Switching from Consulting to Investment Banking

Consultant22's picture
Rank: Monkey | 31

Hi All,

I am looking for some advice on how I should proceed with my life, now that I am committed to get into banking or equity research.

I have been working for a large but not necessarily prestigious consulting firm for 1.5 years after leaving school. However, instead of working in information technology or systems implementation which is often the reputation of my company; I have been on c-level strategic plan and strategy implementation engagements since I arrived at the company(basically more MBB type work without the name). This has allowed me to bank client facing experience as well as top 5% company ratings since I arrived. However, my industry experience is not in financial services but in Logistics, Government, E-commerce, and Education. This I suppose is somewhat interesting, but not necessarily directly related to anything investment bankers do on a daily basis.

Its been really bugging me lately how badly I want to work in investment banking. I was a finance major in college, graduated magna cum laude and held an internship at a small M&A firm doing pitch books, due diligence, and some valuation work. Ever since I have never experienced an environment so challenging and fulfilling.

My dilemma is that I am from a non-target who has really no non-internship finance experience(outside of some DCF work and revenue projection models on a couple of consulting projects). However, I am a CFA Level 2 candidate and am close to a wiz at excel.

Every job I want seems to be looking for someone who has 2 years of experience at a bulge bracket or is looking for a fresh out from a top 5 undergrad business program. I am just now getting serious about submitting applications for a number of positions but am worried about getting interviews given my unconventional background. My questions are:

  1. Who should I reach out to/cold email/cold call at the target firms I want? Is it okay to target non-alumni and what story should I be ready to tell? Is requesting an informational interview a fair thing to do?
  2. How do I convince companies to give me a chance at new hire jobs even if I have been out of school for awhile? Especially if they seem to focus on pulling talent from on campus interviews?
  3. What is best to emphasize on my resume for someone with my background? My experience, education, or reason for wanting to be a banker?
  4. Do any of you happen to know any good places to reach out to in the DC area besides Houlihan Lokey and FBR? I would really like to stay here if possible, but banking opportunities here seem really hard to come by.

Also if anyone has any personal recommendations given my circumstances, feel free to PM me.

Thanks!

Comments (75)

Feb 8, 2011

RW Baird has an Arlington office.

Feb 8, 2011

"I have been working for a large but not necessarily prestigious consulting firm for 1.5 years after leaving school. "

Is there any prestige in consultancy at all?

oOo

Feb 8, 2011

I'm also curious about this.

Anyone have any thoughts?

"I'm not sure what the four 9's do, but the ace, I think, is pretty high."

Feb 8, 2011

what is "par"? if you quantifying instead of making it sound like a golf score, maybe we might be able to give more input. If you network hard, as long as you have more than a 3.0, you have a good chance, and i do mean network HARD...
you have to spin your responsibilities real well on your resume, so that it stands out. If you do that well, you'll have a legit chance of making it

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Feb 8, 2011

I can't speak for OP, but personally I graduated from a school ranked b/w 50/75 magna cum laude (~3.8) with finance and accounting majors. I'm working in consulting and would be interested in switching to IB.

Curious if this is nearly impossible or if starting CFA would help.

"I'm not sure what the four 9's do, but the ace, I think, is pretty high."

Feb 8, 2011

Thoughts?

"I'm not sure what the four 9's do, but the ace, I think, is pretty high."

Feb 8, 2011

I'm sure it is possible if you network hard, and then manage to get interviews. You would need to prepare extensively so you could nail the interviews, but getting yoru foot in the door would be the hardest part. There is likely no straightforward way for you to go through the typical recruiting process (through school/career services), so networking is your best bet.

Another option if you just want to defer the cost of an mba is to stay in consulting, then have you firm sponsor you to b-school. From there recruiting for IB is straightforward

Feb 8, 2011

Yeah, B-School would be your best bet unless you want to go straight into an analyst position. CFA for IB is pretty much useless (people on here are divided on this).

