How to Make A Career Move from Consulting to Investment Banking
But despite that, I still do get lots of questions about how to make a career move from consulting to investment banking or private equity.
In some ways, you’re in a better position than engineers, lawyers, or accountants trying to break in – but the bad news is that a lot of investment banks don’t like consultants.
So here’s what you do to get around that and break into investment banking:
What You’re Up Against As A Consultant
Just to recap what you’re up against as a consultant vs. other professions moving into finance:
- Engineers: They are great at math, but can they talk to people and work a lot more than they would at Google or Facebook?
- Lawyers: They can put up with sociopaths and work 100 hours per week, but can they count?
- Accountants: They know accounting and Excel, but are they hungry enough to work without sleep for days at a time?
- Liberal Arts Majors: They can communicate, but can they crunch numbers and burn the midnight oil?
As a consultant, here’s your challenge:
“I know you can work with clients and that you understand the business world. But can you build an LBO model? Do you have any discernable skills? And are you prepared to work true banker hours?”
So it’s a combination of what lawyers and accountants face, with some extra prejudice thrown in since many bankers don’t take consultants seriously – especially if you’re an IT or HR consultant rather than a management consultant.
What Works In Your Favor
But you do have a few things working in your favor:
- You “get it” – you’re not some engineer with no business experience who doesn’t understand how to work with and manage clients.
- If you’re working at a top firm (MBB), you have a prestigious name that all bankers recognize.
- Better networking opportunities than an undergraduate – Partners are well-connected, and your clients might be investment banks.
Telling Your Story To Investment Bankers
Just take the templates and examples for the “Tell me about yourself” question here, and apply them to your own situation.
Here’s a sketch of what you might say:
“I was really interested in business and advising companies on major strategic decisions, so after graduating from [University / Business School Name], I decided to take an offer at [Consulting Firm]. I’ve done well there and have gotten good reviews, but I also realized that what I did as a consultant was rarely implemented by clients.
I had worked on a few M&A and due diligence-related projects, and realized that in [investment banking / private equity] you have much more of an impact on the company you’re working with – and I was more interested in modeling and valuation than in qualitative work.”
That is just a sketch of the basic idea – you would expand on that in interviews.
If you’re moving in from something less business-related – like IT or HR consulting – then you should also include something about wanting to see the trees for the forest and understand the business at a much higher level.
Point to specific clients or cases you worked on and the finance-related analysis you did that made you more interested in finance.
“I worked with a $50B telecom company in its restructuring process and learned about what management considers when it decides to declare bankruptcy rather than restructure its debt – and I got to assist bankers with analyzing the best debt structure going forward” sounds much better than just saying you think financial modeling is cool.
And before you mention it, yes, I know that common stereotype of consultants’ advice not being implemented is not necessarily true.
Plenty of work you do as a banker never sees the light of day, either, and it’s even worse in PE.
But what matters here is perception, not reality – and financiers like to think of themselves as shaping industries and companies and “having a really significant impact” (even if they don’t get home by 7:15).
Networking Your Way Into Investment Banking
So you have your story… now how do you pound the pavement and make sure someone actually hears it?
I’m not going to repeat the dozens of tutorials on investment banking networking, informational interviews, weekend trips, cold-calling, and so on because those still apply if you’re a consultant moving into finance.
The main differences lie on the sourcing side – where you find names in the first place:
- You have access to an additional “alumni” network – from your consulting firm. Leverage it and contact everyone who now works in finance.
- Partners at consulting firms are very well-connected and will know bankers. Don’t be shy about asking, especially since you’re expected to move elsewhere after working in (management) consulting.
- You could move to a finance-related group at your firm, or go to a banking or PE group that has overlap with your background (e.g. if you consulted with energy companies, you could target oil & gas groups).
Those 3 represent a big advantage over anyone else who’s moving into finance.
You could still cold call rather than using the strategies above, but don’t start there unless you are targeting boutiques and have absolutely no connections (unlikely).
Should you focus on boutique investment banks rather than bulge bracket investment banks?
That may improve your odds, but it may not be necessary depending on how well-connected your firm is: if you can contact bulge bracket bankers, at least give that a shot.
Finance-Specific Consulting Firms?
Similar to industry-focused investment banks, there are also industry-focused consulting firms.
So it must help to go to a place like Oliver Wyman that is well-known for financial services consulting rather than a firm that does everything, right?
If you have the choice between 2 smaller or 2 specialized firms, yes, go for one that has the financial focus.
But don’t pick a finance-specific firm over McKinsey (or Bain, or BCG) just because you get to work with more finance companies – brand name makes far more of a difference if you’re breaking into investment banking or PE.
Spinning Your Resume/CV For Investment Banking Roles
You have it easier with your resume/CV than an engineer because at least you’ve worked with clients before and can point to specific projects and “deals.”
Click here to download the “Experienced” resume template and view the tutorial, and then make the 3-4 most relevant clients you’ve worked with into separate “Project” entries.
Your main challenge will be spinning what you did into sounding relevant to finance:
- If you worked on anything related to due diligence, M&A, or capital markets, obviously list that and hype it up.
- If you don’t have anything directly related, take what you have and highlight the quantitative work you did rather than the qualitative side. Numbers and dollar/Euro/other currency figures are good.
- Even if you have not worked with financial statements, you can highlight market-sizing analysis, cost analysis, or anything that involves numbers.
