Investment Banker vs. Management Consultant: Why the Banker Wins with a Knockout in Round 1

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“What’s missing from your resume is a focus on the results… I see all your recommendations and the projects you worked on, but I don’t see what happened as a result of your work.”

-McKinsey Recruiter to Me, 3 Years Ago

Some of you have asked about consulting (as in management consulting, not IT consulting – who in their right mind would do that?) vs. investment banking and which is “better” to pursue.

So here’s why investment bankers dominate management consultants, and why you should do banking.

The Myth: Bankers vs. Consultants Video

On the day the infamous Leveraged Sellout video was released, I received about 10 forwards from readers and friends, so I’m guessing almost everyone has seen it by now.

But just in case you haven’t, here it is again for good measure:

YouTube Preview Image

Although it’s fiction, the video does a surprisingly good job of summarizing the bankers vs. consultants debate.

“Be a Burnout Banker, Teaching Math at My Prep School”

There’s a lot of burnout in both fields.  My management consultant friend almost quit after he had to work 14 hours on his birthday once.  True, consultants get uninterrupted weekends… sometimes… but regardless of whether you’re a banker or consultant, you’re going to work a lot.

To imagine the schedule of a consultant, just take my Week in the Life series and add traveling to Idaho at the beginning of the week and coming back at the end of the week.  Also delete all references to quantitative work and replace them with finger-painting.

“Nothing but Grunt Work”

Not quite.

There’s a lot of grunt work in both industries.  In banking, it’s more quantitative and no one cares about offering “strategic insight” and putting things in quadrants – they just care what the Pro Forma EPS is.

“Make a Really Significant Impact and Get Home by 7:15″

I know of no consultants who get home by 7:15.  One of my friends is an IT Consultant and even he doesn’t get home by 7:15.

So far, banking and consulting might seem similar… but let’s take a look at the first part of this claim – “Make a Really Significant Impact.”

Despite what the consultant argues, bankers typically make far more of an impact than consultants.  True, some transactions fall apart, but when they happen you get a new public company or a new conglomerate.

By contrast, you never know if the recommendations consultants make will be implemented.

Got results?

“Mining for Gold out in Saskatchewan”

“Business travel” sounds cool to people who haven’t traveled much before, but it’s less appealing when you’re flying to Saskatchewan every week in February.  Consultants are always on the road, and while bankers do travel occasionally, it is much less of a burden.

It’s fun to live in another country for an extended period, but it’s much less fun to travel back and forth every single week.

Plus, even if you are stationed in Saskatchewan you probably won’t discover any gold.

“You Try to Add Value… I Straight Create It”

At the junior level, no banker or consultant “creates value” and they rarely even “add value.”  Senior bankers who negotiate on their clients’ behalf can sometimes “add value” by getting the buyer to pay more, but even that is rare.

Both banks and consulting firms are in the business of giving advice: advice on what to do financially and what to do operationally.  Companies actually “create value.”

“House in the Hamptons and a Penthouse Loft”

Even at the market peak in mid-2007, 1st Year Analysts made only $150K ($60K base + $90K bonus).  While that’s a lot of money for someone fresh out of school, it’s certainly not enough for a house in the Hamptons and a penthouse loft – especially after taxes.

Bankers do make more than consultants, but it will take quite some time to turn yourself into Gordon Gekko.

“But You Still Can’t Buy Bottles with Starwood Points”

True.

Consultants make a fraction of bankers’ bonuses – firms are notoriously secretive about exact numbers, but even in good times a $10K bonus isn’t unreasonable for consultants.

You could argue that they work a lot less and therefore make about the same hourly wage, but I’m not convinced.  Sure, you won’t pull consistent 100-hour weeks in consulting, but it’s a lot more than 9-5, especially when you take into account the travel.

And even if it is more per hour, good luck having enough for bottles, let alone models.

“Take This Mouse and Get Back to Making $60K a Year”

Most consultants make more than $60K, but not by much.

However, they definitely don’t know how to use Excel properly – just ask that consultant we hired after I unplugged his mouse and he almost fainted.

The Consultant Formerly Known as Banker

One year, we hired a summer intern who was pretty good as far as investment banking interns go.  He didn’t do anything stupid, he always smiled, and he even bought us drinks.  But he “couldn’t take the hours” and he went to consulting full-time instead, in search of that elusive “work-life balance.”

