Alvarez and Marsal has made waves in recent years for the high profile, high quality work it did in the midst of the banking crisis. We’re sure most of you heard about Lehman Brothers filing for the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history. But can you guess which firm was hired as their bankruptcy consultants? Or who was appointed as interim CEO of Lehman Brothers as they unwound their assets and sought to pay back their creditors? That’s right, Alvarez and Marsal and Bryan Marsal respectively.
Alvarez and Marsal rose to prominence during the credit crunch; the firm was even dubbed “The Hottest Business on Wall Street” by Fortune Magazine, but don’t let that fool you: Alvarez and Marsal didn’t show up out of nowhere and get lucky. In 2002, it played a pivotal role in steering HealthSouth out of a $2.7B accounting scandal. Along with Lehman Brothers, the firm has also helped Interstate Bakeries, the home of the Twinkie, and Warnaco, makers of CK Jeans and Speedos.
It’s not just big corporations who have turned to Alvarez and Marsal for help either. The firm also has a lot of notable public sector work under its belt. One example is when the New York School’s system hired it to boost the efficiency of its school bus network, which the firm did, saving the city $12M.
But enough of the past – let’s talk about the present. Recent years have been good for the firm, and it’s jumped up the ladder in Vault’s Top 50 Consulting list and scooped up a hatful of awards. This brainy, entrepreneurial and somewhat mysterious bunch have been around the block a few times. And by the looks of things, they’re only just getting started.
One of the things we really love to do here at Management Consulted is answer the questions you have for us. This Firm Profile started as an email from Sean, asking if we could write on Alvarez and Marsal, “The Turnaround Guys”. Well, Sean, thanks for asking so nicely – today is your lucky day!
Firm Profile Overview (click to jump to section):
Alvarez and Marsal Website: http://www.alvarezandmarsal.com/
Alvarez and Marsal Headquarters: New York City, NY
Alvarez and Marsal Employees: 4,000+
Alvarez and Marsal Locations: 50 offices in 24 countries
Alvarez and Marsal Chief Executive: Tony Alvarez II (Co-CEO) and Bryan Marsal (Co-CEO)
Alvarez and Marsal Revenue: $750M
Alvarez and Marsal Engagement Cost: $500K + incentives
Alvarez & Marsal was founded in 1983 when Tony Alvarez II, a former Coopers Lybrand turnaround specialIst and Bryan P. Marsal, a former Citibank turnaround banker, met while working at Norton Simon Inc. Combining their industry experience, the pair were forerunners in what became a specialty area in professional services: turnaround management, corporate restructuring and operational performance improvement for companies and stakeholders.
The firm’s first turnaround client was the household brand, Timex Corporation. After this first success came a string of high-profile engagements in which Alvarez & Marsal provided advisory and crisis management services to troubled and underperforming entities.
Alvarez and Marsal grew slowly through the 1980s and 1990s, relying on a small team of experienced professionals in New York, with a satellite office in Los Angeles added in 1994. In 1999, things really began to change. At a corporate retreat on Daufuskie Island, off the South Carolina coast, 50 Alvarez and Marsal members decided it was time to start building the firm into a global brand.
By 2002, their strategy and implementation appeared to have paid off, as Alvarez and Marsal’s client base continued to diversify. It was during this period that Bryan Marsal oversaw the wind-down of Arthur Andersen in the post-Enron era of Sarbanes-Oxley.
What began as a boutique restructuring firm was now turning into a global services firm. As the 2008 banking crisis ensued, Alvarez & Marsal played a pivotal role in liquidating Lehman Brother’s assets while also servicing many other high-profile clients. This added to the firm’s already glowing reputation as it continued to diversify its services and enter new markets.
Though A&M gained a reputation as the firm that can rescue troubled businesses, it is now known as a firm that can add value to any client, no matter how healthy or unhealthy the business is. Recently, Alvarez and Marsal made its expansion strategy clear by recruiting a new country head in Greece and by opening an office in Seoul, South Korea.
ALVAREZ AND MARSAL CAREERS
Alvarez & Marsal Practice Areas
- Performance Improvement
- Turnaround and Restructuring
- Transaction Advisory
- Global Forensics and Disputes
- Tax Advisory
- Valuation Services
- Regulatory and Risk Advisory
- Corporate Governance
- Executive Compensation and Benefits
Alvarez & Marsal Industries
Alvarez and Marsal Locations
- China – Beijing
- Hong Kong
- Czech Republic – Prague
- France – Paris
- Germany – Frankfurt
- Germany – Munich
- Greece – Athens
- Italy – Milan
- Netherlands – Amsterdam
- Poland – Warsaw
- Russia – Moscow
- Spain – Madrid
- Brazil – Rio de Janeiro
- Brazil – São Paulo
- Canada – Calgary
- Canada – Toronto
- Canada – Vancouver
- India – Mumbai
- Korea – Seoul
- Mexico – Mexico City
- Netherlands – Amsterdam
- Poland – Warsaw
- Russia – Moscow
- Spain – Madrid
- United Arab Emirates – Dubai
- UK – London
- US – Atlanta
- US – Birmingham
- US – Boston
- US – Charlotte
- US – Chicago
- US – Dallas
- US – Denver
- US – Detroit
- US – El Segundo
- US – Greenwich
- US – Houston
- US – Kansas City
- US – Los Angeles
- US – Miami
- US – Nashville
- US – New York – Alvarez and Marsal Headquarters
- US – Philadelphia
- US – Phoenix
- US – San Antonio
- US – San Francisco
- US – Seattle
- US – Washington, D.C.
