Why Consulting - Answering the Interview Question

Hopkins55's picture
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Why go into consulting instead of the clearly superior investment banking?

Don't you travel an ungodly amount in consulting?

Bankers make way more money.

Aren't consulting exit opps roughly equal to those of a retail cashier?

Consulting tends to be an afterthought when people are considering a career, simply because it's not banking, but the reality is that consulting is a very solid career choice. Yes, you travel a lot. No, you don't make as much as investment bankers. But you have to ask yourself: are those two factors enough to turn you away from consulting at first glance? They shouldn't be, considering the factors that make consulting appealing: fewer hours, travel (it can be a benefit, especially to recent grads), sponsored MBA, tremendous exit opportunities, solid compensation, and more.

By the end of this page, you'll know whether consulting is for you or not.

Why Consulting - Interview Question

Before we get into consulting as a career choice, we need to indulge those of you who came here looking for an answer to the interview question, "Why consulting?".

First, what not to say in response:

  • A desire to travel
  • Good exit opportunities
  • Compensation

None of the above give the interviewer any substantive reason to hire you. You need to speak to the specific functions of the job and tie that into your strengths. A particularly good answer will show your passion for consulting while tying it into your own story. Here are some good reasons to mention:

  • You embrace responsibility and the chance to work with senior clients. You view it as an excellent learning opportunity.
  • You enjoy seeing how businesses work and solving complex problems within organizations.
  • You want to utilize your analytical skills in the business environment.

Again, you want to tie this into your story. How did you discover you wanted to pursue consulting? Did it happen in class, did a friend introduce you to it, or did you learn about it on a job shadow? Make it clear and cohesive. If you end up rambling you'll only lose points with the interviewer.

Travel in Consulting

Frequently cited as the biggest reason to avoid consulting, the travel in consulting might not be as bad as the world makes it out to be. Put yourself in the shoes of a recent college grad. Would you rather be (1) stuck in an office for 14 hours a day and 6 days a week or (2) traveling and working with senior clients on improving their business? Unless you have some major commitments, scenario two probably sounds far more appealing. Yet, so many people opt for investment banking (scenario 1) because they despise the idea of frequently traveling for consulting.

Different Types of Consulting

First things first, we need to clarify the different types of consultants. We hear all these labels being thrown around - management, IT, strategy, operations - but what do they really mean? Are there separate consulting roles defined by these labels?

Understand that consulting has become so diversified that the paradigm has shifted. It's less about management consulting compared to other types, and more about what exact type of consulting one does. Typical consulting roles are: strategy, HR, IT, operations, M&A, etc. While management consultants exist - the only "true" management consulting positions exist at MBB (McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group) - these positions are mostly classified as strategy consultants.

So, management (strategy) consulting positions only exist at MBB. What are the differences between these roles and roles like HR, operations, economics, and more? That question is of major significance, but it can be answered by looking at the spectrum we mentioned before. Strategy consultants fall on the management side of things, whereas everything else is more technical.

The better question is what's the difference between MBB and the rest of consulting?

Exit Opportunities

For exit opportunities, MBB and tier two consulting firms have the same general exit opps. It's just much easier to find your footing as a competitive candidate with an MBB on your resume. Here are the most common exit opps @Christie Lindor found when analyzing where her fellow consultants were going.

  • Entrepreneurship (37.5%): Starting one's own business/becoming a freelance consultant.
  • Graduate Studies (20%): Typically but not limited to business school.
  • Lateral into Boutique Firm (15%): Move into a leadership position at a boutique consulting firm. These firms involve significantly less travel.
  • Industry (27.5%):

    They were all in either mid-management or executive leadership roles in 3 key industry sectors: 3 are in tech companies like Google or Amazon, 4 are employed at a large financial services firm like Goldman Sachs, and 4 colleagues have decided to go into non-profit/social enterprise work.

One particularly popular choice is moving into senior analyst/manager roles at F500 companies, especially from MBB. You can also transition into venture capital, private equity, or banking. The point is, there are plenty of exit opportunities available to consultants. The above four are simply some of the more common routes among consultants.

In general, exit opps for any consulting gig are going to be pretty solid because of the skill set you develop and the network you build with clients and coworkers.