Feb 8, 2011

btw if you are an analyst in management consulting, you will have much better luck getting a gig at a smaller MM/regional investment bank, so I would target those types of firms. I wouldn't waste too much time targeting the BB banks, as the smaller boutique banks would be more likely to hire someone with prior non-IB work experience such as yourself

Feb 8, 2011

Thanks Socal, Walkio and ZIRH for your thoughts.

My only concern is that after 1 year, I might tire of the consulting lifestyle/job, and want to transition into banking. Is the general consensus that after a year in Strategy at a place like Accenture or Deloitte, it would be best to focus on MM banks? What if I were willing to come in as a 1st year analyst? Are BB's just too structured (re: campus hire) and/or prestigious that they would be unrealistic?

Thanks all.

"I'm not sure what the four 9's do, but the ace, I think, is pretty high."

Feb 8, 2011

Thoughts anyone?

"I'm not sure what the four 9's do, but the ace, I think, is pretty high."

Feb 8, 2011

My .02 - I dont' think there would be any harm in trying the BB banks. The majority of BB analyst recruiting is through campus, and because you won't have that avenue open to you, you will have to network to get the interview. I do not think it is unrealistic, but you will have to be quite dedicated in order to get the interview, which is the hardest part.

My other suggestion is that if you think you will ultimately end up in banking, don't waste your time consulting. Start networking and interview for gigs now.

Feb 8, 2011

Someone from my BSchool is starting as an Associate at a top Bulge Bracket in IB, and was a healthcare consultant before.

Feb 8, 2011

you talkign about a lateral or move inside your current bank

Feb 8, 2011

this would involve moving to a bank in general. i'm currently at one of the big 4

Feb 8, 2011

hey teeto8, did you ever end up finding any answers? either to this or exit opps in your other post? I'm curious to know as well.

Feb 8, 2011

bump

Feb 8, 2011
Feb 8, 2011

I don't actually know anybody that has made the switch. Generally, if a consultant wanted to do banking, he would have started out in it; the reverse also holds true. I think it is more common to go to a consultant-friendly PE shop.

Just going from conversations I've had, I would say the average banker views consultants as having a softer skillset. I have never heard a banker call a consultant dumb, but the general view is that their work is less technical.

Also, at least among analysts, consultants are sometimes considered to have a weaker work ethic. Then again, there are barely any jobs short of the military that require the time commitment of banking.

Feb 8, 2011

Why would you want to do this?

If you're at a top-tier consulting firm, you should try to join a consultant-friendly PE firm, as WCR mentioned above.

If you're at a mid-tier consulting firm, you should get 3-4 years of experience, then apply to an MBA program in the 4-15 range (ie, not H/S/W), then join banking as an associate if that is still what you want to do.*

Moving from consulting analyst to IB analyst is, at best, a lateral move. It certainly doesn't accelerate your career in any way.

  • Btw, if you look at recent trends, consultants have much higher acceptance rates at top b-schools than bankers. Not sure why, but my guess would be because consultants are deemed to have better soft skills and be better problem-solvers, which are more attractive attributes than the pure technical knowledge that bankers bring to the table.
Feb 8, 2011

yes its possible

why do you want to start over as an analyst rather than do MBA then start as an associate

Feb 8, 2011

Definitely doable if you're coming from MBB or another good strategy house and have relevant experience (e.g. stuff related to M&A, if you want to switch to M&A). I interviewed with BBs last summer and got multiple offers in M&A at seniority levels approx. one year below what I was in consulting. I think you have no chance of getting interviews though if you've focused on IT or ops work.

I think there's definitely value in going in as an analyst as then you still will get good modelling training -- not sure how much time you'd get to spend on that post-MBA. Also think going into an IB post-MBA may shut a few interesting doors (going PE pre-MBA after IB, for example).

Feb 8, 2011

Thanks m2, that's exactly what I needed to hear. I do have an interest in PE, and I think getting IB experience to compliment my consulting skill would set me apart during recruiting. Just to ask, how many years into consulting did you make the switch? And how did you go about the recruiting process?