Alvarez and Marsal Career Path
At Alvarez & Marsal your career path will follow this structure:
- Senior Associate
Don’t let our reassuringly simple list fool you: career path progress at Alvarez and Marsal is an interesting subject given the changing face of the firm. As it’s been branching out into other areas, A&M has also been bringing in a lot of experienced people to head up new departments. As such, some junior players in the firm feel like their career development is limited.
It seems to be a bit of a conundrum for the prospective Alvarez and Marsal employee, but the overall impression is that if you’re good, you’ll get brought in on the big things soon enough. Just don’t expect to move through the ranks if you aren’t a high performer – it’s a high pressure business, and only players can play.
Alvarez & Marsal Exit Opportunities
As with any consulting firm, your exit opportunities are going to be good. The main thing for you to consider is how much access you’re going to have to other fields, particularly fields completely unrelated to consulting. The work at Alvarez and Marsal is one part advisory, one part banking and one part consulting – which adds to its appeal, but defers actual expertise until later in your career.
The work at Alvarez & Marsal is analytical in nature, which is great, and the focus is on turning companies around both structurally (which is not as relevant to consulting) and operationally (which is highly relevant to consulting). There is also a lightweight focus on longer-term strategy, but the focus is really on near to medium-term changes. Similar skills, but different applications of the skills.
Though much has been made of the expanded services beyond restructuring that Alvarez and Marsal is offering, the firm made its name as “The Turnaround Guys”. If you want to venture into the financial sector, then you’re absolutely golden, but if you want to do something completely different, your opportunities will not be as broad as they would be at a larger firm. That being said, Alvarez and Marsal is still a prestigious and exciting firm, so working there will not look bad on your resume.
ALVAREZ AND MARSAL CULTURE
Alvarez and Marsal Salary
There are a few things that immediately stand out about the firm’s culture. One of them is how meritocratic the firm is in nature.
As an entry level Analyst, you can expect to be earning up to $10K less than analysts at other top firms. You will, however, have the chance to make up for it with an aggressive bonus package, which can be as much as 40% of your base pay (vs. only 10% – 20% at MBB).
The next thing that comes to mind is the entrepreneurial spirit that seems to hang over the firm. As an employee, you’ll be given free rein to win business, get results, take initiative and everything else your little heart desires. While this sounds amazing, some staff find life at the firm too unstructured and feel like they are just supposed to figure things out alone, in a sink-or-swim, death-or-glory kind of way.
Another thing that seems to be said over and over again is that all entry level staff are given a lot of access to senior staff and big projects from day one. It seems to be that once you’re in, you’re brought right into the inner circle, which is an exciting prospect for any prospective Alvarez and Marsal employee.
While you will be working side by side with the firm’s top guns and while you will be working on some very interesting projects, Alvarez and Marsal offers very little in terms of formal training. A vested commitment to your professional development is something that inexperienced employees revel in when it’s given to them, so the lack of structured mentoring, though not disastrous, is a big miss.
Alvarez and Marsal work/life balance
Finally comes work/life balance. When you’re on an engagement, your nose is going to be firmly pressed against the grindstone, which is the expectation in this field. Outside of this, however, Alvarez and Marsal is very flexible in terms of managing your work hours and location. While you can and should expect to travel a lot, the firm does try to keep travel regional, so you won’t be crossing time zones every 4 days. Weekend work is also a rarity, something that pleases employees.
Alvarez and Marsal Core Values
Alvarez & Marsal espouse 5 key core values (#3 is our favorite):
ALVAREZ AND MARSAL INTERVIEWS
The interview process at Alvarez and Marsal is pretty straightforward.
If you apply through your school, the first round will be conducted on campus with a staff member, possibly even senior staff. Your second round will be held at an office, where you can expect to have multiple 1:1 or 2:1 interviews. As is the norm with consulting firms, you can expect to have a mixture of cases and fit type questions.
Overall, be prepared for quant-heavy cases, with more than a fair share of them being of the turnaround and M&A variety. Use our free math drills to prepare, and work with an expert coach to maximize your chances.
Depending on who’s interviewing you, you may get off pretty lightly with some simple questions, or you may get assessed pretty rigorously. Interviews are known to go either way. One thing that does come up pretty frequently is your resume. Firstly, you’re going to need a top notch resume to get an interview in the first place and then you’ll need to be able to walk your interviewer through each and every line in a story-based way to succeed.
Alvarez and Marsal also offers summer internships. For more information, visit here.
- Emory – Goizueta Business School
- Georgia Tech
- Harvard Business School
- Northwestern – Kellogg
- NYU – Stern
- Texas A&M
- UC Berkeley
- UC Berkeley – Haas
- University of Michigan
- UNC Chapel Hill – Kenan Flagler
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Texas – Austin
- University of Toronto
(2015) #2 Top Restructuring Firm – The Deal Out-of-Court Restructuring League
(2014) Due Diligence Provider of the Year – Unquote British Private Equity Awards
(2014) #14 – Largest Healthcare Management Consulting Firms
(2014) Global Turnaround Consulting Firm of the Year (Cross-Border Restructuring Deal of the Year Over $1 Billion and Chapter 11 Reorganization of the Year Over $1 Billion) – Turnaround Atlas Awards
(2014) Integrated Due Diligence Team of the Year – Acquisition International’s M&A Awards
(2013) Outstanding Turnaround Firm – Turnarounds & Workouts
(2013) International Turnaround of the Year (Eircom Group Ltd.); Mega Turnaround of the Year (Hawker Beechcraft); Mid-Size Transaction of the Year (Arctic Glacier); TMA Brazil: Large Turnaround Deal of the Year (Casa & Video) – Turnaround Management Association (TMA)
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Alvarez & Marsal Links