I spoke with him the other day and he said the hours were pretty bad and he was being dragged around between 3 continents on clients’ whims – in other words, it was actually worse than banking, and he was getting paid less.

Damn, It Feels Good to Be a… Consultant?!

I didn’t continue with consulting because:

  1. I hated constant travel.
  2. I wanted to get tangible results rather than making “strategic recommendations” to management.
  3. Oh yeah, I couldn’t tolerate making $60K a year.  Even $70K is pushing it.

That said, you may still want to consider consulting if your original plan was finance:

  1. Consulting is diversified in different industries, so the financial chaos won’t hit it quite as hard.
  2. No consulting firms have subprime anything on their balance sheets.
  3. You might still sneak into PE if you get lucky.  Golden Gate Capital, for example, hires most of its Associates from Bain Consulting.

Rebuttal?

If you’re a consultant who now feels angered, feel free to write in with a rebuttal and I’ll publish some of the most entertaining responses.  Make sure you also enclose some of those Starwood points.

 

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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219 Comments to “Investment Banker vs. Management Consultant: Why the Banker Wins with a Knockout in Round 1”

Comments

  1. bob says

    Hey,

    Quick question about graduate schools. I started my own online company, and was making bank. However, nowadays my money has trickled to a fraction of what it was making. This was basically all passive income.

    This was while I was in college. I traveled a lot, bought a new car, basically shat all my money out.

    Naturally, I got a physical office job as as a buyer / seller analyst(40k) for a big retailing company. The pay sucks, but the area is cheap… so really id be saving the same amount of money…

    The question is I want to get into a top MBA school. I know this job is going to do shit, so should I in my resume just highlight my own company? I made over $200k+ over 5 years through it, which isn’t much for you guys, but a lot for a college student. Do you think that my work experience would be sufficient?

    Is a good plan to do good on the GMAT (700+), work for a few years, then apply to MBA school? And if i get lucky enough to get interviewed, just talk about my own business I ran on the side.

    Also does my GPA hurt me, its a 3.38 at a top 10 undergrad business school.

    Thanks for the help.

    • says

      Probably split experience and write about both, maybe emphasize the company a bit. Yes working for a few years and then MBA can work but really depends on your goals, much easier to get in sooner rather than later, low GPA hurts you but won’t necessarily keep you out

      • Kiril says

        Similiar question, i had a 3.6 GPA in from a good but not top tier undergrad school in US and then graduated a very prestigious graduate school but with not so high GPA? What are my prospects for a good MBA program? Thanks a lot

        • says

          Kiril, in good MBA programs admissions look at the “whole package”. Part of that – is whether you properly demonstrate all the usual stuff – if you are poor (hungry for knowledge), smart and motivated. Look at the description of the personality that Business Schools look at on EssayEdge.com

  2. Laura says

    Hi,
    I wanted to know – if I join an investment banking firm, is it easier to switch into consulting later or is the switch easier the other way round? (What I mean by “easier” is if they are likely to hire you when you apply.)

      • Laura says

        Thanks for the advice!

        I’ve always been interested in consulting, but the order of placements in my grad school is uncertain, hence I applied for the first companies that came and have received an offer from an investment bank! I’m not sure whether I should take it up, but can’t take the risk of rejecting it and then not making it through another good company (the competition is tough). Hence I’m planning to take up the offer – and after becoming an investment banking analyst for 2 years or so hope to move to consulting…? Keeping fingers crossed that this switch will be practical…please do let me know if you think otherwise!

        Thanks for all the help! And btw this website is the best introduction to investment banking I could hope for…It helped a lot when I was giving my interview. :) (though in retrospect I’m not too happy I’ve made it when I didn’t really want it!)

  3. Andrew says

    Hi,
    My ideal career path was to go IBD at a BB, go to bschool, and enter a HF/PE/VC. But seeing as many 2nd year IBD analysts go to the HF/PE straight after (w/o bschool) I wanted to see if doing IBD pre-MBA would give me a huge advantage for HF/PE/VC recruiting. As in, if I am going to business school anyway with the intention of entering a HF/PE/VC, is the IBD experience really worth it (besides the learning)?

