Switching from Banking to Consulting

oranges4321's picture
Rank: Chimp | 12

I would appreciate any candid advice on this issue.

I interviewed with 6 companies last Fall for the summer analyst position at GS, MS, JPM, BCG, McKinsey, Bain.

  • I had final rounds with GS IBD, MS GCM. I accepted MS GCM before JPM IBD final round.
  • I had final rounds with BCG. I didn't have enough time to prep for consulting so didn't do as well.

I was wondering if anyone has any experience and insight switching from finance industry into consulting.** I am considering the idea of switching from finance to consulting for full time. ** I realize they are two different industries.

My interest in the long run is entering in to the space of sustainable technologies, like TESLA. I also am researching into a few VC firms that invest within green technologies.

Comments (34)

Jan 14, 2017

I have plenty. PM me.

    • 1
Best Response
Jan 15, 2017

I almost did the same thing that you're currently considering- worked in banking this past summer, and then pursued consulting for full-time. I ended up securing multiple consulting final rounds before I opted to take an attractive equity research offer instead.

Anyways, transitioning is pretty easy. I worked at a middle market bank with a decent but not top-tier name (Wells Fargo), and I was still able to secure interviews pretty much everywhere. Based on all of the places you interviewed this year, it looks like you go to a target school, so that+the Morgan Stanley name should be enough to guarantee you interviews at almost all the top consulting firms next season. Nobody will really question your desire to move, as going from banking to consulting is a pretty common decision in these circles. Just tell your interviewers next year that you liked banking, but wanted to get a more holistic or cross-functional view of companies, instead of merely focusing on their financial/debt-raising components. If Morgan Stanley GCM puts you in a specific industry vertical (don't know if that's what they do), you can also say that you want to gain exposure to a broader variety of industries and companies in consulting.

Amusingly, in my own experience, consulting firms won't even care whether you get the return offer from Morgan Stanley. Nobody ever asked me, at very least. This is not to say that you should just totally bail on your internship responsibilities this summer, but it's worth noting beforehand.

The hardest part is practicing case interviews. In my opinion, you should start practicing cases from the moment your internship starts. Since you're working in capital markets, you'll probably have your weekends free. Find someone else who's dedicated to case practice, and do live practice with them every weekend! Basically the way it works is that you give your partner a case, and then he gives you one back. Try to get at least 30-40 practice cases done per person - this'll take over 100 hours for most people. (Personally I hit diminishing returns around 20 cases, but it varies from person to person.) It's going to be a pain in the ass to practice enough cases in the 6 weeks between the end of your internship and when consulting recruiting begins next year, so get it out of the way ASAP.

I have more advice on practicing case interviews if anyone is interested, but I'll leave it at that for now.

    • 6
Jan 15, 2017

Coming from someone who interned at a MM and secured a FT position with a tier 2 strategy boutique - this is pretty good advice! The only thing I will add is that I was actually asked about my return offer very frequently. This might be because I went to a non-target, so the consultants wanted to make sure I could handle the workload of a high stress job.

Personally, I started practicing cases right after my internship finished (I took 3 days off or something). I still managed to get 40 or so under my belt before recruiting began, but the earlier you start the better. Overall the transition is pretty seamless as long as you have a good answer to "why consulting not banking?" which you will be asked every interview. I always said that I liked learning about business strategy but didn't want to be pigeon holed into one industry/function this early on, and consulting can provide exposure to many more different types of strategy problems. MS GCM will be totally fine for recruiting - I have a friend who did GS/MS/JPM capital markets and (still from a non-target) he was able to get interviews everywhere and landed at a MBB.

Jan 15, 2017

Someone recently asked me to elaborate upon my "advice on practicing case interviews," and I figured my subsequent PM might be of general interest:

The case interview preparation process consists of two main parts, 1) studying and 2) live practice. The latter is far more important than the former.

