Moving from Big 4 into VC/PE- Career Switch

sams's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 28

I worked for a big four for 7 years, out of which the last 3 was in commercial due diligence,valuations, and due diligence ( am a manager now). Currently, am considering an MBA to switch my career into private equity. I have 2 questions:

1) What MBA to go to , Columbia , Berkely or Cambridge.....?

2) What to do to make myself more desirable from a PE point of view? is doing a CFA a plus?

3) What is the level to expect post the graduation?

Thanks

Comments (35)

Mar 15, 2011

Do a search.

    • 1
Mar 15, 2011

from my own research, breaking into IB->PE from big 4 is more common outside of NYC. Regional banks and funds are less caught up on the textbook desired path/pedigree... and to an even bigger extent, europe is less caught up on the textbook path.

about two weeks ago, talked to a MM LevFin VP (from europe but working in NYC), he spoke very highly of the Big4/CPA designation and was very open to its potential of breaking into high finance/consulting.

Mar 15, 2011

TechnoViking, in my experience the Big 4 and the relevant accounting designations get more respect in Europe. I have my theories as to why, but it's not really relevant to this thread-just that it may color that person's opinion on the value of that experience. My experience in leaving the Big 4 (as a non-accountant, non-CPA, non-auditor) was that people often assumed I was one if not all of those things and wanted to steer me towards accounting/back-office roles. You definitely have to fight those stereotypes if you want to do front office work.

To the original poster, I will expand on my advice to do a search since DJ Long Straddle was kind of a dick above.

The board has strong opinions about getting into PE without banking experience (this is discussed a lot especially regarding post-MBA). Basically, while it's not impossible, it's very very difficult. The fact that you've done valuation may give you a fighting chance but it's still going to be way, way uphill. A friend of mine who was a consultant at Deloitte is a 2nd-year MBA student at one of the schools you mentioned and has tried without success to get ANY full-time finance offer, let alone a PE gig. He's had some interviews for sell-side roles.

The board also has opinions about the value of the CFA in PE (Basically that it's minimal, and much more focused to asset/portfolio management and extending into the fundamental-driven hedge fund world).

You might want to consider applying to internal portfolio valuation roles at one of the big funds-they hire heavily from Big 4 valuation groups and the jobs are pretty solid in terms of pay/hours.

Mar 15, 2011
Kenny_Powers_CFA:

A friend of mine who was a consultant at Deloitte is a 2nd-year MBA student at one of the schools you mentioned and has tried without success to get ANY full-time finance offer, let alone a PE gig. He's had some interviews for sell-side roles.

Hmm...was your friend in S&O back at Deloitte? Or was it the tech stuff? This is a bit worrying for me...

Mar 15, 2011
manbearpig:

Hmm...was your friend in S&O back at Deloitte? Or was it the tech stuff? This is a bit worrying for me...

Pretty sure it was S&O, definitely not tech.

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Mar 15, 2011

big 4 for seven years... wow thats a tough one. highly highly unlikely. your best bet is to try and go to a regional pe firm or a small pe firm.

Mar 15, 2011

Kenny Powers,
I guess what I was trying to say (in a roundabout way) that he has more hope outside NYC in a smaller PE shop.

Thanks for your additional info on the matter tho.

-starting Big 4 in September and already trying to find a way back into finance eventually.. hence my interest

Mar 16, 2011

Thanks a lot for the Insights gents..however, is it fair that an MBA from a top notch won't do me a lot ??

Mar 16, 2011
sams:

Thanks a lot for the Insights gents..however, is it fair that an MBA from a top notch won't do me a lot ??

In terms of getting a job in PE, I think that's fair to say.

Post-MBA you would be looking at a VP position at a PE shop. There are fewer VP spots than associate spots, so you're competing against guys with PE experience, as well as guys who did banking before business school. I think it would be extremely difficult to land a PE job out of business school coming from the Big 4.

I did TS at a Big 4 for 2 years before switching to banking. When I interned I was told that people leave to go work for PE firms all the time, but in reality that never seemed to be the case, which is why I switched to banking.

Mar 15, 2011
IUHoosier08:

I did TS at a Big 4 for 2 years before switching to banking. When I interned I was told that people leave to go work for PE firms all the time, but in reality that never seemed to be the case, which is why I switched to banking.

I know a few people who went from the Big 4 to PE firms but exclusively in middle-office internal valuation roles and back-office accounting roles.

