Looking for a career in corporate finance
May 24, 2007 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a job in corporate finance. I have a master's degree in accounting and have been working at one of the Big Four for about a year. I went into accounting because I liked working with numbers. But in my current job, I don't work with numbers at all. I'm in a group that audits controls over IT and business processes. I hate it. It bores me to tears.

So I've been surfing around and corporate finance caught my eye. I would love a job where I play with spreadsheets all day to help a company make decisions. I have a very good sense of the time value of money (when I was choosing a lender with which to consolidate my student loans, I made a spreadsheet like you wouldn't believe). Also, while I was in grad school I earned a Microsoft certification as an expert in Excel. Several people have told me I should be working in finance. Finance classes were my favorite classes in grad school.

I've passed one part (of four) of the CPA exam. I'm waiting to hear about the second part. With a lot of effort, I could probably pass the rest of it. And one more thing: I'm in the Raleigh/Durham area and I can't relocate. I hope that doesn't limit me too much.

So, on to the questions.
- Am I correct in my impression of what corporate finance is? (playing with spreadsheets, helping a company make decisions)
- If not (or even if so), what other careers should I be looking at?
- Is it worth it to finish the CPA exam? Should I try to finish it before I start my job search, or should I start searching right away?
- And finally, how do I find my new job, and how do I get it?
posted by Dec One to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have a friend who does that (for the facilities department of a Boston hospital) and her title is 'Business Analyst'. She has, randomly, a Masters of Ed (but a background in management consulting). She loves to play with spreadsheets all day.

I have a another friend who has a job titled 'Data Analyst', but his involves more SQL and less Excel.

So 1) you may wish to look for jobs with those titles 2) you may wish to expand beyond 'corporate' finance and look at other large institutions in your area.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:08 AM on May 24, 2007

This comes with the caveat that I worked in CF in the UK, so your situation might be a bit different...

Whilst there was a fair amount of spreadsheet fun (modeling fundraising ideas), the clients/companies themselves tended to do most of their own financial planning and then come to the broker only when they needed to raise money, which is essentially a corporate broker's job. In a typical deal, the hard-core number crunching and fact verification is usually outsourced to a firm of accountants. If you're at a 'big four' firm, they almost certainly have a division that deals with this aspect of corporate finance - maybe you could use it as a stepping-stone (I know several people who have taken this route into CF-proper).

Research Analysts, on the other hand, were responsible for forecasting companies profits and the like, then writing up notes to distribute to the market. From what you say this might be more up your street. However, you'll have less direct contact with the company itself (because of conflicts of interest inside the brokerage house). If you want to get into analysis you'll need to specialise in one or more of: a region (e.g. US, Europe, Far East), an instrument class (e.g. equities, bonds) or a sector (e.g. Oil & Gas, Retail, Technology) and be able to demonstrate experience of that/those particular market(s). So, again, you might need to make one or two moves in advance of getting to the job (maybe doing internal audit at a specific company?).

Hope this is of some help!
posted by dogsbody at 5:37 AM on May 24, 2007

My boyfriend worked in finance until recently. What propelled him was having an MBA.

He worked in finance, took the CFA, but has since moved to a job where he works on his favorite side task of being a financial analyst - costing/pricing.

I'll ask him what he'd recommend and post it here.
posted by k8t at 8:36 AM on May 24, 2007

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