FTI CONSULTING INTERVIEWS & CULTURE
As consulting firms go, FTI Consulting is a newcomer – but at just over 30 years old, the firm has made impressive strides to become one of the most respected name in legal analysis and data-driven research to support major initiatives for law firms, banks and the majority of the Fortune 500.
How has the firm grown from a podunk, small-town cluster to a global behemoth? Through acquisitions, savvy, and some pretty bold moves. Read on to find out more!
FTI CONSULTING KEY STATS
FTI Consulting Website: www.fticonsulting.com
FTI Consulting Headquarters: West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
FTI Consulting Employees: 4,200+
FTI Consulting Locations: 26 Countries
FTI Consulting Chief Executive: Steve Gunby
FTI Consulting Revenue: $1.65B
FTI Consulting Engagement Cost: $250K
FTI CONSULTING HISTORY
Compared to its peers, FTI Consulting is a youngster in the consulting industry. The firm has made up for its youth, however, by growing rapidly through innovation, famous cases and a lot of acquisitions. Originally founded in 1982 by Dan Luczak as “Forensic Technologies International Ltd., the consulting firm started off like a lot of American startups do – in a small, forgettable warehouse somewhere on the outskirts of town (in this case, in Annapolis, MD).
One of the things that immediately set the firm apart in its early years was its approach to solutions. Luczak pioneered solutions at the intersection of law, communications and technology that affected not only the cases he was involved in, but the industry itself.
The tiny company brought major changes to the presentation of technical courtroom evidence using computer models built with a simple yet powerful goal in mind – to help jury members understand the technical merits in law cases. With target clients being anyone trying to persuade a jury, Luczak and company found new ways to offer clear argumentation support with innovative computer models that won the attention of big names in various industries.
It wasn’t long before these big names brought Luczak’s company into both the spotlight and a time of rapid growth, elevating FTI’s reputation as a strong provider of complex technical investigations and litigation services. In 1988 the State of Illinois hired FTI to both determine the cause of a central telephone office fire and make recommendations to prevent future disasters. In 1995 the infamous O.J. Simpson trial featured FTI providing courtroom graphics as well as jury consultation. More rapid growth and famous casework followed. Below is a timeline of key milestones up until 2002.
- 1996: FTI went public in May of 1996, trading under the ticker symbol FTIC. The move raised $11.1M on NASDAQ and made FTI one of the 1st public litigation-support services firms.
- 1997: FTI acquired LWG. This provided two major benefits. First, consulting services were added for property and casualty insurance claim adjusters and attorneys. Second, FTI expanded their presence into Canada with the purchase.
- 1998: The company formally changed their name to FTI Consulting and began aggressive expansion with the acquision of S.E.A., Inc. as well as Kahn Consulting. They entered the financial disputes business with the acquisition of Klick, Kent and Allen, Inc. as well. FTI expanded into investigation and research capabilities as well as turnaround, restructuring, bankruptcy and forensic accounting with the moves.
- 1999: FTI Consulting began trading as a public company on the NYSE.
- 2000: FTI provided trial graphics and courtroom presentation technology for the highly publicized Bush vs. Gore case to resolve presidential election results. As an outgrowth of a multi-district pharmaceutical case, the firm formed its technology practice, specializing in e-discovery solutions and software.
- 2002: FTI made a major move into the corporate restructuring business with their post-Enron acquisition of the business recovery services practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers. They have added 1,000+ employees to the Forensic and Litigation (“FLC”) division since the passing of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). This was important because SOX excluded auditors from providing consulting work to their public clients. Continuing their trend of high profile clients and cases, FTI assisted in the bankruptcy cases of Enron, WorldCom and Adelphia Communications.
While the years up to 2002 were a time of growth for the firm, 2003 to 2011 brought a whole new meaning to the word “expansion”. FTI began a new trend of rapid, global growth. In the span of 9 years, the firm acquired more than 16 consulting companies in 5 different markets, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Asia, the United States and Latin America. That sort of growth is impossible to ignore, and in 2009 FTI Consulting was listed as 1 of 100 fastest growing U.S. companies by Fortune Magazine.
The end of 2011 witnessed a new FTI Consulting emerge with clients in a wider range of industries and with dramatically expanded areas of expertise. These include:
- Disputes Advisory Services
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigations and litigation
- Litigation technology
- Intellectual property
- Global Risk and Investigations in Asia
- Dispute, litigation and investigations services for construction industry
- E-discovery software provider
- Litigation discovery
- Records management
In 2005, the firm developed their first 5-year plan with a goal to double revenues from approximately $427M to $1B in 5 years. However, FTI hit $1B+ revenue 2 years ahead of 5-year plan. Not too shabby for an up and comer, right? 2011 saw FTI working for 97 of the top 100 U.S. law firms, 9 of the country’s 10 largest banks and 66 Fortune 100 clients.
