Financial Development Program

I would appreciate any advice, especially from the experienced crowd… I’ve recently been offered a spot in Vanguard’s Accelerated Financial Development Program. The program lasts 22 months and would allow me to rotate through institutional portfolio administration, corporate financial analysis, mutual fund accounting, corporate accounting, and internal audit for 4 months each. I have 2 questions: Would this program (and the skills gained) give me significant exit opportunities to become a buy-side analyst with an active investment management company? …assuming I’m also working toward a CFA charter And… How would this selective program (only 6-8 hired into it each year) set me up for application to a top 10 b-school down the road? Note: I haven’t had much success applying to other investment companies despite a good gpa and plenty of extra-curriculars, so that doesn’t seem to be much of an option (probably because I don’t attend a top 50 undergrad program and I have limited contacts in the industry). Thanks for any help!

Hey, I’d actually heard about this program (they apparently have started recruiting at my alma mater). I can’t speak to the program specifically, but I’m pretty heavily invested in Vanguard and I always read the portfolio managers’ bios before I put any money into an ETF or a fund. Their portfolio managers have legit credentials (lots of years experience in fundamental analysis and portfolio management, CFA charters, MBAs, etc.). Vanguard is also considered an extremely good investment company and is well known as a very good firm. As far as the name goes, Vanguard is a big plus on your resume. Oh yeah. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about their customer service. I love this company.

I agree that many of their managers (both passive and active) are very respectable, but the one thing that I don’t like is the fact that Vanguard doesn’t have their own in house fundamental active equity management team. They outsource that function to companies like Wellington, Schroders, AllianceBernstein, etc. and therefore, I would have to leave the company to become an equity research analyst. Do you think that would be a feasible move, given that I will not be getting any equity research experience through the program?

I went through a program like this right after college and it is only a leg up both inside and outside the firm. If you choose to leave and companies you meet with know about program it will be a plus. If not they you will have a strong ap for b school. The nice side of a program like this is that you will get a part time feel in several groups. I know people that post into jobs that they did for a few months or jobs that they did not ever rotate through. You will also be viewed as bright inside the company. I read a post a few months back that all the folks at top b schools that were working for companies ex i banking and MC worked in some kind of roational porgram. To answer your first question, no it will not help. To answer your second, yes it will help.

Thanks kkent and goldenboy. Anyone else agree? disagree?

Sounds like a good opportunity to me. Especially coming from a non-top 50 undergrad, I don’ t think initial opportunities are going to get much better. You’ll be working for a firm that every single person in IM has heard of and you will be gaining exposure to a number of different areas. This will help you see how a big IM firm runs and will open your eyes to opportunities that you want to pursue. If you do well you will also establish a strong network within the company that could open many doors. If you take that job, perform well, and knock out 2 levels of the CFA while there, you’ll have a ton of exit opps if you want them. Just my 2cents.