This is something I get asked a lot: Most people have heard of mergers and acquisitions but have no idea about our role is in the process.
In simple terms our job is to investigate the target company of a potential acquisition. We analyse the company in order to assess its ongoing financial viability and identify any possible risks to the business. The general sorts of things that we are investigating (although it varies greatly from job to job) are:
- Is the company profit making, with a healthy balance sheet and a positive cash flow?
- Are the company’s projections of future profits reasonable: are they in line with historical trends? Were historical profits influenced by large one off items which are unlikely to be repeated? Have they lost any big contracts recently?
- Are there any risks to the company which we can identify: have the owners underfunded investment in the company, in anticipation of selling up? Are the company overly dependent on a small number of key customers/suppliers? Are they owed a lot of money from a company which is struggling to pay its debts?
Every company is different, meaning every assignment is different making this not just a vital part of any transaction but also a fascinating place to work.
I’m a recent university graduate, in my first year working in the Transaction Services team in Leeds. In this blog I’ll let you know about my experience in the Deloitte grad scheme, and give you tips to help with your application. Feel free to post any questions in the comments section below.
I’m Grant, a recent university graduate in my first year working in the Transaction Services team in Leeds. In this blog I’ll let you know about my experience in the Deloitte grad scheme, and give you tips to help with your application. Feel free to post any questions in the comments section below.
If you’re anything like I was before I started Deloitte, you are probably currently picturing: a man, with a degree in Maths or accounting, and they’re probably a bit geeky. Now that I’ve met the other Leeds grads, and spent a month with my colleagues in Transaction Services, I can say that I was completely wrong…
There is a much wider range of people here than I expected. Of the new grads in Leeds there’s about a 50/50 split between men and women [(although Corporate Finance is fairly male dominated)]. My new colleagues come from a wide range of backgrounds, and with varying degrees.
The one thing that unites the new grads (and Deloitte employees in general) is that they’re intelligent, confident and personable – Deloitte obviously want people who can develop positive relationships with clients, and not just number crunchers.
If you’d told me a year ago I’d be working in Technology, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I studied Maths and Statistics at University and besides a little experience of statistical programming, I had no background in tech. I have since come to realise that working in Technology means much more than programming.
It started when I began my final year statistics project at University. I realised that I was able to think creatively and harness data to create innovative solutions to various real-world issues. This small taster of the possibilities that exist within Technology led me to decide I wanted to enter into the world of Analytics, and embark on a career transforming data into insight.
I applied for the inaugural Deloitte Analytics Training Academy, a graduate recruitment scheme run in partnership with the Department of Employment and Learning and Belfast Metropolitan College. It offered the chance of a job at Deloitte’s Insight Studio in Belfast where analytics solutions are built for a wide range of clients.
What struck me most about this particular programme was that it targeted graduates from any discipline. Indeed, together we made up an incredibly diverse bunch coming from a wide variety of backgrounds including English, IT, History, Finance and Fine Art to name a few. We all had in common that we were keen to make a go of it in the fast-paced, cutting-edge world of Technology.
Training was nine weeks of classroom based learning and a second phase of five weeks working onsite in the Belfast office, all designed to equip us with the skills and knowledge required for a career in Analytics.
The broad syllabus covered technical aspects such as SQL (a programming language designed for managing data) and fun exercises, such as finding innovative ways of displaying data to make it easily digestible and understandable for others - a crucial part of working in Analytics.
On completing the nine weeks it was clear that there are numerous areas in Technology that I could specialise in, and in that short space of time I had developed skills in many. I graduated from the first stage of the Academy, received a certificate from Minister Farry, the Minister for Employment, and was invited to join the second phase of the programme. We were asked to work on an exciting upcoming project and undertook a project simulation which tested everything that we had learned and more. The experience I gained was invaluable. Not only did I learn the basics of what elements make up a Technology project, but also how they work together to be able to produce a successful outcome.
Following a Partner interview, 10 Academy participants were offered a job in the Insight Studio, including me. Having started work I can now see how the skills I gained are invaluable and have already seen a number projects that I would love the opportunity to get involved with. This, however, is only the beginning and I know there will be a lot of learning and tough challenges ahead -especially given that the world of technology is ever changing.