Compensation

Time to talk about what everyone really cares about: compensation. No, consultants do not make as much as investment bankers. MBB tends to pay around $90-100k, while the average at other firms is anywhere from $60-100k. As you might have noticed, pay varies a ton outside of MBB.

Potential consultants shouldn't look at all-in compensation comparatively and feel discouraged. Certain consulting firms (MBB among them) will pay for a part of your MBA if you return upon getting it. These offers typically involve a contractual commitment to work there for at least two years. In addition to the typical contractual agreement, there are other factors to consider when factoring this into your compensation.

Different firms may offer different deals depending on the situation. These are just some of the general factors that go into those deals.

Prestige

MBB carries a prestige that other consulting firms lack. These three firms consistently feed their analysts into top business schools, management positions at F500 companies, and more.

That said, MBB aren't the only consulting firms with a degree of prestige. Plenty of tier two firms like Accenture, Booz Allen, and Deloitte will garner respect on your resume and make you a competitive candidate for business schools.

What Do Consultants Do?

There is no universal day-to-day for consultants because their days vary so much. That's a part of what makes consulting so appealing to many, the variability in day-to-day functions. As has been discussed before, a typical consultant's week consists of travel on Monday and Friday and work in between. Here's what a typical week looks like for a consultant who travels often, courtesy of @cvsdjs.

Mondays are obviously rough due to early morning travel. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are longer hours. Thursday flights home are around 5 pm, but you usually have work to do on the plane. Fridays are easy. Consulting firms have a lot of networking events and training, and you usually only have a few client-related calls. I rarely work on a weekend, but if I do, it's because I need to get something done for a Monday morning meeting. The travel takes a toll on some, while others really love it. I don't mind it, as I find it's actually sometimes more difficult to work on a local project in NYC (where I live) because it's difficult to balance personal life and work throughout the week, whereas when I travel, I get stuff done Mon-Thurs without distractions and then I get to enjoy Fri-Sun. Projects are typically pretty interesting, though you do have a few brutally lame projects along the way.

Of course, not every consultant is going to be traveling on a weekly basis. But most junior-level employees will be traveling quite often; that's how it gets its reputation.

Consultants help businesses solve their problems. Different types of consultants specialize in different types of businesses/problems, and then there's the management consultant who helps with strategy.

Is Consulting for You?

Now you know about the culture, hours, compensation, exit opps, etc. of consulting. You know what consultants do, and you know a little bit about their various roles, particularly on the junior level. But how do you know you'd enjoy the job? Here are some indications that consulting might be a good career fit, at least out of undergrad, for you.

  1. You enjoy collaboration.
  2. If you enjoy being and working with people, then consulting just might be your cup of tea. As a consultant, you'll be working with your fellow consultants and senior clients on improving their business.

  3. You want the prestige and career versatility that investment banking grants without the cons.
  4. Maybe everything about investment banking appeals to you. It comes with undeniably great career versatility, but it comes at a cost. Notably, brutal hours and mundane work are two of the biggest turnoffs of investment banking. Consulting provides an alternative and avoids both of those cons. It has rough hours, but it's not nearly as bad as investment banking and it's work is much less monotonous.

  5. You enjoy traveling.
  6. This one is quite obvious but think about the last time you first walked in a new city. Even walking in a new city can be an awe-inspiring and surreal experience. If you feel this way, then what better job than consulting? Of course, you tend to get desensitized to the wonders of a modern city, but the joys of traveling and visiting new places are worth considering.

    Don't be mistaken, for most, the traveling aspect of consulting loses its appeal very quickly and becomes arguably the worst aspect of the job. But certain personalities feel deeply satisfied when visiting new cities and towns. If you're one of those individuals, consulting could be the perfect fit for you.

  7. You want a career that blends analysis and communication.
  8. Really, this applies to a lot of careers - investment banking is one of them - but it's just another way to identify if consulting is a proper fit for you. Consulting is a field hinged on both of these abilities.

