Moving to Restructuring Advisory?



I am a former auditor with my CPA. Like most of us, I got sick and tired of that after a few years and ran towards FP&A where I'm currently an analyst for a public company. In my few months here, the job is pretty mixed but way better than the auditing.

I like that I get to do more strategic work and actually help make an impact compared to auditing where I would just find problems and let someone else fix them. I do not like how mundane some of the tasks can be. Things like budgeting can be cumbersome but some of the ad hoc work is very interesting.

I've really liked corporate restructuring and advisory. I've never been a creator and have seen myself more of a problem solver which I feel a career in this could fulfill that. My question is largely focused on how to get there, especially for a guy not in NYC or Chicago.

My plan would be to put in around 18 months here and then move back to public accounting in their business valuation group. I have read that a lot of consultants in restructuring spend time in valuation and I see great value in that group, especially if I'd help value assets in a restructuring role. Is this really the soundest way to get there? Is there anything I can do while in fp&a or valuation that could help later on like specific projects that would be good to be apart of? I have my CPA, are there any other certifications that would help set me apart down the road? I'm not sure a CFA would be fully applicable, but it is something I would consider if people think it would help.


Comments (13)

Most Helpful
Dec 19, 2018 - 3:25am

Restructuring consultant here from one of the top firms.

From my perspective moving into valuation group first makes zero sense and there is very little similarities that I see between this group and restructuring. You would very rarely value assets in a restructuring role.

You already have financial background and by the sound of it you are getting industry experience as well. Why don't you go ahead and just apply to whatever RX roles you can get? There are plenty of smaller / mid-market advisory firms and even the big ones have regional presence in the US. I would look for the following:
- Top firms (A&M / Alix / FTI)
- Big Four
- Mid-market accountancies (Grant Thornton, BDO etc).
- Local boutiques in your regions

Dec 21, 2018 - 1:59pm

Hi Johnny,

Thanks for responding and giving some insight. I had read other articles that people frequently move from audit to valuation and then end up in restructuring. So you think I could pivot from FP&A directly to restructuring? I'm fine with skipping valuation to get to restructuring, it'd be great to skip that step.

Is there anything specific you would recommend like a certification that could step me apart besides my CPA? Or else a type of project to get involved with on my FP&A team that would be useful for a future career in restructuring?

Thanks for your help

Dec 28, 2018 - 6:09pm

Most of the people that work in restructuring have a background in public accounting of 3-5 years. A year or two doing FP&A, assuming you were mostly forecasting/budgeting and providing strategic guidance to business units would be perfect to break into restructuring. I work at a boutique and almost every single employee worked in public accounting audit prior to joining the firm at some point. All my direct competitors hire from similar talent pools. A few associates have left for Alix, A&M, but i know they hire inexperienced people as well.

While there definitely is a valuation compenent in restructuring, going to big 4 or second tier accounting firm to get the experience makes no sense. You can learn it on the job and doing valuation of distressed companies is definitely different that a lot of the valuation work you will do at public accounting firm depending on the deal flow.

If you are outside of a large market, where the larger firms have offices, go to the TMA website and find what firms exist in your local ecosystem. Unfortunately, outside of most major metros, a lot of the firms are small one to three person shops.

Dec 30, 2018 - 6:04pm

Hi Hawkeye,

Thanks for your response. That insight makes a lot of sense, glad that I seem to be on a pretty straight path to break into the industry eventually.

If I could, I just have two quick questions:

1) I do come from a moderate-sized city, but certainly not where restructuring firms are plentiful like Chicago, NYC, etc. Have you ever seen individuals who are based out of an office, but don't actually live in the city where their office is located at? I figure consultants travel a lot, probably Monday-Thursday. Would a firm ever entertain the idea of having someone who can travel all week, but is not in the office unless there is an important meeting or something else significant? During my time in audit, I've worked with external consultants who have done that, but wasnt sure if that is feasible.

2) Do restructuring professionals ever go get there MBAs? I would imagine that the work consultants do would make them pretty competitive for top MBA programs. Wasn't sure if once you get in, you have no need to get one or if consultants sometimes return to school. Also, any certifications I should be looking at to try to get or am I okay with my CPA?

Thanks again.

Jan 5, 2019 - 6:46pm

There are firms in a lot of midsize cities, some of the regional firms have one or two person offices in mid-sized cities. At the entry level, it might be tough, if not impossible to find the situation you describe up above. After a working for a firm and proving yourself, it might be possible.

A lot of restructuring professionals have MBAs, but typically from the top five to ten schools (Booth, Kellogg, Harvard, Stern, etc) but it is definitely possible to get to partner without one. A lot of people in the industry are former CFO's, bankers, accountants, investment bankers, etc. that have a variety of backgrounds and a lot of them do not have MBA's. Most referral sources care more about my experience, but you will work with a lot of top tier MBA's at PE firms, banks and clients, so it would definitely help you connect with certain people.

Your fine with a CPA, there are some specific restructuring industry certifications, but i'm not sure how necessary they are. When i'm selling myself to clients, people ask if I'm a CPA, no client or referral source has ever asked if i'm CIRA or CTP/CTA. Some people do get them, but it is probably less than 25% of the industry, might be closer to 10-15% but I usually tell people I have X years of experience, I can give client testimonials, etc.

Would be interesting to learn from others in the industry, if the the certification have been beneficial, but at this point i'm not planning on attaining any of them, or an MBA.

Jan 8, 2019 - 10:32am

Do you ever see people join restructuring from FLDPs/only Corporate Finance experience? I have 2 years of high level FP&A experience and 1 year of Treasury working in Capital Markets/Strategy. I feel my background would be good for restructuring, but has no relation to Audit.

Also JohnnyForeigner would appreciate your input as well.

Jan 8, 2019 - 3:48pm

Short answer to your question - yes I see people join with only this kind of experience (and its not that rare), especially in more junior positions. I would say that corporate finance and FLDP (so a mix of financial with a bit of operational experience) would actually be better than audit. Also I would see Treasury as an extremely valuable experience given the cash / liqudity focus of RX.

Overall, RX consulting is less driven by the names of schools / prestige / employer names but more focused on demonstrating relevant and hands-on experience in finance or operations (or better both) and the ability to learn super fast. I've seen lawyers, industry guys, investment bankers, PE guys or strategy consultants (my case - had no clue about 13 week cashflow when I joined) come in and do really well. I would say there is no TYPICAL background expected - most of the people I know came from different walks of life from very different places.

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