I’ll keep you updated.
Sarah is an Analyst Developer in Deloitte Analytics
Hi everyone - it's Grant back for part two. I’m a recent university graduate, in my first year working in the Transaction Services team in Leeds. In this blog I’ll let you know about my experience in the Deloitte grad scheme, and give you tips to help with your application. Feel free to post any questions in the comments section below.
Anyway, back to that quote - "halfway between university and a normal job."
Before joining Deloitte, that is how someone described the grad scheme to me – to be honest I didn’t really know what they meant. After my first two weeks at college studying towards the ACA qualification, I’m beginning to understand what they were getting at.
I’m in college with the approx. 40 other Deloitte Leeds grads (mainly from Tax and Audit). It’s early days but there seems to be a really good group of us. The college work isn’t easy, and there is a lot of content to get through, but it’s a lot of fun being in college with all the other grads: once a week all the guys play football together, and Thursday/Friday nights a load of us go out in Leeds.
Having looked at my schedule, I’ll be spending about 1/3 of my first year at Deloitte in college (on full pay). I’m looking forward to getting into the office and seeing what the job is like, but I’m looking forward even more to my next stint in college.
Hello, I’m Grant and in 2012 I graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in Maths and Physics. After taking a gap year, in September 2013 I Joined Deloitte as a new grad in the Transaction Services team in Leeds.
Over the coming months I’ll be letting you know how I get on with the Deloitte grad scheme. Hopefully along the way I’ll be able to help you decide whether or not the graduate scheme is for you, and also give you a few tips to help with your application.
If anyone has any questions, post them in the comments section and either I or someone from the graduate recruitment team will try to get back to you.
And so to part one; Becoming a professional
All the 40 or so new Corporate Finance grads start out by attending the graduate development week. In a nutshell it was all about turning us from students and into respectable professionals.
During the daytime we had workshops and teambuilding exercises designed to help us: make a good first impression, improve our presentation skills, hold effective meetings, be an effective communicator etc. During the evenings there was a fair amount of networking (drinking).
The whole week was really fun - my highlight was a talk from TV Psychologist Judi James (those of you willing to admit watching Big Brother will know who she is). Having a physics background, I was pretty sceptical going in, but it was fascinating. It was full of tips and tricks to help you improve your body language and make a good impression on colleagues and clients.
The week has really developed my ‘soft skills’, I’ve made a load of new mates, and learnt to think about things in a whole new way.
And that was only the beginning. I'll be back soon with part two of the journey...
As month one draws to a close, I sit in Dubai airport with a large gin and tonic, contemplating what has just passed. It has included spitting camels, football injuries, sand in brogues, waterparks, new team members on boarding, inappropriate team member gym wear and, of course, long hours for all of the project team.
The Deloitte project team has grown to 18 members, with a client team of 80+ involved in over 12 separate workstreams. Relationships have strengthened and the as-is analysis of the first 17 companies in wave one of the project has begun, aiming to baseline existing support function service levels within the companies. Once the base-lining is complete, we can use the data to design and build the new Global Business Services company to integrate staff, process and technology into.
In parallel to all of this there have been work streams looking at how to set up a new company: Working with branding and visioning agencies to define the name, logo and mission statement for the brand new entity - all quite sexy stuff. This vision has then been used to develop key design principles for the future organisation which will drive the operating model and organisational design – the next phase of the project.
It has been an incredibly busy month in the office, but at weekends we have had some time to kick back a little, enjoying desert camping and Abu Dhabi’s largest waterpark. As well as this, ‘sports night’ has kicked off with an inter-Deloitte football match, a closely fought battle ending in a draw, a sprained ankle and a need for the magic sponge!
It has been another great month on the project and as temperature, workload and deliverables increase, it’s certainly going to be a very hard next few months. I will keep you updated as we go.
