If you work in banking you probably thinking you're kind of special. Maybe you are. But as a consultant who encounters bankers frequently I'd say that people in my industry have a lot more appealing traits.
Consultants are intellectuals and possess high emotional intelligence
There’s some truth to the stereotype that bankers are great salespeople and consultants are nerds, but only to a certain degree. Consultants tend to be “nerdier” in that they are often extremely intellectual. Most consulants have an extremely good grasp of general - but also more specific - knowledge. When you're a consultant, it's not unusual to get into a discussion about unrelated scientific topics with a colleague.
Despite this “nerdiness” consultants are extremely social and have really good people skills. They might be a bit more reserved, a bit less extroverted than bankers, but consultants can definitely turn on the charm when needed in order to win over a client during a project.
By comparison, in finance I have often come across people with autistic personality traits. In consulting however, I have not encountered a single person that doesn’t posses an above average level of emotional intelligence.
Bankers are bland, consultants have more inspiring stories to tell
In my experience, consultants also have more interesting lives compared to bankers – at least before they move into consulting.
For instance, I worked with a former entrepreneur who built up a company in a European country that was different to his country of birth. I met a digital nomad who set up an IT company when he was 17, then did his PhD and travelled the world while running his IT business, working from Thailand, Costa Rica, Bali for more than three years. I had a colleague who bought shares in a “FAANG” in 1998, held onto the stock for 20 years and made close to 50x on his investment.
Bankers on the other side seem to have more streamlined backgrounds. While both professions attract so-called “insecure overachievers” in banking people are far more bland.
Consultants come from target schools, but have more varied backgrounds
Like bankers, even in the MBBs (McKinsey & Co, Bain and Boston Consulting Group) most consultants went to target schools. Like bankers, they have always been academic overachievers. Like bankers, all of them were ranked at least in the top 10% of their class starting in middle-, to high school and throughout university.
However, consultants are more likely to do something different after they graduate and before they begin consulting (hence the interesting stories). In banking, the most interesting career paths you come across are usually people who've started in a tier two or three bank and then move to a tier 1 or 2 bank later.
Consulting attracts people with more varied backgrounds. For instance, in my first project I worked with a medical doctor, a former biochemistry researcher, an electrical engineer and a lawyer.
In consulting, the ultimate status symbol isn’t money. It’s being smart
Many MBB consultants come from wealthy families. I've worked with the son of a well-known politician, the daughter of a family of lawyers and the offspring of a leading plastic surgeon. Banking however seems more of breeding ground of people who come from middle-class families need to prove to themselves that they can make some serious money.
For instance I’ve seen associates in banking come to work in a $60k Porsche Cayman S and wear Rolexes. MBB consultants on the other hand tend to be less money-oriented, especially in junior roles. At the same time, I know a lot of consultants who do not own a car but rely on public transport, car-sharing and taxis.
Consultants are not driven by a need for money. They are more noble beings. They like getting the recognition for doing exceptional work, the status of working for a world-leading strategy consulting firm, being highly sought- after and knowing to be the “elite” in terms of intellectual horsepower.
Consultants are better people.
MBBGamePlan.com is a blog and recruitment portal aimed at helping students and young professionals to land their dream jobs in Consulting.
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