Q&A : M&A consulting manager

Hey all, work is incredibly busy at the moment so procrastinating by doing a Q&A...

A bit about me:

Went to a good school in UK, worked in London for 4 years getting promoted to manager. Have since transferred with the same firm to the US

I primarily work on PMI and Sell side Carve outs but have done Ops and IT diligence work + some synergy pieces 

Will try and provide as much info as I can, ask away!

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Comments (19)

Most Helpful
Apr 21, 2021 - 12:40pm

UK it's much less of a thing IMO and people find it kinda irksome.

I've referred people who pinged me on Linkedin i I thought they were a fit but I know a lot of people who wouldn't, Americans are generally nicer and more open than the Brits so you wont build that connection over a few chats like you would in the states. It is also less effective, I've seen people dinged at the first round interview after a partner referral. That being said for the British elite (private school network) it is alive and well, and often a lot more effective so depends what background you are from.  

It's still worth a shot imo, referral effectiveness aside people are open to helping with resumes / case prep etc if you catch the right person. My tips would be try and be as normal as possible, loads of 18 year olds from my school and university alums reach out, I get on a call with them and they're boring as hell and robotic because that's what they think the corporate world wants. It isn't, show you've done your research and you have an interest in the industry but show you're a likeable and interesting person more (think airport test)  

Apr 22, 2021 - 1:34pm

If you mean generally - Unfortunately i'm not much of a reader, the last thing I read was an explanation of time by Stephen Hawking 

Targeted to M&A consulting - Honestly never picked up a book related to my job in my life so can't help you there either sorry! Happy to chat if you have specific questions about it though

  • Investment Analyst in CorpFin
Apr 22, 2021 - 1:10pm

What's your comp increase by transferring? Hearing a lot of consultants in London find it difficult to save as they are squeezed by lower salaries and high CoL. Did you experience the same?

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Apr 22, 2021 - 1:37pm

My comp increased roughly 2x taking into account bonus etc, I started my transfer before I got confirmation of my promotion and at that level it's more like 2.5-3x , at the entry level it's 3 - 3.5 times more so you can see the differential lowers as you go up.

Yes it's true that London is expensive and consulting salaries are no where near the US standards but honestly it's still an extremely well paid job relative to UK salaries. If you can't save as a consultant past entry level (and even then to be honest) in London then you have a spending problem (unless you live alone which is atypical for London) 

  • Investment Analyst in CorpFin
Apr 22, 2021 - 3:41pm

Good to know thanks - how was the transfer process (are you at a B4 firm - if so was that more difficult as they are separate firms within the 'network'), how long did it take, VISA sponsorship, etc? 

Apr 23, 2021 - 5:57am

Hey, yes I am at a B4. It wasn't very difficult to be honest, I'm close with the partners in the U.K. so I just told them this is what I want to do etc and they put it in motion for me, I also reached out to folk in the office I wanted to move to before putting my transfer in. I'm very close with one partner so I told him first and he guided me through it. The interview / transfer process was quick like 1 month. My move was actually paused due to the E.O and Corona etc so we found a workaround where I am in a closer time zone to my new office but i'm actually not in the USA yet (hence why i started the process as a senior but was since promoted to manager given how long the visa took)

Apr 23, 2021 - 11:37pm

Thanks for doing this. Just out curiosity, are you a CPA (or UK equivalent) by training and is your group heavier on the accounting side of M&A or are you in the true "consulting" arm (or whatever the hell the Big 4 call it nowadays - I swear these firms add more and more groups yearly). Regardless of which side you're on my questions are:

1. How are your hours usually? I used to work in deal advisory and hated that I was sometimes dealing with the bullshit bankers deal with of being on-call 24/7 while getting paid and traveling like a consultant.

2. How long are your projects typically? Again, speaking solely from the deal advisory side, I got annoyed that every diligence was 3-4 weeks max. As a result, I either had nothing to do, boring "practice development" work to do, or was running around with my hair on fire in TS. I'm therefore looking for a group with longer term projects where there is at least some time to breath in between milestones/key deliverable dates.

3. I'm looking to do the opposite of you - go from the US to abroad, particularly to Asia. How hard do you think it is to make this transition? Are there international offices that are easier to transfer to/value US experience more favorably than others? For example, I'd imagine most Euro offices are fairly popular for Americans to want to move to

Apr 26, 2021 - 10:41am

Hey, so I was in the deals practice but no I'm not a chartered accountant, I did do a foundational certificate in Management accounting but that was all. 

