Interviewing with NERA Economic Consulting? Well, NERA is no MBB. In fact, if you look at a list of top 20 consulting firms, NERA won’t be on it. That being said, NERA is still a major player in the consulting industry and here’s why: NERA Economic Consulting is one of the top economic consulting firms.
Let’s just quickly discuss the difference between a top management consulting firm and an economic consulting firm. While MBB’s main focus is strategy, economic consulting firms like NERA’s focus is on economics first and strategy second.
Of course, that is a very broad generalization because, as we’ll talk about soon, NERA has 30+ practice areas ranging from bankruptcy to statistical sampling and analysis.
Although NERA is concentrated on the East Coast of the U.S., NERA reviews the global economic landscape. The firm advises government divisions, law firms, and major global corporations on governmental regulation (like anti-trust rulings), public policy implications, public, competitive forces, and private financing. NERA helps companies predict likely lawsuits and litigation, which anyone would think valuable – but it doesn’t make them the darling of the advisory industry, especially when analysis or research predicts bad news.
NERA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies. Read on for an in-depth look at this smarty-pants boutique firm that serves as a great career launching pad for Economics undergrads and PhD’s alike.
Firm Profile Overview (click to jump to section):
NERA ECONOMIC CONSULTING KEY STATS
- NERA Economic Consulting Website: www.NERA.com
- NERA Economic Consulting Headquarters: New York, NY
- NERA Economic Consulting Employees: 515
- NERA Economic Consulting Locations: 27 offices
- NERA Economic Consulting Chief Executive: Dr. Lawrence Wu
- NERA Economic Consulting Revenue: ~$200M
- NERA Economic Consulting Engagement Cost: ~$350K
NERA ECONOMIC CONSULTING HISTORY
NERA ECONOMIC CONSULTING ORGANIZATION
NERA Economic Consulting is a subsidiary of parent company Marsh & McLennan Companies, a Fortune 500 company in the diversified financial industry who also owns a number of firms including Mercer, an HR Consulting firm, and Oliver Wyman, a top 10 Financial/Strategy Consulting firm. See the diagram below for a clear structure of how the Marsh and McLennan Companies are organized.
NERA has one president, currently Dr. Lawrence Wu, one chairman, currently Dr. Andrew Carron, and ~40 senior vice presidents/directors, ~40 vice presidents/associate directors, and ~50 senior consultants/principals.
NERA Practice Areas
NERA has a large number of practice areas that the firm divides up into 5 categories:
- Corporate/Advisory: Corporate Governance and Compliance, Risk Advisory Services, Transaction Advisory and M&A Support, Transfer pricing, and Valuation
- Finance: Bankruptcy, Consumer Protection in Financial Services, Financial Institutions and Banking, Financial Risk Management
- Industry Related Practices: Energy, Environmental Economics, Health Care and Life Sciences, Insurance, Postal Services, Communications Networks and Media, Transport, Water
- Litigation: Antitrust and Competition, Class Actions and Class Certification, Commercial Litigation and Damages, Intellectual Property, International Arbitration, Labor and Employment, Mass Torts and Product Liability, Securities and Finance, Statistical Sampling and Analysis, Survey Research, Design and Analysis
- Regulatory: Auctions, Regulatory Economics
As you can see, the firm covers a much broader spectrum of practice areas than many of the core strategy consulting firms we profile. The key reason? Economic consulting is used less for strategy, and more for litigation or regulatory compliance issues. Economic consultants provide a third-party perspective on issues such as antitrust concerns (standard and M&A related), anti-competitive action, etc.
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NERA Office Locations
NERA Career Path
NERA ECONOMIC CONSULTING CULTURE
Let’s face it – the work at NERA is less sexy than work at MBB, the people are more brainy, and the culture is less cool. It’s a hardcore reality – when you put too many economists together, you don’t get hipster culture – you get (with some exception) a tendency toward cut-and-dry facts with a bit of social awkwardness thrown in.
That being said, because NERA’s work isn’t insanely high-pressure – Wall Street earnings aren’t waiting and litigation schedules are intense but not spontaneous – you can expect to work around 50 hours/week versus a standard 60 at MBB firms. Lifestyle is a great reason to choose NERA – predictable hours, predictable travel, in an intellectually stimulating environment.
Because there is minimal client exposure at junior levels for NERA, you can expect – again – a more relaxed workplace. However, folks are hired for brains, not wit, so be prepared to stay pretty serious while on the job – and know that you’ll be chained to your desk more than you would at MBB or even a financial advisory firm.
