IB background not welcomed in consulting?

I was called up by one of the MBB to do an interview with them and was invited to attend this dinner reception prior to actual interviews. At the event the partner of that office started roasting IB after learning my past internships were primarily banking related. He himself is responsible for consulting PE clients so I was pretty shocked hearing things like "IB contains mostly menial and unintellectual work", "300 columns in your spreadsheet and you got this number, but what does it mean in real world" etc. He was then joined by his principal who basically reinforced the whole IB sucks idea.

I mean personally I do not see IB as "high finance" or ever bragged about working for a big bank, but I take pride in the work I do like in a 300+ column multitab model. Was my experience just an isolated case or does consulting actually look down on IB?

*edited company name&wording that got some taking the mickey out of

Comments (51)

Most Helpful
Nov 6, 2019 - 3:31pm

Take it from me - people who are very secure about what they do in life never have to denigrate other occupations to bolster their self-worth. How often do you see great CEOs diss their competition? They let their work speak for itself.

Nov 7, 2019 - 4:31am

As a management consultant who previously worked in a very quantitative field where I used Excel every day for years...I am absolutely horrified by the workbooks that I see my colleagues produce. It's especially surprising that we have a very good culture around deck writing and making sure that your story is consistent, that everything is clearly laid out, etc. but it's harder for consultants to apply that logic to Excel by applying basic best practices to keep your workbooks organized, clean, and easy to follow

Nov 7, 2019 - 4:37am

As a management consultant who previously worked in a very quantitative field where I used Excel every day for years...I am absolutely horrified by the workbooks that I see my colleagues produce. It's especially surprising that we have a very good culture around deck writing and making sure that your story is consistent, that everything is clearly laid out, etc. but it's harder for consultants to apply that logic to Excel by applying basic best practices to keep your workbooks organized, clean, and easy to follow

Nov 6, 2019 - 11:30pm

"Oh, so you think darkness is your ally? But you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a man, by then to me it was only blinding. The shadows betray you because they belong to me."

  • Bane
Nov 7, 2019 - 11:43am

I would say that sets the precedent for the whole relationship. In my experience, whenever I have a coworker/boss that says things like that right off the bat, they usually have a superiority complex and it will be visible in your employment long term.

No one should feel so inclined to hate on IB unless they have a chip on their shoulder. Good thing you caught on early!!

Nov 7, 2019 - 1:52pm

This is very true.

Getting a job is a lot like getting into a relationship, you're going to spend 10+ hours a day (maybe less, still a lot) with this person and at least part of your life controlled by this person. Similar to looking out for red flags while dating, look out for red flags while interviewing.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
Nov 7, 2019 - 12:05pm

As others alluded to above, these consultants most definitely have a chip on their shoulder.

Maybe the partner and principal didn't want to come to terms with the fact that I only use their industry research and deck to substantiate a few inputs into my "300 column spreadsheet". That same deck that took them months to churn out.

Nov 7, 2019 - 2:12pm

Not agreeing with the MD or principal here. If the conversation happened as OP said, then they are not the type of people you want to work for or with. But aren't you doing the exact same thing that you are calling out? Banking and consulting are two different career paths with different value propositions - not sure why either group would look down on the other.

OP - if you want to know what people in consulting think about IB, you might get better responses if you post this in the consulting forum. Agree that these particular consultants do not sound like people you want to work for, but I would not paint the entire industry with such a broad brush.

Nov 7, 2019 - 12:42pm

"Bankers and Consultants, it's time to squash the beef. Gonna settle this now... right here on the Street."

Still can't buy Cristal with Starwood points.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
Nov 7, 2019 - 1:59pm

Surprisingly unprofessional... Considering that the MDs/ partners in charge of a client relationship can provide very similar advice and be engaged in very similar discussions, I don't see why the IB hate. Sure, the entry-level work can be different, but you're adding value on both sides.

Nov 7, 2019 - 2:33pm

Your experience is frustrating I am sure. However, this is anecdotal and not indicative of how most consultants view bankers. I had 3 different IBD internships and zero in consulting yet ended up in consulting FT. During my countless networking sessions no one ever knocked IB. They acknowledged it was a grind and that at times "it probably sucked". They also stated that consulting sucks at times. I'd say I have the same number of friends in IB as I do in MC. Sounds like that consultant got dinged during his IBD interviews because he lacked the soft skills necessary to excel in banking.

Not to go off on a tangent or hijack your post but I want to mention that you should think carefully about making the transition. The work is VERY different, and as psychotic as it sounds, find myself missing banking more than I thought I would. I am not unhappy with my choice but I certainly miss some quantitative aspects of IB and running pitch/deal processes.

Nov 7, 2019 - 4:53pm

"Prospective monkey" takes pride in the "advice I offer to clients".

