Friday, February 17, 2012

Consulting companies, I-Banks most preferred recruiters

More freshly-minted MBAs from top B-schools are likely to make their way into consulting this placement season. Record hiring by The Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey at B-school campuses this year and fewer offers from the traditional top recruiters, investment banks, have shifted the focus from the high-paying finance sector to the all-weather consulting companies.

BCG kicked off the IIM placement season by hiring 17 at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on Monday, six more than the previous year. Last month, McKinsey picked 17 grads from the Indian School of Business (ISB), stepping up its 2012 hiring by 50% at the institute. Apart from BCG and McKinsey, companies like Bain & Co., AT Kearney, Accenture and Oliver Wyman visited IIM-A on the first day. An IIM-A alumni says consulting companies offered packages between Rs. 2.2 million and Rs. 2.7 million for domestic roles this year.

Higher consulting offers are a bright spot in what is turning to be a tough year for B-school graduates. Economic Times's recent reports on the placement season so far suggested there will be fewer recruiters, fewer jobs and lower salaries at campuses, even though the sentiment is not as bleak as 2009, the worst in recent memory. Top B-schools have been lowering student expectations to cushion the impact of a possible tough season. Tier-II B-schools are feeling the slowdown pinch a bit more.

IIM-Calcutta, which kicks off its final placements on Monday, expects consulting to be strong. "I-banking is looking tough, and some of the i-banks are not participating. We will see more offers from consulting compared with last year," says placement chairperson Amit Dhiman. IIM-C's 355-strong batch is going into final placements with over 93 pre-placement offers and 115-plus lateral offers in hand. Some 80-plus firms have confirmed participation in the final placements. "We are expecting lesser number of offers in banking and finance compared with last year, but at the moment, it is difficult to say whether, like last year, it will generate the maximum number of jobs, or slip to second position," Dhiman adds.

At IIM-Bangalore, final placements start from February 18. Among top recruiters, ICICI Bank is expected to make a similar number of offers as last year. The bank was the largest recruiter with 19 offers last year. Booz and Company, which goes only to IIM-A, IIM-Bangalore (IIM-B) and ISB, will not go to Bangalore this year because it has already picked up around 3-4 students from their lateral placements. Lateral placements are for those with more than a couple of years of work experience. An executive at Deloitte, which had picked up 11 students last year, said there is no reason why the consulting firm should not pick up a similar number this year.

IIM-Lucknow (IIM-L) placements chairman Rajesh Aithal says consulting will make up for a weaker finance sector hiring. He expects sales & marketing, human resources and e-commerce companies to hire more students this year. IIM-L, which started its placement on Monday, will place 380 students this year as against 372 at Ahmedabad and 375 at Bangalore. Investment banks are the most preferred recruiters for B-schools because of lucrative salaries and fast-track growth prospects.

However, hiring by i-banks has been subdued owing to global economic conditions. IIM-A confirmed participation of Credit Suisse and HSBC in the 2012 campus recruitments, but two IIM-A students said these i-banks made only two offers. Another, JPMorgan, returned without making any offer on the first day of the final placements. "After the global crisis of 2008, the finance sector has not increased hiring. On the other hand, batch sizes have gone up and as a result, the number of students joining the finance sector in percentage terms has decreased. However, the number of students opting for consulting sector is rising continuously," IIM-A's placement chairperson, Saral Mukherjee, says. I-banks and overall finance companies have continued campus hiring, but the number of offers has come down.

ISB started its placement process on January 19 and according to one campus source, the consulting sector hired aggressively. While McKinsey & Co hired 17 grads, Cognizant picked up 30 and Deloitte made offers to 15 students. Booz hired 10 while PwC and E&Y together recruited 15 students from ISB.

Source: The Economic Times, February 17, 2012

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