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Business valuation career advice

^ I’d rather not disclose the name of the firm.  It was a boutique.  We do use a Big 4 for our external auditor.  The Big 4 partner referred us to this boutique based on their business relationship and affirmation of workmanship quality. 

BValGuy wrote:

^ Not me personally, but I know others that have tried to jump up the food chain from BV to other careers.  I actually know of just one colleague to successfully go from BV to one of these “higher level” careers, and he did so through a top-notch MBA program and is now doing great things in the hedge fund world.  But even his story was one of struggle as he applied to 6-8 top schools, got rejected from all but one and that one wait-listed him!  He eventually was able to enroll and the rest is history.

BV is a wierd profession.  Once you’ve been in it for 5 years or so, and assuming you are good, it’s very easy to become content.  The money can actually be quite good, particularly considering the workload, which is not overly stressful but yet still offers a challenge.  It’s a consulting role, so each project is unique and that tends to keep things interesting.  So if you’re moving up the ladder and making more money, plus you enjoy the work and also the work/life balance, it’s easy to get sucked in.  Trust me, there are much worse careers out there.

It has definately been an interesting field so far… I’ve only been doing it for about a year and a half but have learned about so many interesting types of busineses.

I think I may be a little eccentric but even though I’m almost 29, I still have no answer to the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question. Can’t say business valuation is my “passion”  (despite what all the candidates say in their interviews haha) An option to do something else would be nice but I really don’t know what that would be. The only thing that would motivate me to change is money.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

^ You’re doing great bud.  Just keep working hard.  No one’s ‘passion’ is working.  But you do want to land a job/career that gives you minimal distress, displeasure, and hopefully maximum interest/enjoyment. 

A career in valution is very unique.  You get the chance to be the outside guidance when the Officers and BoD need a helping hand.  Not too many jobs have that high level exposure to the smartest guys in the room. 

And I’m older than you, and I have no idea what I want to be.  So far I’ve found working hard, doing your best, and remaining positive yields good results in the workplace.

^ Thanks for the good advice, especially the last line. Things have got to work out if you do that.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

bump, so I went to the 3 hour long interview for a valuation position with one of the big 4. Met with one person at a time, 1 partner, 2 managers, then 1 partner for lunch, nice guys. Got a call this week, “you still interested? great, we’ll call and email you an offer next week.”

CFA definately opened some doors for me! Anybody have any words of advice or anything I should know before jumping on this offer if the numbers work out? It’s mostly doing O&G.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

Go get it bro. Make the AF inner sanctum proud!

Congrats on the offer hp, seems like you had a good recruiting experience. Are the partners chill guys? I’ve found that at big 4, culture, attitude etc. really does flow from the top.

Congrats on the offer!  Do you know what level you’ll be going in at?

Thanks guys! Going to update the process after the numbers get ironed out.

AfricaFarmer: They guys were chill. One guy asked me quite a few finance questions, which I think I answered them all right, “walk me through dcf” type stuff. They mentioned a busy season like BValGuy mentioned earlier.

BValGuy: I’ll be going in as an experienced hire, valuation associate.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

Update: number received, at the bottom end of BValGuy’s range on page 1. Pitched myself, partner said he’d think about it, and after a few days, came back with exact same number (lack of experience is their reason and they said I’d be considered for promotion in 6 mo if I do great, not even a concern for me). Told them I’d let them know.

Thoughts?

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

Is the pay a bump in your current comp? 

I’d probably take it for exit ops.  But then again if you’re very happy in your current role, you have a harder choice to make.

^ Pay is a big bump to current but this will be more hours. I do need the money badly though so that may be the main driver. I agree on the exit ops, big name will make up for my prior work history. I think I’m in, told him I’d call him tomorrow.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

From my experience, smaller firms are very protective of their equity holders.  I have not seen a junior type of role make the giant leap to the upper echelon and rake it in.  During interviews, I described this as a deep moat between internal advancement in my current job.

I’m now at a larger firm too and feel much happier.  But, I work a lot more.

hpracing007 wrote:

Update: number received, at the bottom end of BValGuy’s range on page 1. Pitched myself, partner said he’d think about it, and after a few days, came back with exact same number (lack of experience is their reason and they said I’d be considered for promotion in 6 mo if I do great, not even a concern for me). Told them I’d let them know.

Thoughts?

Congrats on the offer!  The Big 4 have very structured pay grades based on your position (title), so there probably wasn’t much wiggle room.  It’s interesting that you’re interacting with a partner, generally you would be discussing all of these details with HR.

The exit ops will be much different with a Big 4 firm on the resume.  I can also add that the career prospects for senior associates and managers (4-6 years exp) are the highest they’ve ever been (this comes from a BVal recruiter friend), so much so that managers and sr managers are at very similar salary levels.  So the increase from your starting salary may come sooner than you’d expect.