You'll realize a lot of these finance/consulting A-types are very insecure and try to put others down to make themselves feel better. Not everyone, but you'll come across much worse people in these industries than you've laid out here (and much better!).

Nov 8, 2019 - 4:39pm

Not to be cocky but I was the only person at my previous office who spoke fluently in another language and that earned me a lot of face time with clients. But I see what you trying to do here. Working my way to be near human.
I do realize I was a bit too naive after working with some of the nicest guys in finance. Gotta get ready and puff out my chest when necessary.

Nov 7, 2019 - 5:25pm

I've come to find in my career that consultants like to work with consultants, and bankers like to work with bankers. Pick your poison and be happy with it.

If you look through Biz Ops, Tech, strategy and other corporate jobs (after your analyst stint), you will notice that if the head of the team is a former banker, most of their team will come from banking backgrounds. If the head of the team is a former consultant, most of their team will come from consulting backgrounds.

Nov 7, 2019 - 9:33pm

Personally, I've seen a lot of ex-bankers/finance people struggle to succeed at the 'next' level in consulting. They tend to be good at building a model and maintaining data, but have to be really pushed in order to drive real, actionable insights. It's not because they can't, but they're not practiced in it. Consultants have to constantly ask "is this data real, does it make sense in the context of my overall work, what else in the real world can I validate this against" while bankers are often more focused on whether or not the inputs to the model feed to the formulaic outputs.

It's not a bad thing, it's a different learning curve and mindset than most hires. I'd never look down on a banker hire. I would, however, expect that they'll take some time before they become "quantitative storytellers". Just need reps, like anything else. The bankers who struggle are the ones who don't see the need to drive the extra layer of thinking.

That's just personal experience.

Nov 8, 2019 - 4:48pm

Nice to read your thoughts on the remarks. I can imagine how big the difference can be with data interpretation and overall thought process in delivering advice.
If you worked on M&A/PE deals would you be able to elaborate on the the specifics of daily work in PM?
I was hoping to ask that partner these questions but he didn't give me a chance lol

Nov 15, 2019 - 3:54pm

I've heard Managing Partners at PE funds make similar comments in regards to hiring associates for PortCos or for their fund. While IB associates have worked on transactions and built models, the work tends to be formulaic, and she commented that former IB associates can run into trouble without a template or faced with a unique situation. This is a very general comment and reflects the structure of IB more so than any individual knowledge or skillset in IB.

Of course, the comments from the original post sound pejorative and extreme.

Nov 8, 2019 - 4:48am

On another note -- as a consultant, I never really think about / compare myself to bankers. I suspect that the only places where people do that are on forums like this. In the real world people are too worried about their job, hobbies, families, and the rest of their lives to compare themselves to other careers like that. I suspect that the person you overhead say this was joking around, very insecure, or very early in his/her career.

Nov 9, 2019 - 2:41am

At a recruiting event for MS last year in college, a Sales & Trading MD also talked down on IB.

The MD said that IB is just numbly inputting numbers in Excel and that choosing it over S&T shows a lack of courage.

Long story short, some people like to belittle other activities when trying to recruit for their team, even if that means insulting your own coworkers in front of 100 college students. Anyone with a bit of perspective sees that there is both value and bullshit in all consulting, IB or S&T.

Nov 9, 2019 - 7:17pm

As I'm planning my next internships at the moment, may I drop in with a question? I'm a bit concerned that I will always do finance related work when I start with a career in Investment Banking. How easy is it to swith from Investment Banking - M&A to Management Consulting at a later stage? If it works out: Will I only be staffed on finance related projects, or are general projects also possible?

Nov 11, 2019 - 5:47pm

The consultant making this comment is obviously very insecure.

IB and MC both have individuals who are not comfortable with their value-add, so they pick themselves up by knocking others including folks from other professions.

The knocks are always the same. IB folks make fun of consultants for some combination of lower pay and "softness" in terms of all the false intellectualism and lack of tangible results that plagues MC. MC folks make fun of bankers for long hours and the lack of critical thinkingthought that often plagues IB projects.

At the end of the day, if you're in IB or MC and are actually smart and driven, they're both very well-worn paths to being a successful business leader. Look at the top CEOs, founders, investors . . you'll see more than enough IB and MC backgrounds to plainly justify both of them as classic paths.

Anyone in either profession who's any good already knows this, so don't take advice from the dumbass who made that comment. He can't be very good if he says things like that.

Nov 12, 2019 - 2:10pm

OP here. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts. Now I look back at this incident it's like nothing and it didn't change my interest in finding more about consulting. But per your comment this guy's unprofessional to say the least, still he made it to partner at MBB and advises the very clients whom many times were ibankers before entering PE. I'm young and naive I understand, but this is some unnerving fact that I don't know if I'll ever make peace with.

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