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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I know these are two completely different areas, but I wanted to see if anyone on here worked in either field. I am an accounting major with a minor in finance finishing up my last semester of college right now. Starting this summer, I started focusing on finding a staff accountant position with primarily medium sized public accounting firms and I've gotten a some interviews. I'm being as persistent as possible with wherever I apply to show that I am driven and motivated. Anyways, I thought I would see if there were any accountants on here and how they like their careers along with any other information they would like to provide.

Although I've been focused on accounting, I recently thought of looking into investment banking since I find that interesting, as well. I'm less familiar with where you start for an entry level position with investment banking (junior analyst maybe?).

So any advice from anyone in either field would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

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I come from the banking side of things, and probably have some input on both IB and accounting positions. However, I highly recommend that you look at places like vault.com or your school's career center on this topic. There is a ton of information publicly available that should be useful, and was useful for me when I was starting out.

This is certainly 'off topic' for a Saab forum!
 

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Although I've been focused on accounting, I recently thought of looking into investment banking since I find that interesting, as well. I'm less familiar with where you start for an entry level position with investment banking (junior analyst maybe?).

So any advice from anyone in either field would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Start in the Ivy league... sorry don;t know where you are in school..

These jobs generally go to those grads first, just the way it is...

I-banking people all want those jobs becasue there are lots of stores about big$$ to be made. If you go the Accounting route, try to get into a big firm that can lead to work wtih an I bank and turn inot somethinkg there...

good luck
 

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If you go the Accounting route, try to get into a big firm
^this. Big Four accounting firm is great on your resume. FWIW, it's not exactly a traditional path to go to an accounting firm and then directly into IB. More common might be work at an accounting firm, go to business school, then IB. Your results may vary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ya I've been keeping close contact with our Career Service Center. I'm going to need 30 more credit hours for my CPA exam, although I can sit for it after graduation, so I'll probably look into a masters degree at Bentley or Northeastern. I'm currently at Assumption College which has an undergrad accounting program that rivals Bentley, but more firms know about bentley and northeastern grads due to their huge size in comparison. However, those firms that do hire from our school are extremely satisfied and keep hiring from us. I know that you don't need to be an ivy league student to get into the Big 4.

As for Big 4 firms, I have only heard bad things about entry staff accountants. They tell me they get abused because they're low on the totem pole and it takes at least a year before they get out in the field with actual experience. I can gain that from day one in medium sized firms and work my way up to a big 4, or even stay with that firm and reach a partner level.
These reasons and some more are why I've chosen to go with small-midsize firms at first, then possibly look into a Big 4. Either way, I'll be in graduate school for my CPA regardless.
 

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Thats a personal choice for you. You will get abused at a big four firm, and possibly at a smaller firm too. It's part of paying your dues. You will benefit from a reputable name on your resume though, no doubt. It's up to you, and a year isn't that long in the grand scheme of things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That is true, 1 year isn't killer. Recently, it seems like unless you have had an internship with them, it's difficult to get hired without a CPA license. So by the time I'm fully licensed, I think it may be worth it to gain experience while I'm going through grad school and testing and apply to a big 4 once everything is taken care of.
 

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I work at a bank in Philly, so not a bulge bracket IB. I started out of school as a stockbroker for Scottrade. I came into my job through a friend of a friend, not the conventional campus recruiting route. In that sense, my experience was very rare.

In general, you start as an "analyst." Title progression is usually Analyst > Associate > VP > Principal > Director > Managing Director.

Expect long hours. Expect to be asked to work at any time, in any place. Christmas? Thanksgiving? All fair game.

You will, however, get great experience. You will usually only deal with CEOs, CFOs, and other C-level executives. In that sense, it is very valuable. You will undoubtedly learn a lot.

Depending on where your work, your comp can be substantial. Or it can not be; we're in a tough market.
 

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I work at PwC, though I'm in advisory rather than the assurance/tax side. You WILL work 70+ hours/week for 4+ months of the year, thats part of the gig with public accounting if you're an auditor. If you're in tax, depending on what line, you'll either have 3-4 1-month busy seasons, or 2 longer ones. My wife is in tax at EY, and I have a few friends in audit at EY as well as PwC. It's very much a "putting in your time" mentality, but if you work hard, then you're generally rewarded financially.

Would I recommend anyone spend their careers here? No way, not unless you don't plan on having a family. I've been here for 5+ years, and I'm planning on a few more, but bear in mind that while I do have extremely busy times, it's typically not as bad as those on the audit side. Also keep in mind that big 4 will pay for your CPA exams and your grad school if it's in a relevant field.

I've worked on huge multinational clients, tiny manufacturing companies, met hundreds of very smart people, and been to many different cities, and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything, BUT, it gets old after a while. Personally, the best advice I can give you re: Big 4 is, do it while you're young, get some great experience, and then take a more 'relaxed' position at a smaller company. Good luck - you picked a great major, just study your ass of for that CPA.

Chris
 

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One other piece of advice: I'd recommend wherever you end up, you stick around for at least one "title promotion." I've seen it work against people who only stick around for one year at big 4; the difference between staying for a year, and staying to be promoted from associate to senior, is pretty substantial when it comes to finding another position.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the advice Chris. I was waiting for someone on here with Big 4 experience to chime in.

