Can You Renege On Your Investment Banking Job Offer Without Being Blacklisted for Life?

228 Comments | Investment Banking - "Plan B" Options

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Interview season is finished.

You got 30 first round interviews, made it to 5 Superdays, and came away with an offer at UBS – which you quickly accepted.

But 5 minutes ago, you just received a call from your recruiter at Goldman Sachs: “another spot opened up” and they’re extending a summer internship offer to you.

So you renege on the UBS offer and go to the “better” bank, right?

Should You Renege?

If you look around online and ask your friends, you’ll see that there’s no consensus on the “ethics” of reneging and whether you should do it.

There are 2 main schools of thought here:

#1: Bankers Are Vengeful and Want to Kill You

This one is more common among senior bankers who spend time recruiting you – they’ve seen cases where someone reneges on an offer and then ends up losing his other offer(s) as a result of angry phone calls from bankers.

The industry is very small, everyone knows each other, and any banker can quickly find out about your move if he wanted to do so.

They would also point out that the upside when reneging is usually much less than you expect.

#2: The Labor Market Works Both Ways – Look Out for Yourself

In camp #2 are many current Analysts and Associates, who point out that everyone is replaceable and that banks have a habit of rescinding or downgrading offers without notice.

The world’s not a nice place, and you have to do what it takes to get ahead – if you get a better offer, you need to accept it and renege on the other one because no one else is looking out for you.

They would point out that in a week from now, no one will even remember what you did.

So, Who’s Right?

Neither side is “right” or “wrong” here because reneging on job offers can go either way.

But my own view is this: the potential downside of reneging on a job offer usually far outweighs the potential upside.

So there are some cases where it might make sense to renege – but most of the time, you’re taking a big risk by doing so.

The Potential Upside

It’s the same as when you move from one bank to a “better” one: you may get a better experience, more deal/client exposure, and better access to recruiters.

This upside is significantly better if you’re reneging on an offer in a different industry (e.g. Big 4 accounting) or you’re reneging on a back office offer and moving to the front office.

The upside is also much better if you’re reneging on one full-time offer and taking another one – you’ll probably be there for at least a year or two, whereas with internships there are no guarantees.

The Potential Downside

The worst-case scenario: your would-have-been-employer calls around and finds out where you accepted, then they notify that bank and you instantly lose both your offers.

Oh, and of course you won’t be able to recruit again at the bank you reneged on.

If you relied on on-campus recruiting and the bank you reneged on notifies your school (they will), they may cut off your access to the alumni network, on-campus recruiting, and anything else career-related.

Which is especially bad news if you’re reneging on a summer internship offer and taking another one.

The Blacklist?

So what about the legendary “Blacklist” that banks maintain to tell them who reneged on offers?

Individual banks may have such a list, but rumors about a universal list are heavily exaggerated.

It’s not because bankers are “nice” or because they “forgive” you – it’s because banks and HR departments tend to be poorly organized.

There is some risk of reneging on an offer following you around for awhile but most of the potential downside will be in the near-term.

Will Any of This Happen to You?

That’s the fun part about reneging on an offer: you have no way of knowing.

Maybe you’ll tell a VP when he’s already having a bad day, and he’ll take out his anger on you; or maybe you’ll catch an MD in a good mood and he won’t sink your career with a few phone calls.

The risk of bad things happening is reduced if you’re reneging on an offer in a different industry or from a significantly different firm (e.g. tiny 2-person boutique vs. bulge bracket).

But there’s always some risk, no matter what type of move you’re making.

When NOT to Renege

Since the downside is so high and so difficult to predict, there are many cases where reneging makes no sense:

  • Bulge Bracket to Bulge Bracket – This is just stupid, even if one is “more prestigious.”
  • Middle-Market / Boutique to Middle-Market / Boutique – See above.
  • Internship Offers – Bad idea because you’re not guaranteed a full-time offer and you could be destroying your FT recruiting chances.
  • Larger Firm to Smaller Firm – This really makes no sense and will make you look silly to everyone involved.

When You Might Consider Reneging

There are some cases where it makes more sense:

  • Boutique / Middle-Market to Bulge Bracket – This one is actually still quite risky, especially if they’re in the same location – but it does make more sense than the other possibilities above.
  • Completely Different Industry to Banking – There’s a big step-up if you’re going from Big 4 accounting to a bulge bracket bank, and not as many people know each other across industries.
  • Back Office to Front Office: This one can be risky as well, but moving from IT to PE or IB is another big step up and it’s hard to make the move otherwise.

None of these is a “slam dunk” – each one is still risky, but they’re at least worth considering.