  9. You're unsure/don't want to pigeonhole yourself.
  10. Few people actually know what they want to do leaving college, and even fewer actually pursue what they focused on as a career. One of the many things that make consulting so great is that it offers a wide arrangement of career choices upon leaving. It's truly the perfect job for those who aren't entirely sure what they want to pursue. Few jobs offer as much versatility as consulting do once you've worked in the industry.


Interested in Consulting - Breaking In

Consulting is one of the most exclusive industries in the world, particularly management consulting. It's one of the best career choices for building a lucrative career because of the versatility it offers. But the simplest of mistakes during the interview will get you dinged; that's how competitive these positions are. Less than 1% of applicants get a top consulting job, which is why preparation is absolutely critical. The WSO Consulting Case Interview Guide is the only crowdsourced guide available, perfected by countless professionals to give you the edge you need.

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Comments (40)

Sep 22, 2012

You obviously haven't thought this through.

MC provides opportunities to meet people in high places, at good companies, and in various industries. They prepare you to be a problem-solver and to be much more adept at figuring things out across the spectrum of operational, financial, structural, and managerial aspects of a business.

Can someone in IBD do it? Certainly, the same way someone in MC could do banking work: after some experience and perhaps even some training. But they don't; IBD folk have to focus on their particular industry, and the compensation is appropriate to the work they do and the types of clients they service. MC people meet a larger variety of clients, a large part of which is not as baller as a company looking to do an IPO.

Look at it this way: IBD is for companies that have money to spend in order to get more money through an IPO, merger, acquisition, etc. or would like to prevent losing more money so much that they'll spend even more money for investment bankers to come in and do a merger/acquisition/capital raising.

MC is for companies that want to handle an operational deficiency. Perhaps they'd like a project to move faster, or don't have enough staff to handle a structural shift (layoffs, moving HQ, etc.). It takes very intelligent people to come in and figure the company out on-the-fly, and subsequently find the best way to address the client's problem. There isn't always a ton of money to be spared for these things, but the opportunities are myriad: if you perform well enough on a MC engagement for Boeing or BMW, they might give you a management-level job with solid pay and bonus, great hours, and a great lifestyle, all because you made yourself an important piece in running an aspect of the firm.

The HF and PE lifestyle may provide more wealth, but it may be said that MC provides more opportunities to grow and explore the business world. This, on top of the potential to make a run to Partner-level, which doesn't exist as much in banking anymore.

Long story short: despite all the shit-flinging between the fields, MC and IBD are apples and oranges, and you have to explore them both to see the advantages and drawbacks of each.

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Sep 22, 2012
FSC:

You obviously haven't thought this through.

MC provides opportunities to meet people in high places, at good companies, and in various industries. They prepare you to be a problem-solver and to be much more adept at figuring things out across the spectrum of operational, financial, structural, and managerial aspects of a business.

Can someone in IBD do it? Certainly, the same way someone in MC could do banking work: after some experience and perhaps even some training. But they don't; IBD folk have to focus on their particular industry, and the compensation is appropriate to the work they do and the types of clients they service. MC people meet a larger variety of clients, a large part of which is not as baller as a company looking to do an IPO.

Look at it this way: IBD is for companies that have money to spend in order to get more money through an IPO, merger, acquisition, etc. or would like to prevent losing more money so much that they'll spend even more money for investment bankers to come in and do a merger/acquisition/capital raising.

MC is for companies that want to handle an operational deficiency. Perhaps they'd like a project to move faster, or don't have enough staff to handle a structural shift (layoffs, moving HQ, etc.). It takes very intelligent people to come in and figure the company out on-the-fly, and subsequently find the best way to address the client's problem. There isn't always a ton of money to be spared for these things, but the opportunities are myriad: if you perform well enough on a MC engagement for Boeing or BMW, they might give you a management-level job with solid pay and bonus, great hours, and a great lifestyle, all because you made yourself an important piece in running an aspect of the firm.

The HF and PE lifestyle may provide more wealth, but it may be said that MC provides more opportunities to grow and explore the business world. This, on top of the potential to make a run to Partner-level, which doesn't exist as much in banking anymore.

Long story short: despite all the shit-flinging between the fields, MC and IBD are apples and oranges, and you have to explore them both to see the advantages and drawbacks of each.

