Industries other than finance

I’m pretty much giving up on trying to break into finance. Most firms are looking for years of direct experience or an ivy league background. It’s so bad I can’t even get an interview for trade support or back office roles because I don’t have any direct product experience. With that said, I’m trying to look into other industries. In my current role, I don’t perform any data analysis and hardly use Excel, so I’d like to get more experience with data analysis and manipulation. Are there any other industries that utilize this skillset? What are some job titles I can search for besides data analyst?

How’d you get your charter if you don’t do anything relevant?

How about corporate finance or planning at non-finance companies? Companies still need people who can do finance-like work. It’s just banks are not hiring.

It is relevant, just not in a fashion most people think. I help banks mitigate risk, which includes credit and market risk, but it is very operational in nature (e.g., telling clients they need to expand their risk management department or to beef up their asset liability management policy). What I don’t do is deal directly with the product offerings or perform any valuation work. The last time I touched a Bloomberg terminal was 3 years ago if you can believe that.

I’ll take a look around. Thanks for the rec!

It sounds like you had to massage your work experience to make it work. I know these days, people say you can get practically get any work experience approved…

"I work for a power company, without electricity, no one can do anything investment related . Therefore I am a significant contributor to the investment process "

as ohai said, look in corporate finance at non-finance companies. I am currently in the hiring process at a telecom firm. The duties are varied and interesting : working on M&A, pricing of OCT derivatives, analysis of the company’s pension funds, analysis of the industry and the competitors, etc. It is only an entry level job but it sounds really interesting for a first job and a good way to learn many things! Speaking of Bloomberg, they have a terminal and I’ll use it on a daily basis.

I was going to say this too. Try to get into corporate development (internal M&A) at a Fortune 500. You will get good experience that is directly applicable to Wall Street and you can switch into so called “high finance” whenever the recession ends.

I don’t know how old you are, but some kind of treasury rotation would not be bad either. Most people don’t have a clue how cash moves through a company, and that’s valuable stuff to know on Wall Street. Some kind of Fortune 500 finance rotation would be fantastic. I honestly wish that I had done that before becoming an analyst. The insight from such experience would be clutch in evaluating distressed bonds and equity.

I’m looking at this over a very long time horizon, assuming you want to be in finance for the rest of your career.

I think you’ve gotten a lot of good recommendations already from the other users, e.g. bromion, ohai and Tahi. One thing you should do if you haven’t done so already is to speak extensively with people in your alumni database in related fields (such as the ones others here have talked about). Your idea is to get an idea of what they do and why they like thier jobs, but I mean really try to get down to the nitty gritty – ask them what they do on an every-day basis and if you don’t understand what they’re talking about, ask them to clarify. Your goal should be to get as clear of an understanding of their roles so you can see whether there’s any overlap in your skill set with what they do, and whether or not you’d like what they did anyway.

Secondly, as iteracom noted, you may need to “massage” your work experience as you did to get CFA credentialing to potential employers. As many of you know, I run a side consulting business where I help advise people on how to break into “front-office finance” through resume reviews, mock interviews, general career guidance, and so forth. The business was set up with the main purpose of getting more people into finance – at least people that REALLY want to do finance (the side income is good for me too but not significant). Anyway, I notice from many clients and people on this forum that people frequently think that their resume, if it doesn’t have an Ivy League degree or some other highly analytical role, will prevent them from getting into a front office finance role. It’s natural to think that way given how tough it is to break into the business, but so much of it comes down to how you position yourself and how you realize your own “hidden talents.”

Obviously every client’s situation is different, but here is one story I’ve been given permission to share. This client had been working for two years in accounting and valuation and really wanted to get into investment banking. He felt his resume was just mostly just analyzing financial statements, ensuring compliance with filing guidelines, and so forth. He had come to dread his accounting job so much that he basically couldn’t even think for himself how it might be relevant towards investment banking, even though accounting is one of the main underpinnings of what bankers do. On the other hand, I could tell he was really excited about the capital markets. That said, he didn’t really have the alumni network or recruiting channels to get a job in banking.