How to Do It

So you’ve decided to renege on your offer – how do you do it, when do you do it, who do you tell, and what do you say?

How to Say It

Keep it very brief and to the point – you’ve received an exciting opportunity elsewhere and have to take it or you’d be kicking yourself later.

Don’t lie, but don’t tell the whole truth either.

Do not tell them where you’ve accepted the other offer – if they ask, just say the industry it’s in (“finance”) and maybe the location.

If you’re really accepting an offer elsewhere, don’t lie and say you’re reneging for “personal reasons” – that will come back and make you look even worse.

Use the phone rather than email – email is just too impersonal and at least if you call, you may not completely burn your bridges.

You want to do this as soon as possible rather than waiting until 2 weeks before you start, unless you really want to make enemies.

Who to Tell

At the minimum, call the recruiter at the firm you’re reneging on and maybe speak briefly with other bankers you interviewed with there.

There’s no reason to tell your school or to tell all your friends – this is not something you want to openly advertise.

Should you tell the firm you’re accepting the offer with that you reneged elsewhere?

My view is that you should never accept an offer or even start interviewing without telling a firm you have accepted an offer elsewhere first.

This just reduces the potential downside: some firms will get really, really angry if they find out you reneged elsewhere, while other places don’t care.

But as long as they know what you’ve done before they give you an offer or before they even start interviewing you, there isn’t much to be angry about.

Special Cases

There are a few special cases here worth addressing:

Deferred or “Downgraded” Offers

Is it “better” if you renege on a deferred offer (e.g. you start 2 years from now rather than next year) or a downgraded offer (you interviewed for the front office but were transferred to the back office)?

No, not really, because most of the downside is in the near-term.

The risk may be slightly reduced here, but it’s not that much different.

Cultural Differences

The advice above applies to recruiting practices in the US, but not every country in the world does it the same way.

In some regions it’s more common to go around interviewing even when you have offers lined up or accepted.

So you need to ask people at your school and anyone you know in the industry and see what common practice is where you live.

Actual Personal Reasons

Maybe you have actual, legitimate personal or family circumstances that have led you into reneging on an offer… they can’t get annoyed at that, right?

No, sorry – once again it doesn’t matter what your reasoning is.

But in this case you do have another option: instead of reneging on the offer, just push for a deferred offer instead. That lets you keep your hard-earned offer and keeps you from burning bridges.

Banking to Completely Different Industry

If you decide to join the Peace Corps at the last-minute, no banker will call the organization to sink your career and prevent you from saving the world.

In this case it’s less about ruining your entire career and more about limiting your options if you ever want to go back into finance in the future.

To Renege?

The problem with reneging on an offer is that the downside outweighs the upside and there’s no way you can predict how bad the downside will be.

There are some cases where it makes sense to consider, but 90% of the email I get on this topic is of the “Should I renege on my offer at one bulge bracket to move to another one?” variety, and that just doesn’t make sense.

So if you have a dramatically better offer and you need to renege to accept it, proceed with caution.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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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228 Comments to “Can You Renege On Your Investment Banking Job Offer Without Being Blacklisted for Life?”

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    I’m a JD/MBA with no full-time (but good summer) work experience. I currently have 2 summer assoc. offers at big law firms. I would like to do IB more than work in biglaw, but the law firm offers expire before I’ll know if I get an IB summer offer. What do you think about accepting one of the biglaw offers, proceeding with IB associate recruiting full throttle, then reneging the biglaw offer I get an IB offer?

    Thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      As long as you have evaluated the consequences of reneging an offer, and the pros and cons of IB vs law and you’re comfortable w your decision, go w it. Just don’t burn bridges or at least try not to

  2. Geoffrey says

    Hey guys,

    Any thoughts on reneging on a big 4 audit f/t offer for another big 4 advisory f/t offer in the same city? (at different firms obviously) Just wondering, thats all. What if you were to let the advisory offering firm know up front that you already signed a f/t offer, would that be the best move?

    Thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d tell the big4 audit firm that I can’t work there anymore. I don’t think I’d tell the advisory firm upfront though; depends on the situation but you should be vigilant

  3. Anonymous says

    I went through an accelerated process for one of the Bulge Bracket Summer Analyst programs and was fortunate enough to come away with an offer. However, it came with a pretty tight deadline that will prohibit me from interviewing elsewhere. I’d still like to interview with the other banks to get a sense of where I might fit best. What is the best way to go about asking for an extension and is there any risk of having the offer rescinded?

    Thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Depends on how badly they want you. Excuses – you need more time to think about it. However, if they really need you to sign the contract now, I don’t think you can do much

  4. says

    Firstly I love this website!! This site is incredible. My dilemma is that I (junior) accepted an internship offer from “Company A” in their finance division. This is not what i want to do for my career. But, knowing the job market i signed and sent the paper back to the company. Plz note that on the signed letter it said that the offer can be terminated by either party. Also i got this through on campus recruiting. Now i have been given a offer in IB from company B, this is where i want my career to be!! However, Company B does not come to campus. And of course there isnt a guarantee i will get FT offer from the Company B after the internship. This is my dilemma!! I dont want to create any friction at my career services center and at company A. What should I do. Yes, this is a step better from A to B. PLZ comment other can also give there opinion

  5. Tom says

    Great article, thanks!

    I accepted a junior summer internship in public accounting but during the semester became very interested in corporate banking. I was wondering if I could interview for corporate banking and renege on my public accounting internship if I am given an offer. I heard that my school bans students from on campus recruiting if they renege. However, I know I would much rather do CB for a career rather than accounting, if I can convert the internship into a FT offer.

    • Tom says

      Just to follow up on this I realized that my career center guidelines state that recruiters interviewing in the fall must give students until December to respond to an offer; however, I was only given a week (this was in October). I don’t know if this makes things easier or not, in the end I still signed the offer letter.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Tough call. Can you renege the offer without your school knowing? I’d choose CB too if I prefer it to Accounting. Try to figure out a way to renege your offer gracefully, and be prepared to accept the consequences.

      • Tom says

        I’m pretty sure they would tell my career center if I reneged. My best bet would be to tell the career center about this and see if they let me renege without banning me from OCR though somehow I am inclined to believe that even if they see that I only had a week to decide on my offer they would still tell me to stick with it rather than letting me renege.

  6. Michael says

    Dear Brian,
    I verbally accepted an offer, however, if I told them now I am not going to sign the offer, that shouldn’t be a “renege”, or is it still? The offer is for internship. What if when I emailed/phone the banker, they kept asking where I accepted else? Please help, it’s very urgent.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes, it is still considered “reneging” an offer.

      Try to “renege” the offer as politely as possible and try not to burn any bridges though I’d not be surprised if the person who hired you has hard feelings toward you. Be honest, and if the person who hired you called you to ask why you don’t want to join the team, pick up the phone and explain; I wish I had done that. However, one word of advice – make sure the firm you will be accepting an offer with (I assume you are reneging the offer because you have a better offer elsewhere) is a good firm to work for, and that you definitely click with the team. Think very carefully and make sure you really don’t want the offer you accepted before you renege. The last thing you want is to go back to the team you “reneged” and ask for a job down the line (been through that too).

  7. Tom says

    So I verbally accepted an offer from a BB in HK but just received an offer from a BB in NY. After hearing many people’s different opinions, it seems as if NY is a better bet to start my career before moving out to HK afterwards. What are your thoughts on reneging on the HK offer?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Follow your gut. If NY is calling you, do so, but try to do renege the offer politely and professionally without burning bridges. Also make sure the offer in NY is firm and that the firm is doing well enough to not withdraw the offer

  8. Reader says

    My offer at a bank got withdrawn and I didn’t even renege.

    Bank A called me to give me an offer and I accepted right away because the position was my top choice. It was a dream job.

    Then another tempting offer came from Bank B. I posted on an internet finance forum asking for advice on which offer to take, even though I had already accepted the first offer.

    I objectively listed the pros and cons of each position. I did list some negative aspects of Bank B’s offer, but I was all positive about Bank A. Throughout the thread, I never indicated I would renege and I was always in favor of Bank A. I never accepted the second offer.

    However, ironically, the first bank withdrew their offer. The second bank complained to my school but didn’t withdraw their offer. One would expect Bank B to get mad at me for listing negative aspects of the job, but it was Bank A that was the most upset. Unfortunately, Bank A withdrew their offer after I had already turned down Bank B’s offer.

    I have since deleted the thread. Have you ever heard about something like this happening and was I treated fairly?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’m sorry to hear regarding your story. Did you list your real name when you posted on the forum?

      No, first time.

      Fair/unfair – its your judgement call. They have a right to withdraw their offer. I’d focus on getting an offer with Bank C now

      • Reader says

        My full name was never included anywhere but my first name was part of my username. The banks recognized my account because I have a relatively unique first name.

        I have already committed to a third firm, but the offer is less desirable than the previous two. Luckily Bank B is still willing to take me for future internships.

        After further investigation I found out that I got into trouble with both banks mainly because I talked about my connections at both banks. I didn’t name specific persons but I said they helped me get my foot in the door.

