Announcing my career shift: from PWM to Corporate Finance

As Numi and CFAvsMBA know, I have decided to transition out of private wealth management. A large corporation called me today and offered me what I’ve been pining for over the last few months: a financial/business analyst position in their corporate finance department. In a lot of ways, I owe this decision to you folks on the CFA forum. It was my initial CFA studies (that started at Christmas) and my time on this forum that made me realize a few things:

  1. The typical retail client is retarded

  2. Because of this, the typical financial advisor is allowed to be retarded

  3. There’s other like-minded people that want to better themselves, that want to understand investing, that value technical abilities over schmoozing and sleazy salesmanship. The problem is that they’re all CFA candidates who work in private equity, investment banks, hedge funds, or in corporate finance departments.

I finally conceded that I was the square peg (analytical guy) being rammed into a round hole (sales world). I don’t know what made me stay as long as I did. Maybe I didn’t want to be labeled a quitter. Maybe I didn’t want to think this was some admission of poor social skills, or maybe I had a naive view of what clients really wanted. I’ve come to learn over the last 10 years that most clients don’t know or don’t care about your technical knowledge; they just want someone to pat them on the back and tell them it’s okay to do what Suze Orman says.

So there I am in the interview room and a senior financial analyst is telling me that the company is looking for a “student of the company”. He probably didn’t have much confidence in me since I’ve never had a real corporate job with a big salary, a real job that required more brains and less “charisma”. I handed him a 16-page financial analysis of the company where I:

  1. summarized the company’s business lines

  2. Identified some publicly-traded competitors

  3. Did a financial analysis of a competitor and then applied to tidbits I knew about the target company, which ended up in a reasonably accurate valuation

6 months ago, I would NEVER have had the financial reporting/corporate finance knowledge to do this kind of report. It is shameful that for every 1000 financial advisors out there, only 1 has his CFA and the 990 of them are too dumb to know what they don’t know. All that time with Greenman, s2000magician, and the other veterans here paid off. I know I probably tested the patience of many of you along the way, but it was all worth it (for me at least haha) since I successfully beat out the other 150 applicants for the job.

I owe a debt to this forum that I will never be able to repay. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for any of you, or if you have any questions about the world of PWM.

Bravo bud! I’m not sure what I really did to help you out, but I’m glad you found something that will test your analytical nature.

I know it sounds weird, but your response (which was more sympathetic than critical) to why I wanted to move out of my industry gave me a big confidence boost.

At the start, I was worried that peopel would have these negative and nosy questions like “why is he leaving? Did he have an ethics violation or did he just suck at his job?

When I told you why I was leaving, your attitude was like “oh that makes sense, I figured that’s what it’s like working with individuals instead of with businesses or other educated professionals

Very nice! It’s always great to see somebody be successful in the change they want!

sweet, enjoy the success!

I’ll admit that it wasn’t my first choice, or at least my first thought. At first (as I told Numi), I was thinking about working at an investment bank. I used my network to secure some “get a free interview” passes, and I even went as far to go to the WSO conference to network.

Out of 200 conference participants, probably 190 wanted to

A) work in an investment bank

B) work in the investment banking division

I was the only guy who wasn’t sold on iBanking. I met this dude who was in corporate FP&A and he told me (plz verify if this is true), that corporate finance is full of people who are too dumb/lazy to get into a Wall Street job, so it’s easier to be a super star in corporate finance. It was at that point that I started questioning whether I wanted to fight with 300 bloodthirsty Ivy Leaguers for a 75 hour a week job vs fight with 50 mortals for a 45-hour job, especially with such a non-traditional resume.

Totally Disagree.

Most kids out of college don’t really know what they want to do and making 100k coming out of college is not bad. However if you take into account how much time they spend at the job they probably make less than minimum wage as a glorified excel monkey.

My advice? If you know what you like go for it but don’t follow the muppets.

Good for you. Corporate finance can get a bad wrap from the Wall Street folks, but it can be really interesting.


I think one thing we have to consider is that the few kids who are making 100k coming out of college are usually in NYC where the cost of living is 50 to 100% more. I think the new kids who are in other cities are probably pulling in more like 60k, which isn’t so great when you consider the 80 to 100 hours a week.

But then again, we all know that the compensation comes from the networking and the resume branding. Those kids are probably going to be my boss in 5 or 10 years haha.