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Anton

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10

How to position finance background?

I have a background in equity research and corp dev - a lot of financial modeling experience. I'm in taking my MBA now and I've found that consulting recruiters often ask why, given my background, that I'm not interested in investment banking or private equity. The real answer is that I'm too old for banking, and can't get into PE. I answer with my love of strategy and exposure to a wide breadth of industries in consulting but I feel like recruiters never seem to buy it. Does anyone have advice about how to position a finance background? Should I de-emphasize all financial modeling, deal experience etc.? Thanks.

I have a background in equity research and corp dev - a lot of financial modeling experience. I'm in taking my MBA now and I've found that consulting recruiters often ask why, given my background, that I'm not interested in investment banking or private equity. The real answer is that I'm too old for banking, and can't get into PE. I answer with my love of strategy and exposure to a wide breadth of industries in consulting but I feel like recruiters never seem to buy it. Does anyone have advice about how to position a finance background? Should I de-emphasize all financial modeling, deal experience etc.? Thanks.

Great responses, thanks everyone. — Thomas on Jun 15, 2020

10 answers

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Best Answer
Book a coaching with Anton

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Hi,

I also had a finance background when I joined consulting and it was only a strength.

Your target answer should encompass the following key elements:

  1. Consulting is what you love doing (be honest why are so amused with consulting)
  2. You have a lot to bring to consulting given your analytical and financial background
  3. You see huge potential for the consulting (demand from the client side)

Best,

Anton

Hi,

I also had a finance background when I joined consulting and it was only a strength.

Your target answer should encompass the following key elements:

  1. Consulting is what you love doing (be honest why are so amused with consulting)
  2. You have a lot to bring to consulting given your analytical and financial background
  3. You see huge potential for the consulting (demand from the client side)

Best,

Anton

Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi Thomas,

Two principle rules before I give "cheap" / "Generic" advice:

1) Always be positive, not negative, about your answer

2) Figure out YOUR honest to god reason - if you can't, well, you won't survive even when you do get in. Think hard: Why do YOU want it?

Now, if you want to skimp along and pretend without really having muscle behind it, I recommend:

1) You're very interested in learning about different firms/industries...this was your job in equity research/corp dev and so you know you love that aspect

2) You realised over the years that the aspect you truly love is the strategic thinking...you had some exposure to the high-level decision making and felt that so many problems you were facing/seeing could be fied with the right strategy, but you just weren't in a role that allowed that.

3) Now, you want to take your deep understanding of industries and companies and how they work, paired with your analytical ability, to truly make a difference at these companies

Hi Thomas,

Two principle rules before I give "cheap" / "Generic" advice:

1) Always be positive, not negative, about your answer

2) Figure out YOUR honest to god reason - if you can't, well, you won't survive even when you do get in. Think hard: Why do YOU want it?

Now, if you want to skimp along and pretend without really having muscle behind it, I recommend:

1) You're very interested in learning about different firms/industries...this was your job in equity research/corp dev and so you know you love that aspect

2) You realised over the years that the aspect you truly love is the strategic thinking...you had some exposure to the high-level decision making and felt that so many problems you were facing/seeing could be fied with the right strategy, but you just weren't in a role that allowed that.

3) Now, you want to take your deep understanding of industries and companies and how they work, paired with your analytical ability, to truly make a difference at these companies

Book a coaching with Réka

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Hi Thomas,

I would not de-emphasize your experience, it is very valuable in consulting! A few ideas on how to position yourself

- You can say that while you have a ton of modelling / analytics experience from finance, you are now seeking more project & client management experience, and you believe you have a better chance of getting it in consulting (which I believe is true :))

- You can also argue that the culture in consulting seems to be a better fit for you. Though I have limited experience in i-banking, I found that consulting was a less competitive (still competitive) environment where I received a lot more coaching.

- If relevant, geographical reasons can work too. E.g., in my region, there is hardly any PE/I-banking activity, so you could say you want to get exposure to xyz region where finance opportunities are limited.

I hope it helps!

Best,

Réka

Hi Thomas,

I would not de-emphasize your experience, it is very valuable in consulting! A few ideas on how to position yourself

- You can say that while you have a ton of modelling / analytics experience from finance, you are now seeking more project & client management experience, and you believe you have a better chance of getting it in consulting (which I believe is true :))

- You can also argue that the culture in consulting seems to be a better fit for you. Though I have limited experience in i-banking, I found that consulting was a less competitive (still competitive) environment where I received a lot more coaching.

- If relevant, geographical reasons can work too. E.g., in my region, there is hardly any PE/I-banking activity, so you could say you want to get exposure to xyz region where finance opportunities are limited.

I hope it helps!

Best,

Réka

(edited)

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Hi Thomas,

Thanks for openly sharing your situation - this might be helpful for many other candidates as well!

My principal take on that is less about de-emphasizing your skills, but thinking about your "story" from a different (if not to say correct) angle.

The question is not really that much what's in it for - the question is more how exactly can you contribute to the client's and firm's success with everything you bring to the table.

Please consider that consulting is a service business - what's in it for you (breadth of experience etc.) is a tertiary factor - the ranking is always 1) client 2) company 3) consultant. So try to align your argumentation also along this hierarchy, and connect your argumentation with specific examples of your past to make it credible (as opposed to generalized statements).

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for openly sharing your situation - this might be helpful for many other candidates as well!

My principal take on that is less about de-emphasizing your skills, but thinking about your "story" from a different (if not to say correct) angle.

The question is not really that much what's in it for - the question is more how exactly can you contribute to the client's and firm's success with everything you bring to the table.