1) Studying: Unlike preparing for investment banking interviews, which mostly just involves silently studying the steps of a DCF in your college dorm (and maybe doing a few mock interviews with your friends), live practice will take up 80%+ of the time you spend preparing for case interviews. That said, you obviously still have to study first, before you can begin live practice. For rising seniors, I recommend doing this before your junior summer internship even begins-- you want to get it out of the way in 2-3 weeks, so you can begin live practice early this summer.

The most popular study materials are Marc Cosentino's "Case in Point" and Victor Cheng's "Case Interview Secrets." David Ohrvall's "Cracking the Case System" probably constitutes a distant third place here. While most people tend to recommend Case in Point, which is basically the default option for consultants today, I personally think that the book kind of sucks. It mainly just gives you a whole bunch of case frameworks to memorize, which is a pretty lousy strategy for actual case interviews. In my experience, Victor Cheng's material was much simpler, and therefore much better. He presents you with three basic frameworks, of which you'll probably only use two: the profits framework, and the business situation framework. (I never bothered reading Ohrvall; apparently some people like him a lot, although like Cosentino, he sometimes overdoes it with the frameworks.)

Victor Cheng also has the "Looking Over My Shoulder" program, a series of case interview audio recordings that you can listen to. This costs like $300 or something to buy, but you can just pirate it online if you're so inclined. Assuming you can get your hands on a copy, this program will actually give you a pretty good idea of what a case interview should sound like, i.e. what kind of questions you'll be asked, what kind of answers you should give, and (most importantly) how you should word those answers.

Do note, however, that the actual content of the interviews in Victor Cheng's recordings is somewhat dated. The first half of his recordings feature "candidate-led" interviews, where the job candidate basically does all of the talking. In my experience, almost no firms actually interview like this anymore. Instead, focus on the second half of Cheng's recordings, which are "interviewer-led." In addition, Cheng somewhat overemphasizes the structured nature of case interviews. Most of my actual interviews were more casual and free-form than Cheng makes them seem; for instance, many of my interviews ended without a conclusion or solid answer to the case, and apparently that was totally fine.

I highly recommend listening through the second half of Cheng's program 2-3 times. You pick up on more nuances every time you listen to it. This'll probably take 15 hours minimum, but it's immensely helpful for developing your "natural sense" of what a good case interview is.

2) Live Practice: Anyways, once you finish reading Case Interview Secrets and listening through the second half of Looking Over My Shoulder a few times, begin live practice as soon as you can. Live practice entails the following: You and a case partner get together (either in person, or over Skype-- I highly recommend Skype instead of the phone, because it always helps to get used to staring at another person while interviewing). You give a case to your partner, and then your partner gives a case to you. Then, each of you gives feedback to the other person. Write down the feedback, because otherwise you will totally forget it. While case interviews usually only last 20-35 minutes, practices tend to have more friction and wasted time, so realistically you'll want to schedule 2 hours for a full practice.

I can't emphasize the importance of live practice enough. Practicing case interviews by yourself just doesn't work very well. When you merely read a case interview in a book, everything seems obvious and easy to solve. It's only once you're actually put under the pressure of doing a case in front of a peer, that you realize how challenging it is to structure a problem on the spot, do mental math quickly and accurately, and articulate yourself clearly to the interviewer, all while simultaneously maintaining some semblance of eye contact!

There are a variety of ways to find a case partner. A lot of people practice with friends/family who are current consultants, or going into recruiting next year. Or if your college has a consulting club, try emailing some people there. In my case, none of my friends/family were doing it, so I literally just posted on my college's class Facebook page and asked if anyone wanted to join me. Of course, the best people to practice with are always current consultants. However, unless you already know a current consultant really well, it's generally not a good idea to ask them to give you a mock interview early in the preparation process, as you probably won't make a great impression. Leave that for later.

One additional note on case partners: not all partners are created equal. Some of the people that I practiced with last year weren't very good at case interviews,, and didn't seem to be improving very quickly either. These people oftentimes just didn't know what a good case interview was supposed to look like. While I don't think that doing case interviews is a matter of natural talent (far from it-- I'd say the skill mainly comes from a willingness to bear through endless repetition), you may want to do live practice with a variety of people in the beginning, just to see who would be more productive in practice than others.