And remember the golden rules of spinning: re-adjust the focus, magnify small details, and omit facts that do not make you look good.
If you write something like this:
- “Worked with Fortune 500 Company to analyze hiring and retention strategy for sales force and make recommendations that improved retention by 50% by better aligning incentives, target customers, and sales rep performance.”
That might be a good bullet for consulting jobs – you have a specific number and your recommendations were even implemented by the company.
But for finance you should write the following instead:
- “Worked with Fortune 500 Company to boost revenue and profitability by improving sales rep productivity and revenue per sales rep and by reducing G&A costs associated with sales force hiring; led to estimated [$xx] increase in revenue and [$xx] increase in pre-tax profit.”
You’re still writing about the same client engagement, but you’re framing it differently and focusing on finance rather than operations.
You probably won’t have exact numbers in this situation, so estimate and make it clear that it’s just an approximation.
Dominating IB Interviews As An Ex-Consultant
Interview questions will focus on the key “objections” that bankers have to consultants:
So you need to address both of those and presenting solid “mini-stories” that prove your points.
For #1, talk about how busy you were due to the infamous consulting travel combined with client demands and how you had to pull banker hours for an extended period.
Even if you work less than bankers on average, just point to a particularly busy period and use that, and then turn around and use the same story for the other standard fit questions as well.
To prove you know something about finance, either talk about finance-related projects and analysis at work, or how learned on your own from classes, training programs, and self-study.
While I’m not a fan of the CFA, it would make sense to bring it up here if you’ve somehow had the time to complete it.
Other than that, all the standard fit and technical questions covered in the superday interview guide and the investment banking interview guide still apply here.
Acing Technical Questions In Investment Banking Interviews
As a consultant, you may receive more technical questions than others because bankers will be skeptical of your financial know-how.
While the CFA is overkill and isn’t realistic given how much you work and travel, a crash-course on the technical side is not a bad idea.
I’ll be up front and tell you that we offer industry-leading financial modeling training programs through this site, and I’m too lazy to insert a sales pitch here but you can read all about them on your own and decide what’s right for you.
Remember that you are competing with ex-bankers, undergraduate finance majors, and others who know the technical side very well – you don’t want to give banks a good reason not to hire you.
You don’t need to know the details behind every single advanced concept, but, for example, something like a simple LBO model is definitely fair game and even an expected topic.
And For Breaking Into A Private Equity Career…
I’ve been lumping investment banking and PE together, but there are a few differences if you’re focused on the consulting to Private Equity transition.
First, it’s very difficult because private equity firms almost exclusively recruit investment banking analysts.
So it might actually be easier to get into banking first and then make the move to PE.
If you don’t want to do that, you need to target firms that have a tradition of hiring consultants – the classic one is Golden Gate Capital, which was founded by Bain consultants and still hires mostly Bain consultants.
Focus on firms that emphasize operational improvement and turnaround strategies over financial engineering (actually easier to do in a recession or quasi-recession).
Your chances of getting into KKR, Blackstone, TPG, and so on, are slim because they only make a few hires each year and only hire those few from the top banks – the vast majority of bankers at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan don’t even have a good chance of working at those places.
So target operationally-focused firms or anything with a complementary industry focus – if you worked with entertainment companies, maybe you can join Bono at Elevation Partners.
Venture capital is also a possibility – they care far less about financial knowledge than PE firms, and if you’ve worked with tech or biotech companies you can easily spin yourself into a “strong cultural fit.”
Hedge funds are more of a longshot because so many are about hardcore finance and don’t care about operations or strategy – if you want to go there, you’ll have to find one that is more strategy/operations/long-term investing-focused and less about short-term trading.
Plan B Options: What If Moving From Consulting To Investment Banking Fails?
So what if you’ve done everything above but still can’t break into IB or PE? Here are some “Plan B” options to consider.
1. Move to a Bigger Consulting Firm
Specifically, M/B/B – see Kevin’s thoughts below for more on this one, but generally the brand name makes far more of a difference than your actual industry focus as a consultant.
Plus, Partners at the top firms are more likely to know bankers and financiers than the ones at smaller firms.
2. Go to Business School
If you go this route, you’ll have a much better chance at post-MBA investment banking positions than PE ones: as interviewees on this site and I have mentioned before, your chances of getting into private equity without having been an IB analyst are slim.
And you should still do a pre-MBA internship that brings you closer to finance or you may not be able to re-brand yourself as easily as you expected.
3. Go to Something Other Than IB/PE/HF
There are plenty of other, less competitive finance industries out there (and yes, before you mention it, they also pay less).
So you could network your way into an asset management or commercial banking role, then get to know people in the investment banking division and move in like that.
This one is a better idea if you have no connections and have no other way in – otherwise you are better off staying a consultant rather than moving to a more finance-related but less “prestigious” role.
Additional Tips From An Industry Expert
To get another perspective, I asked Kevin from Management Consulted for his thoughts on this topic and used some of what he mentioned above – here’s what he said in more detail:
- It’s all about brand name – get into the best consulting firm possible. While Oliver Wyman is marginally better than, let’s say, Kurt Salmon (boutique retail), M/B/B is far better than any of the rest in helping you get there.
- Most consulting firms have internal finance groups/sectors – get as many cases under your belt in these groups as possible.