        Bank A didn’t offer an explanation when they withdrew their offer despite the fact that I asked. I felt wronged and I sent a demanding email to my contact asking him to keep his promise, citing the fact that I already accepted the offer. Finally Bank A HR called me to tell me that it was the online post. I apologized later for the demanding email. But I feel that I’ve burned too many bridges at Bank A and there’s personal dislike. I’m just really sad about the whole situation.

          • Reader says

            Bank B withdrew their offer as well.
            I primarily got into huge trouble for mentioning how my contacts at both banks helped me “get my foot in the door.” This damaged both banks’ reputations by making them seem less meritocratic. They were high level connections. Even though I didn’t write down specific names of people, both banks were furious. The forum was public and both banks independently found the thread. Let this be a warning to everyone else: don’t publicly post about your connections.

  9. James says

    I’ve been interning at a regional boutique for about 7 months, and they extended me an SA offer that exploded before OCR, so I took it. I now have an offer through OCR that is more in line with my long-term goals. I still intern there, and I want to take this new opportunity. How should I go about doing this without burning the bridge?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Difficult situation. I’d tell the other firm you don’t want the offer anymore. Apologize profusely. There is a chance that the first firm will found out your offer with the second firm and let them know that you reneged their first offer. If you are willing to take this chance, do the above.

      It also depends on how much you like the second offer. If you really like it a lot better than the first one, I’d take the chance. I’d do so honestly with grace though.

      • James says

        So to clarify:

        Option 1: Tell them you don’t want the offer anymore and sincerely apologize.

        Option 2: Be honest to the regional about it.

        Just want to get this right since it’s so hard. Really appreciate the help.

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Yes. And there is a risk they (A) may know you have another offer from B and they will tell B you reneged their offer

          You can choose to tell B you have signed another offer with A, or you can choose not to.

          Or you can choose to just stick with (A) and forget B.

  10. Sarah says

    I recently signed with A, and now have received an offer from B. B is what I consider my ‘dream’ firm. Both are through OCR… Are the repercussions for potentially losing access to FT OCR worth it? Or should I just stay with A and try to get into accelerated interviews for the fall with B? Both firms are BBs…

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Is the difference b/ A & B really huge? If not, I’d go with A given the potential repercussions. However, if you can deal with the consequences of reneging, you can choose B. Since both are BBs, I’d suggest you to be more diplomatic in dealing with the matter

  11. Lakishma says

    Hi, I recently accepted an offer from citigroup but havent signed yet. Just to hedge myself against any last minute complications, I agreed to a superday coming up that requires me to travel. Would it be acceptable to go to a superday (all expenses paid) even though I have already verbally and will contractually accept the offer?

  12. Nathan Ackerson says

    here is the quandary –

    i have already accepted a BO offer at a BB (think MS/JPM/GS). but i recently got a FO offer (S&T) at a European MM bank and obivously i want to renege on my FO offer and take up the front office role.

    first, all of this is for summer internship and secondly OCR is not an issue.

    so under these circumstances, would reneging on my offer spell disaster or is it advisable, given the upside??

    thanks in advance

    nathan ackerson

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I don’t think it will spell disaster. However, you may be blacklisted by the bank you renege the offer on (or may not). If you decide to renege, I’d suggest you to be polite and try not to burn any bridges.

  13. Pep says

    This is important,

    Two guys started a consulting startup a year ago and they offered me on wednesday, I called the bank that i was interviewing with but they didnt answer, so on thursday i acceptd the startup.

    Friday the bank offers me and is my dream job and is finance, now what do i do?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Ha, I love this situation! You’re at a great place!
      I’d first apologize profusely to the guys at the startup and explain that I just got offered my dream job (details not disclosed). I’d tell them that I want to accept that offer but knowing that I’ve already made a commitment to you guys, I want to tell you where I stand.
      The above is what I’d say.

      • Pep says

        Maybe they’ll understand but Im pretty sure they are going to hate me hehe.

        So: “Im sorry but this is one in a lifetime opportunity more alligned with my interests”

        ?

  14. DL says

    Hi M&I,

    I have had several offers for FT recruiting and have decided to take the offer from the elite boutique.

    However, I’m an international student and hence commencing work is subject to the company successfully obtaining a work visa (which they assure would not be an issue).

    Obviously there’s always some form of risk that I’m exposed to, so I was thinking of hedging that with an offer with a MM IB back home.

    What do you think of that? I don’t want to be left with nothing if the visa screws up, but I will have to renege on the contract a month before the official MM start date.

