Moving from Big 4 into VC/PE- Career Switch

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

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Comments (34)

Mar 15, 2011 - 3:31pm

Do a search.

There have been many great comebacks throughout history. Jesus was dead but then came back as an all-powerful God-Zombie.
  • 2
Mar 15, 2011 - 4:18pm

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 - 4:31pm

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.

There have been many great comebacks throughout history. Jesus was dead but then came back as an all-powerful God-Zombie.
Mar 15, 2011 - 7:06pm
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...

-MBP
Mar 16, 2011 - 12:11pm
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.
There have been many great comebacks throughout history. Jesus was dead but then came back as an all-powerful God-Zombie.
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Mar 16, 2011 - 10:20am
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 16, 2011 - 12:09pm
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.
There have been many great comebacks throughout history. Jesus was dead but then came back as an all-powerful God-Zombie.
Mar 16, 2011 - 2:08pm

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 - 11:19pm

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 17, 2011 - 3:21pm

From Big 4 Auditing to Venture Capital - Case study help (Originally Posted: 11/18/2014)

Hello everyone,

So a bit of background info, I have 4 years of auditing experience under my belt. I initially studied finance and passed CFA level 1 but never actually worked in a pure finance role.
Recently I networked my way into a small venture capital firm interview. The owner of the company appreciated my effort and gave me a case to work on. It's a company he's looking at right now, requesting series B funding so it's in growth stage.
The documents provided are as follows: Company overview, founders' presentation, term sheet and monthly financials for years 2013 and 2014.
He said that he doesn't expect wonders and a definitive "invest" or "do not invest" decision but requested of me that I look at the company and think about the deal so he gets a grasp on my line of thought.
I've been reading about VC and researching the company for a couple of days so I can cover the gaps in my knowledge but I just need to know how to proceed on this project and what type of deliverable is the owner expecting (Presentation, valuation model, recommendation report,etc...).
If anyone who has VC experience can just point me in the right direction, Id appreciate it.

Thanks,

Mar 17, 2011 - 3:23pm

Big 4 TS + CFA -> potential move to PE? (Originally Posted: 07/30/2015)

Hi everyone,

before getting to the main point, some background info on me. I hold an M.Sc. (Economics) from a tier 1 UK university, did a 4 month internship with a mid-market investment bank in M&A in Vienna and am working for a Big 4 company in TS in Vienna since 1.5 years. My TS role is basically a GSA (Germany/Switzerland/Austria) role and therefore involves quite a bit of business travel and (depending on deal) working from various GSA office locations. I have now enrolled in the CFA program and assuming I pass all the levels at my first try, I would be done by summer 2017.

So lets do some ahead planning. Considering I am 28 in summer 2017, holding a CFA, and being Senior Consultant (3.5 years experience) with Big4 TS in Vienna, how does this place me for a potential move into a PE firm in e.g. Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich or London. I am not aiming for Blackstone, KKR and the like, but mid-sized well-reputed European PE firms. Would you say it is a realistic plan, or would I be strongly disadvantaged as compared to IB guys with strong modelling skills, which I presumably wont develop on my job to the extent a PE might desire.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Regards

Mar 17, 2011 - 3:24pm

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 - 3:26pm

Big4 Audit to PE, what group should I pick? Public or Private Co's. (Originally Posted: 02/25/2016)

I'm in big4 audit and coming to the point where I will be able to pick my group whether I want to do public companies or private companies, does this even matter? I prefer private, but public isn't the worst thing. There's also a small business group, but that doesn't really interest me.

My ideal path would be switch to FAS ASAP after getting my letters, then lateral to PE or HF, any advice?

Mar 17, 2011 - 3:28pm

Big 4 Audit to VC? (Originally Posted: 05/02/2013)

Hi everyone,

I'm a staff auditor at one of the Big 4, studying for the CPA exams. I've decided I enjoy audit and I still do. However, working in Northern California has really opened up the world of Venture Capital to me.
I think VC is absolutely fascinating, any thoughts on how an auditor could one day break into the VC job market? For example, would I need to get an elite MBA?

"You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right." -Warren Buffett
Mar 17, 2011 - 3:29pm

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 - 3:30pm

Big4 to PE directly, how hard is it? (Originally Posted: 04/14/2010)

A recruiter is interested in presenting me for a PE Associate role.
They want me to come in talk with them to show that "I can think like an investor" before putting me infront of the PE shop.

How do you show a PE shop that you "think an investor" during the interview process? And is having 1-year of corporate finance experience at a Big4 enough for an Associate role? I am a Chartered Accountant that transfered into corporate finance after 2.5 years in audit.

Note: I have not seen a full deal (start to finish while at Big4), have seen parts of a deal, but never the whole process from start to finish (would this be a ding during the interview?)

Any insights would be great.

Thank you.

Mar 17, 2011 - 3:32pm

big4 -> VC (Originally Posted: 03/10/2012)

greetings,

been doing some research, can't find an answer. what do i need to do to break into venture capital (particularly healthcare vc)? would be looking to come in as an analyst or associate.

about me: 27, non-target ugrad/grad schools (b.s. in molecular biophysics, m.h.s.a. in health management. 3 yrs in life sciences consulting at big4 firm. considering mba, only if i need too

thoughts?

thx

Mar 17, 2011 - 3:34pm

An MBA never hurts.

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