For my practices, I mainly relied upon example cases that I found online, as there are literally hundreds of them out there. Plenty of MBA "case books" are floating online these days, for instance, and Dropbear has helpfully compiled a few of them here: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/business-sc... Personally, I found the Wharton and Kellogg cases to be the most helpful.

    • 1
Jan 17, 2017

Does anyone have any insight into the typical timeline for the banking to consulting jump? Would a 1st or 2nd year analyst start as an undergraduate-equivalent, or as someone with experience already (if both, what are the merits to each strategy)? Would a 1st year banker recruit as a sort of "lateral" hire, or interview around the same time as on-campus recruiting and do an entire extra year in banking?

Learn More

7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. The WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to start your career on Wall Street. Technical, Behavioral and Networking Courses + 2 Bonus Modules. Learn more.

May 29, 2017

I did a BB banking internship and successfully recruited for consulting full-time.

When I talked with people in the industry, I sold myself by explaining how I felt the banking experience was valuable, but I wanted to play a much more active role in the client's strategy and operations. I talked about a deal I was staffed on during my internship. The revenue and margins used in the valuation models used a report made by a consulting firm that identified synergies between the client and their recent acquisitions. For me, understanding the industry and the company's position within the industry (which led to the numbers) was much more interesting than just plugging them into our model.

May 29, 2017

Awesome thank you!! So you don't think it will be held against me?

May 29, 2017

Definitely won't be held against you. BB banking is a very established internship program. The name and experience is recognizable for every firm and (if you have an offer in hand) it will validate that you can perform at a competent level.

I interviewed very early into the season (not during normal on-campus recruiting). During my final round, 3 out of the 5 people there had just finished a banking internship. While it's a small sample size, I think it proves my point that the BB banking experience carries some weight.

You still should start making connections with people now if you do plan to apply for upcoming FT recruiting.

Learn More

7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. The WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to start your career on Wall Street. Technical, Behavioral and Networking Courses + 2 Bonus Modules. Learn more.

May 29, 2017

I know McKinsey really doesn't take undergrad summer analysts, so besides doing microfinance for UNICEF or some other high brow hippie shit, I would think i banking would be the next best thing to interview with them. I don't know about Bain, if they take a lot of analysts from their SA class, which is a bummer cause the people at Bain rock, and have a rad time. I've never meet McKinsey people, but they seem really lame; they get staffed on some amazing consults, but blah. I think you could get in with Bain in the fall.

May 29, 2017

I'm not sure if this is true of all Bain offices, but I have heard that the SA classes are only 1/4-1/5 the size of the FT class. Which of course means they do NOT take a significant percentage from their SA class. And you are right, McKinsey is pretty much mostly FT recruiting.

And when I was at BCG, I met two people that both didn't get internships but got FT positions there.

So consulting internships at MBB are crazy hard to land, harder than FT positions.

May 29, 2017
westfald:

I know McKinsey really doesn't take undergrad summer analysts, so besides doing microfinance for UNICEF or some other high brow hippie shit, I would think i banking would be the next best thing to interview with them. I don't know about Bain, if they take a lot of analysts from their SA class, which is a bummer cause the people at Bain rock, and have a rad time. I've never meet McKinsey people, but they seem really lame; they get staffed on some amazing consults, but blah. I think you could get in with Bain in the fall.

Why do you even bother to comment if you don't know anything? You've never met McKinsey people, but these people you haven't met just seem really lame?

McKinsey definitely does take undergrad summer analysts, but the great majority of FT hires will not have done SA. This is true for Bain and BCG too, so they'll be plenty of spots for people like you in the fall. Now, had you received an SA offer from them, you very probably would've also been extended a FT offer at the conclusion of the summer. Enjoy your banking job and try to find out if it is a good fit or not without clouding your mind too much with thoughts that Bain, or another firm, would certainly be a better experience for you.