    Thanks,
    DL

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Tough position. How did they assure you that the work visa wouldn’t be an issue? Did they have that in writing? Otherwise, there is a slight chance that the visa might not come through. I can understand why you would want to hedge though I’d suggest you to think through it carefully and try not to burn any bridges. However, it does not hurt to speak with the MM IB and see how it goes.

      • DL says

        Thanks Nicole, I doubt any company would formally guarantee a visa. They mentioned it verbally and to be honest, I don’t see an issue with visa, but you never know.

        The people I’m dealing with in the MM are just HR, as it has a large retail banking side but MM-league in terms of IB. Do you think the bridges burnt with HR will be very crucial down the line?

  15. Jack Kennedy says

    Hi,

    Loved the article!

    I have a current situation at hand: I have accepted a Full-time, Middle office/Back office role at a BB a few months ago. However, I recently received an front office offer at another smaller firm.

    What is the best way to approach this, and is it wise to renege ? I feel like the Front office role will be better for career.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Challenging situation. Yes I might renege if I were you too. Its hard for me to say because I don’t know what your relationship w the two banks’ contact persons are like. I’d try to be diplomatic and not burn bridges if I were to renege the offer.

      • Jack Kennedy says

        Hi Nicole,

        Thanks so much for your advice, that’s basically what I was thinking as well. Eases my mind when I tell the recruiter :)

  16. Zach says

    Hi,

    I received an offer from a large bank in Charlotte in IB (i prefer not to mention the group). I also also had a superday with another bank in ny with a great group that I would rather be in, and they told me that I should sign my offer and reneg once I hear from them. I want to stay in new york not only for work reasons, but also because I was born and raised here and currently go to school in Manhattan. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If the other bank gives you an offer, I’d renege the other office politely without burning bridges. Since you haven’t received the offer yet, I’d just wait for now

  17. JR. says

    Hi Brian,

    What is someone has signed a return offer, but just has been contacted for additional superdays. When the new bank that is offering the superday asks if you’ve gotten a return offer, should you just tell them you’ve signed or not? i assume if they directly ask if you have signed, you should tell the truth? this happened at one firm, which told me it was against their policy and they stopped interviewing me after i said i signed, but do you know most bank’s policies. would appreciate an email, thanks brian

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes most probably. You’ve signed the offer though so I’m not quite sure if you want to renege your offer or?

  18. Jay says

    Hey guys, been a long time reader, and your tutorials have been very helpful. I hope this hasn’t been touched upon yet. I’m going for FT positions. Essentially I received an offer from Company A, in a completely different industry than I was initially going for. I’m currently still in the process of interviewing with B and C, but A gave me a deadline of earlier last week, and I accepted because it was my only offer on the table. I’ve spoken to my career’s office about the possibility (as A was OCR, the rest are not), obviously they are very unhappy that I am even considering renegeing. I was wondering if this is a circumstance where it may be okay – in order to pursue my actual career goals, albeit burning bridges in the process.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Are B and C your dream jobs?

      It would make sense to continue interviewing and see how it goes first. If you do get an offer, shoot us another comment with the details

      I don’t think you need to disclose your job offer with company A to your career center unless it was necessary. Perhaps you can just lay low for now and continue interviewing. When you get an offer, worry about it then

  19. Megan says

    Hi Nicole

    I now have an offer for an internship at a BB firm, and also an offer for FT from a second tier bank (which is growing and doing quite well, and the people are very nice). My concern is that if the internship converts to FT I would prefer to stay on there itself, but that would involve reneging on the offer at the second tier bank. Both of them are in the same location and for IBD. I have informed the BB firm that I have a FT offer elsewhere that I would be accepting. What would be the best thing to do if I wanted to renege on the offer, and would that entail a bad decision for the future?

    Thank you!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you have informed the BB firm that you have a FT offer elsewhere that you would be accepting, I am not quite sure if the BB firm would give you a FT offer! I wouldn’t worry too much about it!

  20. Teresa says

    I signed an offer from a prop trading shop, and now I’ve received an offer from a BB I-Bank. Both are internships. I-banking has already been where my heart is. But for the prop trading shop a FT offer is pretty much guaranteed, while the IB internship doesn’t guarantee any FT offer. Should I renege?

    • says

      Trading and i-banking are very, very different, so if you really are more interested in investment banking as a long-term career, yes, it’s worth it to renege in this case… especially since the prop trading firm probably has minimal contact with the bank.

  21. Bill says

    I’m a sophomore at a non-target and received an offer for a Tech internship at a BB a few months ago in NY. Naturally I took it because I was unsure of what other offers I might receive. However, I just received a middle office Finance role at a “better bank”, and I feel like I should jump on this position. What is your opinion? Are my chances for a Summer Analyst role for next summer the same in both situations?

