Investment Consulting career

Ironuts's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 295

Hi all,

I was hoping that someone might be able to give me an indication of the career prospects one might have if one were to start their career working as an investment consultant with a company such as Mercer. They'd put me through the CFA which is good, but what would be my options after qualifying?

Ultimately, I would like to work on the buyside as a PM. Is this in anyway realistic after starting as an investment consultant, or would I be too pigeon-holed?

Any thoughts?


Comments (29)

Jun 30, 2011

from what i know, the majority of these jobs are just going and 'consulting' pensions endowments and the like on their diversification and whatnot according to some metric that you guys use right? you guys = mercer

Jun 30, 2011

From my understanding it's one of two types of investment advisory... either researching different funds for investment purposes, or analysing the wider markets for asset allocation purposes. It hasn't been decided what I'd be doing yet.

So... what are the career prospects after training in a role like this and gaining the CFA charter?

Jun 30, 2011

Mercer is a best in breed investment consultant and if a fine place to start. You will learn a lot about the markets, the economy, asset allocation and manager due diligence.

Getting your CFA is a huge plus given your goal of becoming a buy-side PM. However, if you want to work at an equity or fixed income fund, it might be tough, as the skill set you will need is different (security selection vs manager selection).

As far as exit opps that are more easily attainable, you can definitely work at a fund of funds, private banking, or even in a strategist position at an asset manager.

Nov 7, 2016

Would exit opps include fundraising and private placement?

Jun 30, 2011

Thanks Tan,

Sadly, it's equities that I really have a passion for, so in an ideal world I'd want to eventually be managing an equities portfolio.

Do you think that moving into equity research either before or after gaining the charter is in anyway realistic? I realise that this is a great opportunity, but I would be left very disheartened if taking it meant that my prospects for eventually managing an equities portfolio were non existent.

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Nov 7, 2016

search for Cambridge Associates on WSO... you'll find a ton of info. they've been well covered.

Jun 30, 2011

How far along are you in your career? Is this your first job out of undergrad?

You might want to do some searches on the backgrounds of the people at Mercer, Cambridge, Ennis Knupp (AON-Hewitt), Watson Wyatt and Callan. That should give you a better idea of your exit opps and typical backgrounds.

Nov 7, 2016

IC advises on strategic allocation for non-profits institutions such as university endowments etc. Wide knowledge base across the asset classes; from traditional to alternatives like PE, HF.

Following up on allocation, they perform manager selection research, advising on the managers to pair with the asset allocation.

All in all, an intellectual setting albeit at a distinctly slower place

    • 1
Nov 7, 2016

That's very helpful.
Is transition from IC to other fields frequent ?

Nov 7, 2016

What type of consulting? It really depends...

Nov 7, 2016

I've met a few people who did a few years in management consulting, went to a top B school, and then broke into investment banking.

Granted, it might be harder now. The people I know made the switch around 2004-2007.

Mar 28, 2017

hi guys,

Like someone before hand my aim is to break into the buyside eventually in a PM role (preferablly multi-asset or FI).

I have interest from a PWM in a trainee role where the aim is to become a investment manager (initial work is more marketing, valuations and some investment research whilst you qualify)
whilst I also have interest from CA as an inv associate (either on charities/endowments team or for SWFs team)

I was wondering if anyone who has posted before has had any luck breaking into AM (or PE / VC for that matter) from an IC role?

This would be a grad scheme and I already have passed CFA I and looking to do complete CFA. Will 2-3 yrs experience at IC plus CFA be enough to transition over into at least a strategist role in an AM?

Mar 28, 2017

Is this like Cambridge Associates type of role or what? Pretty good firm (the only one I know). They look at your portfolio and suggest optimal asset mix to optimize returns/minimize risk. That kind of stuff. Most endowments use them. A lot of the firm is also based around publishing research reports, and I believe that they have a separate research group that does this. Lifestyle is solid- probably consultant type hours maybe 60 a week average (maybe more). Lot of them go on into portfolio management or working for an endowment. Comp is the worst part, not particularly great. Had a few friends deciding between there and strategy firms and the comp was quite less here. I think it was 60 base and 10-15 bonus. With that said (and I'm speaking purely to Cambridge Associates fyi) the culture seems great, the people I met there were really nice, and the few people I know who have worked there and since joined endowments had only great things to say about their experience, so I would recommend it.

Mar 28, 2017

I interned in an investment consultant group and would reiterate what the above poster said. You are providing suggestions on how they can best allocate across multiple asset classes and manage risk or whatever other variable the client is interested in manipulating. Since the work is client-based, like so much of finance, it really depends on how many projects your client requests. I would be shocked to hear more than ~65hrs/week. Given that time commitment, $75K all in is not too bad and would say it's the avg for this kind of role.

Mar 28, 2017

It's not for Cambridge Associates but a very similar firm.

Thanks for the information I appreciate it.

Mar 28, 2017

One of my best friends works at Cambridge and he really likes it. I guess it is extremely common to study for your CFA in this industry (he took lvl 1 this month). He enjoys the hours and says the best part of the job is the abiliy to obtain exposure to all asset classes not just at his firm its pretty standard at most big Investment Advisor firms.
I've also met a few guys from Cambridge who came to my school for an interview and their value stems from the ability to have an outside (3rd party) opinion come in and suggest asset allocation as Black Jack suggested. Because of regulatory and stict investment guidlines endowments and pensions must abide by, they are great resources to work with.

I think it is a fantastic role for college grads or those 1-3 years out. I can't comment on the phone interview, but I've heard these types of firms throw some interesting brain teasers at you such as the question of the light switches being in a different room and finding out what switch goes to what light.

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Mar 28, 2017

PM me, happy to give you a rundown.

Mar 28, 2017