Debating the merits of consulting vs. banking careers is like debating the merits of Coke over Pepsi. It's been done to death and is ultimately a question of personal taste, although one is widely believed to be better than the other anyhow.
Now, however, we've come across a 24 year-old who should have the final word on the topic. Not only has she worked in both industries (and settled on consulting), but she lives with two bankers who work in IBD.
When you're comparing the role of an analyst in IBD with that of a business analyst at a McKinsey, Bain or BCG, she says there's one area where consulting jobs are much better than in banking: the actual work you do.
As an analyst in IBD at an investment bank, you'll spend a lot of time putting together financial models and pitch books. Speaking off the record as she's not authorised to talk to the press, the ex-analyst turned consultant with one of the three big players says this gets pretty boring: "At analyst level in an investment bank, the work is very process-driven and heavily regulated."
By comparison, she says that if you work for a consulting firm you'll be given more responsibility and will be out meeting clients: "At a junior level in consulting, the roles and experience you get are significantly better and more varied than in banking. It's more creative."
Not only that, but you'll work less in consulting than in banking: "The hours in consulting are significantly better," says the young consultant. "I work a lot less than the bankers I share with."
She says the only downside about consulting is the travel. This can be harsh, depending upon where you work - Bain has a reputation for less travel, McKinsey & Co for more. "Ultimately, it's all about your attitude to travel," says the consultant. "I'm working away from home 30% to 40% of the time, but the travel schedule can be a lot more demanding at other firms."