Should I become a Consultant or an I-Banker?

Congratulations! You have got job offers from a top Investment Bank and a Blue Chip Management Consultancy! Which one should you accept?

There are similarities – Both have excellent future career options, demand long working hours, train you to build professional Excel models and Powerpoint presentations, pay you enough to live well and will impress your peers.

There are some questions that will guide you to the role you will thrive most in:

How competitive are you?

In many Investment banks, the competition between employees is overt. After all, there is only so much bonus pool to go round! If you are not aggressive and competitive, it can be harder to get the credit you deserve.

There are many competitively-driven consultants too. But the internal competition between employees is indirect, for example, channelled into intellectual debates.

Are you motivated by making money or solving problems?

People for whom making large amounts of money is not a primary driver are likely to step off the I-Banking treadmill before they get too senior, as the competition and demands

Recognise that you will make less money in a consulting career than an Investment Banking one. Starting salaries can be 50% greater in I-Banking, and the difference accelerates from there. But consulting still pays enough to fund a lifestyle 99% of the world would envy, and the research shows that most people are motivated by non-financial rewards. If you love working on interesting problems, you will prefer the open-ended scope as a consultant.

Do you love finance?

Investment Banking ultimately is about the numbers. If you are fascinated by finance, you will be happy as a pig in mud as an investment banker – you are right where the action is.

If on the other hand, you like marketing and sales, operations, organisation and strategy, how they fit together,  and you like the variety to thinking about different industries and business situations, you will prefer the diversity and challenge of going up different learning curves as a consultant.

Which crowd are “your sort of people”?

The acid test – when you meet people from the company, do you feel that you are kindred spirits? Is there chemistry between you? Do you fit? Meet as many people as you can, then rest your analytical brain, get in touch with your instinct and you will know the right choice for you


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