Hey everybody, I just signed up and have a couple of questions. I’m graduating withe B.Comm. (Honours) degree in Finance and Marketing from a Canadian university. I’m considering commencing my CFA shortly thereafter for a number of reasons. For one, it would provide me with the knowledge that I would like to have out of general interest regarding the finance world. Secondly, it seems to open quite a few doors and is internationally recognized, which is a huge appeal to me. However, I have a couple of questions about whether or not it will match my career objectives. I personally would like to work on the corporate side, likely in business development/analysis. I have little interest in investment banking, buy/sell, etc. Furthermore, I would be looking for a job that allowed me to have a healthy work/life balance–this is pretty important to me. I constantly hear horror stories of the ~80 weeks and but the rewarding pay, but I’ve made the assumption that most of these stories originate from those working/aspiring to work on Wall Street and the likes. My question is, is their a decent potential to secure a well-paying (let’s say approx. 100k potential) with a corporation and work normal hours? Will the CFA provide those opportunities for me? I’ve looked around at different designations, and the body of knowledge that the CFA provides appeals to me the most. I often find myself reading books about finance and economics for pleasure and have a desire to understand how things actually work. Thanks for your help!
No one can give me an idea of what careers are available in the corporate sector (w/decent hours, alright pay)?
Some ideas that may appeal to you are internal finance would be a good fit for what you’re interested in. This would involve capital budgeting and NPV analysis. The financial statement analysis and corporate finance sections of the CFA materials provide good information on these topics, but I think a CPA or its Canadian equivalent might be a more effective way to pursue this route. Salary isn’t bad, typically around 50-65K in USD at the entry level depending on the pretige of the firm. After years of experience you can make pull down low six figures, but you don’t have the potential for the big bucks like you would on Wall Street unless you work your way up to CFO after 20-30 years.
I agree w/edmund_lord. I used to work in corporate; now am in i-banking. A career in corporate typically has more emphasis in accounting…I would suggest a CPA, MBA, or both.
Hmm, yeah, I’ve been putting some thought into accounting. I like where the end result of becoming a CA (Canadian equivalent of CPA) would get me, but it seems like a lot of work in something I’m not horribly interested in. I currently work in CA firm and no one here knows/learned anything remotely near what I would like to learn, so it’s seems kind of silly to spend a good chunk of time studying something with the hope of not actually doing it. The CFA appeals to me mostly because I desire to learn more about finance and also want to develop more technical, hard skills than I have so far. Also compensates for the fact that I somewhat regret not completing an undergraduate degree in economics instead. I’m just unclear as to whether it will lead me to decent corporate finance jobs, i.e. business development, market research, anything along those lines. Whereas I’m not totally set in working in the corporate sector, I’m mostly concerned with being able to have a decent work/life balance. So assuming that a CFA is what I want to do and want to work, are there enough jobs that allow for normal-ish work hours? I realize that the highest paying ones would require the most work and I may want that for awhile, but I would like to know that I have the option to settle down at ~40 hours a week for ~100k, if you know what I mean.
If your plan is to get in to corporate side finance, than a CA is a really good place to start. I never pursued it myself, but I have many friends and colleagues with it and it has taken them quite far. And don’t let people convince you that getting your CA will only lead to journal entry purgatory… that’s false. The only thing that will do that is a bad attitude and a poor work ethic. The only disadvantage you might be in now is that getting the CA should have been a decision you made at the onset of University and not at the end. Be that as it may, I have a number of friends who decided it was worth it to go back and get the credits they needed to get this designation. Also, if your plan includes sitting in the CFO chair at some point in the future, than having the CA is a must in Canada. I have not met many CFOs without it and many CFOs have a number of additional degrees (MA, MBAs, PhDs, etc.) Hope this helps and good luck.
Yeah, that seems to be the consensus, which is somewhat of an annoyance. Like I said, I work at a CA firm for 3 CAs and I have a CA in my immediate family, as well as two coworkers going through the program at the moment. My issue is that it doesn’t seem to provide the knowledge about things that I’m actually interested in. The CA is somewhat of hard sell for me. It just seems like something I would trudge through but actually hate. Like said, I’m not stuck on corporate. I’m just looking to pursue a designation that provides me the knowledge in the realms of finance/economics that interest me and that opens up a lot of doors. I’m attracted to the CFA because it seems to do that, for it’s international recognition, for the hard analytical skills I’d acquire, and for its prestige. I guess I’m just thrown off since I always here about crazy work hours and such and would like to hear from some CFAs/candidates that are making alright money and working decent hours–since I doubt that everybody’s story is a horror story, and that everyone works/wants to work on Wall Street or similar.
I agree, if you plan on the corp side CA/CPA might be better…but in some places a true business development or corp development role might like the CFA at least a little more than some other corp fin functions. I think on salary, at least in Dallas (TX) area you should be able to be at $100K after 4-5 years and still work pretty decent hours (40-50). Not sure what that translates to elsewhere in the country/world or how the economics are in other places… I do agree if you stay in industry jobs, other than CFO (or higher level execs at large companies) you dont have the earnings potential that other areas of finance offer. Again, I dont have as much insight outside of the US but I think some other posters have lead you in the right direction.
I imagine the the Canadian market is pretty much similar. I’m not set on staying here either, so that is where the international appeal of the CFA comes in. Also, the CA program is a lot of work for something that I don’t believe I really would enjoy, and even more work since I wouldn’t be graduating as an Accounting major. I realize that industry jobs will pay less in the long run, I just think they may be more suited to my interests and abilities. I’d be mostly looking for a job in finance that paid alright and I wouldn’t have to kill myself for.