May 29, 2017

Yeah, you're in a good position. You'd be in a stronger one if you had landed a consulting summer internship - but a FT gig is easier to land than an internship for M/B/B in general.

May 29, 2017

Most kids I know that broke into M/B/B FT weren't able to get M/B/B summer internships, so don't sweat it.

May 29, 2017

Summering in IBD will not put you in a disadvantage for full time. Yes, M/B/B do have summer interns but numbers wise it's very difficult to land one of those gigs. If you had gone through interviews with MBB and did well, they tend to tell you that you did well but that they don't have enough spots, and some times they'll consider you "fast tracked" to full time.

In a down market, the number of summer consultants who accept full time offers is much higher. That said, I estimate MBB fills up to 80% of it's class with new FT hires.

In short, yes you can transition and there are spots open

May 30, 2017

As a start, take out objectives. You need to flesh out your IB experience, even if this is for consulting. There are no numbers on your resume whatsoever; consultants love saying random things with numbers/graphs/heat maps/etc and numbers make you look analytical. If you have transaction experience you should list that.

May 30, 2017

Seems like taking out the objective section is a universal agreement by everyone. I do have transaction experience, however I avoided putting it on there to keep it looking too finance heavy**. Sounds like consultants love seeing numbers and deals just bankers. Sounds like a selected transaction section with an advisory emphasis would be ideal?

**Suggestion by analyst at a top consulting firm.

May 30, 2017

Thank you for the advice by the way.

May 30, 2017

I really really don't like the objective/personal profile.

Any reason why you left without a job lined up?

The dates on the education section of your resume overlap; is that intentional?

Can you play up the strategic advisory part of your work more? It just gets mentioned briefly.

May 30, 2017

I agree on taking the objective/personal profile section down, it just doesn't make any sense. After taking that section out I should have room to add a selected transactions section where I can hopefully play up the advisory role.

I didn't have a job lined up for when I left for a few reasons, I wasn't initially sure on wether to go straight to grad school or if I wanted to try getting into consulting first, plus I really just wanted a few months to just relax. Being at a boutique, I had no set PTO and took practically no time off over the course of 2.5 years and just wanted an extended break.

Great catch on the education section, I meant to have January 2010. Thanks

I am struggling with how to word the strategic advisory part. Maybe just use (advisory-related) keywords when I add a selected transactions section? Or would you suggest re-wording my current bullets?

Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it.

May 30, 2017

Is consulting one of those fields that still does the "objective" at the top? Seems very 1992-ish. That info seems more appropriate for a cover letter.

May 30, 2017

Haha per everyone elses comment I guess not.

May 30, 2017

I would recommend the Arctic Energy group

I'm gonna get that bish some binary

Bishes love binary

Kind Regards,

Bin_Ban

May 29, 2017

This a silly question but I'll bite. If you're going to try to switch gears to consulting, can guarantee you the first thing some doucher MBB person is going to ask you is wy switch from XYZ investment bank to consulting.

Given said doucher will likely think himself / herself superior to bankers, you'd best be served to be in a group where you can easily wiggle out of the anything specific. So with that said, I'd probably go with an m&a, lev. fin., or industrials group that's very broad in scope; the more competitive the better.

May 30, 2017
Stringer Bell:

This a silly question but I'll bite. If you're going to try to switch gears to consulting, can guarantee you the first thing some doucher MBB person is going to ask you is wy switch from XYZ investment bank to consulting.

Given said doucher will likely think himself / herself superior to bankers, you'd best be served to be in a group where you can easily wiggle out of the anything specific. So with that said, I'd probably go with an m&a, lev. fin., or industrials group that's very broad in scope; the more competitive the better.

Well it's extremely common for MBB FT recruits to have done an IBD SA stint, so I don't think they'd really care so much what the reason one would want to "switch" (probably wanted to do consulting all along).

May 30, 2017

Healthcare, it's a huge segment of the economy and consulting firms usually have large HC groups. What group interests you is the better question.

May 30, 2017

Bump - any more thoughts?

May 30, 2017
Comment
    • 1
Feb 12, 2019