    • says

      If you’re asking about a back office IT internship vs. a middle office finance role, yes, I would make that move. It will still be tough to move from that to a front office role, but it’s do-able and it’s the right move to make.

  22. John says

    I’m a Sophomore at a non-target and received an offer for a Tech internship at a BB a few months ago in NY. Naturally I took it because I was unsure of what other offers I might receive. However, I just received a middle office Finance role at a “better bank”, and I feel like I should jump on this position. What is your opinion? Are my chances for a Summer Analyst role for next summer the same in both situations?

  23. Anonymous says

    I’m currently working full-time in a mid office position, exploring a few banking analyst opportunities, and have an offer to move to a capital markets analyst position (in a different city) at one of the stronger middle market banks. However, I started the interview process with a bulge bracket bank (in my current city) for an industry group before my current offer was given out, and expect a superday shortly. Timing wise, I would be expected to start work in about a month if I took my current offer. I do hope to go to the bulge bracket superday. Is it worth accepting my current offer even though I will potentially reneg later? Also, should I disclose to the bulge bracket bank that I’ve already accepted an offer when I’m going to the superday?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      The most ideal solution is for you to delay the process with the first bank and tell them you need more time to think about the offer. If you can buy more time, then you can wait till the Superday to make the decision. Otherwise, I’d really weigh which option you care for the most. If you really want to work for the BB, I’d still suggest you to go on the superday and see how it goes. I believe the best solution is to buy time so you maintain your integrity and credibility.

  24. Robie says

    I am a recent graduate of a MS in Accountancy program. While at the program, I interviewed with the Big-4 and recieved an full time offer I ended up accepting. While at the MSA program, I also applied to MS in Finance programs after I had accepted the offer from a Big 4. I wanted both degrees to make me marketable in the finance/consulting industry because I knew I didn’t want to stay in public accounting for long. Later in the semester I accepted an offer for a MS in Finance program to start 3 months after the MS in Accounting program ended. I asked the firm I had an offer with if they would extend my contract to start a year later as a result of the additional year of education in finance. They obliged and pushed my start date back one year.

    Fast-forward to current time, I am rethinking my decision to start with a Big-4 firm (and accounting in general) as I believe consulting would give me a better start to what I would ultimately would like to do for a long term career. I am mulling over whether 1) I should apply for consulting jobs this fall while at the MS in finance program and whether the Big 4 firm could figure out I was doing so 2) if I were to interview with consulting firms, should I tell them upfront that I have already accepted an offer 3) if I were to get an offer from a consulting firm, would reneging on the Big 4 job make it back to the consulting firm that extended an offer?

    Any comments would be appreciated.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. Yes you can apply. I don’t think the big 4 would figure out, though if you do renege on the offer be prepared you’d probably burn a bridge because the big 4 firm has bend over backwards to extend the contract for you
      2. Not really, because they would probably not give you a 2nd round. They’d question why you’re interviewing in the first place.
      3. It may. If you’re in final stages of discussions with the consulting firm, I’d suggest you to call up the big 4 and let them know, ideally the sooner the better (way before your expected starting date).

  25. Robert says

    Hello,
    Say I renege on a FT offer from a top BB and go to MBB consulting. If I ever decide I want to return to PE later down the road, will my decision to renege come back to haunt me?

    Thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I don’t think so. I’d try not to burn the bridge with the BB. I think the IBD experience maybe more useful than the consulting experience if you want to move to PE down the line though.

  26. abcdef says

    Hi,

    Suppose I’ve accepted a full-time IBD offer with a BB regional office. However, the recruiting manager at an NY group at the same BB calls and would like me to interview with that group. If the NY office is my preference and I get the offer there, how would I go about reneging when these are two different offices at the same firm?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Whoa. I wouldn’t do that at the same firm (different story if the firms are different). You may be blacklisted. What I’d do is to speak with the recruiting manager at NY and tell them that you’ve accepted a full time IBD offer at the regional office. However your first choice is still NY. Ask him/her if you can still interview and what he/she think you can do with your situation. Be firm and say that you prefer NY over the regional office but you accepted the offer given time constraints.

  27. King Kong says

    Hi,

    I gave the HR a call aroung May about reneging but didn’t send an email since I wasn’t sure how things were working out. Now since I am 100% sure I won’t go to that place to work, should I call again or should I just write an email.

    Moreover, how should my email look regarding this very sensitive information? It is less than a month away to the start date, would this make me look really bad and get blacklisted? The two offers are in different industries by the way.