- Most partners in those practices have serious connections – leverage those connections by over-delivering with your cases and networking heavily with partners.
- Ask for intros to the banks you’re targeting – they might be your clients and you can build relationships first that way.
- Go to NYC. Just like entrepreneurs move to Silicon Valley, you must be in NYC to have access and credibility. In Europe, go to London. In Asia, go to HK.
- It’s all about your network and less about financial knowledge, at least in terms of getting interviews in the first place – organize internal networking events in the finance practice to meet even more people.
- A lot of consulting firms have externships and special programs to give you corporate exposure outside of strategy consulting. Leverage those as much as possible.
So there you have it – thoughts from someone who knows consulting inside and out.
Final Thoughts On Moving From Consulting To Investment Banking
Still Can’t Buy Bottles with Starwood Points?
So if you’re tired of flying up to Saskatchewan every week to tell a company what it already knows, follow everything above.
And you just might be able to get rid of those Starwood points and buy a few bottles with your investment banker friends.
If you liked this post, you might be interested in Management Consulting vs Investment Banking: The Eternal Battle.
Free Exclusive Report: 57-page guide with the action plan you need to break into investment banking - how to tell your story, network, craft a winning resume, and dominate your interviews
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Hi Brian, I currently work for a Botique Asset manager $1.4b AUM. I major in liberal arts from a non-ivy but target school for diversity. I do have a pretty strong network. I am wondering if it is possible for me to still break into IB as I graduated on ’21
It’s possible, but it really depends on what you’re doing at the boutique asset manager (i.e., front/middle/back office job) and what your technical skills and previous internships look like. The issue right now is that it’s currently a pretty bad hiring market for IB, so you may have to wait until things improve or just aim for smaller firms (but will be tough even there).
Wondering if my odds are good for IB, PE, or VC and if they are not how can I improve them.
1) Studied Engineering at a target
2) Worked at a boutique private debt fund focused on infrastructure right out of school for three months before receiving an offer to work at a T2 consulting firm
3) Currently working at the T2 consulting firm (it’s been 9 months now)
My target IB firm is actually an EB. The thing is I already interviewed with them a year ago and got dinged in my third interview with a VP.
I don’t know if it’s worth mentioning but I live in Mexico and yes I have read your article on Mexico’s IB industry.
I think you should have a good chance at these firms considering you already interviewed at a top bank and made it through several interviews there. I think the biggest problem will be that if you stay in Mexico, there are just fewer opportunities because it’s a smaller industry (though the lack of qualified candidates there also works in your favor).
All you could really do to improve your chances now is to win some type of finance role that is more closely related to IB/PE/VC, such as corporate banking at a large bank or TAS at a Big 4 firm or an independent valuation firm or something similar.
Hey! I’ve got a bit of a mixed work experience – wondered if you can help me. I graduated with a degree in Physics, then worked for 4 years at a boutique strategy consulting firm in London. I eventually left there and went travelling around the world for 18 months. Since coming back I’ve spent a few years doing independent consulting projects, mainly with PE clients, as well as contracting for larger consulting firms like LEK or Oliver Wyman. By chance, through someone in my network, I also ended up working at a tiny M&A advisory boutique taking on a PMO role for a deal for about 4 months and loved it, but unfortunately the deal collapsed and the company has since closed down. Ever since I’ve been finding it hard to get excited about consulting and I just want to work on deals. It seems to me that people in banking & PE are just a bit more switched on and ‘get it’ more so than most consultants. I’m 34 now so a bit too old for the MBA train, so will instead try networking my way into a firm. Two questions I have are: 1) What sorts of firms do you think might realistically hire someone like me? 2) What sort of grade/position should I realistically be aiming for. Do I stand a chance of coming in at an associate level? Would be grateful for any advice. Thanks.
1) You could probably find some FIG/FSG-focused boutique M&A firms or combined M&A / consulting firms that might be interested. I think it would be tough to go directly to a large bank with your current background.
2) You might be able to get an Associate role at a boutique firm. For larger banks, you would probably need an MBA or direct IB experience at a smaller firm first.
Thanks for your reply Brian. Will explore the idea of FIG/FSG-focused boutiques and/or combined firms – I hadn’t realised that indeed there might be IB firms focused on working specifically with PE clients. And for what it’s worth, I bought your networking guide (+ interview toolkit) and have been really impressed with the quality of the stuff. The networking guide especially encouraged me to just reach out more via LinkedIn so far with great results. Thank you.
Thanks! Glad to hear it.
After 2 years of Management Consulting, is it possible for someone to go for investment banking as an analyst by doing a masters in Finance?
I guess so, but a Master’s in Finance seems unnecessary in that case. You should be able to network around and get in as a lateral hire.
I recently graduated from university and I want to eventually move into investment banking or private equity, but I couldn’t get any investment banking offers. Instead I got offered a trading role at a top BB and a business analyst at MBB.
Is it easier to move to IBD from consulting or S&T? Or which offer should I take to eventually move into IBD?
Probably about the same, but the MBB offer is a bit less risky because consulting at MBB gives you more options in case the move into IB does not work out. S&T pigeonholes you more.
I am 6 months into my first job out of college in consulting and am looking to transition into investment banking. I have strong finance internship experience during college, however, did not receive a return offer from my junior year IB internship and hence took the consulting job. What do you recommend I do in this particular situation and should I omit my IB internship when applying to other banks?