Thanks for your response, always nice to learn more about the respective industries. I still think that 99% of target undergrads would prefer being a wealthy financier than the ceo of BMW earning a fraction of what buyside guys make which is why the pecking order at HYPWS is HF/PE>MC>IB as MC is slightly better for MBA admissions

Sep 29, 2012
FSC:

You obviously haven't thought this through.

MC provides opportunities to meet people in high places, at good companies, and in various industries. They prepare you to be a problem-solver and to be much more adept at figuring things out across the spectrum of operational, financial, structural, and managerial aspects of a business.

Can someone in IBD do it? Certainly, the same way someone in MC could do banking work: after some experience and perhaps even some training. But they don't; IBD folk have to focus on their particular industry, and the compensation is appropriate to the work they do and the types of clients they service. MC people meet a larger variety of clients, a large part of which is not as baller as a company looking to do an IPO.

Look at it this way: IBD is for companies that have money to spend in order to get more money through an IPO, merger, acquisition, etc. or would like to prevent losing more money so much that they'll spend even more money for investment bankers to come in and do a merger/acquisition/capital raising.

MC is for companies that want to handle an operational deficiency. Perhaps they'd like a project to move faster, or don't have enough staff to handle a structural shift (layoffs, moving HQ, etc.). It takes very intelligent people to come in and figure the company out on-the-fly, and subsequently find the best way to address the client's problem. There isn't always a ton of money to be spared for these things, but the opportunities are myriad: if you perform well enough on a MC engagement for Boeing or BMW, they might give you a management-level job with solid pay and bonus, great hours, and a great lifestyle, all because you made yourself an important piece in running an aspect of the firm.

The HF and PE lifestyle may provide more wealth, but it may be said that MC provides more opportunities to grow and explore the business world. This, on top of the potential to make a run to Partner-level, which doesn't exist as much in banking anymore.

Long story short: despite all the shit-flinging between the fields, MC and IBD are apples and oranges, and you have to explore them both to see the advantages and drawbacks of each.

Somebody give this guy a gold star.

Competition is a sin.

-John D. Rockefeller

Sep 22, 2012

It's sought after because it is a great springboard. Consulting programs offer great training, a great brand and then the option to jump to industry. Also the life style is arguably better than IB, the pay is great for straight out of undergrad and the pay is equal to medicine, BigLaw and much of high finance. Medicine has widely variable pay, pediatricians make on average 150, internal med 175, gen surg 275, this is after incurring 200k in med school debt and 3-5 years of residency. BigLaw starts at 165, but most people have a very poor shot at partner, a friend at a major firm said it is about 1 in 12 for a first year associate to make it to partner and the partners in BigLaw make good, but not amazing comp usually 1-2MM at truly top firms http://abovethelaw.com/2012/05/the-2012-am-law-100... is comprable to what an MBB partner makes. Also the exit opps are way better into industry.

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Sep 22, 2012

How about because you don't work 90 hour weeks in a cubicle and aren't in constant fear of getting laid off 5 days before bonuses? Is that a good enough reason for you?

My drinkin' problem left today, she packed up all her bags and walked away.

Sep 22, 2012
Hopkins55:

Going the MC route ... will diminish opportunities for real innovation/creativity on a personal level by working you crazy hours doing pointless tasks through the prime of your life.

Flawless victory. Clearly the strongest argument in favor of IB.

Hopkins55:

Thanks for your response, always nice to learn more about the respective industries. I still think that 99% of target undergrads would prefer being a wealthy financier than the ceo of BMW earning a fraction of what buyside guys make which is why the pecking order at HYPWS is HF/PE>MC>IB as MC is slightly better for MBA admissions

Did you even read what he said? The Apples and Oranges part?
(Also: CEO of BMW? Ridiculous example... but where the fuck do I sign???
You can wipe my ass with your financier job offer. Any financier job offer.)

Anyway:
Exit opportunities are much, much broader
WLB superior (= you have time to sleep)
MBA acceptance unrivaled
Tasks less repetitive than IB
Great compensation + unique perks + MBA tuition
Overall arguably better work atmosphere
...the list goes on.