    Thanks so much,

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d email and call the firm to apologize profusely and renege the offer.

      Yes it may be it’s a risk you take.

  28. King Kong says

    Hi Nicole,

    So I should call and email right? It would be very bad if I just email? How should I explain the circumstances: that I got another offer and I would regret it very much if I don’t take it?

    Thanks so much.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d call and email out of respect for that firm. I’d apologize and tell the firm that you have to renege the offer given change in circumstances. I don’t think you need to disclose too much information. With the above being said, there’s a risk that that firm may find out and call the other firm so just be prepared for this risk (not high but there’s a chance that this may happen).

  29. avid reader says

    Ive been recruiting for FT. Up until recently I had no offers. I got my firstoffer with a boutique(employees less than 10) and accepted and signed a document outlining the basic tenets of the offer (salary, startdate, vacation days) because they were going to give it to another finalist if I didn’t (this happened just a few days ago). I just heard back from an elite boutique and got an offer. Not only does it pay better but more importantly exit opportunities will be infinitely easier to find and better. I want to renege but am scared by downside. Also I haven’t told the elite boutique about accepting the other offer. The crucial wording of the document was that ” we mutually agree that you will be an employee at will and that the analyst position is a 2 year program.”

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d consult a lawyer regarding your document. Is there a clause re. breaking the contract before you start? When is the contract effective? I can’t say because you’ve already signed the contract and a lawyer may be able to give you better suggestions. Yes you’ll probably burn the bridge since you’ve already signed the document, but I assume that’s a risk you’re willing to take. Make sure you get the contract on hand (run it by a lawyer preferably and compare the 2) from the other firm before you do anything.

  30. Sean says

    Hi,

    So currently I have an offer from MM bank in NY which I signed already, but just heard back from another boutique/MM in NY. Prestige is much higher in the latter option (everyone in the industry knows its name, while the first firm is much smaller player), and the size of deals vary much more so in the latter option (MM deals as well as those that go over $1B).

    I also think that I should have a better experience as teams are leaner in the second option.

    Would reneging the first option make sense in this case?

    Thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I can understand if you want to renege. Try to do so in a graceful manner and yes it is likely you may burn a bridge but try your best to minimize the “damage”

  31. Paul says

    My question relate to 2 summer internship offers in the UK.
    I accepted and signed an offer at a “tier 2″ bank.
    I got an offer from a “top tier” bank.
    If I sign the second offer and renege the 1st one AFTER, will the 2nd bank be able to “withdraw” the offer given the fact it has already been signed ?
    Thanks a lot

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes they can do that, and this has happened to other people before. They signed a contract and declined another, but the firm they signed with withdrew the offer.

  32. Nate says

    Hi! So I’m a senior and have just recently accepted an offer for a corporate finance fdp rotation program about a month ago. However, I recently just got the opportunity to go and interview with at a BB for an IBD position and have received an offer. I got this opportunity outside of my school’s career services. Do you think that it’s ok to renege on my corp finance job? Since they’re not in the same field it should be ok right? The only reason why I’m hesitating to do this is that my school has an ethical job search policy where once we accept an offer we’re not allowed to even interview and that if we renege I will be banned from using the career services for the rest of my life. But, I’m a senior….. so I won’t need career services in the future anyways right?

    • Nate says

      Also will the bank care that I had accepted a corp fin job before? I didn’t tell them I had accepted the corp fin offer.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I think you’ve answered your question. I’d probably renege gracefully. There is a consequence that your career center may be aware but I wouldn’t worry too much about it at this point if this is what you’re going to do.

  33. Johnny Garro says

    You say it is a bad idea to try to renege from one BB to another, but everyone that I have talked to (literally everyone) says that I should do so. I have an offer for UBS IBD in NYC. It is for a SA position. I quickly accepted it (just like in your hypothetical example above) but then received notice that I have a spot in a GS final round Superday. Lets say I go to the Superday and receive an offer. Is it really that risky to renege? WSO and other sites bash UBS (which I still don’t understand why. Why not bash Piper or Wells…) which makes me not want to go there. The reputation is horrible becomes the online world ruins it and makes it so. Do you agree? Or do you think UBS is actually a bad place to be and I should try to get into one of the other BBs if I can

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Johnny, yes it maybe risky to renege because word can get around. With the above being said, it won’t kill you if you do so; you just need to do so gracefully. In terms of whether UBS is a good firm to work for or not, I’d speak with more people in the firm and decide for yourself. I wouldn’t make a decision merely based on what you hear in forums. Of course, if GS extends you an offer, it is very tempting to renege so I can understand.