I think it depends on what the rest of your internship experience looks like. It’s probably not a great idea to completely eliminate an internship, even if it was an IB one from which you did not receive a return offer, especially since you have only 6 months of work experience so far. You can get away with that more easily once you have a few years of experience.
I would say that if you have other solid internships/activities, yes, eliminate the IB internship and pretend that you just went into consulting, but have now decided on IB instead.
If not, then I think you have to leave the IB internship in and come with a decent reason to explain why you didn’t return… maybe say you really didn’t fit in with the group, or they didn’t hire interns, or something like that. I can’t say in advance because I don’t know which, if any, of those are true or what the reasons for not receiving a return offer were.
My question is,
Can you start as an associate at a top investment bank? If you don’t have analyst experience nor an mba? But of course do have working experience?
That’s highly unlikely. Banks promote some Analysts to Associates (used to be 3 years, now moving to 2 at many firms), and they hire from top MBA programs… and they don’t find Associates via many other avenues.
Quick question regarding breaking into the IB world. I am currently in a different sector of the bank (CRE), about 7mo out of college. Current bank is a remote location and doesn’t have an IB sector, but I do have family friends that are seniors in IB.
At what point should I look to trying to leverage my way into a different bank and into the IB sector? I’ve been told I shouldn’t leave current position until a year has been completed otherwise it “looks bad” on the resume. Are there any steps you’d recommend to increase the chance of landing an interview/being able to make that change?
Yes, it’s generally best to stay for a year, but you don’t have to follow that. Start networking and searching now because it will take a long time to find opportunities, as they come up quite randomly. The best bet is to use in-person trips to a major financial center such as NYC to improve your chances, even if you can only go on weekends. Otherwise, location will work against you (networking online/via the phone only can work, but it’s not as effective as in-person).
Thanks for some great insights Brian.
Do you by any chance know how frequently top PE firms in London will hire MBB candidates from outside of London?
I am in South Africa, I am halfway through my time as an analyst at McKinsey and I am hoping to try transition both careers and geography without an MBA or Mfin.
Don’t know, sorry, but a fair number of consultants get in… though not necessarily at “top PE firms.” There was a recent article on how to move from consulting to PE.
Hey Brian, love this site.
I currently am working full time as a financial analyst for a healthcare firm, looking to transition into IB. Would I be best off by leaving my job and doing an unpaid IB internship at a boutique?
also, I am interviewing for a different full time financial analyst position for a small firm that offers accounting/IB/financial services. If i am looking to eventually get into PE, am I best suited doing the unpaid internship? Or would some transaction/modeling/valuation experience from the full time role be my best option?
No, probably not, because banks rarely hire you as an unpaid intern if you already have work experience. It’s better to go to an independent valuation firm and then move into IB from there. It depends what the “small firm” is, but usually in cases like this, you need some type of role in between your current job and IB, a good example of which is valuation or transaction services.
First of all, congrats on building such a comprehensive and interactive platform.
I was wondering how you would explain / justify in a interview the switch from IB to Management Consulting?
Any feedback is much appreciated!
Thanks! To justify the switch, say that you wanted to do something where you make a broader impact and learn about all parts of an organization instead of just the financial aspect. While you liked the analytical parts of banking, you felt your ability to impact companies was limited because bankers only advise on financing decisions.
I have an engineering degree and an MBA from INSEAD. I have been working in consulting for over 10 years but would like to move in to PE or asset management. Can you let me know the best approach for the same?
This should help you: https://mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/ https://mergersandinquisitions.com/associate-portfolio-manager-jobs/
I was wondering what your thoughts are on moving from a non-mbb firm to I-Banking, if I was told I am on track to be manager in the next year? I have gotten a promotion each year and was told I could be manager next year. Essentially, a promotion each year.
I know the pay even at a manager level at a consulting firm is significantly less than IB or PE equivalent (VP); however, from a career standpoint do outstanding performers in banking or PE get advanced as quickly? I was told at my current rate I could be SM by 26 or 27 and partner before 30. However, even at the partner level the equivalent MD in banking or PE is making significantly more. I am stuck in trying to figure out if it’s worth restarting a career in banking or PE for the money. Would I be able to leverage a Manager or Senior Manager position at a consulting firm to be a VP at a bank? My understanding is that at the VP level sales becomes much more important which is what Senior Managers at consulting firms would be focused on.
In terms of undergrad education, I graduated from a top 5 school with a degree in financial engineering and I have been doing the CFA to refresh my financial knowledge. For consulting, I have been working in the Financial Services Industry for whole tenure at the firm.
Thanks for the help.
It can be challenging to move to banking unless you go back to a top business school since the skill sets maybe slightly different. You’d need to demonstrate your ability to source clients and conduct valuation analyses.
Hey M&I, great post as always. I have always been a fan of your website since I was an undergradute student. My passion is in finance but I got an offer from an MBB and decided to start working there.
I have a question about breaking into IB analyst as a consultant. Currently, I am a new joiner(2 months into the job)at one of MBB based in Southeast asia office. I am from a top local school in my country(Not in anyway a target school for BB). But i do have a decent GPA and a summer internship at the most prominent local investment bank in my country. In my country there is no global investment bank, so I want to join one of the BB’s in Singapore.