Sucks for him, right? Well, not exactly. He, like you and other people, needed to find a way to demonstrate their worth to their potential employer. This person obviously was good at accounting so I figured learning M&A and LBO modeling wouldn’t be a huge stretch, and once he did that, I suggested he might even prepare his own model for a potential stock that he thought would be a good acquisition target by another strategic. Obviously it takes a fair bit of work to build a model like this especially with no banking training, but the guy already had the valuation skills, was pretty good at Excel, and just needed to find a way to bridge the other gaps in his current job with what he needed to get for his “dream job” in banking. Well, obviously I took the time to review his model for him and had to make quite a few corrections, but that’s not a huge deal. This client took matters into his own hands and figured out how to make himself look different from the rest. At the end of the process, this guy had a fully functional M&A model that he could send to potential employers, and he differentiated himself from other aspiring bankers by being able to say that he already knew M&A modeling. Better yet, he had a model to prove it and could send it to people if he wanted to. Best of all, he had the CONFIDENCE to know that he could handle the rigors of the job he always wanted. Anyway, it’s not as though Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon came knocking at his door all of a sudden, but he did tell me he started to get a few more callbacks on interviews and felt more confident reaching out to people to schedule coffee chats. A few months and interview rounds later, he ended up getting an offer from a regional boutique investment bank doing – you guessed it – M&A.

Anyway, your move may vary but hopefully the above story at least gives you some ideas of how you could tailor your situation. Yes there will definitely be some legwork that you need to do, but for any job, you have to demonstrate that you can offer value to your employer and preferably you will require minimal supervision and oversight. All I’m saying is that your “dream job” may be not as far out of your reach as you think – you may just need to be re-thinking your positioning plan.

Having said all of that, it is definitely one of the tougher times to break into finance and there are plenty of worthwhile careers outside of Wall Street. At a very minimum, conversations with alumni can help elucidate for you whether you should stay in finance or if you may find a better career working at a Fortune-500 company in corporate finance, a mid-sized firm with a more horizontal structure, or even a startup doing something more entrepreneurial. You’re still young so you can afford to take some chances.

Hope this helps…

Hmm. I have a feeling “numi: the book” will appear one day. Basically, all you have to do is stalk… err, follow the recruitment process of a few dozen aspiring finance workers. And then, choose the most interesting ones and write case studies about why you think each one failed or succeeded. This would be more useful, or at least more interesting, than a lot of the career guidance books I’ve seen. Clearly, writing large amounts of text also comes easily to you…

This. You’re using your finance expertise to rationalize business decisions. This seems much more fun (to me) than shuffling money to make rich people richer.

I think it helps if you decide what you want to “do”. Like what are you interested in?

I think he wants to do finance, but is unsuccessful in finding a job.

I could be wrong, but I think finance is a pretty broad field.

haha, it was late at night and I was waiting for a caffeine high to wear off…

Every post I’ve seen Numi write is super solid…really appreciate the time you put into this forum.

As for the poster, I would definitely agree with what other people have said. A lot of the larger companies will have their own internal division to managing capital and doing M&A type work. For example, within Intel, they have a group called Intel Capital and they strictly focus on M&A of smaller tech companies. To make it work, as others have said you’d probably just have to tweak the way you position yourself for a role like this but it is certainly not impossible.

Thanks, I applied to few spots at GM and GE so we’ll see what happens.

^ I’m pretty familiar with GM. Let me know what happens. Their corporate finance group has had a revolving door lately of people coming and going.

Thanks for the good word nielsen…much appreciated! Good suggestion about internal M&A or biz dev work as well. OP should look into opportunities at Danaher if he hasn’t done so already – they do a ton of recruiting at the MBA level but not sure what roles there are for people earlier in their career. Doesn’t hurt to look though.

Just filled out an application for Danaher, thanks. GM and GE sent rejection letters out earlier this week.