  34. George says

    Hello! Thank you for the article, it’s helpful as always! I come from a target school in the UK, and I recently got an IBD summer internship offer with Morgan Stanley, Hong Kong. Suppose that I get a return offer eventually but I wish to start off my career in London instead. Is it possible to ask MS to transfer me to the UK office? Or should I just apply to another BB in London instead? Thanks?

  35. Z says

    Very interested to see your take on this situation:

    1.) Signed an FT offer at a BB for a specialized front office team
    2.) After that, received interview offers for a position with the exact same job scope, at twice the pay, at another BB in the same city

    I understand it’s a risk to even commence interviewing but the upside in this case is very significant. What a dilemma – hope someone has some interesting views on this!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d just interview and see how it goes. Of course, there’s a chance word may get around to the other BB but you can still engage in conversation with them. Of course, you may want to be very vigilant. It is risky though. So if you don’t want to risk your first offer, or word getting around, then you can lay low and tell the other BB you accepted the offer, which may sound like the right thing to do…

  36. Bonnie S says

    Can you help me?
    As a junior, got an offer at a top 10 IB for summer analyst internship. Got excited at the offer call and was asked, can we take this as a verbal committment? I said yes
    Then got offered by a top 3 bank who asked had I signed anything to which I answered no. I want to take the second offer but need to know what to do. Need to choose by Monday
    Please help

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Congratulations!

      Well if you made a verbal commitment, it isn’t technically a done deal though you’ve still made a commitment. If you want to take the 2nd offer, I’d go back to the first group asap and tell them you’ve changed your mind. Apologize and tell them you were grateful for the opportunity. I’d also make sure you secure/sign the 2nd offer first before you do the above…

  37. Raimundo says

    Hey. I have two summer internship offers in London. My goal is to work in LevFin. “The world’s local bank” first gave me an offer, which I signed. Recently, I got a similar offer from a BB. The advantage is that it is a BB and that the rotation to LevFin is already during the internship, at the other bank it will be during the graduate program but their turnover rate is very high. Actually, the BB is ranked lower in DCM and Leveraged Loas in the latest Bloomberg ranking for EMEA so I was wondering if it is worth cancelling my contract with the world’s local bank. The interviews at the BB were harder, but also more relevant and they really tested you.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d say the BB’s name may help you in the long run. Yes if possible, I may renege. Try to do so politically though

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Call up the 1st firm and apologize profusely. Say that situation has changed and you can’t accept the offer (if you choose to renege)

          No I don’t understand your question. What I meant earlier was the BB’s name will open you more doors.

  38. Peter Parker says

    Hi, i have 2 offers. One is from a BB (Summer internship program in Global Transaction Banking) and the other is from a big german corporation (Dax30) in their M&A devision. Which one would be better, to break into investment banking? I have to add, that I accepted the offer from the corporation and I am thinking about switching to BB.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you want to work for a corporation, I’d stick to the German company. If you want to understand what working in a BB is like yes you may want to renege your offer. I have to add that it can be challenging to move from transaction banking into IB especially if you don’t have the experience. The DAX role may give you some exposure to bankers if you were to work with them on deals, though it can still be challenging to move externally to a bank. You may find that a target MBA in 2 years may help you down the line.

  39. Tim says

    Would you renege on your first offer (that was a finance position but non-IB) if you later received an investment banking offer at a respectable shop? Suppose this situation arises out of undergrad and you have always wanted to work in investment banking? Thanks

  40. Barry says

    I accepted an offer at firm ‘A’. But 3 weeks later (1 week before my start date at firm ‘A’), I got an offer from firm ‘B’ in a different city where I really want to be.

    The firms / pay are similar but the location is what stands out. If I join firm ‘A’, I will eventually try to move to the other location in 2-3 years.

    What do you think? Is this a situation where reneging makes sense?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes, and you may have to do so diplomatically. There’s really no best way to do this because you’re backing out of a commitment so people may not necessarily like that.

  41. Monkey says

    Hi,
    I have just got an offer from a BB IBD after my summer internship (not like GS/JPM that kind but still quite big). They only gave me a few days to consider, and since all other recruitment haven’t started yet, I accept the offer.

    However, after the summer internship, I don’t think IBD is something I want (cus of the long hours and high pressure). I think Management Associate program in other banks / top corporates / buy-side will suit me better. If I keep applying and interviewing, will the rumors spread back to my IBD team and piss them off? (I am currently in an Asian city and the finance world is pretty small here)

    What suggestions do you have for me? Do you think it worth the risk?

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