If you are a finance professional thinking to switch careers in 2022 you’re not alone.
As the finance industry continues to adjust to Brexit with banks shifting operations to the EU, while we emerge from the covid pandemic and with reports of inflation on the rise; many professionals are re-evaluating their current roles.
Employees are on the hunt for more flexibility, meaning and greater opportunity to learn from their jobs.
There are many key skills and knowledge acquired as a finance professional, such as problem-solving, an interest in business and how companies work, ability to focus under pressure and strong client-facing and interpersonal skills that can be leveraged and transferred across industries.
For many, a natural career change is from the world of finance to management consulting.
Aurelia Legrez, Senior Manager at Bain & Company has successfully followed this career path. After six years of working through the ranks in equity sales at Goldman Sachs, Legrez moved to Bain & Company, a global strategy consulting firm that help global clients tackle their most critical strategic issues.
Asked what her key motivation for the career change was, Legrez said she wanted to pursue her interest in business. “At Goldman’s I felt I was specialising earlier than I wanted to in terms of knowledge and skills. Focusing on stocks all day also got me interested in how businesses work. I could read the headlines about M&A announcements or big industry trends and assess what it meant for the stocks but that was always an external perspective. I wanted to know what was happening under the hood at these companies,” she says.
At Bain where consultants serve Global 500 clients, major regional and local organisations, hundreds of non-profits and private equity funds, Legrez says she, “continues to learn about a range of industries and businesses and work directly with clients, things I very much valued in my previous role, but this time from the inside and focusing on solving problems. The breadth and transferability of the consulting skillset appealed to me.”
The key difference between finance and consulting is that much of the work in finance is focused on maximising financial returns using financial levers. Consulting covers many other dimensions and outcomes such as asking which markets should a company play in and what will it take to win? What is the best value proposition for clients? How can they operate more efficiently?
“Consulting is more centred around problem-solving and developing pragmatic solutions,” says Legrez. “This means the day-to-day experience is also different, with less individual work and more time spent co-creating and aligning with others to ensure everyone buys into the recommendation and change is implemented.”
Training and support
Legrez joined Bain in 2017 as a Consultant and has quickly advanced to Senior Manager where she manages and leads projects. She credits this career progression to the “true apprenticeship culture.”
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Bain investing in my learning and development from formal training weeks every two years, (usually abroad with other “Bainies” from all over the world), to the enduring support of my formal and informal mentors and the ongoing feedback and coaching from supervisors and case teams.”
This support network is company-wide at Bain. With 58 offices in 37 countries, Bain is committed to sharing collective knowledge. The company is regarded as highly collegial, team orientated and apolitical. There is little hierarchy and a great deal of autonomy which translates into both entrepreneurial freedom and mutual respect and accountability.
She admits she was a little apprehensive at first. She joined as a consultant at the same level as those who had already been at Bain a few years but had no consulting experience and hadn’t done an MBA. However, the transition was smoother than expected. This, she says, was thanks to the formal training sessions and the support she received from her first case team and her assigned work mentor who brought her up to speed. Everyone at Bain receives a formal mentor who is invested in professional development and success but employees also connect with many informal mentors through their Bain tenure.
The projects Legrez works on are varied. As the pandemic drove a shift in shopping habits, she worked on a strategy project for a leading British high street retailer. Together with the client’s management team, she redefined who the target customers should be, how best to serve their needs and what the role of the stores and online experience should be. Following the success of the strategy that Legrez and her team implemented, media outlets ran news stories about changing retail habits based on the strategy they had proposed.
Success and growth
Asked what she enjoys the most about her role at Bain, she says countless aspects bring her joy. “If I had to pick one, it would be the breakthrough moments on a project where we feel we are cracking the answer; it may be via a large workshop with the client, the results of a survey or analysis we ran or some intense brainstorming with the team or internal Bain experts,” she says.
If you are intellectually curious, enjoy learning and want variety in your work life, consulting may be a good match. You will enhance your existing skills and experience through exposure to diverse industries and deepen your business knowledge and expertise.
And just as you’ll be invested in the success of the clients, companies and teams you work with, Bain ensures you’ll be supported in your career transition and future growth. “I get plenty of energy from coaching others and seeing them develop and grow,” says Legrez.
If you are interested in learning more about your changing career from finance to consulting, Bain & Company are running a virtual event that will demystify strategy consulting and show why it is a great career move from the word of Finance.
From Finance to Consulting: shape an extraordinary career that works for you
Wednesday 26th January, 18:00 – 19:15 GMT
Follow the link to sign up: https://careers.bain.com/recruits/EventDetail?folderId=54642