Consulting into investing: debunking common misconceptions


Kea Consultants have been in the market for fifteen years, working alongside the world’s leading investing firms to find their future talent. Over the years, our clients are increasingly seeing management consultants as part of that talent pool, looking at the holistic skillset of a consultant to drive profit through portfolio management and operational efficiencies. We have found that consultants can be difficult to engage with for roles within investing; the breadth in backgrounds, projects and exit opportunities mean that investing can be overlooked, particularly when taking into account common misconceptions about funds and who they hire.


Misconception number 1: Funds do not want to hire consultants.

Consultants understand companies and what drives their growth. This understanding lies at the heart of a successful investment. Whilst the valuation and financial analysis skillset of bankers is valuable, consultants’ ability to analyse the operational and commercial levers is an indispensable value-add, throughout the acquisition, management and exit of an asset. Funds want to hire consultants to leverage this skillset.

Private Equity, Growth Equity and Venture Capital funds more commonly hire consultants than other strategies. PE funds will look to extract value from mature businesses; their strategy includes solving complex business problems often from a majority ownership position. Those working within PE funds can be very operationally involved in the day-to-day running of the company, depending on the fund. Growth Equity funds will typically take minority stakes in smaller, younger businesses that are in need of capital to help them expand their operations or launch into new markets and will work closely with management to achieve this. Venture Capital funds invest in much earlier stage companies that they believe to have long-term growth potential. Investments in this space are much riskier but will draw upon abilities to understand the commercial landscape of an industry and the business plan of the founders. In short, the experience of a consultant is directly relevent to the investment theses of these strategies.

As well as the fundamental experience of consultants being a welcome addition to an investing team, funds are also increasingly keen to hire people with different backgrounds. Adding consultants and their different perspectives to the team improves decision making, driving better returns.


Misconception number 2: Investing is ‘Banking 2.0’.

A wide assumption of consultants is that investing is simply the natural progression to banking; a world full of LBO modelling into the early hours and nothing more. In reality, the day-to-day of investing can be incredibly varied. Key workstreams include sourcing, commercial due diligence, operational improvement, debt and financing, deal structuring and legals; offering a much more complete experience than simply crunching on excel. There will be technical elements to the job and funds will approach this differently; some will provide structured training, others let bankers and consultants in a cohort coach each other, some will align consultants more towards the CDD than modelling. The difference between the modelling at a fund vs in a bank is that within investing, there is money at stake, therefore the scrutiny around the assumptions and the risks is higher. The technical skillset doesn’t shift, but the mindset does when you are making decisions, pulling together multiple workstreams and advisors in order to do so.

Misconception number 3: The culture in investing is too far from consulting.

Similarly to how projects are executed differently across McKinsey Berlin, LEK Life Sciences and BCG PEG, funds have vastly different cultures and working styles. Considering funds across Venture Capital to Large-Cap Private Equity as a homogenous unit does a disservice to the industry and what it can offer consultants. Just as there will be funds that are not the right cultural fit, there will be funds that are. Using your network, experience and advice from head-hunters can help to align opportunities that are the best cultural fit.

That is not to say that being culturally different from a consultancy is necessarily a bad thing. In fact there are several key differences that are often cited as a reason for those on the sell-side (consultants and bankers) want to move into the buy-side. One we frequently hear is ‘you have skin in the game’ with an investment, as opposed to advising a client. Your analysis and decisions will directly impact an investment or portfolio company and you can see this play out, with associated wins and losses. The financial elements to a career in investing are an obvious draw. Base and bonus payments are typically higher than those offered from consultancies and carry can be a lucrative element to working at a fund in the longer term.

Investing can be a high-pressure, demanding environment. The duty of decision-making, the expectation of delivering accurate, detailed and thoughtful output, and a culture of overperformance drives a unique working environment across the buy-side. However, we would challenge the assumption that this necessarily equates to a negative work culture. The downside case can look like long hours and high-intensity work, but that sacrifice is not without significant professional, intellectual and financial gains.


How can Kea Consultants help?

Kea Consultants are experts in helping candidates move into the buy-side. We have a strong track record in placing consultants into investing seats and have a vast network of investors with consulting backgrounds. We are always keen to meet with consultants interested in making the move, learning more about you and your motivations and providing advice on how to achieve them.

In this vein, we are hosting a webinar on Wednesday 15th May for Management Consultants interested in a buy-side move. Kea’s CEO Kadeem Houson will be leading a panel with Hend Triki (Capvest, formerly OC&C), Valeria Nania (The Carlyle Group, formerly McKinsey & Co) and Samuel Marsden (Kinnevik, formerly Bain & Co). The panellists will share their insights and advice on not only making the most of your consultant skill-set in buy-side recruitment processes, but also leveraging that skillset once you have joined the buy-side. We will also host a Q&A for any questions you may still have.

If you are interesting in joining, please email your CV to [email protected] and we will follow up.


We look forward to seeing you at the webinar!