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Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path

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Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 07 Sep 2010, 22:43
Hi,

So basically, I was wondering what the typical career path for a financial analyst at a large company would be and what the daily job is like (i.e. how it compares to consulting, investment banking, what kind of work is done, etc)? I was thinking that typically, it would go something like:

Financial Analyst 1 => Financial Analyst 2 => MBA => Senior Fin Analyst => Director of Finance => VP of Finance => CFO but what would you say is correct?

Finally, not to be superficial, but what is compensation like at senior levels and how is the work-life balance.

I guess what I'm really asking is if you all can educate me about anything and everything you know about being a financial analyst at a non-banking institution.

Thanks!
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2010, 19:16
As far as career progression, I would say MBA is necessary to get to Director of Finance level. Compensation levels are more senior levels like director of finance, expect low 100s. VP of Finance probably high 100-low 200s depending on how big your group is. The work life balance is amazing, few lates nights.
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2010, 20:30
if you want to climb the ladder you gotta get an mba, at least it is easier...
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2010, 20:37
That's true shaselai, and ranking of MBA is not as important. It is actually very common for F500's to pay for a part time MBA while progressing in career.
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 09 Sep 2010, 03:05
shaselai wrote:
if you want to climb the ladder you gotta get an mba, at least it is easier...


Yeah that's what I figured, but does anyone have any insight about what a typical day is like/what responsibilities are involved? Pay would be nice to know as well, although that isn't that important compared to knowing what thejob is like.

Also, how much accounting would I need for jobs like this? I know that most of the work is accounting based, so I'll probably take a couple of intermediate financial accounting to familiarize myself, but I really don't want to major in accounting for a couple of reasons:

1. For an accounting major, I'd have to take a lot of taxation classes, which I have no interest in whatsoever. If I need a CPA for positions, I'd rather just go for a MAcc designed for non-accounting majors and do it that way than waste another year learning the same crap in the MACC program.

2. Accounting requires a lot more classes in a narrow discipline, and if I major in, for example, finance, I'll be able to take math classes and more advanced economics classes instead of just doing the same accounting courses, and then learning it again in the MACC. Plus, if I do finance, I'll be able to graduate ahead of schedule and save a fair amount of money on tuition and housing, plus I'll be able to travel and do more of what I want.

One last thing I could use help with is in determining what MBAs place best into general management/financial management positions? I'd imagine the M7 do well, but are there any hidden gems that I should look into, because I'm probably not HSW material sadly.
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 09 Sep 2010, 04:28
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typical career path for a financial analyst at a large company would be and what the daily job is like (i.e. how it compares to consulting, investment banking, what kind of work is done, etc)?

Completely unrelated to typical career trek in banking or consulting. Not even close.

Basically, right out of college, you can join accounting/finance programs at Fortune 500 companies via OCR. (that's how most people without any work experience gets hired).

Then depending on the company (not all Fortune 500 work the same way), you may have to spend 4-7 years as analyst/senior analyst role before having a chance to get promoted to manager or director level. Some companies like to just throw out "titles" as if they are promoting you, while other companies - it takes years to get manager title, and much longer to get even "director" title. At some companies, "Director" title is equivalent to VP title at other companies.

If you are joining finance/accounting dept from another job - unless you have really relevant work experience to the job that you are applying for, you may get treated like a second class citizen to CPAs or MBAs.

Daily role? Pretty boring at most companies. It also depends on the company. With retail companies, they may work you to death because 1) all they do is cost-cutting 2) many refuse to invest in IT so you may have to deal with really poor decision supporting system 3) unhappy companies have unhappy co-workers + incompetent people

A lot of companies like to "rotate" you in various roles from accounts payable, treasury, budget & planning, business analysis, etc etc. It is nice way of saying, we can't promote you but we can give you new roles every couple of years.

Quote:
Finally, not to be superficial, but what is compensation like at senior levels and how is the work-life balance.

Depends on where you work. They have to pay you more in some cities (NYC, SF, etc) compared to other cities. One can expect to get about $40K-$45K in the midwest right out of college.

At senior levels, it depends on your role and whether you have CPA, MBA, etc. Unless you are a star and you get constantly promoted, your salary may be lower (as someone who stayed with one company for years) compared to someone just hired from outside for similar role. This is due to HR BS and its compensation policy. I had one client from my previous career where they hired a manager for finance role from outside with MBA and CPA designation. That person's salary was higher than the Director's salary that he reported to.