    In other words, would it make a big difference to HF/PE/VC recruiters if you did IBD pre-MBA, S&T pre-MBA, or consulting pre-MBA? Or something that is none of those three, perhaps a corporate finance full-time at a Fortune 500?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      IBD pre-MBA would give you an advantage. You might want to do a HF/PE/VC internship pre-MBA though – having an internship directly in that field would help

      I don’t know if S&T/consulting pre-MBA would help PE/VC that much. Perhaps trading in an IB would help if you want to break into HF but not PE. PE firms would like IB experience though.

      Another source you might find useful if you want to break into VC – http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/11/the_venture_cap.html

      Corp F500 – not so sure if it helps.

  4. James says

    Find the picture very offensive, well not really its a bit of a joke.

    But for fairness sake have the guy knocking out the girl for once.. More realistic and Im getting sick of the constant P.C thing :P

  5. Stephanie says

    Is it advisable to include management consulting internships on the resume when applying for an IB position? Will it make me look unfocused? I go to an Ivy, am an economics major, and have a 3.5+ GPA.
    Thanks and thanks for your site!
    (sorry in advance if this is not the best place to ask this question)

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Not necessarily. If you don’t have other better experience to fill your resume, you should put your consulting internship there. Try to spin it as banking oriented as possible

  6. Darius says

    IB is the first and foremost industry I plan to get into after university (attending later this year).

    But I know it is very hard to get into, so my career adviser suggested that I think of possible back up plans.

    Granted consultants don’t tend to make more than bankers- but at senior level can the salaries in the consultant department reach the six-digit figures?

    • Kirt says

      I’m surprised to hear people think Consultants make such little money. It is definitely less than banking (and varies by country) but it certainly reaches six-figures in either your first or second year.

      For a bit of benchmarking for consulting based on the country I’m in (assume it would be similar in the US, and the below is in USD):
      1st year analyst: 90-100k total (inc bonus)
      5 years in: ~150-250k for consulting. The range is wide because it varies based on your performance in those 5 years.
      As a partner in consulting: You get a % of what you sell. So if you sell $10 MM worth of work per year (good partners will do this) then you earn $2-5 MM a year

  7. Patrick says

    I wonder how much of your characterization of banking vs. consulting (and other fields at that) is colored by the NYC-centric comparison. While finance jobs circulate around several key cities (NYC reigning supreme), large consulting offices can be found spattered about the globe. Speaking with MBB consultants at different offices, work hours and culture can vary significantly from location to location. Maybe working weekends and 80 hours per week in consulting is prevalent in the NYC office (partially due to more finance related business) whereas 60-65 hours is the norm at the ATL office. Just a thought and wanted to see if your consulting anecdotes were NYC-centric or from a broader base.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I think these anecdotes can be applied to most financial hubs like NYC and HK. At other cities, working hours may be less for consultants, but working hours may also be less for bankers too. I think this also depends on the firm you are working for and its culture.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I think it might be a bit easier to switch into consulting later though I think it can be more challenging to switch from IB – consulting and vice versa as you progress in your career.

  8. J says

    Hi M&I,

    Was wondering whether anyone knew anything about these ‘part time assistant’ or ‘PTA’ roles with buldge bracket management consulting firms for eg. part time assistance with Bain&Company, PTA with BCG that I keep seeing popping up on Linkedin Profiles with professionals in the Asian region (Shanghai/Beijing/HK)

    They are definitely not Admin roles, they were doing real ‘intern’ work, yet they are not internships as I have seen on some profiles, a jump from PTA to Summer Intern.

    What is this role? Might it be specific to the Asian region? Does anyone know how you can apply for it?

    Thanks

  9. Jason says

    Hi, have been job hunting for a while and it seems that no networking or connection can seem to get me a place at a bb foreign firm in asia as they are all in retrenchment mode currently. Hence, I may decide to take up consulting while still having a goal of breaking into Ibanking later on. What are the odds of someone in Accenture asia braeking into Ibanking later> Would it be wiser to take a smaller position such as a equity dealer for now instead or should I pursue at a large multinational corp like Accenture and pounce when the job market improves?

    I have of course gone through pros and cons for both jobs and still have my eyes set on ultimately getting into Ibanking.