Feb 8, 2011

I did after two years but also know guys who moved within their first year, or even after like 5 years or so. It's effectively a market question -- if the industry goes in hiring mode, I think it's relatively easy. Use all channels i.e. recruiters, friends (let them know you're looking cause they will know which teams may be hiring) and potentially also on-campus recruiting if you're still junior enough.

Feb 8, 2011

I guess if you are coming from a good consulting firm (like Bain or Booze Allen even), it shouldn't be as hard as first step into IBanking.

Also, it would depend on which firms you are targetting at. From what I've heard, if you are transitioning into the field from not top school, amazing, marks, and/or from a different field, the best bet is to start from smaller botique firms.

  •  Feb 8, 2011

Sorry to push this further, but what about a middle of the road firm, (Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte) does that just mean target banks further down the line?

Feb 8, 2011

Kind of a side comment, but I've met quite a few former consultants in ibanking. The move over really depends on experience and of course, if you can sell yourself. There really isn't an age limit for 1st yr analysts, but do you really want to start out at the bottom of the food chain? My advice would be to get an MBA from a target school and start as an associate. Now in terms of difficulty, if your aiming for an analyst and your currently in consulting - chances are kinda slim cause your going to need the contacts in order to get an interview. Plus, your going to have to explain why consulting is so blah and howcome you just didn't recruit with an ibank in the first place. Go with the MBA, that's my suggestion. Although, if you really want to get in you probably can. Why? The real question is how badly do you want it and how much are you willing to work for it? Banks luv ppl that can truly commit their souls and firstborns to the cause, but can you pitch it?

Feb 8, 2011

1. Contact headhunters, as many as you can. If you do a search on this forum, you should find plenty.

2. Reach out to as many connections as you can. If that's alumni MD's, great. If that's analysts, that's also great. MD's oftentimes don't have a sense for whether their group is under/overstaffed and aren't involved in the minutiae of recruiting. Ideally you can find mid-level guys, like a senior associate or VP.

3. Don't discount campus recruiting (or at least, the careers website). Perhaps not as applicable to you given your characterization of your school, but maybe still useful - lots of firms will post job openings for laterals, and I've seen at least a couple on my school's website when I was looking to make a move.

4. Make sure you have your story down. You're going to have to clearly explain why you don't like consulting, and why you want to do IB in light of that (i.e., how the undesired trait does not also apply to IB).

Good luck!

Feb 8, 2011

well, personally no, I don't haev experience with this, but I've heard of some consultants coming over to i-Banking. This Associate I used to work with was in consulting, got his MBA, then switched over to Banking. Needless to say he didn't last more than 8 months.

As much as people say they can handle the hours and are ready to work hard, it's another thing to try and get a pompous ass to stay past 10pm, even when shit needs to get done. The sense of entitlement can kind of be a death knell for these guys...that being said, I am sure there are some success stories of consultants coming over as well. By and large, if you can skip the 2yrs of analyst pain, I would recommend it...but consultants in general will still be in shock from the workload as an associate at most banks.

Feb 8, 2011

What about the associate hours, are they getting more relaxed than the ones of analysts? And what about the week ends?

Feb 8, 2011

SO why do you want to switch?

Feb 8, 2011

Interested in this topic as well, anymore insight?

Feb 8, 2011

Why switch from IBank to Big 4 CF and then back to IBank again? I thought it seems more logical to stay on in the IBank till a lateral opportunity comes along?

Feb 8, 2011

Hi, I'm 25 with 1 year experience in management consulting. Before that I had 3 years financial analyst experience with P&G....

currently also looking to move into IB and find it very difficult because consulting is not a very financial modelling based role, yet all the analyst jobs requires that as a minimum. Also IB requires exposure to deals, i don't have any exposure to that other than industry experience and management skills.

any tips on how to make the move?

Feb 8, 2011

Or the best job to be in/have experience in to be considered for switching to IB/PE etc?

I'm assuming no MBA for this as well.