– would it be a good idea to work at MBB for a year to gain experience and an MBB brand, then leverage that in order to get an interview from a BB in Singapore?
– Or it is better to work at MBB for 2-3 years, get an MBA then apply for associate position?
– if I apply after working for a year in MBB, would that give me an advantage over other candidates?
I’d say the first option maybe best because you can directly move to a BB. If that doesn’t go well, then I’d aim for the second option.
Yes, experience in MBB can potentially help you and give you advantage over candidates who don’t have deal/finance experience.
I work in audit – Big4 and would like to move into banking in the long run, but recently I have been offered a place at a boutique strategic consulting firm, should I take that first and work there for 1- 2years then carry on searching for opportunities into banking?
This is more relevant to consulting roles to be honest. I don’t think moving to this firm will help you with banking, unless you can use this experience to break into a target MBA program
Thank you for the advice. Should I stay within audit then keep looking for opportunities then? Also, through referrals and contacts, I had an interview with a bulge bracket bank earlier this year but they were honest with me saying they could not pursue further due to last minute budget cut, do you think I shall may be ask them for a chance to re-interview me later this year?
I can’t decide for you but staying in Audit can have its pros and cons. Yes I’d ask the bank for a chance to interview you again.
Thank you for your advice again. Would you elaborate a bit further about the pros and cons of staying in audit vs moving into consulting now then trying to break into IB? Thanks.
If you stay in audit longer, you may risk being pigeonholed but the plus side is you wouldn’t have to spin why you moved to consulting if you were to interview for a banking role. If you really want to give consulting a try I’d take this role. Otherwise, I’d stay in consulting
I just received one offer from one of the biggest consulting firm and an offer from a small private equity firm. With full time investment baking recruiting later in the fall on my mind, which one would you say is better?
If I’m finishing up my second year at at top second tier consulting firm, and am interested in being an ib analyst, would it be advantageous to do a Masters in Finance for the transition? I have IB summer analyst experience at a reputable bank.
Yes this can help, if you go to a target school.
UK consulting provides the best HR consultancy service in delhi/NCR for middle to high profile job requirements.
This is a very useful website!
I was curious if you have thoughts on the ease of transitioning into an operational PE associate role versus the more traditional, deal team PE associate role from a non-finance background.
Once at a PE firm, is it easy to switch between these roles? Do these roles have the similar compensation, room for growth and prestige?
I think the skillsets are relatively different so I’m not sure if it is “easy” to switch between the two roles. I’d leave your last question to readers. You may also find https://mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/ useful
I particularly liked the story-telling tutorial template. One for the books!
I was wondering if you could have a post or article or interview on what commodity trading houses (not banks) are looking for as skills and technical expertise from someone like a consultant or a grad student?
There is very few information on these kind of companies and market on the internet. I personally want to get into physical trading but I am having a hard time finding valuable information on what to do to get in this industry. What skills? knowledge? which books to read if any?
Thank you so much! I love your site, keep it up!
Thanks for your input. We will keep your suggestion in mind and aim to cover that topic in the future.
I’m doing a summer internship for Roland Berger in Eastern Europe, but would like to transition to IB. Mainly it’s because I like more quantitative tasks (btw, I have one year of master’s ahead). How should I attack the application and leverage my skills and experience for an IB position?
https://mergersandinquisitions.com/consulting-to-investment-banking/ should help you.
I’d focus on networking, hone your finance skills, join a finance club during your masters, and just apply.
Thanks Nicole :)
Brian: I know you commented on this before but since the original article is old (I think?) I thought I might throw this out there anyways…
I wanted to request if you could maybe do a banking->consulting article? I’ve done some research on MBA programs, and many people who were previously on the path (Ivy university -> 2 yrs IB -> 2 yrs PE -> 2 yrs B-School) now are at MBB consulting.
Thoughts? I think it’d be an insightful article for a lot of us.
This is a good post. This post gives truly quality information. I’m definitely going to look into it. Really very useful tips are provided here. thank you so much. Keep up the good works…
I’m a year out of undergrad. Currently a credit analyst for a BB. Most of my position requires detailed company analysis, financial projections, and risk analysis for multiple types of debt financing deals. Just got out of a three month formal credit training program, which I hear is very valuable. Im hoping to be able to leverage that in order to transfer into ib. I haven’t seen much about this particular transition, and was wondering if you could shed some light on it. Is this common? What skills would be transferable? How do ib’s view the training program?
Your valuation and analytical skills would be valuable. I think BB will still value your training relatively highly, though you’ll be competing against people who have already had IB experience/training. Your experience would be useful to LevFin or even DCM.
I’m an undergraduate at a semi target (top 20 school in the world) and I have a very low gpa. (will graduate with 3.1~)
I have 4 internships under my belt.
1. RA at my school (published paper with my name as contributor)
2. Fortune 100 Conglomerate HR Strategy Intern
3. PwC Intern (audits more so than anything)
4. Accenture Intern (Management Consulting, project was cost reduction at a fortune 100 firm. Team of 3 with 3 interns, 15mil reduction in 3 months time)
I will be a junior in the upcoming september.
I am very torn between investment banking and consulting as I enjoy both the strategic and the number games thus I would like to experience the number sides as well as I have had plenty of internships in the consulting industry. What can I do to find an internship at IBD (not necessarily bulge bracket or anything)?