Some common complaints about work at NERA – it’s repetitive. It’s monotonous. It’s boring. And let’s just say this here – that’s not a huge surprise. After all, running the same statistical regressions on 2 different industries isn’t really that different at the end of the day.
However, NERA people – the ones who stay – love their work, find it interesting and challenging, and enjoy working with the high profile cases that the best economic consulting firm in the industry offers them. In addition, especially as you get more senior in the firm, many people are very NERA-proud – because the firm is privately-owned, NERA reportedly took great care of its team during the downturn, when other large consulting firms churned major layoffs.
Key summary – if you work at NERA, you might not love every second of every day, but over time you’ll accrue valuable data analysis skills that will enable you to transfer into industry – but in a lower-level position, with a weaker strategic toolkit – than you would at MBB.
NERA highlights 5 core values on their website. We’ve included each here with a point of commentary on each one below.
- Integrity & Excellence: Because of our commitment to deliver unbiased findings, we are widely recognized for our values and independence. Our clients come to us expecting integrity and the unvarnished truth.
Integrity is paramount in the legal world; NERA is trusted as an unbiased advisor, and retains its prestige (and book of clients) based on this reputation.
- Meritocracy & Personal Growth: Our training and professional development programs will expose you to new opportunities and ensure that you achieve the professional goals to which you aspire.
This is a common Marsh & McClennan portfolio firm trait – one definitely shared by Lippincott and Oliver Wyman. The firms are hip and cool, and people are valued for contributions – not positions. The exception at NERA are clients who testify as expert witnesses – they are the ultimate kings – but behind the scenes, if you do good work, you’ll get promoted early or will receive accelerated responsibility.
- Innovation & Creativity: Our insights often build upon learning gained in academia, business, government, and enforcement agencies. With this experience comes a dedicated and creative approach to economic analysis.
Okay, innovation here isn’t quite what Silicon Valley would call innovation – it’s not actually anything new. They are saying, however, that they remain on top of cutting-edge forms of economic analysis and bring a 360-degree look at any problem or issue.
- Teamwork & Collegiality: From around the world, we bring together our individual skills, perspectives, and experiences to provide insightful and practical economic solutions for our clients.
Tie this one to the prior core value – NERA is focused on having the most comprehensive base of economic expertise in the industry. That means being smart about grabbing it from inside its own ranks, not just outside.
- Diversity & Inclusion: The diversity of our global staff is recognized as an important resource. There are a host of employee networks available throughout the Marsh & McLennan Companies.
Yes. M&M companies are traditionally excellent pioneers of diversity and inclusion culture – check out the below under Interviews & Recruiting.
INTERVIEWS AND RECRUITING
NERA does most of its (U.S. and Europe) recruiting out of these schools – some of them do not match up with core MBB schools (note George Washington University and not Georgetown, for example):
- Amherst College
- Atlanta University
- Barnard College
- Brown University
- Carnegie Mellon
- Columbia University
- Cornell University
- Dartmouth College
- Duke University
- George Washington University
- Harvard University
- Howard University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Mt. Holyoke College
- New York University
- Princeton University
- Stanford University
- Smith College
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of Chicago
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Rochester, NY
- University of Texas, Austin McCombs
- Wellesley College
- Williams College
- Yale University
- Barcelona Graduate School of Economics
- Cambridge University
- London School of Economics
- Oxford University
- St. Gallen University
- University College London
- University of Warwick City
If you don’t go to one of these target schools, but you’re a master in economics (GPA of 3.7+, departmental awards, etc.), there is a slight chance that you will be hired although they will be looking for the same experience and skills level as those who have attended top tier schools. Just MAKE SURE you network – at such a small firm, a blind resume drop means nothing – and an employee recommendation means everything.
Diversity groups are called “Employee Network Groups” in Marsh & McLennan companies. Here are a number of groups you could participate in while working at NERA Economic Consulting. Note that these groups are inclusive to employees of Marsh & McLennan:
- Boston Women’s Forum
- Global Captives Business Women’s Group
- Marsh & McLennan Companies Asia-Pacific Women’s Group
- Marsh EMEA Women’s Network
- Marsh LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender)
- Marsh WEBB (Women’s Executive Business to Business)
- Women Making a Difference (Marsh and Mercer women in Pittsburgh)