London offer decision - Big 4 M&A v IB Boutique

Currently based in London in transaction services (have ACA).

Have offers from Big 4 lead advisory M&A team and an IB boutique (think Panmure/GCA/Zeus/Cannacord).

Which would set me up best for PE / buyside further down the line? 

Salary marginally better at the boutique, but does big 4 carry a better name for small-mid market PE in London? 

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Comments (19)

Nov 23, 2020 - 3:45am

Without knowing which boutique I would still say go for the boutique. Note though that some of those you have listed above are corporate brokers - are you sure it is the M&A advisory division of those? Do they have a track record of PE deals?

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Nov 23, 2020 - 7:21am

Disagree - GCA better than Big4 too. Thing people have to remember is the Big 4 are constantly chopping and changing whether lead advisory (as they call it) is a focus or not. Also with regulation changing, suspect it will be even less of a focus. The Big4 in the UK e.g. are actually trying to sell off some of their broader advisory departments.

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Nov 23, 2020 - 6:51am

Interesting responses - thanks all. I am a bit surprised as a quick search on Linkedin shows much more people exiting to PE from the big 4 than these firms (struggling to find any PE exits at all). Unless you think this is simply a function of the numbers the big 4 have? 

Nov 23, 2020 - 6:56am

The thing is, loads of UK MM / LMM PE firms like to hire ACA qualified guys from big4. This may explain why you are seeing so many PE exits from big 4 and not so much from those boutiques. 

Nov 23, 2020 - 11:25am

Imo Big4>boutiques for FT. If it was for an internship and then planning on recruiting for another internship at BBs/EBs it would be the opposite.

Few reasons for that:

UK LMM/MM hire frequently from ACA programs in TS/FAS/M&A at the big4.

BBs/EBs hire Big4 guys more than they do from small boutiques for Analyst 2-3/Asso1 roles after your ACA. And from there the buyside should be relatively easy.

Nov 23, 2020 - 12:20pm

But UK MM & LMM PE hire from a load of mid market IBs too. In the UK it was different historically - there were limited mid market M&A houses and accountancy was seen as an obvious entry point. Look at the juniors at these firms now and you will definitely see hires from mid market M&A houses. Also we are using the term boutique quite liberally - agree, OP if it is a no name boutique then go for Big 4. Also if it is a corporate broking house then go for the Big4.  

Nov 23, 2020 - 12:45pm

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