Feb 8, 2011

bump

Feb 8, 2011

Don't let the monkeys get you down! You can definitely do it. But it may be trickey -- I'd argue the best way is to reach out to the banks now, and say you are working in consulting, but you'd like to start over again as an analyst. Most full time classes have started for 2012, so you may have to go through their 2013 process -- but totally doable. You lose a year, relative to others, but as long as you're willing, and your resume is good, most thoughtful recruiters will recognize you'll have an extra year of maturity. I've seen this done on a few occasions. You should make it clear if you do get the offer to join next summer, you'll keep working until then at your current job -- this will impress them that you are thinking long term, and not that you've gotten out of college and just don't like work. Trust me on this last point, It is critical.

If you need to jump NOW! and can't wait, it will be much harder. Not so much because you're in consulting, but because everyone has their classes in place. You might get lucky and find a bank that lost someone last minute, and they'll let you interview.

Good luck!

"A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between he does what he wants to do." - Bob Dylan

    • 1
Feb 8, 2011

You need to familiarize yourself with IB concepts immediately. If you complete your consulting assignments in a timely fashion, then you should use your downtime to study financial modeling and to begin networking. Since you will have a year of experience under your belt, there are no excuses to show up on day one without having a strong handle on modeling. You should know how to do a DCF, spread comps, etc, before you even consider interviewing. I would recommend the Breaking into Wall Street course, its very solid and straightforward. Also take a look at both technical and fit interview guides and start crafting a story for yourself. Read through the Banker Blueprint (PDF easily searchable on Google) to better familiarize yourself with how effective networking works. You have an uphill climb ahead of you, best of luck.

    • 1
Feb 8, 2011

I don't see why you couldn't make the switch, especially if you have the hard skills already nailed down (modeling and ppt). When you do get downtime, start rebuilding models used in banking (combo models, LBO's, valuation models with football fields -- DCF, comps, precedents) -- ask one of your friends who's at a bulge bracket to send you a few models.

You're off cycle for full time hiring (analyst programs literally started 2 - 3 weeks ago), but you can catch the summer 2013 train. Interviews are this fall. So do the following:
- Polish your modeling and IB concepts during downtime this summer
- Polish your resume, have it reviewed by your friends in banking
- Contact all your friends at banks, network, network, network, ask to speak to their VPs and Associates and make sure to prep before these calls. Show drive and hunger. Do this during the summer and early fall.
- Put your resume on the banks' websites for 2013 analyst programs. You should be able to interview at the same time as Class of '13 seniors this fall (more common in London, but has happened in NYC, and other US locations).
- Your friends in banks have the ability to sit on the selection committee for each school. Make sure they push a lot to get you an interview. Once you have it you're on your own, but by then your odds will have improved tremendously.

Good luck.

    • 1
Feb 8, 2011

Thanks for all the comments guys. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out. I already ordered some banking/private equity books on my kindle and will definitely use my down-time to make sure I am ready for everything. Again, thanks for helping me out.

Best,

Dale

Feb 8, 2011

Hey @makethemove , I am in the same boat. I am probably making the switch via B-School. From the people I have talked to who have done it, its not too hard. The skill sets are very transferable. However expect a massive increase in work hours. Most people transfer the other direction. Outside of the OCR at B-School I am not sure how you would do it. Best of luck

Feb 8, 2011

Thanks man you too. I hope things work out for you on your end!

Any members make the switch without first going for an MBA?

Feb 8, 2011

-

Feb 8, 2011

No comment, but I like your user name.

Feb 8, 2011

Do you like what you do?

Parts of banking are great, parts of it suck. Parts of consulting are great, parts of it suck.

Just do what you want to do and don't care about what the other things are.

Although, some of my most fun was working a a good banker friend on a deck where he wanted some insight on op. improvement options etc.

TT

Feb 8, 2011
TylerT:

Do you like what you do?

Parts of banking are great, parts of it suck. Parts of consulting are great, parts of it suck.

Just do what you want to do and don't care about what the other things are.

Although, some of my most fun was working a a good banker friend on a deck where he wanted some insight on op. improvement options etc.

