T Nation

Certified in the Finance Industry


#1

Hi all,

Graduated with a B.S. in finance earlier this year. And now just got a job at a major bank as a loan analyst. I start next week. I'm really not sure what career I want to work towards, but I know that I'm happy with climbing a corporate ladder, whether it be banking, investing, etc. I'm curious as I start my career, if anyone with knowledge or looking back would do things differently to "help" your career. I've been thinking about working towards a CFA or some series certs but am not sure which to do as I don't know where my career will take me (or even a CPA). I want to be as valuable as I can as an employee in order to make the big $$$ but being a fresh employee I want to start off at a manageable cert.

Looking forward to some advice!


#2

Forget about certs at this point in your career unless you have a better idea of the direction you want to take, they’re directly applicable to your job, or your company will pay for the training. Imho - and smarter people than me may disagree - you should be focused on nailing your first promotion. You want to move from an analyst to an associate as quickly as possible and hopefully in an area you could see yourself spending time in. You can’t do that if you’re spending 30 hours a week studying for the CFA.

Put together a 30 day - 60 day - 90 day plan for your new position. Your job right now is to not make your direct supervisor look like an asshole. Focus on that.

By day 90 you should know not to come to him with a problem unless you can also propose a solution. You should have already asked him if there are tasks he finds tedious that you can take over. Nail the small details; don’t be the asshole who hits “reply all”. Own everything you do, including - especially - the bad stuff. Don’t hang your boss out to dry, don’t throw your co-workers under the bus. You are utterly replaceable at this point, prove you deserve a seat at your desk.

Once you have an idea of what you want to do - and can prove you can actually justify your salary - should you think about investing significantly in further education.*

  • In no way does this preclude you from taking small steps to increase your knowledge base, I just took an 8 week class on SQL for no other reason than I wanted to learn more about databases.

#3

You may consider law school. IMO CPAs aren’t as prestigious or helpful, as they once were. MBA is always a solid route to go, too.

Some kind of graduate level degree is what I would recommend, and either of those two make the most sense to me.


#4

Agree with Dr. P except you may want to look into the CMA:
http://www.imanet.org/

It’s similar to the CPA, but it’s geared more towards corporate accounting and finance. It sounds like a possible fit for where you’re at and are heading.

[quote]bfq wrote:
You may consider law school. IMO CPAs aren’t as prestigious or helpful, as they once were. MBA is always a solid route to go, too.

Some kind of graduate level degree is what I would recommend, and either of those two make the most sense to me.[/quote]

Why would you compare law school to a certification? If OP decides he wants to be a controller or ultimately a CFO the CPA designation is something he’ll want to have.

Many school, The University of Baltimore for example, has a dual MBA/JD program worth looking into, but you’re talking a lot of money.


#5

It is not a good idea to set goals without clarity. Take some time to figure out what you want to do. You might find you want to take your career in another direction, like myself, once you get your hands dirty with the day-to-day work.


#6

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
Own everything you do, including - especially - the bad stuff. Don’t hang your boss out to dry, don’t throw your co-workers under the bus. You are utterly replaceable at this point, prove you deserve a seat at your desk.

[/quote]

This. Irrelevant of where you work, your title or any of it. This, and never ever not this.


#7

[quote]bfq wrote:
You may consider law school. IMO CPAs aren’t as prestigious or helpful, as they once were. MBA is always a solid route to go, too.

[/quote]

lmao… Right.

Comedy day on TNation I see.


#8

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]bfq wrote:
You may consider law school. IMO CPAs aren’t as prestigious or helpful, as they once were. MBA is always a solid route to go, too.

Some kind of graduate level degree is what I would recommend, and either of those two make the most sense to me.[/quote]

Why would you compare law school to a certification? If OP decides he wants to be a controller or ultimately a CFO the CPA designation is something he’ll want to have.

Many school, The University of Baltimore for example, has a dual MBA/JD program worth looking into, but you’re talking a lot of money. [/quote]

Because CPAs and often times MBAs, ironically, don’t fully understand tax law. Yes, tax law is a specialty that you won’t necessarily learn about just because you went to law school, but a Tax LLM (to which a law degree is a prerequisite) in my opinion is the most prestigious tax/finance degree one can obtain.

