I get a lot of questions about how I was able to pull off an internal transfer from the Audit practice to the Advisory practice (specifically M&A Due Diligence) within the Big 4 firm I worked at. A lot of professionals face challenges with being able to transfer internally and get to the point where is it easier to quit and join another firm in the practice they are interested in.
My transition into the M&A Due Diligence group worked out by following these steps:
After spending 2 years in Audit I could tell that it was something I was growing bored of. I was happy at my Big 4 firm and wasn’t necessarily ready to leave the firm; but I knew that I was going to need a change. I knew I wanted to get one busy season in Audit as a Senior; but I decided to start researching in the fall before busy season started to get an idea of what I wanted to do after that.
I began researching the M&A Due Diligence function and immediately realized it was something that would be interesting, challenging, and exciting for me. I knew I wanted to learn more about it and potentially pursue a transfer within my firm. (Timeline: ~August)
2. Reach Out To A Recruiter
As soon as I knew I wanted to pursue a transfer to M&A Due Diligence, I searched my firm’s intranet and found a couple email addresses for an experienced hire recruiter within my firm. I reached out to them and while there was some forwarding to different contacts, I was eventually connected with someone who could help me understand the transfer process and what the next steps would be. (Timeline: ~September)
3. Connect With People in the Function
The recruiter I connected with mentioned that the best next step would be to reach out to individuals in the group I wanted to join and meet them for coffee. She provided me with a few contacts and I reached out to them via email and set up times to meet them and learn about their experience.
Looking back, this was actually more of an “informal” interview. Based on these conversations the individuals determined if they wanted to interview me. Luckily, the conversations went well and also served as a great learned opportunity for me to understand the ins and outs of the role. (Timeline: ~October)
4. Inform Audit of Intentions to Interview
Once I received an invitation to begin the formal interview process for an internal transfer, the recruiter I was working with informed me that it is a firm-wide policy to inform Audit of my intentions to transfer.
Since at this point it was around October, I knew I would burn bridges if I tried to transfer before busy season. I decided my best bet was to tell Audit that I would stay for one more busy season and to tell Advisory that while I’m happy to interview now, I wouldn’t be able to start until post-busy season.
I will admit I was nervous about this step since I had to tell Audit I wanted to leave, but I didn’t officially have an offer letter from Advisory yet. I decided it was a risk I was willing to take.
Telling my teams was slightly awkward. I had only worked in the New York office for around a year and wasn’t super close with my team. I decided to put times on my senior managers, partners, and counselor’s calendars to inform them of my intentions to interview in Advisory with the plan of joining post-busy season if it all worked out. Luckily, they were overall supportive of this move.
5. Interviews With the Function
Once I was cleared to interview from Audit, I worked with the recruiter who helped schedule formal interviews with members in the Due Diligence group. I also had to send over my resumè and performance reviews.
I had 4 interviews scheduled – 2 were in person and 2 were phone interviews. Also, 2 were with partners and 2 were with senior managers.
Overall, my interviews weren’t bad at all. I had read online about potentially facing case studies, but when it came down to it I actually didn’t have one. I only had one interview where a partner asked some technical questions around revenue recognition, but other than that they did not get too technical at all and were more conversational than anything.
A few weeks after my interview I received verbal offers to join the practice! I didn’t end up getting an official offer letter until around February but that was largely due to a “hiring freeze” that they were under. I also received around a 10% pay increase just for moving into this practice.
Overall, the process went pretty smoothly by following these steps. I’ll also write an article in the future about how my experience was in Due Diligence. There are a lot of pros and cons to it!
Feel free to comment here, email me, or DM me on @lets_get_fiscal if you have any questions!