    Fyi, in asia the trend shows quite a number of ppl moving from management consulting to ibank. However, is it crucial to rebrand yourself with expensive MBA`s and such> I would of course like to take my cfa during my time with the consulting firm.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes an MBA from a target would be useful if you don’t have IB experience. With the above being said, I think people value work experience more so than pedigree so if you can obtain some sort of IB experience that will set you apart. I don’t think consulting or equity dealership help too much in positioning you in getting a job in IB going forward. I’d suggest you choose between the two based on your strengths and passion. Otherwise, look at IB roles at boutiques, second/third tier firms, local/Chinese banks – don’t give up

      • Jason says

        Being in a boutique firm, I am afraid that the name may not be highly appreciated compared to bulge bracket or even 2nd tier banks. You mentioned that it will make more sense then to move from lower tier banks to a bulge bracket?

        The boutique concept espc in malaysia is also not highly known compared to the states or europe where the market cap is big enough for everyone. I am afraid that there will be a lack of exposure to deals and such. I have also heard of some leaving tier-1 banks due to lack of transferable skills within cf division. The skills gained there are not appreciated when moving to Singapore bulge bracket banks.

        THANKS for your time. Just want to be really sure before applying.

  10. Jason says

    Sorry, was wondering if moving from a boutique firm would make sense in a small country like malaysia to a bb firm? I know its the norm for the states or europe as they do learn and get good bites out of deals due to huge market cap. Would you still recommend someone in asia to start at a smaller firm rather than doing the whole consulting route at say Accenture?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes, I thought I’ve responded to your comment previously? Other readers may be able to offer you other insights

  11. KTR says

    I am a career changer (Wealth Management to IB)and wanted to do a non-paid pre-MBA Internship before I begin my MBA in the summer to help reinforce I am serious about the change. M&I suggested PE, VC or HF as industries which I should target. However, this is proving a bit challenging, yet I am steadfast in my pursue still. However, I came across a pre-MBA internship offered by a Top 5 Consulting firm. Should I consider Consulting as one of potential industries or will this hurt my chances at a elite summer internship in IB?

  12. analyst says

    Great article! How easy it is to move to consulting from investment banking on a pre-MBA level after 1-2 years of IBD?

  13. CupofJoe says

    M&I : Congratulations on a wonderful site !

    So hear’s the rebuttal (or at least an alternative view as I’m not angered : ) )

    To put things into context my viewpoint is coming mainly from senior level Management Consulting & direct Executive Management, with specialization in I-Banks & Funds.

    Given this, I perhaps have a unique view on both sides, though I admit I am a bit biased more towards the management consulting side due to the nature of work and value provided.

    In any case, while I agree in part to many of your fine points, here’s my 2 cents :

    a. the hours for consulting and banking are about the same; however, this may be biased as our clients were I-banks. At the more senior levels, hours get a lot better as you push down more of the ‘busy work’ downstream (which is necessary for lower level folks to learn anyway).

    b. On average, management consultants make a lot higher base; thus, at an entry level situation, consultants will on average win (since the bonuses will suck in either role unless you have a really generous boss), but in the medium to longer term, bankers definitely win, assuming they can get a good bonus.

    However, I think this is a moot point as the skills for these 2 roles are very different. If you are really trying to make “bank” and you really think you have the talent to choose whatever opportunity, then they both lose out…join a hedge fund…a top producer at a HF will frankly embarrass a top performing I-Banker and put to shame a ‘high earning’ management consultant.

    c. re: your stated salary above…most management consulting firms hire MBAs so a starting salary is more closer to at least $80k-120K base for even the most average firm and much higher at the strategy boutiques, especially if you have a top MBA.

    With the salary you mentioned above, I assume its an undergraduate researcher supporting consultants, but not someone who is actually doing management consulting with clients ? This holds true to either ‘strategy consultants’ or ‘operational consultants’

    d. Re: Darius’ question, if they have reasonable experience, six figures is very common…I personally don’t know any management consultant at a top firm or boutique who doesn’t make six figures, whether in the US, Europe or Asia.

    e. re: Value : well, I agree with your McKinsey Recruiter comment above in terms of results…but the point is not that a consultant doesn’t provide value and/or results, but the point should be that you, as a potential candidate, should really know what kind of result you are actually producing, why and for whom. If you don’t know this or how to communicate this…then whose fault is that ?
    The value you provide is quite different in both of these roles.