True, a tax LLM without a solid background in accounting may still be deficient in some ways, but OP already has a background accounting.

If you know tax law, and very few people do, you can make a lot of money.

To wrap up, I have two thoughts on this topic: 1- a bachelor’s alone, even with all kinds of nifty certifications, is not going to be sufficient in this day and age for the top finance jobs. 2- If you’re going to consider graduate school, 3 years of law school is not that much harder/more expensive than a 2 year master program.

And yes, a joint MBA/JD program is a good way to go, too.


#9

[quote]bfq wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]bfq wrote:
You may consider law school. IMO CPAs aren’t as prestigious or helpful, as they once were. MBA is always a solid route to go, too.

Some kind of graduate level degree is what I would recommend, and either of those two make the most sense to me.[/quote]

Why would you compare law school to a certification? If OP decides he wants to be a controller or ultimately a CFO the CPA designation is something he’ll want to have.

Many school, The University of Baltimore for example, has a dual MBA/JD program worth looking into, but you’re talking a lot of money. [/quote]

Because CPAs and often times MBAs, ironically, don’t fully understand tax law. [/quote]

The OP doesn’t work in tax. He works for a bank.

Even if true, which I doubt, that still doesn’t explain why you would compare a certification (14 hours of testing and work experience) to an advanced degree (years of learning and tens of thousands of dollars).

[quote]
Yes, tax law is a specialty that you won’t necessarily learn about just because you went to law school, but a Tax LLM (to which a law degree is a prerequisite) in my opinion is the most prestigious tax/finance degree one can obtain.[/quote]

The OP said he’s not sure what he wants to do and your suggestion is to spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn a specialty?

I don’t follow how a Tax LLM or MST for that matter translates to finance?

[quote]
True, a tax LLM without a solid background in accounting may still be deficient in some ways, but OP already has a background accounting.[/quote]

His background is in finance not accounting.

[quote]
If you know tax law, and very few people do, you can make a lot of money.[/quote]

Sure, but that isn’t what the OP asked. This is also a completely different career path than the one he just started.

[quote]
To wrap up, I have two thoughts on this topic: 1- a bachelor’s alone, even with all kinds of nifty certifications, is not going to be sufficient in this day and age for the top finance jobs. [/quote]

I still don’t get what a law degree in tax has to do with top finance jobs?


#10

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

I still don’t get what a law degree in tax has to do with top finance jobs?

[/quote]

Pretty sure this is the dude that used to post under “The Outlaw” or whatever and is taking a piss/pot shots.

There arent’ that many rational people that think this way about CPA’s.


#11

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

Lol. Seriously. This is like telling a dude who just finished a PhD in biology that he should go start working on medical school because doctors can make a lot of money.


#12

[quote]countingbeans wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

I still don’t get what a law degree in tax has to do with top finance jobs?

[/quote]

Pretty sure this is the dude that used to post under “The Outlaw” or whatever and is taking a piss/pot shots.

There arent’ that many rational people that think this way about CPA’s. [/quote]

Ya, this guys posts have been head scratches, at least to me. I don’t remember “The Outlaw” could be I guess.


#13

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

Lol. Seriously. This is like telling a dude who just finished a PhD in biology that he should go start working on medical school because doctors can make a lot of money.
[/quote]

Lol, ya, I is confused :confused:


#14

[quote]longtimelurker92 wrote:
…I’ve been thinking about working towards a CFA or some series certs but am not sure which to do as I don’t know where my career will take me (or even a CPA). I want to be as valuable as I can as an employee in order to make the big $$$ but being a fresh employee I want to start off at a manageable cert.

Looking forward to some advice![/quote]

Rather than go point for point, I will try to keep this general.

You guys are right, that a law degree doesn’t have much to do with the first of these sentences. The second sentence, as I understood it, suggested OP was open to any ideas as to how to obtain a top finance job (certs or otherwise, although short term I realize he was looking at certs). I just don’t see someone making it very high up the corp ladder with a bachelor’s as the highest level of education, regardless of how many acronyms you can place behind it.

