CPA Big 4 Audit > Advisory > IBD (or other) > Top 5 MBA pathway

Big4TASGuy's picture
Rank: Baboon | 110

Hey guys, this is my first post so please let me know if I'm doing something inappropriate.

I just began my second year in Big 4 audit with PwC. I was ranked a 1 in my first year and am currently looking for exits to move up. I'm a smart guy, but stayed in state for school and failed out my sophomore year. Ending cumulative undergrad GPA was 3.37, but my major GPA was 3.97 (I got mostly all A's after transferring and turning my life around). I went to a non-target as far as BB IB is concerned, though Big 4 does recruit on campus, and it's not unheard of for kids to get interviews at BB IB.

I've already gotten clearance from a partner in transaction services advisory to join the group this upcoming year (June-ish) in either Boston or NYC, depending on where my fiancee gets into school.

My ultimate goal is to make it into a top 5 MBA program, and preferably I would like to get into BB IB to further enhance my finance skills and my MBA application. I can already model at the level required, and I'm confident I'm intelligent and likable enough to land the job if I can manage to land an interview.

I have talked to others who went Big 4 TS into BB IB, but it seems this path isn't necessarily common. I have taken the GMAT once and got a 730 if that helps. I'm planning on retaking it, as I did relatively poorly on the math section due to not brushing up on probability.

Another option I am considering is making a move into S&O consulting, possibly at Deloitte due to the relative prestige, not sure if MBB is even feasible at this point.

I have strong EC's from college including founding organizations, a successful presidency of a philanthropy group, and student government leadership positions. I also have some level of entrepreneurial work preparing prospective financials which have actually resulted in the award of international business licenses and some modeling in support of a social business enterprise in the electronic health records field.

My audit experience does have exposure to a large public company and I have worked on multiple debt issuances/refinancings, as well as s-1's. I originally interned in NYC on a hedge fund specializing in distressed MBS's.

Any advice on how to best position myself for an entrance into IBD and eventually into a top 5 MBA is welcomed. Thanks for taking the time to read.

Comments (23)

Oct 15, 2013

Networking is your best bet. Your most likely path may be audit--->TAS--->boutique/MM IB---->BB IB. Might be a long road but it's not impossible.

Have you considered applying to a top MBA program BEFORE going into IB? It would probably be easier to break in that way, I imagine.

Oct 15, 2013

I will try to go straight into the MBA if I can't get BB IB prior to MBA. I'd like HBS or Stanford above all others though, and I feel IB will be a significant boost to my app. Thanks for the advice. Any feelings on S&O vs. TS?

Oct 15, 2013

To clarify, I didn't mean you should go boutique/MM IB---> BB IB if you don't have to- only said it may be more likely than going straight to BB IB. If you can go straight to BB IB, do so by all means.

Your comments are slightly confusing (my fault, not yours)- do you want to do IB to get into a top MBA program, or want to do IB AND get into a top MBA program? BIG difference, and you'd likely be wasting your time trying to do IB if you only want it to get into an MBA program.

Oct 15, 2013

Why not just try and make the transition to BB IB from the start?

Oct 15, 2013

I am definitely going to be making this attempt once February hits and my fiancee knows which city we are going to be in. Any advice on positioning myself better for this over the next couple months?

Oct 15, 2013

also, it will be MUCH easier for you to get into an elite bschool from audit, because you'll be the best big4 guy they can put into that recruiting "bucket." if youre really exceptional hbs isn't out of the question, and booth/kellog/ross/tuck are very good shots for you

**edit** having networked with people who have gone from big four into each of the mba programs i mentioned (including hbs)

Oct 15, 2013

So would your advice be to actually stay in audit vs. move out to a consulting role even within the Big4?

Oct 15, 2013

if your goal is a bschool among the ones i suggested, I strongly recommend it. My evidence is anectotal, but, as I said, each mba program i listed was reached through big4 audit+good grades+good GMAT. From there, you will get all of the recruiting tools for IBD that target undergrads get and more.

Oct 15, 2013

double post. but yea, to be clear, moving to an advisory position will not effect your bschool candidacy

Oct 15, 2013

Best way to position yourself for IBD is to memorize your story and why you want to do IB, then start networking every chance you get. Transferring to TS/TAS will help you gain some technical skills and potentially land you some interviews, but having a solid story behind why you want IB and networking with that story will pay dividends faster than transferring to TS/TAS. I made this transition so feel free to PM me.

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Oct 15, 2013

I'm definitely interested in hearing more about your story. Unfortunately, I apparently can't PM you until I have 10 bananas. Would you mind PM'ing me?

Oct 15, 2013

Thanks, will post stats in a comment below this one- just curious to hear other opinions (don't want to apply if I'm delusional).

One more point of advice/opinion on your situation- I'd leave audit for TAS/consulting, at the same firm or Deloitte etc. If you can explain in your essays why you made the move (should be easy, be honest about wanting to work in tech etc, and say why consulting will be more beneficial for product management than audit) it will provide further evidence to support your work plans, and may even help you reach your end goal. If you get IB out of an MBA, great- if you don't/decide you don't want it, having some consulting will help you potentially get MBB kind of work, which is another potential path to what you want to do. However, I'd stay at a big 4 in TAS rather than move to some lesser-known consulting firm- keep the brand name recognition when applying for an MBA if you go directly there. That's my $0.02, hopefully it was helpful.

Oct 15, 2013

These are my stats, let me know what you think. I know they usually aim for non-finance students in the 2+2 program at least, but I know of at least one pure finance student who has gotten in anecdotally and around 20% of their class are business majors. As you said, you can only give your opinion, but as I said, I don't want to waste my time if it's clear to everyone but me that I'm delusional.

-University: Best university in Australia (according to numerous rankings) and one of the best in the southern hemisphere. Top 30 in the world, if you believe rankings.
-Degree: Bachelor of Commerce (Finance major)
-GPA: 3.75-3.8 (cumulative) on the US scale, depending on how I do from now till when I graduate. Major GPA is currently (and potentially will end up as) a 4.0.
-International experience: Spent over 1 year of my degree studying abroad in the US, and growing up, lived in a different country to where I go to school.
-GMAT: 750+ (depending on whether I want to take it more than once- for now, assume 750).
Work experience: going into FT IBD at a firm that is a BB (or equivalent) in its home country but probably MM in the US- think Macquarie/Nomura. Interned at the same bank in IB and also have boutique ER experience ("head" intern, if that adds anything).
EC's: apart from spending 2-3 months in South America building homes/community centres/schools/hospitals (stuff of that nature), working at an orphanage and teaching english in poverty-stricken areas, nothing that really stands out- senior research analyst on university's student fund, volunteer experience (Ronald McDonald house- cancer support- and the SPCA- animal cruelty prevention/animal care) here and there etc.
Recommendations: solid (could maybe even say stellar) but no HBS alums (not sure how important that is). One academic and one IB reference. Academic reference is from a professor in the US (school I studied abroad at).
Essay(s): solid, perhaps the strongest part of my application.

Oct 15, 2013

Yeah man your resume sounds solid to me. You're over the median GMAT at 750 and your GPA is obviously competitive. Not sure what to tell you about a MM IB though. The work experience part is obviously what I'm also looking to enhance. As far as your numbers though I think you sound competitive. International is a statistic they also like to publish at places like HBS.

Oct 15, 2013