(I took a semester off for internships at PwC and Accenture, thus 4 internships despite being a sophomore)
Get started with a hardcore networking effort right away (even before the summer starts) and line up a fall internship at a boutique bank… otherwise it would be tough right now given your GPA and mostly non-finance internships. If you can do both of those and have even an unpaid fall internship at a local boutique on your resume, you improve your chances greatly.
Came across your site and must say I enjoy reading the articles.
I used to work in CF with a big4 before making my way to an MBB consulting firm, and am now considering potential exit-options. For consultants it tends to be easier/naturally fitting to join PE’s in a portfolio management role as opposed to the actual deal-making. What are your thoughts on these roles in terms of prestige? Would you say joining the likes of KKR Capstone > MBB in terms of prestige and longer-term development?
It is easier to join PE’s operational role with a MC background given your knowledge a particular industry; you’d also need the IB experience to join the “investments team” – https://mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/
In terms of prestige, perhaps the PE industry may be slightly more prestigious than the MC industry (in the finance community). In terms of longer-term development, it really depends on which path you want to pursue. If you want to break into finance/PE, I’d join a PE firm if given the opportunity.
I’m still an undergrad and am applying to a number of finance and consulting internships to see whats best. I found your templates for I-banking very helpful, but where can I find a reliable resume template for applying to companies like Bain, BCG, McKinsey?
Hello Brian. I am from India and currently working as a Technical Writer. I am very interested in shifting to a career in Investment Banking. I have a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from an average university in India. As far as knowledge goes, I’m a successful investor in the stock market with my personal funds. I have been able to generate an average CAGR of over 25% for the last 5 years.
Please advise how to proceed. What timeframe should I look at for my first job in IB? What can I expect to earn approximately as my first salary (base + commissions)?
Salary – https://mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banker-salary/
I’d suggest you to speak with the firms in India to understand the recruiting timeframe
Perhaps you might also look at investment management firms (buy-side) if you are interested in investing
I’m currently doing risk consulting at a retail bank in CW (highly modelling/programming based) for 6months but wanting to move into IB. Degree wise I have a BA(hons) from a decent British Uni. If I was thinking about getting into IB should I look into doing a MSC degree here in London beforehand? Whats the likelyhood of gaining an internship the summer before from degree/experince in finance sector?
This article should help: https://mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-masters-programs/
I worked as an associate compensation and benefits consultant but I quit after a year because I found out that I am more interested in Finance than HR. How can I break into finance with compensation analysis and advisory as the only experience. Should I include this experience in my resume? How can I make resume fit for a finance job.
Yes because this is your only experience. In your case, perhaps taking CFA level 1 may help if you are interested in the buyside/asset management
I am one year out of undergrad, currently working at a strategy consulting firm (non-MBB). I want to shift into restructuring banking at one of the top guys (e.g., HLHZ) and am wondering how feasible it would be.
I went to a target school (think Wharton, Harvard, Princeton) and had a good GPA with experience at a boutique i-bank. Any advice/thoughts for someone in my situation aside from what’s on this page?
I think it can be challenging unless you have strong technical skills which can be translated to the field. I think it would be a good idea for you to put your feelers out there and network with people in restructuring so at least you have a feel for what’s going on in the area. Why do you want to do restructuring?
Check out https://mergersandinquisitions.com/restructuring-investment-banking-group/ – This link should help
Brian, could you do an article that focuses on transitioning from top management consulting to the in-house consulting arms of the large PE firms (e.g. KKR Capstone).
It is my understanding that many of the big PE firms are now beginning to really value the consultant/operator skill set as they try to execute turnarounds at ailing portfolio companies instead of relying on the old model of leveraging to the hilt.
If you could do an interview with someone currently at one of these in house consulting teams, that would be very beneficial. Thanks!
Thanks for your suggestion – you might find this recent interview helpful: https://mergersandinquisitions.com/operational-consulting/
Have been following your site for a while now – love your content!
I am 24 years old & hold a business undergrad in finance & entrepreneurship.
I have been out of school for two years and am currently the head of sales & one of 4 of the admin team in a manufacturing startup (colour concentrates for plastics).. – I need advice!
I plan on one day doing an MBA and would love to break into finance, problem is I have 0 experience and am very hesitant about certain financial disciplines.
I am very much a people person, strong communicator, love networking, problem solving and analytical thinking. I am fine with the basics and won’t have a problem sharpening my skills. However the thought of being stuck behind a desk and crunching models scares the life out of me.
What field/discipline/sector is for me? M&A? PE? Something else? None?
Thanks for the advice!!
Neither cause they require long hours and analyzing models/investments. If you get to a senior enough level in PE you will get to travel and view companies you are potentially interested in investing in. Likewise for IB, you’ll be traveling a lot to see/with your corporate clients
I’d suggest something like sales or private banking!
This really is amazing website, I’ve learned so much in the past few days!
I’m currently in management consulting (not MBB but still top 10) and have only recently started but don’t like it at all and am looking to move into IB.
Considering my firm does not have the prestige of MBB (although it has a lot of brand recognition) I feel I would be limited to Boutique Banks. Would it be wise to make the move to boutique? Because, won’t working at a boutique limit your chances of getting into a top10 MBA. Would it be wiser to stick with my current firm, get into a top10 MBA (a lot of analysts from the firm get into top10) and then apply to bulge brackets?