Yes, a smart hardworking CPA/accounting major can do quite well, but there are way too many smart hardworking CPA+MBAs out there (or quite a few other CPAs with grad degrees). My point, at least to the second sentence of the quote, was that graduate school is highly recommended and I threw out a couple ideas. Whether you want to believe it or not, a JD can be very helpful for these types of jobs.

OP, if you were exclusively asking about certs and was not interested whatsoever in graduate programs, then my apologies for wasting your time.


#15

[quote]bfq wrote:
[/quote]

I see tax law as being a fairly esoteric area of finance (and perhaps it would follow, highly paid) but I’m not sure I see an LLM rising higher than General Counsel at best within a corporation.

Could you explain what the career path within a corporation would look like for a tax LLM?

TIA.


#16

[quote]bfq wrote:
The second sentence, as I understood it, suggested OP was open to any ideas as to how to obtain a top finance job (certs or otherwise, although short term I realize he was looking at certs).
[/quote]

I still don’t follow how a LLM in tax leads to a top finance job?


#17

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:

[quote]bfq wrote:
[/quote]

I see tax law as being a fairly esoteric area of finance (and perhaps it would follow, highly paid) but I’m not sure I see an LLM rising higher than General Counsel at best within a corporation.

Could you explain what the career path within a corporation would look like for a tax LLM?

TIA.
[/quote]

People don’t go to there financial advisor or investment firm for tax advice. They go there for investment advice.

They go to their CPA for tax advice.

This is the real world OP is talking about. Specializing in tax is a dipshit move for him, IMO, unless he wants to do taxes in a CPA form for a living. It’s like common sense is dead.


#18

[quote]countingbeans wrote:

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:

[quote]bfq wrote:
[/quote]

I see tax law as being a fairly esoteric area of finance (and perhaps it would follow, highly paid) but I’m not sure I see an LLM rising higher than General Counsel at best within a corporation.

Could you explain what the career path within a corporation would look like for a tax LLM?

TIA.
[/quote]

People don’t go to there financial advisor or investment firm for tax advice. They go there for investment advice.

They go to their CPA for tax advice.

This is the real world OP is talking about. Specializing in tax is a dipshit move for him, IMO, unless he wants to do taxes in a CPA form for a living. It’s like common sense is dead. [/quote]

Ya.

I work in the finance department of a multi-billion dollar company. Our legal department is completely separate from our finance department. Our new CFO has an MBA from Harvard the prior CFO received an advanced degree from Cambridge I believe. Point being, no one in the upper level management of our finance department has a background in law in general and definitely not in tax law. Many don’t even have advanced degrees (times are changing, however).

On the flip side, my wife is a tax accountant for a regional public accounting firm. They require all of their accountants to be CPAs in order to be promoted to manager. She and many of her colleagues also have a Master of Tax degree.

Graduate School is a great idea I also recommend (almost through an MAcc program myself), but it makes little sense, to me, to pursue an advanced degree in tax unless that is the career you’ve decided you want. Like, you’ve work in the field for years and don’t want to leave it because that LLM or MST is pretty job specific. It’s also expensive.


#19

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

On the flip side, my wife is a tax accountant for a regional public accounting firm. They require all of their accountants to be CPAs in order to be promoted to manager. She and many of her colleagues also have a Master of Tax degree.

[/quote]

As we’ve learned in this thread, your wife isn’t respected or seen as a “go to” profession anymore though…

It’s amazing how much people pay us for not knowing tax law… You’d figure they would chose to go pay 3-6x more an hour for someone with that shiny “lawyer” title instead… Because you know, people love lawyers, and think CPA’s are hacks.

God this thread has me rolling.


#20

Regardless of what anyone has said, you should not pursue a degree of any kind until you know exactly what you want to do. I recommend staying on the path you are now just to earn some money and get experience. In your free time AUDIT (AUDIT = free)courses and explore other areas. There is no sense in making a big decision if you are uncertain about what you want.