Quote:
typical day is like/what responsibilities are involved?

Depends on the company. But most Fortune 500 companies have boring workdays unless you are in the middle of a closing week (accountants), or budget planning process (financial reporting & budgeting), or preparing for 10K, etc. Again, depends on the dept and the company.

Quote:
how much accounting would I need for jobs like this?

A lot. Whether you have finance major or accounting major, all you do is accounting in Fortune 500 finance dept (unless you work in Treasury dept).

Quote:
For an accounting major, I'd have to take a lot of taxation classes, which I have no interest in whatsoever. If I need a CPA for positions, I'd rather just go for a MAcc designed for non-accounting majors and do it that way than waste another year learning the same crap in the MACC program.

No idea what this means. Undergraduate Accounting Major = MAcc Curriculum. You learn basically the same thing. Usually you don't take more than 1 or 2 tax classes (one on individual tax and another on entity tax) as accounting major. MAcc for non accounting majors HAVE to take tax courses. Why? It's on the CPA exam.

Quote:
Accounting requires a lot more classes in a narrow discipline, and if I major in, for example, finance, I'll be able to take math classes and more advanced economics classes instead of just doing the same accounting courses, and then learning it again in the MACC. Plus, if I do finance, I'll be able to graduate ahead of schedule and save a fair amount of money on tuition and housing, plus I'll be able to travel and do more of what I want.

You can say the same about every single major. That's what MAJOR is for. You HAVE to concentrate in a narrow discipline. Besides, if you plan on working in accounting/finance dept of Fortune 500, 80% of the stuff that you learn as a Finance major is useless. The rest (20%) that you learn in Corp Finance, you probably won't use it until you get to mid level position or work in Treasury. When you start out, all you do is boring accounting (accounts payable, journal entries, etc). You can't avoid it. Companies consider that as part of your training.
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 09 Sep 2010, 05:26
great info nink +1!
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 09 Sep 2010, 21:40
lol wow your post really scares me. I knew that I would mostly be doing accounting, but I was hoping that it wouldn't be as terrible as you described it (although if I get into treasury, budgeting/planning, or business analysis groups then it might be legit). Are there any upsides to the job, because so far, with the way you've described it (btw, thanks for being honest and please continue to be honest), my life will suck for 4-7 years there? Basicallly, it seems like all entry level positions suck. I've heard i-banking analysts and even MBB consultants complain about being the entry level peon, so is doing it as a financial analyst that much worse? I'd imagine that at least the hours are better, you have a chance to do different tasks (although consulting wins in that department), and you still get decent pay with a chance of going to a good MBA with your work experience. Is that true, or not so much?

Also, would getting an MBA and or CFA speed up the process of getting promoted? I'd probably get my MBA after 3, maybe 4 years of working, so would that help at all, especially if I go to a good school, or not really? Would corporate banking (not investment banking) maybe be a better choice in terms of having a better daily routine?

Finally, I guess I didn't explain the MAcc/my major choice well enough. Basically, what I'm saying is that if I major in accounting, I'll basically be taking the same classes at the masters in accounting level twice because the two are virtually the same with maybe small differences. Thus, it might be better for me to major in finance while taking a few more accounting classes (in case I don't pursue the MAcc) especially since finance has fewer requirements in terms of business classes (I can broaden my horizons a bit more compared to accounting), I can graduate sooner (thus avoid living/travel costs), and I can still do a masters in accounting to get the requisite knowledge anyway.

nink wrote:
Quote:
typical career path for a financial analyst at a large company would be and what the daily job is like (i.e. how it compares to consulting, investment banking, what kind of work is done, etc)?

Completely unrelated to typical career trek in banking or consulting. Not even close.

Basically, right out of college, you can join accounting/finance programs at Fortune 500 companies via OCR. (that's how most people without any work experience gets hired).

Then depending on the company (not all Fortune 500 work the same way), you may have to spend 4-7 years as analyst/senior analyst role before having a chance to get promoted to manager or director level. Some companies like to just throw out "titles" as if they are promoting you, while other companies - it takes years to get manager title, and much longer to get even "director" title. At some companies, "Director" title is equivalent to VP title at other companies.

If you are joining finance/accounting dept from another job - unless you have really relevant work experience to the job that you are applying for, you may get treated like a second class citizen to CPAs or MBAs.

