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How to transfer from banking industry to consulting at junior level?

Banking business analyst Change Career
New answer on Jun 03, 2020
10 Answers
1.5 k Views
asked on May 29, 2020
Hi I am actively preparing for cases since this May, please feel free to reach out!

Hi all, I hope you are staying safe nowadays. I am enrolled in a commercial banking graduate scheme for HSBC in the middle east. After 1 year I realized that consulting is the career field that I really want in terms of learning opportunities and people. I am thinking about applying for the business analyst role at Dubai offices of some top tier firms, but how should I prepare for the switch during COVID-19?

About my background:

- I studied my undergraduate degree at the top 5 universities in China, enrolled being the top 0.03% candidate (majored in Economics)

- I studied a masters degree in Manchester Business School, graduated as the top 3 students (majored in Business Analysis)

- I had some consulting experience before, like a strategy consulting internship at Accenture and some part-time consulting for startups in the UK.

I have some concerns:

- During COVID-19, most consulting firms may stop recruiting already.

- My school is not among the target list, should I have a GMAT score as complimentary?

- Can my experience as a banking graduate be beneficial in applying for the business analyst role?

Thanks very much in advance!

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replied on May 29, 2020
Ex Kearney Senior Manager | Ex McKinsey Engagement Manager | Interviewer & Case Coach at McKinsey (200+ Real Interviews)

Hi Jing,

I think at a glance your profile should be interesting for consulting firms. Yes, some consulting firms in Dubai have paused their hiring process for now - but I know some are still open to at least get CV and will continue the process in Q3.

So, preparing CV, written test (PST, Potential Test, etc) and interviews from now is definitely a good strategy.

  1. GMAT is not needed, don't even waste your time or money to do this. Yet, if you have done it and got 700+, you can put it on your CV
  2. Your experience in banking combined with Master will be definitely beneficial, a lot of banking clients in Dubai
  3. Start polishing your CV from now, emphasize your achievement and impact at HSBC
  4. Get to know and prep the written test of the firms that you want to apply to
  5. Plan your interview preparation both for FIT and Case, get partners and coaches
  6. Get recruiter contacts from the firm offices either via Linkedin/Web/Network, ask whether the office is still hiring or not
  7. Start applying from the firms that you wanted the least

I was also coming from Banking Graduate Program (Citi Management Associate), and having that experience helped me a lot in navigating at the firm. So, PM me if you want to talk more.

Hope this helps!

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Nancy on May 29, 2020

Hi Anrian, thanks for the detailed guidance. It is reassuring to know that you experienced the similar transition!

Anonymous replied on May 30, 2020


I performed a similar transfer in the beginning of my career. I networked with people from Big4 FI practice and managed to get a graduate position there. Then I transferred to Big3.

If I were you I would target OW and Accenture in Middle East. They have string FI practices. You can obtain strong consulting skillset there and then move to Big3.

You may of course apply to Big3 right now but you would have far less chances.

If you want to improve the odds and play a long term game I suggest that you should start with OW and Accenture specialized practices.

Message me and I would be happy to share some more insights as to how you can get into Big3 from banking!



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Nancy on May 31, 2020

Thanks very much for your advice Anton!

Content Creator
replied on May 29, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Jing,

Thanks for the clear and structured information.

Concerning the transfer, there is nothing specific to consider - you will be treated basically the same as university hires, since your experience is too small to be really relevant. It might be a small plus though :-)

In respect to COVID, the best way to proceed is to build personal connections and network your way into your target firms. This will also help you enormously to understand tactical timing for your application.

GMAT: should not be needed, unless it's a specific requirement of one of your target firms.

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

Thank you - Robert

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Nancy on May 29, 2020

Hi Robert, thanks very much for shading some light on how my background would be considered for the transfer!

Anonymous replied on May 29, 2020

Hi Jing,

It should be fine - your profile is attractive for a junior role.

Consulting companies in the middle-east did indeed pause a bit the recruitment activities - but the big names are planning to resume recruitment as of July-September.