This time last year I didn't know that any economic consulting transpired at Deloitte. Economic consulting was meant for other niche firms, not a Big 4 firm. Fortunately I discovered that situated within the Corporate Finance service line is an economic consulting branch which I had the opportunity to get first-hand experience of.
I was studying Economics and Management at Oxford University and was looking for work experience in the summer preceding a graduate economics program. After searching around I happened on Deloitte's economic consulting branch that were offering a 3 month paid internship, with the aim of getting involved in three distinct projects that would offer both breadth and depth. Perfect!
However, a healthy dash of scepticism led me to believe that I would be trawling through data, cleaning up PowerPoints and proof reading reports! The real work would be left for the 'real' economists. The first project that I was on did initially involve extensive research, but after the brunt of this was done I found that my opinion was valued throughout the whole process, and what I was actually doing was applying economic theory from my course directly to real life situations.
The project I was working on was to calculate the impact of a large tax rate on a certain product in an African country. We applied economic concepts such as demand elasticity and Gini coefficients to calculate the number of products that would be purchased at different tax rates. We also had to determine the impact until 2020. This meant that we needed to factor in the expected changes in the distribution of wealth, earnings, population, household size and access to electricity.
This is only one of the projects that we were involved in. A recent report from the department was featured in the Financial Times. Commissioned by eBay, it was assessing the impact of online sales on sales within brick-and-mortar stores. Our clients were surprised that we could apply robust economic theory and statistical analysis to make such substantive recommendations. We have also worked with other high profile organisations such as Facebook or Twitter. As corny as our department slogan sounds, we are actually 'bringing economics into the boardroom'.
After working on a number of other projects, a series of unfortunate circumstances meant that I didn't end up getting enough funding for my masters. But, as the department had been growing so quickly, they took me on as a temporary associate before I started the Masters in the following year.
Since then I was able to experience a wider range of sectors in which the department has expertise: health, energy and telecommunications.
In my opinion, the key reason for the department's success is the people. A culture has been developed where I could approach colleagues to ask questions and get guidance to work out a problem. Every employee is assigned a mentor, and I have found that the process of mentoring has meant that I have had feedback on all my major projects; highlighting what I have performed well in, and given me development opportunities. The department also has an emphasis on organic growth so that this culture is retained, and hard work is duly rewarded.
All in all I feel that I have experienced some of what the economics department has to offer: I've been able to apply economics to real instances, in variety of sectors; I've met friendly, approachable and very smart people; and I now know a plethora of Excel shortcuts!
Peter, Economic Consulting
Hello again. In the latest in our series of blog posts inspired by insight from our Chief Economist Ian Stewart, we look at how business confidence is putting recruitment of talent back on the boardroom agenda.
The UK economy has delivered many positive surprises in recent months, with the latest GDP data showing that output was 3.1% higher in the first quarter of this year compared to a year earlier. This represents the fastest pace of growth since before the financial crisis, and has beaten most economists’ forecasts for growth.
These strong output numbers have reflected many of the results we have been seeing in our CFO Survey recently. Risk appetite among the Chief Financial Officers of the UK’s largest companies rose to a six-and-a-half year high in the first quarter and our index of economic and financial uncertainty has fallen by a third over the last year.
Encouragingly one of the biggest improvements we have seen recently can be found in CFOs expectations for the jobs market.
In the years following the financial crisis CFOs have been fairly pessimistic about the outlook for new jobs in the UK. Between the third quarter 2010 (when we first started asking CFOs about their views or hiring) and the end of 2011 an average net -16% of CFOs believed that UK corporates’ hiring would rise in the following 12 months. Over the same period only a fifth (+19%) of CFOs thought there would be a rise in hiring, compared to more than a third (+37%) who thought hiring would be scaled back.
Pessimism about hiring peaked at the end of 2011, when a net of -71% of CFOs thought hiring would fall in the following 12 months. Astonishingly, not one of the CFOs that we surveyed in Q4 2011 thought employment would rise in the following year.
The views of these CFOs – who typically represent around a third of the UK equity market – were borne out by the employment numbers that followed. Throughout 2012 employment growth fell steadily. Year-on-year growth in employment fell from 1.4% at the beginning of 2012 to a low of 0.1% at the start of 2013. A total of 206,000 workforce jobs had been lost through 2012.