    Generally speaking, if you wish to provide value at a holistic business perspective, including trying to determine which markets to enter, how to compete, which companies to acquire, what products to offer and how to fix operational issues, then this is management consulting. If you like number crunching, repackaging financial risk and move money around while getting paid a lot, then this requires a very different type of skill set and interest. Since you will be spending over 80% of your waking moments working, pick something you like, not just purely based on the $$$.

    f. Re: Impact and your comment, “bankers typically make far more of an impact than consultants.” Since there is a wide definition of what a ‘consultant’ does (eg. at a local gym, trainers call themselves health & fitness consultants), and that you didn’t state whether the impact was positive or negative, then I can agree.

    While providing money seems to have ‘more of an impact’ over advice, since the nature of the role & impact of I-bankers vs consultants are different, it’s like comparing apples to oranges or perhaps like comparing the benefits of using ROIC & WACC in shareholder valuation vs quantifying the risk adjusted benefits of alpha generating algorithms to optimize hedge fund portfolios. Uh…well let’s stick to apples vs oranges…the point is that they are totally different.

    So at least from a job seeker’s perspective, I believe the question whether to go to an I-bank vs consulting firm is not the degree of impact, but the nature of impact they wish to make (both as a group and individually) and perhaps more importantly what skills/relationships they plan to gain to help them with their career down the road (assuming they have a 3 to 5 year outlook).

    Re: a bit more on I-bank vs consultant ‘impact’
    If you really want to try to debate ‘more positive impact’ then it should be based /measured on the original rationale for the requested service in the first place. Eg. at least with the type of work I have been involved with, in many projects, strategic advice (including rationale) is why an I-banker was contacted in the first place. In fact, financial strategy (and use of I-bankers) is only one small component of an overarching strategic plan. Thus, in such cases, I-bankers were the grunts helping to execute a small component of a bigger plan.

    So, strategy consulting helped define what was needed and the players who needed to be involved (including, for example, I-banks, lawyers, accountants, regulatory agencies, other consultants/advisors, etc.).

    Thus, Strategy consultants helped facilitate the direction, I-Banks were useful to get the money. Operational Consultants helped spend the money in line with what the client wanted to achieve.

    From this context, did the I-banker help provide ‘more impact’ ? I’m frankly not sure as if it weren’t for the strategy component, the I-bankers wouldn’t have been involved in the first place.

    If you measure value & impact not from the end client perspective but in terms of making ‘bank’ and only in it for the money, then I-banking is more scalable as fees is based on size of deal, while consulting’s greatest problem is the difficulty to scale as you have a theoretical limit on the number of bodies you can pimp out and charge for based on a daily rate.

    However, as mentioned above, if you are only in it for the money and you think you really have the skills and interest to do everything and anything, then join a hedge fund.

    Summary (yes finally, sorry for the lengthy comment)

    I am not advocating either the I-bank or consultant route (or even HF/PE), but advocating that your readers take a hard look at their own passion and interests before making a decision. In general, the longer you are in one path, it will be difficult to change.

    Hope some of this helps to the future I-bankers and consultants out there.

  14. D says

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone had any information on the consulting division of Wood Mackenzie?

    I know they only do energy and resources consulting but are the other aspects like? Work hours? Salary?

    Thanks

  15. Wizard of oz says

    There is one point missing from this article – the ability to go solo and freelance. As a successful young consultant I left my top tier firm and freelanced at the age of 27. Made my first million usd’s by 29. Now 42 I am retired – well from consulting anyway. A good consultant is exposed at a young age to many differing circumstances which gives an incredible background to do things in later life. Not sure the ib rigidity gives the same chances to break free.

      • Wizard of oz says

        Worked for multi-nationals based in Europe who were doing executing global restructuring programs. Had one big client for 4 years, another for 7 years, and charged about 60% of what McKinsey do. Except it went to me and not the firm. I now have expertise in logistics, finance, International tax, and internet sales. Ingredients which are pretty useful when you start your own business later in life. Im not sure what skills I would have picked up if I took that grad role offered to me by Lehman Brothers in 1993…

    • says

      I agree with Wizard of oz. Freelancing has endless opportunities and benefits. Flexibility and control over your time are one of tthem. However, it will be also challenging to get private clients. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Sure. Everyone has a different view point so I’d suggest you to speak to as many consultants and bankers as you can so you can come up with your own conclusion

  16. Wei says

    Hi, I just received 2 offers, a Operations Analyst (back office) at a Branded Investment bank and a Management Consultant at a small boutique consulting firm.
    The IB offers good pay and brand name but a back-office role (smelling boring all over it) While the consulting job sounds like what i really want to do but the poor pay and name.
    This is actually my first job and i would like to only work for about 3 years before i decide to enrol in a top business school for MBA.
    What do you suggest i choose? Thanks. I am a Singaporean by the way.