Daily role? Pretty boring at most companies. It also depends on the company. With retail companies, they may work you to death because 1) all they do is cost-cutting 2) many refuse to invest in IT so you may have to deal with really poor decision supporting system 3) unhappy companies have unhappy co-workers + incompetent people

A lot of companies like to "rotate" you in various roles from accounts payable, treasury, budget & planning, business analysis, etc etc. It is nice way of saying, we can't promote you but we can give you new roles every couple of years.

Quote:
Finally, not to be superficial, but what is compensation like at senior levels and how is the work-life balance.

Depends on where you work. They have to pay you more in some cities (NYC, SF, etc) compared to other cities. One can expect to get about $40K-$45K in the midwest right out of college.

At senior levels, it depends on your role and whether you have CPA, MBA, etc. Unless you are a star and you get constantly promoted, your salary may be lower (as someone who stayed with one company for years) compared to someone just hired from outside for similar role. This is due to HR BS and its compensation policy. I had one client from my previous career where they hired a manager for finance role from outside with MBA and CPA designation. That person's salary was higher than the Director's salary that he reported to.

Quote:
typical day is like/what responsibilities are involved?

Depends on the company. But most Fortune 500 companies have boring workdays unless you are in the middle of a closing week (accountants), or budget planning process (financial reporting & budgeting), or preparing for 10K, etc. Again, depends on the dept and the company.

Quote:
how much accounting would I need for jobs like this?

A lot. Whether you have finance major or accounting major, all you do is accounting in Fortune 500 finance dept (unless you work in Treasury dept).

Quote:
For an accounting major, I'd have to take a lot of taxation classes, which I have no interest in whatsoever. If I need a CPA for positions, I'd rather just go for a MAcc designed for non-accounting majors and do it that way than waste another year learning the same crap in the MACC program.

No idea what this means. Undergraduate Accounting Major = MAcc Curriculum. You learn basically the same thing. Usually you don't take more than 1 or 2 tax classes (one on individual tax and another on entity tax) as accounting major. MAcc for non accounting majors HAVE to take tax courses. Why? It's on the CPA exam.

Quote:
Accounting requires a lot more classes in a narrow discipline, and if I major in, for example, finance, I'll be able to take math classes and more advanced economics classes instead of just doing the same accounting courses, and then learning it again in the MACC. Plus, if I do finance, I'll be able to graduate ahead of schedule and save a fair amount of money on tuition and housing, plus I'll be able to travel and do more of what I want.

You can say the same about every single major. That's what MAJOR is for. You HAVE to concentrate in a narrow discipline. Besides, if you plan on working in accounting/finance dept of Fortune 500, 80% of the stuff that you learn as a Finance major is useless. The rest (20%) that you learn in Corp Finance, you probably won't use it until you get to mid level position or work in Treasury. When you start out, all you do is boring accounting (accounts payable, journal entries, etc). You can't avoid it. Companies consider that as part of your training.
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 07:53
You do realize most entry level jobs suck big time right?
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 07:55
Dawgie wrote:
You do realize most entry level jobs suck big time right?



gotta start from somewhere no?
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 08:37
shaselai wrote:
Dawgie wrote:
You do realize most entry level jobs suck big time right?



gotta start from somewhere no?

Well yea, but the TS seems to be shocked that these entry level positions aren't that glorious.
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 08:51
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Are there any upsides to the job, because so far, with the way you've described it (btw, thanks for being honest and please continue to be honest), my life will suck for 4-7 years there? Basicallly, it seems like all entry level positions suck.

Like I've said before, not all companies are the same. Some really good companies don't even hire kids right out of college but only at graduate level. Depending on where you find work right out of college, your life can be as miserable as I've mentioned, or not. But like I've said, it's not that exciting because how can any company give you any role (that you may consider as "exciting") right out of college? You will have to do some grunt work for few years. Many people feel this way and that's why they return to bschool for a MBA degree. They are looking to change career path or boost their chances of getting a promotion, etc.

Some people find joy in everything that they do, so if you are one of those people, your life won't "suck for 4-7 years". After you graduate, do the best that you can for few years and when you feel that you need to return to bschool for "change", then you can reconsider your options later on.