Good luck!

^ Thanks!

Your observation again is right, recruiter with hr and I have been leaving each other messages for the last week and then finally the partner just called me at a time i could pick up and took over from there.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

I actually went through a similar situation recently, but I actually work at one of the Big 4. I was attempting to transition into the TS - Valuation practice. I met with a partner, two directors on two different occasions, and a manager. They actually had me walk them through a financial model for 1.5 hrs. I honestly can’t imagine experiencing a more difficult process anywhere else, and I think my interviews were harder than if someone outside the firm were going through the process. Ultimately, the team loved me and the partner wanted me to join the group, but they weren’t able to get sign-off from the National HR Office to open a new position for me because they extended offers to two campus hires way before I started talking to them.

Throughout the process I learned a TON about TS that I will share, which hopefully you’ll find useful. Some of the information has already been stated, but maybe it will add a bit more color. The Valuation work tends to differ from region to region. Financial Reporting is definitely the bread and butter (i.e. purchase price allocations, goodwill impairments, intellectual property valuations, etc) although there is an increasing growth in closely held business valuations, IB type functions (valuing the target and assisting with the completion of a merger or acquisition), and PE/VC valuations. The Big 4, in general, is very risk averse; however, they are starting to loosen the standards a bit and shift toward more IB type work as well as fairness opinions and solvency opinions.

The hours are up and down and tend to follow the flow of deals. One week you might be working 40 or 45 hours a week the next you might be working 70 hrs.

The work will be significantly more interesting than the work at a smaller firm because you will be getting exposure to more high profile clients, different valuations, and a myriad of industries. A huge difference with the Big 4 also involves their pitches. Typical business valuation firms pitch one service, valuation! Big 4 firms offer their clients a package (valuation services, due dilligence, tax advisory, etc) so you could possibly gain exposure to other groups and work with different groups to complete the work required for a deal.

The CFA designation, ASA, and CVA, particularly the CFA, are highly coveted in TS - Valuation. These certifications mean a lot to the firm and to the clients. Why? Higher bill rates! Also, it demonstrates your ability to learn and apply various valuation techniques and concepts.

The structure is more of a hierarchy. You definitely have to be killing it in order to get to the Director/Partner level.

Associates $60-80, Seniors: $80 - $115; Managers $120-160; Directors: $170-$230; Managing Directors: $220 - $280; Partners $500 - 1M+

^ Thank you for sharing your experience, it’s hard to find good info about this on google and your post and the prior ones on this thread are very helpful.

The region I will be working they said is going to be 90% oil and gas related, if you’re curious.

Quick questions for you, when you say “You definitely have to be killing it in order to get to the Director/Partner level.” what do you mean exactly? Will a candidate for that role need to be bringing in some serious revenue for the firm, switching people to my firm, and upselling packages?

And since you have been in big 4, is there anything you’d recommend me do either before I start or soon after to increase my chances of success? I’ve been learning as much as I can about the topics I’d be working with, improving excel skills, learned about the history, present, future of oil and gas technology, learning terminology, going to listen to how to win friends and influence people again haha

I have no idea what my peers will be like but I do know I want to be ahead of the game!

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

So in order to move to Manager you have to demonstrate that you can oversee multiple Seniors and Associates, lead an entire valuation from end to end, interface successfully with cleints throughout the valuation process, and have a solid understanding of and the ability to contribute to business development (proposals, pitches, presentations, white papers, etc.). Moreover, having an excellent relationship with the Director(s) and Partner is key. The Director provides a lot of oversight for valuations and strategic advice on specific nuances of the valuation. He/She will be in the weeds, but not as much as the Manager. In order to move to Director, you have to demonstrate the ability to win work and bring in new deals for the firm. So business development is really important. Directors split their time about 50/50 between BD work and assisting with the actual valuation. As you move through the ranks, be prepared to go out to dinners, go to baseball games, and really just “hang out” with clients. Cultivating relationships is big.

In order to move into the Partner role, you have to shift more into the BD role. Probably 80% BD and 20% valuation (this is essentially the break out for partners). Partners will also attend leadership functions, firm functions, and other “Partner-esque” events, but that’s a small percentage. Metrics are huge from the partner standpoint, as they are for most non-Big 4 executives, their goal is the bottom line and bringing in deals.  In some instances, you won’t have to do as much leg work winning work because the firm already has established relationships. Also, it helps a lot if you are part of a growing group. Individuals that are part of a new, growing practice in City XYZ have a quicker path to Director and Partner because they are starting everything from the ground up.

