equity/hedge fund either in NY or Hong Kong. A bit of background:

(a) Pre-MBA: consultant in M/B/B for three years. Spent time in both USA and Asian offices.

(b) MBA: MBA at a top 5 school (not Harvard or Wharton) but one of those usually considered top 5. I will graduate in the top 5 or 10% of my class.

(c) Post MBA: I have an offer to go back to my old consulting firm; also have a couple of offers into the M & A groups of a couple of bulge bracket investment banks in New York (not GS or MS but nevertheless bulge bracket).

Should I go back to consulting or should I do ibanking to position myself for PE 2-3 years down the road?

I have also heard some remarks that I have missed the boat already because it is near impossible to move to PE if I do not have pre-MBA PE experience. How true is this? I am also trying for PE now but I'm not getting any headway because of the credit crunch.

Is M & A the right group to join for PE exit opps? How does M & A compare to industry groups, sponsors or lev fin?

Thanks all for the advice.

Comments (8)

Nov 6, 2007

Sounds like the "right" choice would've been to work at Bain or McK Corp Fi straight out (seems thatthe very worst someone at one of those two who is interested in PE ends up with is Golden Gate Cap or AEA)...if you're at McK or Bain, partners and upper mgmt get exit options into top tier MM or top-5 PE firms pretty regularly, if PE/Corp Fi is their focus. Based on your question, though, I bet you're at BCG. If you are at BCG, then leave if buy-side is your goal; if you are at Bain/McK, then stay and make sure you have some PE work, and you'll place better than most bank's M&A grps (other than MS, really)....

Nov 6, 2007

... actually from McK/Bain. I really do not see that many partners moving to top tier PE shops - maybe I am in the wrong office? I wasn't in the NY office. Those who moved tend to get gigs at the "consulting focused" shops such as bain cap, HIG or golden gate. A couple of my colleagues moved but they did so pre-MBA and I've missed the boat for that one (I was just too busy with cases that I missed out on planning for my future).

Maybe you are right, but I really do not see how doing a couple more years in consulting, even if I do PE type work, would be place me better than M & A. Now PE due diligence (for consultants) are really not all that difficult and I already have a couple of this under my belt. For those of you who have done it, you will know that it's not all that different from a corporate strategy piece except that the time frame is much shorter, and the PE guys often have a very good idea of what they want to know from consultants.

I thought what I need now is sold financial experience that will serve as a nice complement to my consulting skill sets. I really do not want to make the wrong decision or miss the boat again this time round.

Any more views out there? Thanks!

Nov 6, 2007

I also spoke with a couple of PE shops (alums) and it seems that most of them have ibank backgrounds (with the exception of some consulting focused shops). I thought that banking will give me options at more shops rather than Bain Cap etc.

Nov 6, 2007

Options are more limited from McK/Bain after the AC/BA, position, I guess, then (which is what I'm more familiar with), cause I know all ACs who are in top half of their clase, or are in top office (SF, NY, Bos) get top tier PE or HF (I'm including top-5 PE, Hellman Friedman, Berkshire, golden gate level places. I know many ACs would rather work at the latter 3 becuase their returns have been very high relative to peer grp. Hedge Fund placement has also been very good). I think the thing about lack of partners moving has as much to do with the fact that they want to do consulting as that that they don't have opps--finance-oriented partners at Bain and McKinsey get contacted regularly by top-tier firms, but as strange as it seems, many actually like their jobs. In the end, it's more a matter of self-selection, I think, than market selection--a lot of Bainies near the top would rather pull in 1-10 MM / yr (low - very high partner range of salaries) and work there than pull in more doing PE, and, remember, those were in large part the people who chose not to do PE when given the opportunity before at lower levels of the company (or out of b-school), so why would they now?

Since you didn't go to H/S/Wharton, my guess is that you weren't in the top half of your McK/Bain class (just a guess, not trying to be offensive), so maybe M&A would make sense--cracking the top 1/2 of your consulting class @ Bain, and a bit higher at McK, is really important in making the PE leap from entry-level positions, and if you didn't I would be a bit worried about making the jump from manager to partner/senior manager or whatever. Without that, it would be tough to get into PE.

Again, I'm more familiar with entry-level PE/HF ops from Bain/McK, and know that at Bain, esp,, they are pretty awesome, so maybe I'm all off, but I think that selection explains much of your observation about partners not moving--they don't want to move because hey like their jobs, and if they choose to move, it's more likely than not going to be to a place where people come from the same roots as them...

Nov 6, 2007

"Since you didn't go to H/S/Wharton, my guess is that you weren't in the top half of your McK/Bain class (just a guess, not trying to be offensive)"

This is not true. I did not go to those three places (got offer from H & W) because I had a personal reason to be somewhere else. Getting into H/S/W has nothing to do with whether you are at the top half of the consulting class. As long as you are at Bain/Mck, and you did reasonably well at GMAT and have good essays, you are a shoo in for H & W.

I guess I would actually want to hear from people who are familiar about post MBA opportunities.

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Nov 6, 2007

A simple sounding answer, but do what you will be better at and like more. Both paths will give you more than enough options so long as you are at the top of your bunch. If you go in to IB and don't like the hours/culture, it's going to show.

Also, getting placed at the higher levels post b-school is a lot more about you as a person, your skills, experience etc. Although the line items in your resume are important, you have a much larger set of signals for a future employer to go off.

  • movetofinance
  •  Nov 6, 2007

i might be joining m/b/b next year. how were the pe opps after your 2 years? you said you were busy, but if you had tried, do you think it would've been relatively easy to move to a PE shop?

Nov 7, 2007