1) So depends, Pre-deal work your hours are quite rough and your clients are usually PE houses who will work you to the bone. I focused on PMI and Sell Side Carve-Outs in no small part due to the fact that corporate clients are nicer, more lenient with expenses and require less hours. That being said I typically finish about 7pm each day with c.1 night later a week in a typical week with Friday being lighter. I've worked much later regularly and it sucks, I try and finish as close to 5 as possible

2) Again same as you the lifestyle is very important to me, my projects tend to be anywhere from 3 months - a year + (although in that case it was an acquisitive company who kept us on for the integration of 3+ bolt on companies so I guess you could look at it as four different projects)

3) I honestly couldn't answer that, Asia might be different but one thing I will say is that in Europe (less so UK but still the same) people are typically not super impressed with our American counterparts, noone can figure out why they're working 10+ hours more a week whilst delivering the same work. This is not to rag on the US more a warning on culture differences, people are less tolerant of bullshit deadlines and deck iterations for the sake of it therefore if you're senior the cultural change may be difficult. However, it sounds like you're junior so it translates to a substantial quality of life improvement (even though the money is much much less)

Apr 26, 2021 - 11:16am

Opsconsultant

Hey, so I was in the deals practice but no I'm not a chartered accountant, I did do a foundational certificate in Management accounting but that was all. 

1) So depends, Pre-deal work your hours are quite rough and your clients are usually PE houses who will work you to the bone. I focused on PMI and Sell Side Carve-Outs in no small part due to the fact that corporate clients are nicer, more lenient with expenses and require less hours. That being said I typically finish about 7pm each day with c.1 night later a week in a typical week with Friday being lighter. I've worked much later regularly and it sucks, I try and finish as close to 5 as possible

2) Again same as you the lifestyle is very important to me, my projects tend to be anywhere from 3 months - a year + (although in that case it was an acquisitive company who kept us on for the integration of 3+ bolt on companies so I guess you could look at it as four different projects)

3) I honestly couldn't answer that, Asia might be different but one thing I will say is that in Europe (less so UK but still the same) people are typically not super impressed with our American counterparts, noone can figure out why they're working 10+ hours more a week whilst delivering the same work. This is not to rag on the US more a warning on culture differences, people are less tolerant of bullshit deadlines and deck iterations for the sake of it therefore if you're senior the cultural change may be difficult. However, it sounds like you're junior so it translates to a substantial quality of life improvement (even though the money is much much less)

Wait, what? How is this a bad thing lol? The one thing I really hate about consulting and why I've thought about bailing is all the bullshit busy work the higher-ups give me (i.e. giving comments on my decks just for the sake of making it seem like they did a thorough review, wanting me to turn it that night, and then not looking at it till 2 days later). I'd gladly take a bit of reduction in pay if my QOL notably improved. 

Just curious, but what types of skills are important for carveout type of work? Is it heavy on modeling, is it very PMO-oriented or what's your role on those?

May 10, 2021 - 9:49am

Hi there - Are you talking about Deloittes corporate finance arm i.e. their investment bank? Or their M&A consulting group, if the latter then I wouldn't expect you to be given a P&L to do DCF on that's really Banker/FDD work. I'm not sure about D but our interview process is usually - Interview with M/SM level, Case study, Partner interview (in order) I would assume the case is structured like a consulting case but with a M&A focus so my recommendation would be to determine what work the group actually does and then learn the associated important terms such as TSA, stranded costs, standalone costs etc. I have seen a case where essentially it's asking how you would separate a division of a business, what you need to think about etc, so try to think along those lines. 

Disclaimer - I work in IT/Ops therefore it may be different if you're on the strategy side however, I would still be surprised if they're doing the DCFs to do go-no-go decisions, I would imagine that is a bankers work and strategy (outside of CDD) in M&A would usually be on the assumption that the deal will go ahead 

May 10, 2021 - 1:42pm

Thank you so much for your response. Very helpful suggestions on terms to brush up on. Definitely studying up on the M&A process from diligence through integration :) 

May 14, 2021 - 6:58pm

For someone who is looking to land M&A project work in consulting, is there a suitable "ramp-up"/starter project that would help me be successful in (or prepare me for) pre-deal project work down the line? Starting with a firm soon, but I've heard jumping into M&A projects as an inexperienced consultant may not be the best move to start.

May 17, 2021 - 11:11am

Assuming by pre-deal you mean DD work as opposed to separation blueprint / carve-out execution type work so the following is based on that assumption -

Honestly no not really, DD work is generally baptism by fire and the first one or two will suck but you quickly get used to it after that. My recommendation for a strong start would be - Pick up old DD reports and read those, you can probably find them in your firms repository, most DDs will follow a similar structure and you'll pick up on the order / key points across all DDs and the writing style. The second (and honestly more important piece) is to try and figure out who you will be working for, DDs can be absolutely miserable if your manager/SM is a dick if at all possible try and gravitate to those who are known for coaching and will give you room to learn without biting your head off (often these people are homegrown from grads)

Good luck!

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