The culture is a “work hard, play hard” type of environment. People a generally pretty nice people, but remember there are guys and gals there from good backgrounds there is a competitive aspect to the environment because everyone else on your team wants to move up to Manager, Director, and ultimately Partner. The Directors and Managers keep everyone pretty humble and team chemistry is important so there aren’t a lot of arrogant, “know it all” type individuals you might find in IB or other areas of the investment community. Just be prepared to work hard and put in 110% like any other job. The bar is set pretty high so it’s important that you differentiate yourself. Don’t be afraid to challenge someone on aspects of a financial model or valuation either, but do it in a non-threatening, non-demeaning manner. It’s a fine line, but Managers and Directors want to see that you aren’t just a drone. They want to know that you have creative ideas and a different way of thinking. Also, I’m not sure what tools you’re used to using throughout your valuations, but we use Capital IQ, Damodaran for Country Risk Premiums, Ibottson Valuation Yearbooks, Pratt Stats, and a couple other resources. Lastly, it’s very important that you master valuations if you’re going to be a Manager and a Director. Be a sponge that’s is constantly learning and absorbing.

Hopefully, that helps my man! 

^ Extremely helpful, thank you.

I’ve pushed myself very hard these last few years, passed CFA levels, read the Ibottson yearbook, cover to cover, new duff and phelps valuation book, mergerstat book, valuing a business by shannon pratt, listened to damadoran lectures on my commute, and on and on, and will continue to do so! Dedication and hardwork will pay off.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

Congrats again hp. I should add to dp013s comments on progression that not everyone is out to make it to partner. Some people are not cut out to make it past senior manager, they eventually realise this and either move on, or stay at the big 4 as a “career senior manager”. This is still a good gig as many of them make as much as a director (minus bonus %) and can do all the BD stuff if they wish, but politics and fighting over revenue is much less of a concern. Managers are also the squashed middle, they have to take all the **** from the client, **** from lazy incompetent associates, and **** from a pissed off partner/director when work goes tits up.

I think to succeed at big 4, you have to be good at your job and make sure that everyone knows it. You want to be the go to guy for something. I’ve seen too many good people passed over for promotions and become frustrated because they are great at their jobs but never developed relationships with the BSD partners in their teams and kept a low profile.

AfricaFarmer wrote:

Congrats again hp. I should add to dp013s comments on progression that not everyone is out to make it to partner. Some people are not cut out to make it past senior manager, they eventually realise this and either move on, or stay at the big 4 as a “career senior manager”. This is still a good gig as many of them make as much as a director (minus bonus %) and can do all the BD stuff if they wish, but politics and fighting over revenue is much less of a concern. Managers are also the squashed middle, they have to take all the **** from the client, **** from lazy incompetent associates, and **** from a pissed off partner/director when work goes tits up.

I think to succeed at big 4, you have to be good at your job and make sure that everyone knows it. You want to be the go to guy for something. I’ve seen too many good people passed over for promotions and become frustrated because they are great at their jobs but never developed relationships with the BSD partners in their teams and kept a low profile.

This is true in any job, sadly it is my situation. I am trying to get another opportunity to move somewhere else to start again building relationships. It is the most important part for gaining seniority.

That is good advice AfricaFarmer. I’m going to focus more on building relationships than I have in the past. When I was in sales, one guy summed it perfectly by saying “I go to work, go fight with the managers, go fight with the coworkers, go fight with the clients, then go home, and fight with my wife!” All applied to me except the latter. I had 4 years of very adversarial work environments.

Then at this first finance job I’ve had, I’ve laid low, too low. Gotta find some balance, hopefully will find it at the new spot. The new firm though, I’m having some issues with compliance (probably shouldn’t say anymore) fingers crossed my explanations are okay and they give me the go ahead. Would be crushed if my offer was revoked.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

^good luck buddy, if it’s what i think it is, hopefully things smooth out. Sometimes they just suck at linking the dots.

There’s a myriad of compliance issues and loops you have to jump through in the Big 4. Quite frankly, it’s very annoying. Anyways, most the stuff should be easily resolved with an explanation or completing a recommended action from the firm. If they want you, they’ll make it work (unless it’s something egregious). I’ve been worked at two of the four firms and it’s all the same. I can contribute partial credit from my strong performance in the Ethics portion of the CFA exams due to the Big 4’s crazy ethics and compliance initiatives! lol 

Good luck buddy!

You’ll be fine HP.  The compliance questions asked are standard and ‘check the box’ type of requirements for most firms/companies.  Crack a cold one and relax.

After like, 5 weeks of checking, we’re good to go!

In addition to the earlier complications, one of my work places, the one I worked at the most number of years, with several positions, said they had no record whatsoever of me working there. Also that there was no one there that could say they remembered me working there.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

^ Go get them!  The AF Brethren is proud.

What you making hpracer?

^ Post 41 to get an idea, but if you want a more precise data point, or even to give an honest opinion, I’ll send you a PM.

Thanks CvM, going to represent the AF hood on first day and show them what’s up!

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

Hello dear,

I just want to ask you that if you got a chance then you should go and grab that chance for your better fututre.

Best Wishes…..