      • Jun says

        Hi,
        Similar to Wei, i recently got 2 offers but they are for 3 months summer internships. One is with Visa Cards- Consulting while the other is with DnB Bank- Corporate Banking (an offshore Norwegian bank based in Singapore). Which one will be a better deal? say if i am interested in mgmt consulting as a graduate career but wouldn’t mind working in a Bank too.
        I was told that Corporate Banking offers a higher level of B-to-B skillsets while in Visa is more of a Merchant level. Hence in terms of getting the exposure and finanical products knowledge, a banking internship will work better on my resume.

        May i hear your thoughts on it?

        I am a penultimate undergraduate by the way.

        • M&I - Nicole says

          I am not too familiar with the two areas. I’d agree that corporate banking will offer you more exposure to knowledge of financial products, since corporate banks provide financing to corporations and institutional clients (http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/corporate-banking/) However, if you are interested in management consulting, the visa cards opportunity may be worth exploring because you’ll be helping clients improve their bottom line by getting the best value from their Visa portfolios.

  17. Rohan says

    To add more clarity to the debate of banker vs consultant , maybe the team should get an interview from a guy in the mergers team of say mckinsey,booze or BCG , what say?
    Work is more comparable

  18. Ashla says

    Interesting article. Thanks for sharing your perspective (I’m assuming that last snarky bit was good-natured sarcasm). Just to clarify for those that stumble upon this post while researching directions to take their nascent career: this whole post is only geared towards MANAGEMENT consultants vs. IB. Management consulting is not the only (or, in my opinion, most attractive) form of consulting. I’m a statistical consultant for pharma/biotech companies and I thought I would share a little bit about it:
    1) The pay is good (6 figure compensation after your first year or two, but still less than IB/MC without accounting for “hours worked”)
    2) Hours are great. I rarely work longer than 40 hours a week and it leaves time for side projects (coding apps, trading on the FX market, etc.) or life (gf, concerts, happy hours, etc.). Accounting for the reduction in hours (vs. IB/MC) and any side projects that generate cash-flow you can potentially make as much (or more) than IBs/MCs per hour over the year (if accumulating wealth is one of your larger goals in life). I personally spend most of my time studying academic areas (econ, astro, math, physics), but the extra time is great regardless how it is used
    3) PhD is not needed. My diplomas: M.S., 2 B.A.s and a minor
    4) Minimal travel. I travel maybe once a quarter (probably closer to once every 6 months)
    5) Work is challenging and interesting (building patient simulation models, applying machine learning techniques, etc.). Disclaimer: I never really liked pure finance and always found science-related areas far more interesting.
    6) Great exposure to both execs and internal strategy/organization (I guess somewhat similar to what MCs do, but you obviously won’t get as much exposure as them) almost immediately.
    7) Work with VERY smart people in a non-cutthroat environment

    Lastly–again for those of you researching industries to apply to–don’t let the weird hierarchal atmosphere that develops among classmates as job offers are accepted cloud your judgment on what you want to do. People started walking around with noses up in the air because they landed some coveted MC or IB job somewhere and onlookers salivated with envy. I got sucked into that a little and interviewed with a few hedge funds, but quickly stopped because I realized I didn’t want to work those crazy hours etc. I feel a lot of my classmates only pursued certain jobs because they were told “these jobs are the best.” I know it’s cliché to say, but you’ll do best at the job you genuinely enjoy and that should be one of the main drivers behind where you apply.

    I hope my post was somewhat helpful. It may only be helpful to those who are currently in a similar positions as I was (love science, but hate academic life and find pure finance to be boring).

  19. Manish says

    Hi, Thanks for your article. Just a quick question.

    I have two offers, one is Risk Analytics (Back Office) of an bulge bracket investment bank, other one is Big Data Retail Analytics in a major blue chip silicon valley software company. Which one is better if I wish to work for 3 to 5 years and then go for an MBA ? I plan on moving to strategy consulting post MBA.

    Thank you.

  20. J2 says

    Is it easier to breaking into banking of management consulting with a low gpa (under 2.5)? I got to a target school, which route is best to go if my final goal is to work at a place like either

    goldman/ms or bain/bcg in the long run?