Yes, and no to your second question, though it may be easier to get into the top 10 MBA program sticking w your current firm cause MBA recruiters do like consultants.
If you want IB now, just apply to a boutique and possibly BBs (who knows?) and see if you get any IB roles. If you do, you might not want to get your MBA if you really want your job. Even if you switch, you can still apply for the MBA after. Doesn’t hurt to start applying now.
Don’t think too much..
Thanks for the advice!
Great post and in fact website.
I have a slight dilemma with the consulting vs. finance front.
My goal is to be an equity researcher but have been unable to get a grad placement . I do, however, have a place on a Masters course in finance at a top 20 university. I also have a job offer in a consulting firm that also offers employees support for the CFA, but the actual job isn’t that relevant to equity research. My dilemma is which one to go for as the consulting would be at least 3 years, whilst the masters course may be 1 year but then there is no guarantee of getting a job afterwards. Everyone keeps telling me I’m crazy for even contemplating turning down a job offer but it’s not really where I want to be and I’m not sure how easy it would be to then go into equity research afterwards.
Once again great work on the website.
The analytical/qualitative skills you gain in analyzing a company from consulting can be transferred to ER. I believe you can still break into ER either way as long as you have the intent, belief and persistence to do so. Rather than asking which is the best decision for you down the line (no one can tell you), I’d suggest you to ask “Do I want to experience getting the Masters or working in the consulting firm now?” At this place, I believe you will be able to make a sound decision yourself, not based on others’ opinions
Is it easier or more difficult to break in coming from the Big4 or from a non M/B/B consulting firm? I have heard that the name brand involved with the Big4 is a huge asset when trying to get a banking job.
I wouldn’t say it’s a “huge asset” but it’s probably a bit easier coming from Big 4 because of the large network there, the TAS groups, the internal banks and restructuring branches, and so on.
Thanks for the reply. Along those same lines, is valuation a substantially more appealing skill during a lateral hire than PE due diligence consulting?
Can you do a post for career changers that were previously premed?
Thought about it before but would need to do more research… thanks for the suggestion
First of all, I want to thank you for a excellent site! I’ve gotten priceless help for my forthcoming interviews and such.
I’ve lately looked into the possibilities of working with corporate finance at one of the Big 4. I understand that these jobs aren’t as prestigious and probably pay a lot less. But what are the main differences in practice? I’m mainly talking about the M&A-parts of firms like Ernst & Young and PwC.
Thanks in advance,
The difference is that they focus more on due diligence and looking at the accounting behind a transaction rather than the modeling and strategy that bankers do. https://mergersandinquisitions.com/breaking-into-investment-banking-accountant/
I’ve recently scored a position in morningstar as an equities analyst; What are the chances of me say moving over to BB ER and then to say something like a hedge fund or asset management?
Or would I have to go to B school first and then over to a fund?
I think it’s a fairly difficult transition because ER is small to begin with and doesn’t hire many people. It would probably be easier to move into asset management at a bank and then ER. Business school would help but again, I don’t think ER even hires much out of MBA programs. They either find entry level or very experienced industry experts.
Thanks for the prompt reply.
I understand that some of the large european banks and the japanese banks are trying to expand their equity business down here (australasia), would you think the opportunities would be greater than the norm?
In all honesty I’m just looking towards a bank because it gives me the flexibility to jump over to a long/short fund if i wanted to.
It could be, but I honestly do not know much about equities in Australia. But given the commodities boom and China/India that could be the case.
I love your posts!
I have seen individuals in the past who, after graduating from undergrad, worked at a bank in areas such as special situations, controlling, IT and marketing for 1-3 years and then were able to transfer into their firm’s formal Analyst program. However, aren’t Analyst programs usually only for kids coming straight out of undergrad?
Likewise, I saw this one individual with no MBA. Went to get a JD instead…worked at a law firm for 2 years….then did compliance at a bank for 3 years…and then was able to get into the firm’s Associate program. 1) No MBA 2) 5 years of Law experience….Is this common? (Because usually Associate programs are only for MBA’s students recruited straight from college)
Normally they are for undergrads but there are exceptions. No MBA to Associate is not common but occasionally you can do a JD and get away with it… probably not for other degrees though.
M&I, great website I’m on here all the time. I’m about a year and a half out of college (non Ivy league, just state university). I tried the financial advising/insurance route for about a year and absolutely hated it. I really want to get into investment banking, and have had a few interview so far but all have basically said the same thing, not enough experience. I’m just working at a commercial bank right now, what do you think the best move would be from here? CFA or MBA maybe? Thanks!
Work for a few years and then MBA
What are some great alternatives to Ibanking? The hours are a killer.
Also, how much better is the job outlook for NYC vs Chicago in terms of the financial industry?
PWM or asset/investment management has better hours, so does VC but you can’t go straight in most of the time. NYC definitely has more opportunities (maybe by 2x?) but Chicago also has lower cost of living, arguably better hours and similar pay.
i worked as a consultant for 6 years at Monitor (not quite the M in MBB!) – do you think the lack of the prestige factor will be a major negative in trying to get into PE? i did manage to work on a few valuation and due dilgence cases so i can always push that experience in my ‘story’
i’m now working in a family office – about 10% PE and 90% real estate investment. will this help in trying to get into a proper PE firm, or shoudl i try getting into i-banking first?