IMHO: As someone who had the chance to join an IBD (GS/ MS/ JPM) in London after undergrad, I can honestly say $$$ was the one and only factor that ever made IB worth considering to me, but guess what - boni are simply not what they used to be when I first entered college (2007). And that whole "masters of the universe" thing won't come back anytime soon either...

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Sep 24, 2012
24837:

, but guess what - boni are simply not what they used to be when I first entered college (2007).

Did you really just use boni as the plural of bonus? Sheesh

Sep 24, 2012
<span class=keyword_link><a href=//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/goldman-sachs rel=nofollow>GS</a></span>:
24837:

, but guess what - boni are simply not what they used to be when I first entered college (2007).

Did you really just use boni as the plural of bonus? Sheesh

bro, way more prestigious!

Sep 22, 2012

if you make a career choice based on entry level ib bonus then ur an idiot.

one decent year at hf/pe once you are sufficiently senior and u have more than lifetime earnings of consultant just fyi.

Sep 24, 2012
leveredarb:

if you make a career choice based on entry level ib bonus then ur an idiot.

one decent year at hf/pe once you are sufficiently senior and u have more than lifetime earnings of consultant just fyi.

Don't you think comparing the salary of a senior position at a PE fund and the average consulting salary is kind of stupid if you are looking for a reason, why new undergrads want to enter a certain industry?

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Sep 22, 2012

Here are the actual salary averages for equity/non-equity law partners, they aren't impressive. http://abovethelaw.com/2012/09/new-data-on-law-fir...

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Sep 24, 2012

.

Sep 24, 2012
Hopkins55:

The consulting industry isn't as important to the economy as financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies or gas companies [...]

Please source this. Also, why did you choose these three industries? Do you believe that these are the only industries less important than consulting?

Hopkins55:

The pay isn't great (nowhere at all near finance/medicine/big law) [...]

Depends which firm you're with.

Hopkins55:

[...] and people need to travel a ton to mostly undesirable areas [...]

This is your opinion.

Hopkins55:

[...] in order to provide "advice" such as balancing an institutions budget by increasing revenue and cutting spending (what a novel idea!).

What's with the quotation marks? Are you implying that consultants don't add value? Please support this implicit assertion, or clarify your intent.

Hopkins55:

There's an article on M&I that discusses and extrapolates on this further.

Define "extrapolate." No cheating. In addition, please recognize that M&I has a financial interest in convincing people to favor banking, and thus an inherent bias.

Hopkins55:

Going the MC route will not turn you into some great entrepreneur (as some of my friends believe) and will diminish opportunities for real innovation/creativity on a personal level by working you crazy hours doing pointless tasks through the prime of your life.

Please cite this.

Hopkins55:

At least kids who do IBD will be able to go the HF/PE route in 2 years while the MC kids will just be transitioning to IBD or boutique PE.

How many IBD "kids" do you think are successful in pursuing "the HF/PE route?" How many of those do you think make principal?

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Sep 24, 2012
Sandhurst:
Hopkins55:

The consulting industry isn't as important to the economy as financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies or gas companies [...]

Please source this. Also, why did you choose these three industries? Do you believe that these are the only industries less important than consulting?

Hopkins55:

The pay isn't great (nowhere at all near finance/medicine/big law) [...]

Depends which firm you're with.

Hopkins55:

[...] and people need to travel a ton to mostly undesirable areas [...]

This is your opinion.

Hopkins55:

[...] in order to provide "advice" such as balancing an institutions budget by increasing revenue and cutting spending (what a novel idea!).

What's with the quotation marks? Are you implying that consultants don't add value? Please support this implicit assertion, or clarify your intent.

Hopkins55:

There's an article on M&I that discusses and extrapolates on this further.

Define "extrapolate." No cheating. In addition, please recognize that M&I has a financial interest in convincing people to favor banking, and thus an inherent bias.

Hopkins55:

Going the MC route will not turn you into some great entrepreneur (as some of my friends believe) and will diminish opportunities for real innovation/creativity on a personal level by working you crazy hours doing pointless tasks through the prime of your life.

Please cite this.

Hopkins55:

At least kids who do IBD will be able to go the HF/PE route in 2 years while the MC kids will just be transitioning to IBD or boutique PE.