GMAT is not needed - if you have time to study for it, do it mainly if you are planning to join an MBA program couple of years down the line - but the score isn't really necessary for a CV

Your background is helpful - all consulting companies have a Financial Services team, your background would definitely be helpful ( i know people that switched from multiple bank's graduate programs into consulting - e.g., Standard Chartered, Citi, etc)

My recommendation is to pace your applications - apply in batches of tier-1 and tier-2 companies [e.g., wait a bit a submit an application to 1 MBB and two tier-2 companies,wait for their answer....1) if you got filtered in, then apply for the second batch...2) if you didn't get filtered in, focus on referrals, modify your CV and apply for batch#2]

I hope this helps,


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Nancy on May 29, 2020

Hi Khaled, thanks very much for the answer. Yes it is helpful, and I especially appreciate your pacing strategy for applications.

Content Creator
replied on May 31, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Jing,

please find my answers below:

  1. Most of the companies are not recruiting now in Dubai. However, some companies are already planning interviews in Sep 2020
  2. A great GMAT score (say 730+) it’s a nice-to-have, but the GMAT itself is not necessary. I would suggest investing the time in it only if you want to do an MBA later on
  3. Yes that would be helpful

The most important thing to do at your stage would be to find a good referral, you can find more on that at the following link:

You should also verify your target companies could sponsor a visa if you need one.


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Nancy on May 31, 2020

Sincerely thanks for your advice and the link Francesco!

Content Creator
replied on May 30, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello Jing!

Thanks for the details, that helps helping you better in the Q&A!

Some toughts to your questions:

  1. Yes, this is true, things are getting slower in terms of recruiting. However, not in all locations, we would need to analise 1 by 1.
  2. Nope. GMAT is only useful to get to business school -MBAs mostly-. Hence, GMAT is not a KPI for Consulting.
  3. Yes, totally! Particularlly if you leverage it correctly in your CV: being able to state correctly impact achieved, KPIs, particular actions you took and the derived consequences, etc.

Hope it helps!



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Nancy on May 31, 2020

Thanks for your advice Clara!

Anonymous updated the answer on May 30, 2020

Hi Jing,

Quick answers to your questions:

1) Timing: given that you've just worked for about 1 year, I suppose you are not in a rush to move out from the current banking job? If that's correct, maybe better to prepare yourself well while waiting for COVID situation to get better, before applying.

2) GMAT: No it is not needed. No need to waste your time and money. Instead, focus on other things - your resume, personal story, case interview.

3) Yes, you just need to demonstrate you are excellent at problem solving and data analytics.




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Nancy on May 29, 2020

Hi Emily, thanks very much for your answers!

Content Creator
replied on May 30, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

You have a great background and a natural story for a transition to consulting!

My advice:

1) Tailor your CV very specifically to consulting - you have the experience, now make sure your CV very clearly shows that

2) You can leave our your GMAT

3) Start networking yesterday. Find out about hiring across firms/offices. I also reocmmend you expand your search from just Dubai (if you can/want to) to improve your odds.

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Nancy on May 30, 2020

Hi Ian, thanks very much for your advice!

Anonymous replied on May 31, 2020

Dear Jing,

With your references you have very good chances to land into consulting. However we only need to work on the right timing as well as on the application strategy.

Now, due to the COVID situation and during the Ramadan monthes, Dubai was locked down and there weren't hiring. But now hiring will slowly pick up. I would definitely encourage your to start working with people from targeted companies in Dubai in order to get their help with referrals and secure your interviews invite.

If your are ineterested, I have also helped several people to land top offers in Dubai. I'm also happy to secure your interviews and convert them into offers.

Fell free to reach out.



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Anonymous replied on Jun 03, 2020


You can PM me if you wanna further discuss this.

I am specialized in financial institutions / banking and saw many many consultants coming from Banks.


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Anrian gave the best answer


Ex Kearney Senior Manager | Ex McKinsey Engagement Manager | Interviewer & Case Coach at McKinsey (200+ Real Interviews)
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