You could still try for PE, but according to Kevin you would have a much better chance coming from MBB. From Monitor you would probably be more limited to smaller firms. I would do some networking, spend 3-4 months contacting places and cold-calling and see what the reaction is and take it from there.
Do you have any plans to add more videos for
Investment Banking Interview guides in BIWS?
Not in the near-term because the focus is on industry-specific modeling right now. You can submit suggestions through the BIWS contact form or on the site under the lessons, it is much easier for me to track them there.
That video is one of the funniest things I’ve seen for ages haha
Hi. I am 3 months into my IB job and all the other first years are doing live deals (in some cases, have already closed multiple) except for me. I am not getting staffed on anything that might go somewhere. Are there any tips or tricks on how to get on live deals?
Talk to your staffer directly and explain your concerns… it won’t change unless you are very direct about it. Also ask who needs help on what, who is working too much right now, and so on and find deals that you can take over.
if I send an CL as .pdf should I scan my signature and paste it in or
print the document sign it and then scan&send?
Or is it not appropriate to sign a CL in an online application?
https://mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-cover-letter-template/ “Email vs. Attachments”
Thank you very much for your answer.
However the link did not help me :).
As most applications have online forms I have to upload a CL (not per email). Should I sign the cover letter?
Thank you very much
It’s not necessary if they ask for an upload.
Why do you say “even though that infamous Leveraged Sellout video is ancient history by now”? Because bonuses are so much lower nowadays?
So is the DOW, guy.. so is the DOW
Because it was released over 2 years ago, which in Internet Time is equivalent to about 20 years in real life
Damn man even Bono works in finance now?
I think the end is near…
He founded the firm, further proof that mega-popular entertainer –> finance is a way better option than these silly business degrees
This bodes well for you, future South Korean pop star.
Could *Analyst -> Entrepreneur -> Entertainer -> PE -> Greatness* become the new “track?”
Actually Asia turned out not to be such a great idea, so I’m leaving soon. I doubt that will be the new track because there is risk/uncertainty involved, which means that 99.9% of people cannot do it.
When you say Asia turned out to be horrifically stupid, are you referring to your decision to go there, or the continental as a whole, or that it’s a totally dysfunctional place or what?
Ok I just softened / clarified that statement. Clearly the continent is doing something right given that it has surpassed / is surpassing the western world. So it’s not about GDP but rather living there.
It turned out to be less fun and not as helpful for business as I expected. Yes you can get some crazy stories and yes expats are drawn to Asia for well-known reasons (use your imagination) but that gets old after awhile unless you have 0 ambition to do anything else with your life. It’s impossible to fit in if you are a foreigner no matter what you do, and it’s not even as much fun as other places… and I can really live anywhere in the world, so no reason to stay here.
So unless you have a solid connection (family, school, being from there) or a legitimate business reason to go (e.g. your company depends specifically on a market in Asia and you need to be with customers there), I would not recommend staying long-term.
I see comments like : I really hate consulting and wanna find a way out of it. Can you explain the reasons why when the working trends nowadays is to go to consulting ESP in those “prestigious” consulting firms. And so many new ones that appear like every week, from former consultants lol
What is it that you hate? The salaries are still not enough? Is the job the job that doesn’t meet your expectations? You don’t like your coworkers etc…
Just wanna know
I currently work at a top bank but am seriously interested in consulting (something more big picture management/operational focused). I just finished up my first year and am on my second.
Banking is awesome because the stuff we do is not fluff and is quantifiable. But my biggest gripe is the hours. I don’t mind working hard on the weekdays (banker style or a bit less) but I really want to have my weekends off.
I am only considering consulting because I feel like I would be able to see the bigger picture outside of finance.
Would a move to consulting make practical, realistic, achievable sense? Or would I hate the switch more.
Caveat: I do value work life balance.
Maybe you or Kevin can write an article about this reverse transition from consulting to banking…
I can’t speak to having weekends off or not but if you look on Management Consulted he might have day-in-the-life accounts and an estimate of hours there. The thing with consulting is that you will be traveling a lot, which means it’s hard to do anything with your friends on weekdays. So in terms of pure hours it might make sense and you may have more weekends free, but you won’t necessarily get to do much after work anyway.
Hey, great post!
Could you shed some light on banking-to-consulting? First of all, is it common to finish the analyst stint, get an MBA, and apply for MBB? And do bankers stand a better or worse chance in securing a consulting job? Thanks.
Honestly very few bankers do that because the pay is less. It’s not difficult and I think it’s easier than the reverse (banking –> consulting) but it’s just not that common. You are at an advantage over all the engineers who “want to do business” now since at least you have relevant experience.
Thanks for the reply.
How different is the pay no.? Could you throw some stats, just trying to get an idea. What about hours in associate level in these two positions? Thanks.
Kevin has numbers for hours/pay on his site if you look there. Generally your bonus will only be 50% of what it is in banking.
OK, will check it out. Thanks!
What is it like to break in as financial advisors which is more like sales type? Have you ever talked about that?
Not sure there but it would involve networking with bankers internally and pushing for the transfer like that…. that might actually be harder than consulting because the work is less relevant in some ways. Trying to feature something there, but there are almost 0 readers who are in that industry.
great post. consultanting is absolutely horrible and i can’t wait to get outo f this job.
I shud have pressed reply to your comment. Please see my comment below