How many IBD "kids" do you think are successful in pursuing "the HF/PE route?" How many of those do you think make principal?

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Sep 24, 2012

Once I'm making a certain amount of $, the marginal wealth is less important to me than my fucking sanity.

But I make pretty much the same as my friends who've spent the last 3 years accumulating law school debt, except I didn't have to pay for B-School.

I do zero work ~50% of weekends, and only a couple hours on ~40%.

I have more flexibility to travel where I want to, live where I want to (i.e. not NYC)

I am joining a PE firm of a similar size as my friend who busted his ass for 2 years at GS/MS/JPM and maybe had 10 days a year where he didn't go into the office.

Do I need to keep going?

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Sep 24, 2012
petergibbons:

Once I'm making a certain amount of $, the marginal wealth is less important to me than my fucking sanity.

But I make pretty much the same as my friends who've spent the last 3 years accumulating law school debt, except I didn't have to pay for B-School.

I do zero work ~50% of weekends, and only a couple hours on ~40%.

I have more flexibility to travel where I want to, live where I want to (i.e. not NYC)

I am joining a PE firm of a similar size as my friend who busted his ass for 2 years at GS/MS/JPM and maybe had 10 days a year where he didn't go into the office.

Do I need to keep going?

Now where does the missing 10% from your weekend go to hmm?

Sep 27, 2012
petergibbons:

I am joining a PE firm of a similar size as my friend who busted his ass for 2 years at GS/MS/JPM and maybe had 10 days a year where he didn't go into the office.

I'm not taking either side of this argument as I'm in neither field and don't really have the insights to comment. I would like to ask what side of PE you're going to -- I'm under the impression that MC --> operations whereas IB --> Investment (usually considered more prestigious side of PE).

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Sep 27, 2012
sonibubu:
petergibbons:

I am joining a PE firm of a similar size as my friend who busted his ass for 2 years at GS/MS/JPM and maybe had 10 days a year where he didn't go into the office.

I'm not taking either side of this argument as I'm in neither field and don't really have the insights to comment. I would like to ask what side of PE you're going to -- I'm under the impression that MC --> operations whereas IB --> Investment (usually considered more prestigious side of PE).

To over generalize, that's not totally off base. It also varies by firm. Bain Capital loves consultants (from what I understand, not as many Bain consultants as you'd expect - a lot of McKinsey). TPG not so much.

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Sep 28, 2012
Sandhurst:
sonibubu:
petergibbons:

I am joining a PE firm of a similar size as my friend who busted his ass for 2 years at GS/MS/JPM and maybe had 10 days a year where he didn't go into the office.

I'm not taking either side of this argument as I'm in neither field and don't really have the insights to comment. I would like to ask what side of PE you're going to -- I'm under the impression that MC --> operations whereas IB --> Investment (usually considered more prestigious side of PE).

To over generalize, that's not totally off base. It also varies by firm. Bain Capital loves consultants (from what I understand, not as many Bain consultants as you'd expect - a lot of McKinsey). TPG not so much.

not just by firm but also by region. for example, PE funds in many asian markets are overflowing with ex-mbb people (usually mckinsey).

Sep 24, 2012

I've had two completely lost weekends in 2+ years...the ~10% are more like ~4 hrs on average.

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Sep 24, 2012

I always find it funny when people rail on consultants for not adding any value. I don't work in MC but people watch House of Lies and assume that's the way the industry works (great show btw). Do you really think CEO's would continue to throw millions of dollars at consulting firms if they didn't see any return in their investment?

Sep 24, 2012

Why do people always need to compare the bonuses to when they were at their absolute best? 55-65k is fucking outstanding compared to any other job on the planet for a 22 year old. (Which is more then the median family income in the U.S.) Things weren't always this good for bankers.

Best Response
Sep 24, 2012

Another important reason people choose MC that I haven't yet seen mentioned on this thread is that many undergrads who join MC firms are simply not interested in finance. I worked at MBB and now work in megafund PE, so have experienced the differences firsthand. Several of my analyst peers at MBB came from liberal arts backgrounds, and chose MC because they are interested in "solving problems" and experiencing many different industries/functions in a short period of time. They had no interest in the technical, jargony, niche nature of investment banking. And from a comp perspective, MCs pay MUCH more than any job other than finance out of undergrad, so it wasn't like they were struggling financially either.

