Financial Due Diligence Case Study Interview
How to ace the Transaction Advisory (TAS) case study
Table of contents
- Intro to the financial due diligence case study interview
- Why is the FDD case study interview important?
- What to expect
- How to prepare
Note: There are many different names and acronyms for “financial due diligence” including FDD, transaction advisory (TAS), deal advisory, accounting diligence, and M&A due diligence. These terms are used interchangeably throughout the article.
Intro to the financial due diligence case study
The financial due diligence case study is an important part of the interview process. The idea of having to complete a case study during the interview process often causes anxiety among interviewees.
The case study interview is often a difficult part of the interview process because it tests your ability to think critically about a business and articulate your findings in a time-sensitive environment. Additionally, this portion of the interview process is difficult due to its variability. There are a number of different scenarios that can be presented. For example, the exercise could just be a review and subsequent discussion/presentation or could test your understanding of accounting and your ability to perform key excel skills.
The case study is often the most nerve-racking part of the transaction advisory interview process because it represents the “unknown”. Luckily, Financialduediligenceinterview.com is here to help calm your nerves.
Why is the FDD case study interview important?
The financial due diligence case study is an important step in the interview process because it tests a candidate’s ability to think critically about a business in a time-sensitive environment, basic accounting knowledge, understanding of the financial due diligence process, and key excel skills.
If a candidate does not understand the basics, then companies will have to spend extra time teaching new hires in an already busy/stressful job.
However, don’t let this scare you. If you aren’t an experienced hire, then the interviewers will not expect you to perform like one. As stated above, the goal of the case study interview (for non-experienced hires) is to make sure the candidate understands the basics, which financialduediligenceinterview.com can teach you. Additionally, a candidate’s understanding of the basics proves that he or she has done their research and is serious about the opportunity.
What to expect from a transaction advisory case study?
There are a few different forms of case studies that can be presented in a transaction advisory interview. Generally, the case study will fall into one of the below categories (by order or probability):
- Review of a ~5-10 page business scenario/overview and presentation of findings
- Review of a ~5-10 page business scenario, basic excel model, and subsequent presentation of findings
You will have ~1-2 hours to complete the case study and will present for ~30 minutes. The typical case study will include a 5-10 page business scenario/summary as well as one page of instructions.
First, the business scenario will be a fictional M&A transaction (i.e., your client is buying a business). The business scenario will include a detailed summary of the transaction, a summary of the business type and operating model, a summary of the business performance and history, and monthly trended financial statements. Buried throughout the summary (similar to a real-world project) and financial statements will be items to consider in the financial due diligence process. Specifically, you will be instructed to focus on the potential quality of earnings adjustments and red flags that should be brought up to your client.
If the case study involves a modeling test, this will generally require you to leverage trial balance data to build a basic income statement and balance sheet that tie together via equity. From there you will be asked to build a basic adjusted EBITDA table. See our complete financial due diligence interview guide for a full example case study and excel model to help you prepare.
How to prepare
Practice makes perfect. The best way to prepare for the case study interview is to practice. First, you will need to nail down your understanding of the process and goals of financial due diligence. Next, you will need to learn how to analyze a business with an eye toward identifying red flags and potential quality of earnings adjustments. Finally, you will need to work on your ability to present your findings in a clear, concise, and confident manner.
Leverage our free resources or complete financial due diligence interview guide to help you prepare for all of these items.
The transaction advisory case study can feel like a daunting task, but there is no reason to be worried. The goal of the case study is not to stump you, but to confirm that the candidate has the basic skillsets needed for the job. If you prepare adequately then there should be no problem.