In 2012, you could look back only 10 short years ago to see FTI as a company of 75 employees and $6 million in annual revenues, all in the United States. Within just a decade their lighting fast climb to the top had them now at 3,800+ employees in 24 countries and $1.58 billion in revenues worldwide. Significantly, 25%+ of revenues came from outside the United States, proving their expansion into global markets was substantial.
In 2013 the firm raked in $1.65B in revenues and boasted 4,200+ employees in 26 countries. Much of this growth came from the acquisition of 8 more consulting companies. Between 2012 and 2013 the firm invested $51.0M+ in domestic and international acquisitions and perhaps this is partially why a healthy 28% of revenues were generated internationally now, 3% higher than the year before.
Today, many consider FTI the best in business of corporate investigations, beating old time favorites “Kroll” with forensic and litigation consulting division revenues of $177M and a profit margin of 17% in the first 6 months of 2012.
All the while, the high-profile cases keep rolling in. The FTI Technology practice played a substantial role in the Major League Baseball steroids investigation that both news and sports casters covered religiously. Equally important, FTI aided in the investigation of the oil-for-food program bribery scandal tied to Saddam Hussein’s regime. They did much of the work piecing together Mr. Madoff’s money trail and just recently flew over to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Government, who hired FTI to improve operations of utilities and highway units (2014).
FTI CONSULTING ORGANIZATION
FTI Consulting has a board of 9 directors. There are also 3 board committees within the company: the Audit committee, Compensation Committee and Nominating and Corporate Governance. All 3 committees write resolutions, draft proposals and offer opinions to the board of directors.
Additionally, FTI has an executive committee headed up by the Chairman and two Executive Vice Presidents: one which doubles as the Chief Financial Officer and another who doubles as the Chief Risk Officer. There are 2 Senior Vice Presidents as well – one heads up Strategic Development and the other serves as Controller and Chief Accounting Officer.
Globally, there are four Chairmen in charge of the 6 regions:
- North America
- Latin America
- Middle East
- Asia Pacific
As we will discuss soon, FTI Consulting is split into 5 main practices. Either a Global Practice Leader, Co-leader, Senior Managing Director or Global CEO lead each of these practices.
FTI Consulting has 5 areas of expertise, but excels in Forensic & Litigation Consulting and Corporate Finance/Restructuring. They aim to help companies protect enterprise value.
Each of the areas are listed below, with detail about their sub-areas as well.
- Corporate Finance/Restructuring
- Restructuring/Turnaround Services
- Bankruptcy Support Services
- Transaction Advisory Services
- Private Equity
- Performance Improvement
- Interim Management
- Investment Banking
- Valuation & Financial Advisory Services
- Economic Consulting
- Antitrust & Competition Economics
- Business Valuation
- Intellectual Property
- International Arbitration
- Labor & Employment
- Public Policy
- Regulated Industries
- Securities Litigation & Risk Management
- Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy
- Forensic & Litigation Consulting
- Forensic Accounting & Advisory Services
- Global Risk & Investigations Practice
- Dispute Advisory Services
- Intellectual Property
- Trial Services
- Financial & Enterprise Data Analytics
- Compliance, Monitoring & Receivership
- Strategic Communications
- Corporate Communications
- Creative Engagement
- Strategy Consulting & Research
- Public Affairs
- Financial Communications
- Computer Forensics & Investigations
- Discovery Consulting
- E-discovery Software & Services
- Aerospace & Defense
- Energy & Utilities
- Financial Institutions
- Government & Public Contracts
- Healthcare & Life Sciences
- Hospitality, Gaming and Leisure
- Information Technology
- Petroleum & Chemicals
- Real Estate
- Retail & Consumer Products
- Telecom, Media & Technology (TMT) Transportation
FTI’s top 3 competitors are CRA International, Navigant Consulting, and interestingly enough, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
In 2013, FTI Consulting had employees in 102 offices across 24 countries. However, US-based clients still account for the vast majority (around 75%) of sales. Here are a list of FTI Consulting locations across the globe:
- Hong Kong
- United Kingdom
- Russian Federation
- United Arab Emirates
- South Africa
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- New York
- District of Columbia
- British Columbia
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
The majority of the firm’s practices have six levels of staff: Consultant / Senior Consultant / Director / Senior Director / Managing Director / Senior Managing Director.
Most undergrads join FTI Consulting at the Consultant level and begin working their way toward Senior Consultant within the first 2-3 years. That said, timing of promotions varies across practices and is based on merit, not years of service, so do all you can to get on a high profile project – then, do very well on that project! Promotions are dependent on how quickly you meet functional competencies and skill requirements set out for you by the powers that be.