Now that I've been in finance for a while, I can understand this viewpoint. I really like PE, but my least favorite part of the job is the technical financial stuff. It isn't strategic at all - the BBs we work with are purely service providers selected solely on "price" (with "price" here being defined as a combination of rate, fees, quantum, and other terms important to us in structuring our transactions). In other words, they are commodities. On the other hand, we hire MBB for every deal, and their input is highly strategic. Granted, we often skewer their conclusions for being too "soft" (with "soft" here being defined as not anchored in sufficient hard data and/or primary research), but the truth is that MBB's input carries substantial weight in our investment committee, where the real decisions get made. And that is just for a PE shop - based on my experience in MBB, MBB's conclusions carry even more weight in Corporate America, where the overall talent level of the client is lower than megafund PE.

Now, I can see the logic that working in IBD offers better chances of moving to the buyside than consulting, but it is important to note that this is not something most undergrads think about when making the choice. Heck, I didn't even know what a PE firm was when I joined MBB (perhaps shame on me?).

Anyway, the point of all of this is to say that a major reason people choose consulting over finance is that they are simply not interested in finance, primarily due to the "un-strategic" nature of the business (and of course the terrible lifestyle).

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Oct 2, 2012
DagwoodDeluxe:

Another important reason people choose MC that I haven't yet seen mentioned on this thread is that many undergrads who join MC firms are simply not interested in finance. I worked at MBB and now work in megafund PE, so have experienced the differences firsthand. Several of my analyst peers at MBB came from liberal arts backgrounds, and chose MC because they are interested in "solving problems" and experiencing many different industries/functions in a short period of time. They had no interest in the technical, jargony, niche nature of investment banking. And from a comp perspective, MCs pay MUCH more than any job other than finance out of undergrad, so it wasn't like they were struggling financially either.

Now that I've been in finance for a while, I can understand this viewpoint. I really like PE, but my least favorite part of the job is the technical financial stuff. It isn't strategic at all - the BBs we work with are purely service providers selected solely on "price" (with "price" here being defined as a combination of rate, fees, quantum, and other terms important to us in structuring our transactions). In other words, they are commodities. On the other hand, we hire MBB for every deal, and their input is highly strategic. Granted, we often skewer their conclusions for being too "soft" (with "soft" here being defined as not anchored in sufficient hard data and/or primary research), but the truth is that MBB's input carries substantial weight in our investment committee, where the real decisions get made. And that is just for a PE shop - based on my experience in MBB, MBB's conclusions carry even more weight in Corporate America, where the overall talent level of the client is lower than megafund PE.

Now, I can see the logic that working in IBD offers better chances of moving to the buyside than consulting, but it is important to note that this is not something most undergrads think about when making the choice. Heck, I didn't even know what a PE firm was when I joined MBB (perhaps shame on me?).

Anyway, the point of all of this is to say that a major reason people choose consulting over finance is that they are simply not interested in finance, primarily due to the "un-strategic" nature of the business (and of course the terrible lifestyle).

this

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Sep 24, 2012
jrsoxfan18:

I always find it funny when people rail on consultants for not adding any value. I don't work in MC but people watch House of Lies and assume that's the way the industry works (great show btw). Do you really think CEO's would continue to throw millions of dollars at consulting firms if they didn't see any return in their investment?

THIS.

Why are 10's of billions of dollars consistently thrown at consulting firms every year? CEO's must all just be suckers right?

--Overall - to many, IBD work is boring and repetitive. Consultants travel the world eating at the finest restaurants with perks and FFmiles creating value that can't realistically be quantified. We wrap our minds around new ideas and strategies every day. We whisper in the ears of the most powerful people in the world and time and time again they ask for more. We meet people from every background imaginable. And for a 22 year old, I have EVERY Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in my home city to do what ever the fuck I want. I also play in a band and have the time to put on a few shows every season. I put in ~70 hours a week and I love it. Every day spent with my project team I learn something new and better myself. I could not be happier; haven't had one day that felt like a repeat of the one before.