TT

This is very true. If you are interested in things outside of finance, such as strategy, operations, etc, consulting is likely a better fit. The other point i would stress is that you have a chance to do more writing in consulting than you would in banking, and depending on how large or small your firm is, your work may actually get read by senior people.

You also have the opportunity to sit in on some high-powered meetings that have real-world implications, such as closing/opening plants, changing branding, and even making acquisitions. Like everything else in life, though, no one can make the decision for you.

My comments refer to management consulting as I'm unfamiliar with other forms.

Feb 8, 2011

Personally if I had to choose between the two, I would go with Banking, I just think the travel would get old fast. But hopefully it won't come to having to choose between these fields.

http://managementconsulted.com/consulting-jobs/que...

Feb 8, 2011

Most consultants who've worked longer than 2 months would disagree that constant traveling and "meeting new people" is actually a pro.

-Become pale, chubby, and totally lose your game.
-Not have skills that apply outside of finance.

Yeah, this isn't subjective at all, and totally valid points.

Feb 8, 2011

I have no idea why anyone would call travel a plus for consulting, regardless if they were working for 1 week or 6 months. Even if you weren't travelling to Bumblefuck, Midwest, you're spending 10-12 hours a day at the client site, sitting in conference rooms and ordering food. Yeah, maybe you'll go out a few times for drinks, but there's no time to see the sights. And regardless how much you enjoy air travel, all that jetting around gets old. Fast.

You'll meet people, sure, but they're professional relationships, some of which are hostile ("Oh look, upper management brought in these douchebag consultants to tell us how to run our division, now they're going to suggest we cut costs and fire people. Big deal, my high school son could have told you that.")

Currently: future psychiatrist (med school =P)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

Feb 8, 2011

The hours consulting people say they work 60-70 are only marginally worse than what most bankers do about 80 a week. There is no travel which is a huge plus. Comp is better, branding is equally good i.e. McK vs GS. Exit opps are more defined in banking, but is that really so awful?

Feb 8, 2011

I think the marginal difference on happiness between 60 hours, 70 hours and 80 hours (not including non-productive travel) is huge.

60 hours allows me to sleep ~7 hours a night during the week and not do any weekend work.

70 hours allows me to sleep ~6 hours a night during the week and do a bit of weekend work.

80 hours allows me to sleep ~5 hours a night and requires at least an afternoon of weekend work.

It's been repeated ad nauseam that banking bonuses are down, and combined with the costs of living in NYC, the purchasing power of a BB analyst isn't much different than an MBB analyst.

That said, I think the communication and travel parts are horseshit.

Meeting new people - somewhat interesting to work with clients across functions and industries, but you build very few lasting relationships as an analyst. You're seen as an outsider, and a somewhat uncredible one at that, by many people.

Travel sucks unless you're using the points to go somewhere during your vacation, or taking advantage of alternative travel and going somewhere else for a weekend - which most people won't want to do all the time because it's hard to have any semblance of a normal life if you're never home, not to mention basics like doing your laundry.

Pale and chubby, and/or PE exits are both very viable from both banking and consulting.

Feb 8, 2011

Did a banking intern last summer and figured out that banking was not for me. Consulting on the other hand seems much more interesting.

Feb 8, 2011

Even within consulting there seems to be differences in travel time, for example some encourage client site visits more often than others.

Feb 8, 2011

Mostly depends on your goals. I want to learn about finance, but I find the strategy and entrepreneurship exit opps provided by consulting to be much more appealing. I agree that travel sucks, but I think the work in consulting can be more interesting, but depending on the project, I expect it can be almost as bad as finance.

Feb 8, 2011

You make more in banking than you do in consulting ? banking > consulting

Feb 8, 2011

.

Feb 8, 2011

Comparing banking to consulting is like comparing apples to oranges. With that said, everyone is different when it comes to choosing a career. Although salary, compensation package, and money may be an easy way to measure one's self worth, that's not all there is...

Choose the career you think you will succeed in, and not just the one you think will be better for you. Most importantly, choose the one you like. If you don't know which one then try them both and find out.

Feb 8, 2011
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