Economic Consulting in the U.S. vs MBB in Emerging Market

rodands's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 28

Hi guys,

I am graduating from a target school in the U.S. Right now, I am considering two offers: Analyst in top Econ. Consulting firm in the U.S. (think AG/Brattle/Cornerstone, my background is not in Econ/Finance) vs MBB analyst / associate consultant in an Emerging Market (Major player in region, office growing at 20%/year, not as travel intensive as in the U.S.).

Of course, we are not comparing "Apples to apples", but sometimes you have to choose between dissimilar things. Some considerations:

-My plan for the future will be M7 MBA, and then move to strategy or PE (PE is more likely to happen in Emerging Market after MBA, for evident reasons). If I do Econ. consulting, switching to MBB in the U.S. will be also an option.
- I am a numbers person. I would probably enjoy Econ. cases a little bit more, but the client facing part of MBB is definitely a great skill to have.
-Both companies sponsor MBAs, but sponsorship seems more likely to occur in the MBB.
- In compensation terms, if we consider cost of life and taxes, I will make an extra 50% in the U.S. in the first three years.

What insights can you give in this case? Thanks!

Comments (7)

Oct 25, 2016

Given your goals, this is a no brainer, go to MBB.

    • 1
Oct 25, 2016

I can't add a whole lot to the MBB side of the equation. But coming from the econ consulting side, I'd say a switch into strategy roles or MBB post MBA will be quite straight forward for you, whereas a switch into PE will be really difficult (if not impossible). You're going to get a ton of valuation/stats/competition/market research experience at an econ shop but you will not have any deal experience (other than maybe reviewing some deals that went awry). It's just going to be very tough to convince a PE shop to take a risk on you when they have 200 MBAs with previous IB/PE or straight IB experience knocking on their door.

Anyhow, seems like good options either way -- congrats! I do think both lead you to very different end points, but could see both of these setting up really nice careers.

    • 2
Oct 25, 2016

Thanks for the response! Could you comment please on other exits-opts for Econ Consulting + MBA? I have heard Asset Management and Equity Research, are also very common.

Best Response
Oct 25, 2016

Yeah I mean it's a nice first job because the opportunity set is so broad. Using b-school as a transition to buyside equity research was certainly my preferred route, but I've seen a lot of former coworkers go onto other interesting things...

1) MBA by far is the most common exit. Probably 60-70% of junior peeps will head back to b-school after 2-5 years. The good news is they tend to place really well given the expert witnesses you'll work with are almost always connected to top b-schools or econ departments. Post-MBA these folks will do a variety of things. At Chicago I think there were about 6-7 of us with econ consulting backgrounds in my class. I think 2-3 landed in MBB, 1 went to banking with a tech coverage team, 2 went to strategy roles at companies and I did the IM route. I do think this is a great launch pad to jump to IM (or ER) post MBA, but you are going to need to be prepared to hustle.
2) Ph.D. have had four former coworkers head to econ or finance ph.d.s at really good programs -- most of these guys are about done now and seem to be publishing well (damn that's a long haul tho...)
3) Law school -- definitely a different spin, but you will look really strong for law schools relative to some 22 y.o. fresh out of u/g. Had one friend do JD/MBA which we can debate the utility of.
4) Laterals - have seen people go to top hedge funds, tech (e.g. Facebook, early stage), VC (rare), corpDev or finance rotational roles at major corps, and of course laterals into other econ shops.
5) Banking - occasionally we had someone come in for a year or 18 months and realize it wasn't for them, and they really wanted to get their soul crushed in IB. This would not be my recommended route but certainly an option.
6) Make a career of econ consulting - frankly this is rare for junior people. There are still two peeps at my old EC shop that have worked their way up the ranks (8-10 years later they are Senior Associate / VP level). Really this would be less than 10% I think across the industry. You really have to love that type of analysis and the start/stop nature of these litigations. You also probably need to believe that one day you will make a good testifying expert witness, but I'm not sure how anyone gets comfortable with that.

    • 4
Oct 25, 2016

Fantastic options, congrats! There's really no wrong decision here.

Without an explicit preference towards either role I would take the MBB offer-mainly because it's 50% more money, won't put you at any disadvantage so there won't be any regret, and won't deprive you of any options relative to the EC gig. This is more of an "all else being equal" kind of decision.

I work in an internal consulting/corp strategy group full of ex-MBB and while I consider them my peers, the types of headhunting opportunities that are landing on their desks relative to mine are ridiculous (I get lots of Manager opps, they're drawing Director and VP level stuff). One actually just exited a couple months back to a role as a VP at a PE firm's portfolio company. So the combo of optionality, fit with your goals, M7 placement, etc. makes it close to a no-brainer. But the EC side is just as good from what I've seen-I personally know 3 and one's over at Acumen, while the other two ended up in IB and MC.

Oct 25, 2016

50% less money if MBB is taken

    • 1
Oct 26, 2016