MBB Prestige by office location; equal exit opportunities?

Bain & Company BCG exit opportunities McKinsey
Edited on Oct 28, 2021
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Oct 26, 2021

Hey friends, I have a couple of short questions for you. A bit of context first:

I'm joining an East Asian MBB office, approx. 50% of U.S. pay pre- & 60% post-tax. I think most of my projects will be localized, but will be serving many US-based PE firms.

  1. Is the prestige of my office lower than the U.S. offices?
  2. Do I have fewer exit opportunities?
  3. Should I aim to transfer to the U.S. to maximize exit opps? And how do I best do that?
  4. I'm also thinking of transferring to an office in Sub-Saharan Africa: will that limit my future exit opportunities?
  5. Also, why do East Asian & many European offices have much lower wages than the U.S. offices?

Thanks a million and please don't spill a lot of ink for these small questions! 

(edited)

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Pedro
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Oct 26, 2021
# 1 Rated Bain Coach | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Former Head Recruiter | Principal

1. Possibly. Depends on the specific office. But the fact is that developed countries have in general more prestige. However, MBB brand is more powerful by far than the lower prestige of the local office.

2. Depends on your target country & industry. If you're looking into global opportunities / companies, should not have a material difference. Of course, if local market knowledge is a requirement, then you have a limitation there. On the other hand, you have an asset that a lot of candidates don't have - that makes you more valuable for some companies. Actually having unique assets is usually better than having “generic assets”.

3. If you want to work in the US, yes.

4. The issue is not being Sub-Saharan Africa, is the industry expertise you'll get. South Africa is strong in Mining. Nigeria in Oil&Gas. If you want to work in these industries it will be very valuable experience. If you want to work in Retail, Automotive, Airlines, Chemicals, and many others… not at all.

5. Cost of Living and lower fees. They have lower wages for the same reason the countries have lower wages…

A final note: you are approaching this in a very generic way. You talk about “exit opportunities” in general. But the exit opportunities are always to a specific role, industry and location. You have to figure out what are the type of exit opportunities you want and then find the specific office that will maximize your chances. Going abroad can be a huge advantage for the right industry, if you go to the right office.

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Agrim
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Oct 26, 2021
Top CoachingPlus Expert | 100% personalised | BCG Dubai PL | 2021 Real MBB Cases | Case/PEI/Fit/CV | 6+ years Consulting
  1. I am NOT of the view that different MBB offices have different prestige. Equality is a value inculcated in the company's culture. Every country has equally challenging projects. One country's challenges might be different from another. Eventually your prestige is what you make of it. Join the office with your head held high and you shall enjoy every moment of it. Enter with a feeling that you are not at the best place and you will forever be unhappy and will never be able to bring out your best.
  2. Your most accessible exit opportunities will be the ones within the country of your MBB office, your home country, and any other place where you have authorization to work. If you need fresh authorization to work (say e.g. EU) then you will pretty much be at par with somebody from a different MBB office.
  3. US is a special-case economy in the sense that it has one of the largest capitalistic ecosystems. Opportunities are easier to create and easier to get into. So yes, US might have a larger set of exit opportunities compared to say New Zealand because of the economic factors. However, you shouldn't immediately start thinking about moving to US - try to give adequate time to the Asia market as well so that you gain a ‘reasonable’ level of experience.
  4. Switching to Sub-Saharan Africa will not ‘reduce’ your exit opportunities - but it will definitely ‘change’ them due to the different nature of projects in the region compared to more capitalism heavy regions such as US.
  5. Cost of living differences, and market forces.
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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Oct 26, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Congrats on getting that MBB offer!

In terms of 1-4, let's remember that this is MBB :). Even if prestige might be slightly lower, you're at such a high brand recognition level that it truly shouldn't measurably affect 1-4.

In terms of #5, it's quite simple - the cost of living is much lower! MBB does CoL adjustments - also remember that project budgets are different in these regions as well.

Good luck in the role! 

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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 26, 2021
Top rated MBB coach with many offers /Ex McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience/Real cases

Having worked in a different location prior to the US, I fully understand your frustration. There is no actual logic as to why you get paid less. The real answer is because they can get away with it. You do the exact same work, probably longer hours as well so no reason for you to earn that much less. Cost of Living really isn't a great rationale.

 

The prestige of MBB is not lower, but salaries are always the highest in the US as a rule. This is just the reality of the labor market here. I don't think opportunities in the US are better or worse but it entirely depends on what you are after - for example pharma in the US is by far the best in the world.

In short - you will have plenty of exit opportunities including in the US should you choose to come here. Prioritize what you are most interested in for now, the rest will follow. There is no less prestige associated with MBB outside the US.

Best,

Udayan

 

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Lucas
Expert
updated an answer on Oct 28, 2021
Amazon | ex-BCG | ex-Strategy& | Experienced and personalized coach | Student successes: Mck, BCG, Bain, OW, S&

Congrats first of all!

  1. Prestige: Unofficially, yes it will be a bit lower (as an example, some Middle Eastern clients insist on having at least 1 London consultant per project for ‘reputation’ purposes) - but MBB branding significantly outweighs location branding. An MBB in a lower-tier location > a lower-tier location in a Tier 1 city.
  2. Exits: This is an important one (and I would know as someone who worked across different geographies). Exits are constrained by geography and not by prestige. You would have top tier exits in your east Asian country thanks to the MBB brand, but it may be difficult to exit into other opps in the US for example
  3. Transfers: This is a tough one. Depends on which MBB. McK and BCG are pretty open to international transfers (if you can give / conjure a compelling personal reason). I know at BCG you can transfer after working at the firm for 1+ years. This is all contingent on host office support and you may do some interviews for it.
  4. Sub-saharan Africa: Honestly I cannot comment besides the fact that I know a friend in BCG there and she's loving it.
  5. Lower wages: 1) Clients pay less and we bill less, 2) Cost of living adjustments, 3) Taxes are lower so take home is better, 4) US consulting competes more strongly with other attractive post-undergrad exits

Btw, be prepared to work hard ;) I have been staffed in a Southeast Asian office before and know many friends working in (South)East Asia MBB - so I can speak to the culture and how to navigate it there. Feel free to schedule time with me if you'd like to have any further strategic discussions. It's a great opp, good luck!

(edited)

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 27, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Congrats on the offer, well done!

Those are many questions, and all are relevant. 

However, I would recommend you to take a step back and think about those priorities. Is it money? Prestige? Exit opportunities to Sector x? Once you know that, it will be your north star and the answers to all these questions will be clear!

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Hagen
Expert
replied on Oct 27, 2021
Bain & Company Project Leader | 200+ interviews conducted | 5+ years of coaching and mentoring

Hi there,

First of all, congratulations on joining MBB shortly!

This is indeed an interesting question which is probably relevant for quite a lot of users, so I am happy to provide my perspective on it:

  • Generally speaking, the prestige does not differ based on the office or region you are working. Still, you would need to be more specific with regards to what exit opportunities you are thinking of.
  • Salaries in the U.S. for consulting companies tend to be higher for 2 reasons: 1) It's a historical pattern and to some extent reflects the cost of living and 2) employee protection laws are hardly anywhere as loose as in the U.S. (thus you need to build a puffer for the case you'd be laid off one day to another).

In case you want a more detailed discussion on how to best prepare a potential exit (even if it might be a little early), please feel free to contact me directly.

I hope this helps,

Hagen

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Pedro gave the best answer

Pedro

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