MBA: Consulting vs. Finance - Unpacking the Top Career Paths

By universitykart team, Posted on Jul 03, 2024
MBA: Consulting vs. Finance

Careers in the finance and consulting sectors hold great appeal to many young graduates preparing to enter the job market. Both jobs offer great perks like interesting work, travelling, and top salaries. Both sectors also attract the best talent which means that one’s colleagues will not only be interesting to work with but also serve as propellers for growth and development. MBA graduates often gravitate toward two of the most lucrative and prestigious career paths: consulting and finance. Both sectors offer dynamic roles, high salaries, and excellent growth opportunities but differ significantly in job functions, work environment, and career trajectory.

Roles and Responsibilities of Consulting & Finance

Consulting

Finance

 Management Consultant: Helps organizations improve performance by analyzing existing problems and developing improvement plans.

Strategy Consultant: Focuses on long-term planning and strategy development to help clients achieve their business goals.

Operations Consultant: Optimizes internal operations to enhance efficiency and productivity.

 IT Consultant: Provides advice on technology and systems to improve business processes and information systems.

 Investment Banker: Assists companies in raising capital, mergers and acquisitions, and other financial advisory services.

Financial Analyst: Analyzes financial data to support decision-making processes in corporations or investment firms.

Private Equity Associate: Evaluates and manages investments in private companies.

Venture Capitalist: Invests in early-stage startups and supports their growth.

Asset Manager: Manages investment portfolios for individuals or institutions.

Difference between Finance & Consulting

Comparison

Finance

Consulting

Area

Specialist

Generalist

Career Options

Investment Banking,
Corporate Finance,
Equity Research,
Private Equity,
Risk Management,
Quantitative Analysis,
Project Finance,
Technical analysis

Strategic Consulting
Management Consulting
IT Consulting and other areas

Hard Skills Required

Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Financial Modeling, Valuation Methods, Sensitivity Analysis, Accounting, Corporate Finance, Fixed Income, Derivatives,
Corporate Law

Microsoft PowerPoint (heavy), Microsoft Excel (less), Analytical Skills, Process vast data, Business Modeling, Business Strategy, Operations, Human Resource, Supply Chain

Soft Skills Required

Ability to work for an extended period (80-100+ hours a week), Excellent Communication Skills Required, Writing Skills, Negotiation Skills

Ability to understand Client’s Requirements, Communication Skills, Excellent Presentation Skills, Taking Ownership, Ability to work in a Team.

Top Firms

Blackstone,
Goldman Sachs & Co
Morgan Stanley
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Credit Suisse
Citibank
Deutsche Bank
HSBC
UBS
J.P.Morgan Chase & Co

McKinsey & Company.
Boston Consulting Group,
Bain & Company
Booz & Company
Deloitte Consulting LLP
Monitor Group
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Mercer LLC
Ernst & Young LLP
Accenture

Work-Life Balance

It depends on which subdomain in Finance you are working for. Investment Banking – it’s brutal! Equity Research is still OK. Buy-side Analyst has a balanced work life.
Depending on the area, you may have to work for 10-18 hours a day.

In consulting, the working hours vary depending on the client and project.
On average, it is around 12 hours per day

Travel

Mostly they are not required to travel much. You can safely assume that 90% of the time is spent in Office.

Consultants travel for 25-75% of their time

Key Words

Financial Modeling, Valuations, M&A, NPV, IRR

Top Level analysis, Insights, Findings, Facts

Exit Opportunities

Depending on the chosen area of interest, there are some amazing exit opportunities within the Finance sector.

Become senior executives in the sector you are consulting

Networking Opportunities

Mostly work within the Financial Industry. The alumni network is strong but not varied as found in Consulting.

Consultants work for diverse industries – they get immense opportunities to network with diverse groups of businesses, academics, governments, and countries. They also have a powerful alumni network which helps them connect across various levels.

Popular Certifications

CFA,FRM, PRM, CFP, CIMA, CMA, ACCA, CPA and more

CMC

Job Security

The chance of spending 15-20 years in the Finance field is a bit lower (especially in Investment Banking)

chances of having a 15-20 year career in consulting look a lot higher

Frequently Asked Questions 

Ques 1. What are the primary differences between consulting and finance career paths for MBA graduates?

Ans: The primary differences between consulting and finance career paths lie like work, required skill sets, work environment, and career progression. Consulting focuses on providing strategic advice to businesses, requiring strong analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills. Finance, on the other hand, involves managing financial resources, investments, and risks, necessitating expertise in financial analysis, quantitative skills, and a deep understanding of financial markets.

Ques 2. What types of roles are available in consulting for MBA graduates?

Ans: In consulting, MBA graduates can pursue roles such as Management Consultant, Strategy Consultant, Operations Consultant, IT Consultant, and Human Resources Consultant. These roles involve advising clients on various business challenges and developing strategic solutions to improve performance and efficiency.

Ques 3. What types of roles are available in finance for MBA graduates?

Ans: In finance, MBA graduates can pursue roles such as Investment Banker, Financial Analyst, Portfolio Manager, Corporate Finance Manager, Risk Manager, and Private Equity Associate. These roles focus on managing investments, financial planning, risk assessment, and maximizing financial returns.

Ques 4. Which top firms hire MBA graduates for consulting roles?

Ans: Top firms hiring MBA graduates for consulting roles include McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Bain & Company, Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young (EY), and Accenture. These firms are known for their rigorous selection processes and prestigious client portfolios.

Ques 5. Which top firms hire MBA graduates for finance roles?

Ans: Top firms hiring MBA graduates for finance roles include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BlackRock, and KPMG. These firms are renowned for their extensive financial services and opportunities for career growth.

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