I completely respect individuals working for financial institutions and understand our country's reliance on their success but for me, it was an extremely easy choice to get into consulting. I believe there is absolutely no better profession for your 20's.

Sep 26, 2012

Perhaps I'm just weird, but I'm looking at doing MC or CF because I'm legitimately more interested in corporate strategy than I am in just pure finance. Finance is interesting for sure and one of my passions, but I also want to learn more about how a business grows from a marketing, managerial, etc. position, and I feel consulting or actually working in the industry would give me that. Also, while I'm willing to work hard, I wanted something that provides a little bit better work-life balance and would allow me to work in a team setting versus just being alone in a cubicle (I'm working in a cubicle job right now and it's really, really boring to stare at a screen by yourself all day).

Also, from my friends who work in IB, it seems like most of them really dislike their jobs but like the salary/lifestyle (the lifestyle outside of work that is) that it can afford them, while my friends who are into consulting enjoy it a lot more, even though they do have to put in more hours than normal people. So basically, my interests coupled with the fact that there's a slightly better work-life balance is why I would choose consulting over IB personally.

Sep 26, 2012

I go to a non-target and I'm still interested in IB and MC, but I'm leaning towards MC and they typically recruit more from my school. Only one of the MBB recruit from here (and they take 1, maybe 2 a year, if that), Deloitte is probably the biggest name that recruits quite a few for MC. IB, a couple smaller boutiques recruit and some regional places.

MC lifestyle seems like something I would really enjoy.

Sep 28, 2012

Deal side, US-based.

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Dec 18, 2012
Hopkins55:

Why is management consulting such a sought after position?

The consulting industry isn't as important to the economy as financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies or gas companies but yet recruits from the very top schools across the country. The pay isn't great (nowhere at all near finance/medicine/big law) and people need to travel a ton to mostly undesirable areas in order to provide "advice" such as balancing an institutions budget by increasing revenue and cutting spending (what a novel idea!).

There's an article on M&I that discusses and extrapolates on this further. Going the MC route will not turn you into some great entrepreneur (as some of my friends believe) and will diminish opportunities for real innovation/creativity on a personal level by working you crazy hours doing pointless tasks through the prime of your life. At least kids who do IBD will be able to go the HF/PE route in 2 years while the MC kids will just be transitioning to IBD or boutique PE.

Given all of this downside in terms of loss of income potential, why is MBB still considered more prestigious for undergrads at top schools? (other than for the kids liking the work of course)

Dec 19, 2012

Though I am not a management consultant, I can definitively say that just through researching the skills, thought processes, and methods of management consulting my business knowledge, analytical ability, and understanding of why and how business "works" has increased tremendously. I expect I would be much better had I worked in mc.

Dec 19, 2012

Look at the interviewer sternly and say "Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged? If you hire me, I can guarantee nothing like that will ever happen in this country."

Cash, Rules, Everything, Around, Me
C.R.E.A.M.
Get the money
Dollar, dollar bill y'all

"There is only one bottom line -- how much money you make."

Dec 19, 2012

.

Dec 19, 2012

I joined MBB over banking because
- it looks far better on a resume, exit opportunities are as good or superior
- it is more interesting and less menial
- I wanted to "unlock my potential"

Dec 19, 2012

I'm not sure about consulting looking "far better on a resume" by any means, or that the exit opportunities are at all superior, but consulting teaches you how to think about and come up with solutions for complex business problems. If the interviewer is asking you specifically about why consulting over banking, you could talk about how you want a more broad experience than just finance.

Dec 19, 2012

Because doing the same thing every day, working with the same people, doing the same types of projects, etc. for the next two years would bore me to death.

I don't just like change, I need change to keep me stimulated.

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-

Dec 19, 2012

I like consulting because of the following reasons:
- Opportunity to work on a variety of projects with multiple clients across diverse industries
- Work is challenging which helps professional development
- Able to network with colleagues who are smart and driven
- Able to build relationships with key contacts at various clients
- More opportunities to do internal work for firm-building activities
- Traveling

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Dec 19, 2012

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Dec 19, 2012