Quote:
Also, would getting an MBA and or CFA speed up the process of getting promoted? I'd probably get my MBA after 3, maybe 4 years of working, so would that help at all, especially if I go to a good school, or not really? Would corporate banking (not investment banking) maybe be a better choice in terms of having a better daily routine?

CFA is probably more useful at a bank than corporate america. MBA may or may not help you with your career. After all, it's your performance that will boost your career. A lot of successful people rose through the ranks without MBA or any kind of special designation.

Don't try to over-plan things, when it comes to your career. Whatever options that you have, choose the path that you enjoy (not because having company X on your resume will boost your career options). If you are unhappy, your performance will suffer no matter where you work or how intelligent you are. There is no such thing as better option. People find success in life by taking various paths. (not just IB or MC)


Quote:
Finally, I guess I didn't explain the MAcc/my major choice well enough. Basically, what I'm saying is that if I major in accounting, I'll basically be taking the same classes at the masters in accounting level twice because the two are virtually the same with maybe small differences. Thus, it might be better for me to major in finance while taking a few more accounting classes (in case I don't pursue the MAcc) especially since finance has fewer requirements in terms of business classes (I can broaden my horizons a bit more compared to accounting), I can graduate sooner (thus avoid living/travel costs), and I can still do a masters in accounting to get the requisite knowledge anyway.

Study whatever you want. But there is no point of getting MAcc unless you plan on working in public accounting and passing CPA exam. But like I've said before, stuff you learn as a finance major is only useful or relevant if you end up working on Wall St in front/middle office. It's just not relevant to most entry level positions, especially accounting/finance jobs in corporate america.
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 24 Sep 2010, 23:59
First time poster, and I agree 100% with what Nink says. I work in a fortune 100 finance department and it is exactly as he describes.


nink wrote:
Quote:
Are there any upsides to the job, because so far, with the way you've described it (btw, thanks for being honest and please continue to be honest), my life will suck for 4-7 years there? Basicallly, it seems like all entry level positions suck.

Like I've said before, not all companies are the same. Some really good companies don't even hire kids right out of college but only at graduate level. Depending on where you find work right out of college, your life can be as miserable as I've mentioned, or not. But like I've said, it's not that exciting because how can any company give you any role (that you may consider as "exciting") right out of college? You will have to do some grunt work for few years. Many people feel this way and that's why they return to bschool for a MBA degree. They are looking to change career path or boost their chances of getting a promotion, etc.

Some people find joy in everything that they do, so if you are one of those people, your life won't "suck for 4-7 years". After you graduate, do the best that you can for few years and when you feel that you need to return to bschool for "change", then you can reconsider your options later on.

Quote:
Also, would getting an MBA and or CFA speed up the process of getting promoted? I'd probably get my MBA after 3, maybe 4 years of working, so would that help at all, especially if I go to a good school, or not really? Would corporate banking (not investment banking) maybe be a better choice in terms of having a better daily routine?

CFA is probably more useful at a bank than corporate america. MBA may or may not help you with your career. After all, it's your performance that will boost your career. A lot of successful people rose through the ranks without MBA or any kind of special designation.

Don't try to over-plan things, when it comes to your career. Whatever options that you have, choose the path that you enjoy (not because having company X on your resume will boost your career options). If you are unhappy, your performance will suffer no matter where you work or how intelligent you are. There is no such thing as better option. People find success in life by taking various paths. (not just IB or MC)


Quote:
Finally, I guess I didn't explain the MAcc/my major choice well enough. Basically, what I'm saying is that if I major in accounting, I'll basically be taking the same classes at the masters in accounting level twice because the two are virtually the same with maybe small differences. Thus, it might be better for me to major in finance while taking a few more accounting classes (in case I don't pursue the MAcc) especially since finance has fewer requirements in terms of business classes (I can broaden my horizons a bit more compared to accounting), I can graduate sooner (thus avoid living/travel costs), and I can still do a masters in accounting to get the requisite knowledge anyway.

Study whatever you want. But there is no point of getting MAcc unless you plan on working in public accounting and passing CPA exam. But like I've said before, stuff you learn as a finance major is only useful or relevant if you end up working on Wall St in front/middle office. It's just not relevant to most entry level positions, especially accounting/finance jobs in corporate america.
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2010, 14:40
Definitely useful information. I can't wait to start actually using material I learned in school in the workplace.
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Re: Financial Analyst at F500 Career Path   [#permalink] 28 Sep 2010, 14:40
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