Please consider that consulting is a service business - what's in it for you (breadth of experience etc.) is a tertiary factor - the ranking is always 1) client 2) company 3) consultant. So try to align your argumentation also along this hierarchy, and connect your argumentation with specific examples of your past to make it credible (as opposed to generalized statements).

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Hi, it is only a classical way of interviewers to challenge you, but it is a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm and motivation about consulting. Lots of consultants have a financial background, therefore be sure that it is a perfect fit. Some good points you can use in your answer can be related to
- high-level exposure with big clients
- broad knowledge acquisition of the economy of your country
- continuos changes in practices and industry

Best,
Antonello

Hi, it is only a classical way of interviewers to challenge you, but it is a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm and motivation about consulting. Lots of consultants have a financial background, therefore be sure that it is a perfect fit. Some good points you can use in your answer can be related to
- high-level exposure with big clients
- broad knowledge acquisition of the economy of your country
- continuos changes in practices and industry

Best,
Antonello

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Hi,

Two suggestions:

  1. You are either running from something or trying to achieve something. So talk about your goal, and what you are trying to get from it.
  2. Get a referral from your classmates who are current MBB alums. They'll talk to on-campus recruiter and you'll be accepted

Best

Hi,

Two suggestions:

  1. You are either running from something or trying to achieve something. So talk about your goal, and what you are trying to get from it.
  2. Get a referral from your classmates who are current MBB alums. They'll talk to on-campus recruiter and you'll be accepted

Best

Book a coaching with Khaled

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Hi Thomas,

No need to downplay your finance background expertise at all. It is highly needed for consulting, especially if you are interested in joining the Financial Services practice of a specific consulting company.

Regarding "what to answer" - this is solely up to you. Why do you want to become a consultant? If your true answer is that it is the remaining option after banking and PE, then quite frankly you might not like consulting after all :) - This is a highly demanding career option and only the truly motivated ones last in it and enjoy it

Dig deeper, if you really like consulting, you will find your own unique answer for "why consulting"

I hope this helps

Khaled

Hi Thomas,

No need to downplay your finance background expertise at all. It is highly needed for consulting, especially if you are interested in joining the Financial Services practice of a specific consulting company.

Regarding "what to answer" - this is solely up to you. Why do you want to become a consultant? If your true answer is that it is the remaining option after banking and PE, then quite frankly you might not like consulting after all :) - This is a highly demanding career option and only the truly motivated ones last in it and enjoy it

Dig deeper, if you really like consulting, you will find your own unique answer for "why consulting"

I hope this helps

Khaled

Book a coaching with Francesco

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Hi Thomas,

financials modeling is definitely useful in consulting, in particular in PE/due diligence, so there is no reason to de-emphasize it.

Regarding the reasons: I would say you have to identify the real ones why you would like to join. If you cannot find any, I am not sure you will thrive in consulting even if you get an offer. Also, if you just learn by heart possible reasons you don’t really believe in, an interviewer could easily understand you made up the answer, even if the answer sounds "technically correct".

One easy way to find some real possible reasons is to ask your MBA classmates who worked in consulting what did they find attractive in their career. Listen to their stories and think if you consider the reasons valid. Then, create your answers, showing hints in your past experience that you had that interest indeed.

As a final point: if your dream is IB/PE, my suggestion would be to stick to the dream until you have 0% possibilities. I am pretty sure you could find some opportunities for networking during your MBA. No one can guarantee you will succeed of course, but if you love those jobs I don’t see reasons why you should not try at least one more time.

Best,

Francesco

Hi Thomas,

financials modeling is definitely useful in consulting, in particular in PE/due diligence, so there is no reason to de-emphasize it.

Regarding the reasons: I would say you have to identify the real ones why you would like to join. If you cannot find any, I am not sure you will thrive in consulting even if you get an offer. Also, if you just learn by heart possible reasons you don’t really believe in, an interviewer could easily understand you made up the answer, even if the answer sounds "technically correct".

One easy way to find some real possible reasons is to ask your MBA classmates who worked in consulting what did they find attractive in their career. Listen to their stories and think if you consider the reasons valid. Then, create your answers, showing hints in your past experience that you had that interest indeed.

As a final point: if your dream is IB/PE, my suggestion would be to stick to the dream until you have 0% possibilities. I am pretty sure you could find some opportunities for networking during your MBA. No one can guarantee you will succeed of course, but if you love those jobs I don’t see reasons why you should not try at least one more time.

Best,

Francesco

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Hello!

On top of the insights already shared in the post, the "Integrated FIT guide for MBB" has been recently published in PrepLounge´s shop (https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/tests-2/integrated-fit-guide-for-mbb-34)

It provides an end-to-end preparation for all three MBB interviews, tackling each firms particularities and combining key concepts review and a hands-on methodology. Following the book, the candidate will prepare his/her stories by practicing with over 50 real questions and leveraging special frameworks and worksheets that guide step-by-step, developed by the author and her experience as a Master in Management professor and coach. Finally, as further guidance, the guide encompasses over 20 examples from real candidates.

Feel free to PM me for disccount codes, since we still have some left from the launch!

Hello!

On top of the insights already shared in the post, the "Integrated FIT guide for MBB" has been recently published in PrepLounge´s shop (https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/tests-2/integrated-fit-guide-for-mbb-34)

It provides an end-to-end preparation for all three MBB interviews, tackling each firms particularities and combining key concepts review and a hands-on methodology. Following the book, the candidate will prepare his/her stories by practicing with over 50 real questions and leveraging special frameworks and worksheets that guide step-by-step, developed by the author and her experience as a Master in Management professor and coach. Finally, as further guidance, the guide encompasses over 20 examples from real candidates.

Feel free to PM me for disccount codes, since we still have some left from the launch!