The good news is that our CFOs expectations for hiring have changed in a big way in the last year. Optimism about hiring reached a peak in our latest survey, for Q1 2014. A net +81% of those surveyed believe UK corporates’ hiring will increase over the next year, with an average reading of +58% for this indicator over the last four quarters.
So far the recovery from the financial crisis has not been driven by businesses investing in hiring new staff, capital expenditure or discretionary spending. The fact that CFOs are now so bullish about expanding workforces in the next 12 months bodes well for the UK jobs market and for the sustainability of the recovery we are seeing in GDP.
You can keep up to date with the economy as it shifts by subscribing to the Monday Briefings at http://www.deloitte.co.uk/mondaybriefing
And of course, we'll have another in our series of Economics & Employment blogs to share shortly.
After graduating from university, I was hit with a decision faced by all graduates, one to which only the lucky few know the answer; what’s my next step? I’d graduated in Mathematical Economics and Statistics and I wanted my first job to be relevant to my degree. I wanted a job that would give me the opportunity to use and develop the skills I’d invested in. The only problem was that I didn’t have a clear grasp of how my degree was directly applicable to a specific career.
When researching Deloitte I was attracted to the culture of Consulting and the firm itself. I decided to apply, and while completing the form was confronted with the list of competencies. Out of fear of selecting a competency that could mean the knowledge I’d acquired from my degree going redundant, I selected Actuarial & Pensions Services (APS).
In my first year in APS I worked on a number of small, technical actuarial engagements but spent most of my time on a larger, cross competency project. On this project, I worked with and got to know a team from Analytics within the Technology competency. I found the data architecture work they were doing a lot more interesting than the technical reviews I was used to, and compared to the smaller teams I’d worked in in APS, I enjoyed the culture of working in a larger team.
At the end of my first year I approached some of the contacts I’d made during my time working with Analytics, to discuss a possible move at the end of the 21 month Analyst Programme (the graduate scheme). They put me in contact with the head of Data Management (DM), who was very approachable and friendly. After an informal discussion, we were both keen on the move, and it became a simple HR process. I moved at the end of the 21 month programme, and joined DM as a Consultant.
Three months later I’m happily working on a Finance and IT transformation as part of another large, cross competency team. Taking a moment to reflect, the move has helped me realise two things.
The first is that I worried about the application of the academic knowledge I’d learned at university, and forgot about the other skills that university teaches you. Since moving to DM, my logical and analytical problem solving skills are being challenged daily.
The second is that the people at Deloitte care. APS, the competency who had hired and trained me, didn’t stand in the way when they saw I would be happier elsewhere. Technology (and DM in particular), the competency who hired me knowing I had little experience, were helpful, friendly and supportive of the move and made the whole process remarkably easy.
‘We need our consultants to be flexible and willing to travel.’ Singapore sounds nice I thought. I like the idea of international travel and I will build up enough airmiles to put Branson to shame.
So after nine months at the firm and a plethora of grand locations across our fine nation, including four in Swindon, two in Hemel Hempstead and three in Worthing, I find myself looking out of the window at an endless horizon of sky scrapers, tropical landscaping and 4x4s. I have arrived in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
I touched down four days ago and things have been non stop. Getting to know the area, the team, the local people, the etiquette and mannerisms of Middle Eastern business has been interesting to say the least. After a day of orientation and dusting off the jet lag, we kicked off at client site to undertake the largest global business services (GBS) project in Deloitte’s history.
We are currently a project team of 11, from all corners of the consulting landscape. The client is a parent group that owns companies across multiple industries. Our Challenge? To design and implement a cross functional global shared service centre. Quite the task over the five year programme.
As of next week, we branch out and kick off with all the Wave 1 companies to conduct a detailed ‘as-is’ assessment of their current operating models and support services organisations.
For now its lunch time and I’m off for a Chicken Shwarma, but I’ll try to keep you updated as the project – and Middle Eastern adventure - develops.