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Corporate Finance: Big-4 vs. Investment Banking

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    Hi all,

    I'm new here so I may have screwed up some way or another posting this, please tell me how to fix it if I have. Was wondering whether any of you could explain the differences between working in the Corporate Finance service line in an Investment Bank (e.g. at Deutsche Bank) and one of the Big-4 (e.g. PwC).

    Thanks!
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    Similar, just smaller sized deals (at Big 4).
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    At the big 4:
    - Smaller sized deals
    - Less prestige (if you care about that sort of thing)
    - Lower paid because they don't have the same bonus culture
    - They likely won't work you as hard, so you'll have a better work/life balance

    Best of Brit,
    Girl Banker
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    This is based on what I know from friends, apart from the obvious reputation stuff:

    Corporate Finance @ Big 4:
    Hours are usually 8am - 7/8pm; you will pull off a few all nighters.
    They like you doing the ACA.
    Salary starts fairly low in comparison to the banks - around £28-32k.
    Bonuses are usually £1-5k.

    Investment banking:
    Hours are usually 8am - 11pm (often later), a LOT of late nights in the office.
    They don't usually offer a professional qualification (although one would argue whether you really need one if you're already in such an intense job)
    Base salary is around 40-42k.
    Bonuses are £10-25k for someone with 2 yrs exp
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    Thank you to all three of you. girlbanker and 2late thank you also for the detailed breakdown. Now I need to work very hard to reach the standard so both will even consider me seriously!
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    I was going to ask a similar question, as I am considering corporate finance as an alternative to accountancy in one of the Big Four, given that I like analytical roles. Does it require a very quantitatively oriented mind? I am by no means bad at maths but I am very rusty. How competitive is entry to such positions within the Big Four for an area like Manchester or Leeds?
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    (Original post by TCA2b)
    I was going to ask a similar question, as I am considering corporate finance as an alternative to accountancy in one of the Big Four, given that I like analytical roles. Does it require a very quantitatively oriented mind? I am by no means bad at maths but I am very rusty. How competitive is entry to such positions within the Big Four for an area like Manchester or Leeds?
    I think I can give you some insight into that from what I've heard from corporate financiers at Banks (funnily enough, the only thing I haven't asked or heard is what I've posted this thread about!) - Maths skills are important. From what they've said the maths doesn't have to be extremely high level - although I say that as an Accounting & Finance student, more maths-based degrees will be expected to have higher skills e.g. econometrics and quantitative analysis for an economics graduate. General arithmetic, algebra and calculus is important, also things like sequences and series (one of the graduates said s&s helped him answer interview questions!). And I think it's obvious to say knowledge of statistics is ESSENTIAL. Especially regression analysis which is used a lot day to day - for example in the use of calculting Beta for valuation purposes.

    I'm not too sure about the accountancy firms though. Maybe someone could give some insight into that?
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    (Original post by TCA2b)
    How competitive is entry to such positions within the Big Four for an area like Manchester or Leeds?
    CF is very competitive at every location. Some don't recruit at graduate level. I.e. only internally.
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    How does it compare to audit/tax positions in terms of competitiveness?
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    (Original post by TCA2b)
    How does it compare to audit/tax positions in terms of competitiveness?
    Corporate finance is more competitive.
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    Is audit or CF better for moving into IBD at a later date?
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    (Original post by Jack McGill)
    Is audit or CF better for moving into IBD at a later date?
    CF I would say, though it'll still be real difficult to make the jump.

    I'm starting a CF scheme for one of the big 4 in Sept, so if you have any questions feel free to ask.
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    (Original post by stanmoor)
    CF I would say, though it'll still be real difficult to make the jump.

    I'm starting a CF scheme for one of the big 4 in Sept, so if you have any questions feel free to ask.
    I'll take you up on your offer

    Why did you choose CF over Audit (or any other area for that matter)?

    What are the exit options like in CF? Or do you have to say within the Big 4 (not saying there's anything wrong with that)?

    Any help would be great
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    (Original post by Jack McGill)
    I'll take you up on your offer

    Why did you choose CF over Audit (or any other area for that matter)?

    What are the exit options like in CF? Or do you have to say within the Big 4 (not saying there's anything wrong with that)?

    Any help would be great
    I chose CF because it involves advising clients - it's not just purely due diligence work. It's incredibly varied and you work with a wide range of businesses and it's better paid . There's lots of reasons really. Audit and CF are very different, if you read about them both you'll see that there's adv/disadv to both.

    Exit opportunities - I guess you could go into IBD in the bigger banks, but I think this would still be difficult to make the straight jump without something that made you stood out. You could also go into CF divisions in the banks too.
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    What was the interview/assessment procedure like for the scheme? When you say it's competitive, do you mean in the entry requirements etc?
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    (Original post by stanmoor)
    I chose CF because it involves advising clients - it's not just purely due diligence work. It's incredibly varied and you work with a wide range of businesses and it's better paid . There's lots of reasons really. Audit and CF are very different, if you read about them both you'll see that there's adv/disadv to both.

    Exit opportunities - I guess you could go into IBD in the bigger banks, but I think this would still be difficult to make the straight jump without something that made you stood out. You could also go into CF divisions in the banks too.
    Thanks for your answers

    Do you know you much you get paid upon qualifying?
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    Big 4 Corporate Fin. Vs. Investment banking is a decision I am also considering.

    However, I do wish to study CA qualification and with a big 4.
    I am considering, initially for an internship, either audit and corporate finance.

    Corporate finance seems to be more competitive but I have more genuine interest and better results in finance subjects. Audit may be less competitive but I may be less enthusiastic in an interview situation and I have not yet studied audit at University...

    Anyone able to provide me with any pointers or advice on this?

    Thanks in advance for an advice
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    I need to do more research on audit really. I like its forensic nature as I currently work in financial complaints handling, which shares that with it. Ultimately as I am quite an analytically minded person, corporate finance at one of the Big Four does sound appealing as well.
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    I think we're all aware of how extremely competitive IBD (BB) corporate finance is but I was wondering how it compares to big 4 CF... Would you stand a chance in B4 CF if you had say, AAB and a 2:1 in something like Geography or History from a university such as Nottingham (along with relevant/interesting work experience)?

    This is basically the situation I'm likely to find myself in at the end of university and while I am aiming for the Big 4 as a potential graduate destination (& studying for the ACA), I'm not particularly interested in audit/assurance but more into corporate finance (M&A) or possibly transaction services... I'm just unsure of how realistic a prospect this is. Anyone able to add their two cents?
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    In the accountancy world, Qualifying as a CA is the most important factor. Once you qualified, you can move to corp. finance, stay in audit, be a tax specialist etc. As a trainee, you will be moved around in different dept., experience is the key.




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