New employees have access to a new employee orientation program designed to help ease their integration from college life into the firm. While each practice also has its own formal training program to develop skills, FTI is like most firms in that the majority of your learning will happen “on the job”, so don’t expect to be fully prepared for whatever work ends up coming your way.
FTI’s Summer Internship program has met with great success for the company and is fast becoming their main source for full-time recruitment. It takes place over 8 to 10 weeks every summer and features a college intern assigned to work for FTI Consulting as a member of project team.
In this capacity, interns handle similar work to what they would be doing after joining the firm full time – working on actual cases and projects that are meant to give them the experience needed to succeed with a consulting firm. It also means that interns are at times required to travel and interact with FTI’s clients. A mentor/performance manager is assigned to each intern as well. The purpose of the mentor in the program is to help identify intern’s goals, develop a plan to achieve them and then monitor their progress.
The application process is quite typical. Students at the graduate and undergraduate levels simply submit their resume through their campus career center or the FTI website if they do not actively recruit on campus.
Overall, FTI is a great place to start a career because of the people you work with, the experience you gain, and the opportunities for learning via company courses, should you have the time. The company provides plenty of valuable experience through learning opportunities that will equip you for moving on beyond FTI.
A common opinion of employees is that management do expect hard work and a willingness to work overtime. Clients come first, standards are high and the work involves a broad range of skills. Employees are responsible for the ability to do different types of analysis, both conducting specific and technical examination as well as broad research tasks. FTI is a large firm with a good reputation and the opportunity to work with some extremely talented individuals who are experts in their field.
This means learning opportunities are often maximized, especially when coupled with opportunities for professional development through various training courses available.
Key Learning Courses are:
- New Employee Orientation
- New Director School
- FTI University
- Leadership Forums
FTI’s earning paths are designed to meet the needs of the employees at every stage of their career because their courses aim to provide practical guidance related directly to the job. The knowledge and skills that are obtained can contribute toward industry-recognised certifications. When taking all the above factors into consideration it would be logical to conclude that exit opportunities are good and former employees of FTI Consulting are desirable for any prospective employers.
However, it’s important to note that your work – should you join FTI – will be much more narrow than that of a strategy firm like Bain or BCG. The focus for FTI is on analysis to solve already-defined and highly-specific problems, whereas in contrast McKinsey or Deloitte may be hired to figure out what the problem is as well as what the solution should be.
FTI CONSULTING CULTURE
When trying to understand how to gauge FTI Consulting as an option for your career, your lens should have a mixture of how it is built, what they do and how they got there. The company is powerful in their space – an expansive, successful structure put together with many different, equally impressive pieces. These pieces were gained mostly through acquisitions.
As we mentioned earlier, FTI’s stated corporate culture is one of a meritocracy – strong employees are promoted when they are ready and not on the basis of length of service. However, like most firms, you can expect to outpace your peers by 6 months at most for hard work – a nice carrot, but not a true meritocracy as it is supposed to be.
The company shares extensively about cultivating a culture of mentorship and growth. At FTI, every professional is assigned a Performance Manager. In most practices the Performance Manager is responsible for helping individuals identify their goals and then make a plan to achieve these goals. They are also to make themselves available at various points throughout the year to assess progress, as well as to help identify strengths and areas for that can be improved.
In addition to a Performance Manager, employees just coming into the company from college are assigned a “buddy” to help ease into the transition from campus to the firm. A buddy is someone who may be at, or just above, your level. The idea behind a buddy is that they can provide insight into life at FTI Consulting and be there for you to bounce questions off of them.
You really need to match what’s said by FTI with where they are as a company when you consider a realistic snapshot of their culture. They are working on all of the initiatives above. However, their history means that they have a lot of work to do.
To illustrate what I mean, consider the following: picture a massive Lego Empire State building. Take a large collection of bricks from the Lego collection and piece it together one by one to create a remarkable copy of the building – and all the bricks will match, because they all came from the same company.
FTI is like that tower – tall, powerful and impressive. But, the firm wasn’t built organically like Bain – a firm that has never made an acquisition – so with many different brick collections, not all the colors match in the FTI tower. Actually, quite a few of them don’t match – there are different shapes and colors everywhere! While they have worked very hard to integrate each acquisition, FTI has a wide variety of different surviving sub-cultures, expertise and attributes that it tacked on to its foundation as it grew bigger and bigger.
On the bright side, the firm houses many true experts in many different fields. As each one joined FTI, they brought with them a background in their industry that helped them get to where they were before being acquired by the firm. As such, FTI is a great place to start a career – it’s full of bright people in a wide variety of industries. That means you have a chance to get experience in an exciting array of different industries with some truly talented folks.