First off, wherever I work, I plan on staying for at least a year or first promotion (depending on which comes first). No matter what size firm one works at, I do not see how one could benefit without meeting at least one of these levels of experience first because there is no way you can absorb enough information from working any less than that. It would be a waste of time for the employer b/c they train you for how their firm approaches their engagements, and a waste of time for the employee b/c they would have to learn an entire new methodology of the new firm. That's just one drawback.

As for the long term, my professors have Big 4 experience and they worked there for up to 10 years. They said the same thing as you. Do it when you're young because finding time for it later will be tough. I've been expecting to see long hours wherever I start up, but I know that medium sized firms are a little lower in the 60 HR/week range. I definitely have the drive for the job, but I have been under the impression they won't hire unless you have your CPA, or if you had an internship with them. Is this true, Chris? I have tried to submit my resume through an online application to PwC and KPMG, but I never hear back. If I had a specific person's contact information, I probably would have emailed or called them directly by now.

Thanks for your help Chris!
Raffi

p.s. Do you have auditing experience, and if so, how would you compare it to advisory?
 

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Hey Raffi

You're impressions are pretty much spot on. I've heard that the recruiting process has gotten much more strict, in that they're looking for people who already have their CPAs, but I don't see how they could target only that group. I do know that it's much easier and less painful if you sacrifice a summer and bang out at least two or three sections, rather than try to do it while you're working full time. I will say that the the target GPA's lately are right around mid 3's, which I personally don't agree with, but I guess that's the kind of "culture" big 4 is trying to create. Your career services office @ Assumption has to have contacts for big 4 recruiters, I know we've pulled people from that school before (I'm a Bryant grad). If you can get a big 4 internship, that puts you ahead of 90% of the other candidates btw.

PwC, the audit promotion track is typically two years @ associate before promotion to senior, then three years as a senior before promotion to manager. The key to your first year is to keep a level head and do what's asked of you - don't go in thinking you're the best accountant the world has ever seen, or that you're going to be promoted twice as quickly as the person next to you, because that'll get you on your senior's shit list very quickly, haha!

My role is focused primarily in controls and audit support (I was an information systems major), so my busy season follows audit for the most part, and I work with auditors on a day to day basis. Advisory is much more broad than Audit; there's probably 100+ different kinds of positions across the country, including information security, data management, healthcare advisory, forensic services, etc.

Anyway, good luck, glad I could help. If you do get ahold of one of the PwC recruiters, and there's a position you're interested in, let me know and I'll see if I can get you a reference.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks again Chris! I know I have plenty to learn because what they teach you in school isn't anywhere near the real world experience of accounting...especially the audit courses. Partners I have met through interviews so far have assured me on this one. If I'm not mistaken, the CPA exams are every 3 months or something like that with a 1 month break between. I heard from a Becker rep it's tough to do even 2 parts at the same time, so hopefully I can squeeze in the 2 during the summer. It's kind of a shame they only look at CPA's and around the 3.50 gpa area. I mean I have a 3.397 so I'm right around that area but just because you have a lower GPA or don't have a CPA yet doesn't mean you won't be a good auditor. School grades do not = accounting skills/work ethic. It's a good measure but going to college is "learning how to learn."
 

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I just got my MBA and I thought long and hard about becoming a CPA or entering the IB field. My observations:

CPA= great job prospects...accountants will always have jobs. Will it be the career that offers the most enjoyment? I'm not so sure, but you will have both a reliable job and a steady income stream. To me, the career seemed like a "here's what you have to do, do it," type of job. More standardized than fluent and different. Not necessarily good or bad, just dependent on the employee's qualities.

Investment Banking= This seemed like the work I wanted to get involved with as a young professional. It seems to offer challenges in the beginning, but massive income and career potential as you work your way up. The challenge with the field is breaking in though....and it can get ridiculous. I went to the best academic SUNY school in NY (Geneseo), had a 3.5 and then had a 3.8 in Grad School (albeit at a non-top 25 MBA school, which was a dumb decision), and it was still increasingly difficult to get interviews and break through the door with top firms. Once I got a chance to interview, these places put you through multiple interviews and rigorous testing. They test not only your knowledge, but your personality traits and characteristics. These multiple hour long exams are then used to derive scoring that can basically sort you out of any employment opportunity before you even utter one word to anyone human! If you do move on from that, you get into a multiple week long "interview now, then do something to display your potential (like write a business plan), then interview again, etc, etc, etc." I know people who have lost 2 months from such experiences with places like JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs.

In essence then, I think the "ideal" IB opportunities out there, whether you want to be a broker, fund manager, or whatever, are really hard to come by. They're guarded by old dogs and top school gatekeepers. People joke about it, but the top school thing is reality. If you're from some small time, no name school, it's hard to even get your foot in the door. A f'ing shame considering that real talent shouldn't be judged by alma mater name, a family's ability to pay their dumb-ass child through the Ivies, etc.

All in all, you might consider going the top 25 school MBA route. Your GPA, at 3.4, with great GMAT's, could get you into a big name school. I, who regret it now, wanted to stay local to my area and save money. In the big scheme though, the biggest careers, the ones offering the most opportunity and income, come MUCH easier if you go to a big name school. Good luck and keep your head up. Remember too that starting in a small company and working your way up can be a lot better than it sounds! Most of these big money dream jobs are nothing but nightmares!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ya it's a little bit of a bummer about students from small schools being at a disadvantage, but I'll just work towards a bigger name grad school. I wouldn't mind working in a small firm because I imagine the benefits (other than monetary) increase as you make it up the ladder. Thanks for your input!
 
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