  21. Nick says

    Thank you for this informative post. I have some technical questions that I thought you might shed some light on.
    1. How do consulting firms typically obtain financing? Is it predominantly from partner equity or bank credit?
    2. What does a typical (Big Three or mid-size boutique firm) balance sheet look like? Is it mostly office space rentals, labor costs, overhead?
    3. Is there much competition between financial firms, consulting firms, and other professional services (legal services, accounting firms) for clients? How much overlap is there? What about competition over hires?
    4. Are there professional ethics rules and codes of conduct that consulting firms are subject to that are similar to what we see for legal or accounting companies (which are in fact codified in state law/state bar associations)?
    Thanks in advance for any information,
    Nick

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You’re welcome.
      1. I’m not 100% sure and I think it depends on the firm and its structure,
      2. Good question – I’d leave this to readers
      3. I wouldn’t say there’s too much competition over hires because the skill sets are different and you’re referring to various fields – broad options to choose from
      4. I’m sure http://amcf.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14&Itemid=25 but I’m not 100% sure
      Please bear in mind that our website is focused on the investment banking and finance industry. If you have questions on other industry fields i.e. consulting we’re happy to answer them though you may want to explore http://managementconsulted.com/

  22. Akshay says

    Hello Brian,

    Can you please tell me how to get into Management Consulting. I am a recent graduate and wish to make a career in Management. Also is it really worth getting into Masters in Management Program to get into MC fresher job and than if needed go for MBA later?.. It’s getting really hard to find a job in MC and I don’t wanna waste more time as it’s already been over 5 Months.

    Appreciate your earliest reply

    Regards
    Akshay

  23. jk says

    Everyone mentions the pay disparity between bankers and consultants. But people rarely talk about why.

    *Why* is it that bankers get paid more than consultants?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Good question. I think it varies a/c to the individual because some consultants may get paid more. But in general, perhaps the deals bankers do are somewhat larger and more high profile especially at larger banks so bankers get paid a bit more. However, this may be changing.

    • says

      It’s because bankers charge higher fees, relative to the workload, than consultants, and can charge those fees because they’re responsible for making huge deals happen… whereas the dollar value is harder to hone in on with consulting, so they can’t just charge a percentage of the “transaction value.”

      • jk says

        This seems to be a strike against the consultants’ argument that they “add more value”. If they actually do, then you’d expect clients to pay more for their services than for bankers’ services…

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I don’t think there is. But if there were, perhaps it’s just misunderstanding, or one party thinks the other earns more etc etc

  24. Yash Kankaria says

    Hey I am a Junior in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State. It is definitely not a target school. I am interested in Mergers and Acquisitions. How do I apply to Investment Banking firms since I am not from the usual background and target school.
    My GPA is 3.75 and I am also a part of the Analyst Program at an Investment Association in my Uni. I hold different leadership positions as well on campus. I have been tracking trends in the sector for a year and a half now.
    How can I contact bulge bracket banks and also the boutique investment banks? How do I essentially increase my chances since I think pretty much all the odds are stacked against me? Do I need to do some type of training like Training The Street or something apart from all this experience to land an internship

  25. higgsb says

    The issue I have with this article is simple: you don’t address the work culture. Consulting is a respect driven area. There isn’t that absurd and often macho sense of hierarchy. Quality of life isn’t just correlated to hours clocked, it’s how awful the hours you clock are–ask any PhD. MBB goes after highly intelligent people: physicists, mathematicians, etc. IB has a lot of finance and MBA people. (Yes there is an overlap and that isn’t hard nosed). The difference in the type of people they recruit makes huge differences when it comes to work. Do you want to work with intelligent, well educated, respectful coworkers? Or do you want to work with often psychotic, ill mannered after 5pm, status driven coworkers? It makes a difference (esp if you’re not a shallow white christian US male).

    Other thing to throw in: earning potential after you leave. Of course consultants don’t make as much, but that usually isn’t why people go to McKinsey. They go to build a network and prove they are smart and mature enough to make it in big business. Then they leave after 2-3 years and take a high level corporate finance position, move into policy/lobbying in DC, or eventually end up in academia (check out the CVs of profs at top 10 business/economics programs).

    It really just depends on what you want, acting like work to pay ratios are that important is missing the point of the question “which is better”…

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