On the other hand, rapid growth through acquisition means that these corporations were just pieced onto the existing structure as they were bought. Too much of this sort of thing leads to a company full of different cultures, ideas and value systems. As a group, FTI has to work to build a corporate culture that hits all areas of the business. There is little cohesion in management styles, communication and business practices. Still impressive, interesting, and exciting, FTI is also disjointed and inconsistent.
Consider working at FTI Consulting if you are looking to start a career in consulting that offers experience in interesting projects that will really build your skills and portfolio. FTI can be a great place to learn some new proficiencies, find opportunities for travel, meet high profile clients and dive into cutting edge cases.
But do beware the “acquisition effect.” It brings with it factors that could prove FTI to be a bad choice for long term career development. Their dramatic method of growth through the years means that the company hosts many dissimilar businesses, and struggles to keep consistent culture. Without a company-wide, cohesive culture, you are likely to find political environments where collaboration suffers between businesses and departments. Activities like mentoring and the buddy system – while trumpeted as important – can be totally neglected in practice.
An inconsistent culture could also mean a lack of transparency in operations or management. You may find a lot of expertise, but fewer people sharing ideas together as they focus more on their individual interests. In this way, cross office politics can affect morale and productivity. The people you do know tend to be the people you end up trusting and working with the most, forming a more pronounced “clique” culture across the organization. Effective news communication may also suffer as the different, diverse business units silo off.
In summary, FTI should be a great place to learn, especially at junior levels. Trying to find a way to grow within the company could become an issue over time, however. The lack of cohesion and company-wide culture may present unique issues that prove difficult to overcome.
FTI Consulting’s stated ideals are:
- Client service
- Respect Environmental impact
- Especially focused on economic and financial literacy in young people
- Specifically to increase understanding of causes, implications and learning points from the financial crisis
- Charitable giving
- FTI makes efforts to support the communities it operates in through building partnerships and working to manage their environmental impact. Their stated objective is to create mutually beneficial partnerships with charitable and community-focused organizations.
- Awarded Large Deal of the Year by the CEO Mergers and Acquisitions Awards
- 40 Under 40 Recognition Awards
- Honored at M&A Advisor Awards
- Honored with Seven M&A Advisor Turnaround Awards
- Honored by Finance Monthly as Turnaround & Restructuring Firm of the Year, Singapore
- Won TMA 2013 Transaction of the Year – Large Company
- Financial Services Deal of the Year
- FTI Consulting was rated the #1 Crisis Management Firm according by the Deal Pipeline
FTI CONSULTING INTERVIEWS AND RECRUITING
First round FTI Consulting interviews are generally straightforward. They are held on campus with a FTI Consulting representative who is at the Director level or above. The interview lasts between 30 and 60 minutes and a combination of behavioral-based and traditional interview questions are used.
The second round interviews most often take place in a FTI Consulting office with 3 to 6 professionals present. It features more technical or case-related questions and often incorporates networking events in the form of either lunch, dinner or other similar gatherings. This is all with the intent of giving the interviewee an opportunity to really get to know the people in the firm. For this round, you’ll be expected to conduct research beforehand on the group you’ll be interviewing with so you can come prepared with meaningful questions.
Interviews are seen as a two-way street by the majority of the interviewers. For the candidate, it’s an opportunity get to know the firm better. What kind of work will you do? What are FTI staff like? How does the firm tackle challenges and opportunities across industries? Across countries?
For FTI, this is also a critical opportunity to learn more about you the candidate. What are your career goals? What are your skills, strengths and talents? Where are your passions and in which areas would you like to develop? These are all fairly typical questions that consulting firms want to get at least some idea about.
Consultants will be looking at how knowledgeable you are about what is happening in the world as well, so be sure to brush up on your current events. In addition, you’ll be expected to know about the firm’s current events, as well as their areas of expertise and where you see them making a contribution. In other words, it’s important to think about what you’re going to add to the firm.
Some stats on FTI Consulting recruits from 2014:
- 48% applied through campus recruiting
- 22% applied through a Recruiter
- 15% applied online
- 15% applied through another means
FTI Consulting Salaries
Are you an undergrad, MBA or intern who’s interested in working at FTI Consulting, but you don’t know how much you’ll make? Check out our latest Management Consulting Salaries post to find out!
While there are not any official corporate-sponsored diversity programs at FTI, the company by nature is quite diverse, featuring 4,100+ employees in 99 offices across 25 countries.
In 2014, Sophie Ross, the Senior Managing Director of the Technology segment was recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of this year’s ‘Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business’. The award honors elite female executives who demonstrate the greatest impact on their businesses, communities and advocacy for women in business. FTI is known to have a strong internal women’s support network.
FTI CONSULTING LINKS