I understand and my point is I think they are there…of course I dont know exactly what your interest are. I work in an industry job and I like it and I have TONS of time and I make reasonable money (for me anyway). I think my goal is similar to yours in that I wanted something I at least enjoyed, got paid decent, and didnt have a ton of hours (I have a couple of side businesses so there are economic reasons for that as well). So I believe they are out there. I only mention location because I dont know cost of living in other parts as well. So maybe $100K here doesnt get you to far in NY for example.
Well that really helps me to know, thanks. $100k is quite comfortable where I am and I would ideally like to stay somewhere where the cost living isn’t through the roof. I also like the idea of having the time to run side businesses as well I’m not looking to be the next big thing or whatever. It’s not that I don’t aspire to succeed, but work isn’t everything, although it is for some people and that’s fine with me. Just not for me. I just want a solid education that I’m interested in and the opportunity to secure a selection of jobs.
I want to point out one thing I think the other posters are trying to say and I am not sure it is getting through. In regards to the CFA vs CA I think the point is about perception, not what you actually learn. Typically in the US the corp finance jobs the CPA is more recognized than the CFA…right, wrong, or indifferent, in a lot of jobs that is just the way it is. What you learn from doing these things is a different story, but you have to look at the jobs you want and how the people in hiring positions will perceive things. You can learn all the topics of CFA through other means if they interest you…
Yeah, no, I do see that. The CA definitely is worth designation that is perceived very highly and would probably land me in the sector that I would like to be. I’m slightly jaded because I do public accounting at the moment and it’s not really my thing. It’s the same thing here, CAs are typically the corp fi people. I’m just not overly thrilled by the curriculum or the program itself, I suppose. I know I can learn the CFA material at any point though…I guess I just figured that it would make sense to learn what I want to learn instead of learning something else just to get a job, if that makes sense.
I understand that. I worked in pub accounting for 2.5 years and have CPA.
Yeah, I work at a small firm too so it’s mostly sorting through the shoeboxes of small business receipts and hammering out financial reports. I think I would be much happier in a business development/strategic planning role. On second thought, can someone just make my life decisions for me? Maybe even an arranged marriage, if you could.
Yeah, that must suck, but it wasnt much better at Deloitte… I think if you want strategic mgmt type roles you should do an MBA. The best thing to do is find where you want to work and look at what people have that are in those positions. Talk to people in those positions about what it would take.
Yeah, it’s not too horrible since it’s flexible as hell and pays great since it’s a pretty small firm, but it’s not my cup of tea at the same time. My other issue with the CA program is the experience requirements are in public accounting. It’s very hard to earn the designation with private company experience. The MBA is definitely something that I have considered, but obviously requires a fair bit of work experience. My thought was to complete the CFA and the work experience and then attain an MBA (if I found I needed it to get where I wanted to be) since I would have experience under my belt.
kevinf12 Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > I agree, if you plan on the corp side CA/CPA might > be better…but in some places a true business > development or corp development role might like > the CFA at least a little more than some other > corp fin functions. > > I think on salary, at least in Dallas (TX) area > you should be able to be at $100K after 4-5 years > and still work pretty decent hours (40-50). Not > sure what that translates to elsewhere in the > country/world or how the economics are in other > places… > > I do agree if you stay in industry jobs, other > than CFO (or higher level execs at large > companies) you dont have the earnings potential > that other areas of finance offer. > > Again, I dont have as much insight outside of the > US but I think some other posters have lead you in > the right direction. Kevin, do you work in the Dallas area? I’m an undergraduate at the Univ of Michigan (senior), and similar to the OP, would like a job that pays reasonably well (doesn’t have to be huge 6 figure income), but doesn’t have the brutal hours of some of the Wall Street jobs (ibanking). My biggest hindrance is not having relevant work experience/internships, but I’ve heard that the Texas economy is doing pretty well. Does that also hold true for entry level positions in finance (e.g. equity research)? Also, if you could, do you know of any sites or references that could lead me to some of the boutique banks that you know about in Texas? I really would like to get a job in Texas, so just thought I would ask and hear your perspective.
I do work in Dallas, actually Richardson. The general market is stronger, at least for industry, than other locations, but it isnt exactly robust. Oil and Gas are of course strong, but in typical accounting/finance industry roles and even consulting/TS type roles it is not that great. For example, the TS pieces of the big 4 arent really hiring even though Dallas business is good because the other pieces of the nation are doing so poor so they just “steal” from them when they need people…so the focus is still on overall utilization. You see this as well in some national consulting as well…
Where things are stronger are obviously Oil & Gas, some alternative energy, and then outside of industry jobs I think some of the local boutique TS/Consulting firms are doing pretty well and still have some hiring (I have one that I interviewed with before that while things have slowed, they havent stopped like the bigger guys). I have seen this same affect with some HF’s as well (at least one out in Ft Worth and one in Dallas). But again, I am not directly tied into those and certainly not into Equity Research so I dont want to misrepresent anything.
Well, I’m beginning to think that attaining a CA (Chartered Accountant) is more in line with my goals, based upon what you guys have said and a few quick glances at job postings in stuff. It seems that the CA is more likely to get me into management, controller, development, and planning roles than the CFA is. Seems like that it would get me a well-paying, respected role, decent hours, and into a job that I actually want. Plus, it appears to open up the doors into upper management as well. I suppose coupled with an MBA it would be pretty solid too. I would have to pull together some magic to change my undergrad major at this time, but it would be worth it if a CA was in the works. Any more thoughts on what I should do with my life?