Learn More

9 LBO Modeling Tests, 10+ hours of PE Cases and 2,447+ interview insights across 203 private equity funds. The WSO Private Equity Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to break into the competitive PE industry. Learn more.

Mar 16, 2011

Your best bet is REPE or at max regional PE shops. My two cents :)

Mar 16, 2011

i went directly from Big 4 TS to front office PE. it was very hard. i was not in public accounting as long as you either, so that made it easier.

you need to focus on your transferable skills and what value you bring to them. the harsh reality is that most people in PE did not work in a Big 4 TS group, and while they know at a high level what due diligence groups do, they do not know what specific skills you have obtained and how those skills can be valuable to their firms. therefore, you have the burden of proving this to them. it's all about how you sell yourself. getting an MBA will open up some doors for you, but it will still be really difficult. rather than getting an MBA where you will probably not develop any additional transferable skills to PE, i would recommend going into IB for 2 years. you will probably have to go in as an associate, which is actually good because you will be required to develop the skills the PE firms so stronger desire from IB folks.

"Investors are always looking for the holy grail, the next great idea that will carry performance and pension returns for the several years. Right now its 'alternative investments' - private equity, hedge funds, the assets that have outperformed public eq

Mar 16, 2011

Dears,
Am in a dilemma now, I work in an emerging market - Jordan, and am well paid in terms of the market. The venture capital/private equity industry is still somehow new...however, i feel like moving into this industry because it is more rewarding in the long run and i expect more opportunities in the market within the next 5 years....accordingly shall I move into banking ( and what type of banking job, IB, Commercial,M&A..ect???) and then do my MBA to increase the chances of joining a well reputed company post my MBA, or shall i stick to what i do - due diligences..ect which is very good in market terms but less exciting , and maybe less financially rewarding in the long run??Please advise

Mar 15, 2011
pointassist300:

whoever answers his question above, could you also provide a brief insight on how to switch to IB? i'm an undergrad with a tech degree starting in tech at a big 4. i understand its a long shot to think of getting to IB but if i were to try, what would be a good path (before MBA)? CFA obviously doesn't help as people have suggested here.

There are a number of threads on this you can search for and read. I assume you're doing tech advisory?

It's not that the CFA doesn't help so much as it's commoditized so it won't be enough on its own. It does show that you have a base-level of finance knowledge, which I still think has some value.

Mar 17, 2011

pm me
that is, after you have earned 10 ppts

Mar 15, 2011

I can't speak to the UK PE scene. But for the U.S., it would be a tough uphill climb. As you mentioned, you'd be competing against people with modeling skills. However your transaction analysis and due diligence experience is definitely helpful. Your best bet is to get a job at a smaller PE firm where there is less structure and formality in recruiting. I've definitely seen TS guys get on the buyside, but at much smaller firms.

Mar 17, 2011

As the above poster said, will be extremely challenging.

Mar 17, 2011

Bump, anyone?

Mar 17, 2011

I know a guy who did it. He spent 4yrs in Audit and he's @ a tiny shop, but still Venture Capital.
Get the CPA and start networking. Also show that you know your way around the start-up world.
FREE IDEA: Start an LLC around yourself that offers cheap/free accounting services/advice to start-up companies. This will make you an entrepreneur, get you talking to other entrepreneurs and help you learn about the VCs hunting grounds.
Edit: I forgot to mention the tax advantages of owning a business. Swing for the fences!

Make opportunities. Not excuses.

Mar 17, 2011

Start reading the books and .............. make me a market.

Mar 17, 2011

yeah mba is a good start if you cant lateral into MBB now. i worked with a lot of hc/ls vc deals over the summer and saw a lot of phds/mds at the senior levels and most pre-mba associates had hard sciences educational backgrounds with previous ib/mbb stints within hc groups. post-mba had previous r&d experience at f500s.

Mar 17, 2011

An MBA never hurts.

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

Mar 17, 2011

i think MBB is out of the question, virtually impossible to lateral into. is there anyway to avoid getting an mba and just lateraling into a vc firm (even a boutique or whatever) say like a pre-mba role?

Mar 17, 2011

isn't it ALOT harder to get into VC than to get into MBB?

Mar 17, 2011

i didn't think so....at least i hope it isn't....

Mar 17, 2011

It is exponentially harder to get into VC than MBB. There's no clear path in VC.

Mar 15, 2011

this guy mark watts did it and founded his own firm. started out as PE, now it does everything. It is more common in europe it seems..
http://www.marwyn.com/about-us/management-profile.stm

Mar 17, 2011
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Mar 17, 2011
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