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I'm going to be starting in Big 4 audit later this year, and already know that hardcore accounting, let alone auditing, is not the end game for me. I simply want the accounting bootcamp and name on my resume. Instead, I want to move into corporate FP&A, with plans to work up to Director/VP level, maybe even CFO if i'm lucky.

My plan as of now is to do about 3-5 years of Big 4, study hard like a mofo for the GMAT, and apply to a decent b-school. I took the GMAT before for my Macc, and got a 680, so I figure I can reasonably get that same score, if not higher. I'm primarily looking at top 15-30 schools (think Emory, Indiana, Notre Dame).

I've read a lot about FLDP's at F500's, but mostly for those straight out of undergrad. Any opinions the relevance of these programs post MBA, particularly in relation to my goals? Any advice is much appreciated.

Comments (20)

  • Bullet-Tooth Tony's picture

    You thought wrong. There are many F500 firms that offer FLDP programs for MBA-level candidates.

    Your experience sounds perfectly legit. I was in supply chain, got my MBA w/a finance concentration and landed an offer at one of the largest private companies in the world for an FLDP position. Went to a school in the similar range. Ended up turning down that offer for IB, but I had one offer and two "waitlists" from big name corporations (think Cargill, General Mills, United Healthcare, Allstate, Ford, Lockheed Martin).

  • D M's picture

    There's a thread in this (Corporate) forum with links to a bunch of FLDPs, and some of those have links to graduate programs. That is by no means an exhaustive list.

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • PaleBlueDot's picture

    romborama:
    I'm going to be starting in Big 4 audit later this year, and already know that hardcore accounting, let alone auditing, is not the end game for me. I simply want the accounting bootcamp and name on my resume. Instead, I want to move into corporate FP&A, with plans to work up to Director/VP level, maybe even CFO if i'm lucky.

    My plan as of now is to do about 3-5 years of Big 4, study hard like a mofo for the GMAT, and apply to a decent b-school. I took the GMAT before for my Macc, and got a 680, so I figure I can reasonably get that same score, if not higher. I'm primarily looking at top 15-30 schools (think Emory, Indiana, Notre Dame).

    I've read a lot about FLDP's at F500's, but mostly for those straight out of undergrad. Any opinions the relevance of these programs post MBA, particularly in relation to my goals? Any advice is much appreciated.

    Hi Rombo,

    There are plenty of post-mba FLDP's at F500's and your experience sounds like it would put you in a good place for recruiting. Our program is 2 years with a required international rotation, and will likely exit you into the manager/sr manager level, then you can climb up from there. I think these programs are well suited to your goals.

    Best of luck

  • Accrual Dictator's picture

    You don't necessarily HAVE to get an MBA to move into FP&A. Big 4 audit => FP&A isn't that unreasonable of a transition (and it's definitely not as hard as big 4 => corp dev for example). I would try networking with the clients you're put on/leveraging your Big 4 alumni network when you're looking to jump ship. An MBA is a useful thing to have, but you already have a masters and (should) have a relevant credential to your name (the CPA), so the MBA could end up being a gigantic waste of time and money, especially since you probably won't be learning anything new regardless.

    If I were you, I'd try to jump into a good FP&A job right after your B4 stint and only use the MBA if you get a good scholarship/if it's impossible to detach yourself from the accountant label for some reason. You can also look into B4 advisory groups and jump from there as well.

  • In reply to Accrual Dictator
    PaleBlueDot's picture

    Accrual Dictator:
    You don't necessarily HAVE to get an MBA to move into FP&A. Big 4 audit => FP&A isn't that unreasonable of a transition (and it's definitely not as hard as big 4 => corp dev for example). I would try networking with the clients you're put on/leveraging your Big 4 alumni network when you're looking to jump ship. An MBA is a useful thing to have, but you already have a masters and (should) have a relevant credential to your name (the CPA), so the MBA could end up being a gigantic waste of time and money, especially since you probably won't be learning anything new regardless.

    If I were you, I'd try to jump into a good FP&A job right after your B4 stint and only use the MBA if you get a good scholarship/if it's impossible to detach yourself from the accountant label for some reason. You can also look into B4 advisory groups and jump from there as well.

    I certainly agree that this is something to seriously consider; people do MBA's for different reasons. Doing a long term cost benefit considering savings, mba brand, fldp brand, 2 years, etc will be tricky and personal, but this is the route I'd probably go given that background. FLDP is by no means a requirement to get to director/vp/cfo/etc

  • In reply to PaleBlueDot
    PaleBlueDot's picture

    Aspirant21][quote=Accrual Dictator:
    You don't necessarily HAVE to get an MBA to move into FP&A. Big 4 audit => FP&A isn't that unreasonable of a transition (and it's definitely not as hard as big 4 => corp dev for example). I would try networking with the clients you're put on/leveraging your Big 4 alumni network when you're looking to jump ship. An MBA is a useful thing to have, but you already have a masters and (should) have a relevant credential to your name (the CPA), so the MBA could end up being a gigantic waste of time and money, especially since you probably won't be learning anything new regardless.

    If I were you, I'd try to jump into a good FP&A job right after your B4 stint and only use the MBA if you get a good scholarship/if it's impossible to detach yourself from the accountant label for some reason. You can also look into B4 advisory groups and jump from there as well.

    I certainly agree that this is something to seriously consider; people do MBA's for different reasons. Doing a long term cost benefit considering savings, mba brand, fldp brand, 2 years, etc will be tricky and personal, but this is the route I'd probably go given that background (contingent on getting a manager role upon the big4 exit, I don't see why you couldn't play both hands here, applying for MBA's while fishing for a good industry spot). At any rate, FLDP is by no means a requirement to get to director/vp/cfo/etc

  • romborama's picture

    Thanks for the responses everyone. There's another thread on here somewhere that linked to some cfo/director bios, and it seems like most of them had MBA's under their belt. Based on what I've gathered from past internship experience, and what others have told me, PA is really good for teaching the ins and outs of accounting, but not really too much on the analysis/decision-making end. I figure the MBA would be good to have later on, and would teach more of the overall analysis I need to know. Being "well-rounded" and all...Again, any comments are appreciated.

  • In reply to romborama
    PaleBlueDot's picture

    Yea, fair points. I'd be interested in seeing some discussion on pro/con of an MBA for F500. Most of the pro-MBA sentiments on this board refer to them being a good networking investment as IB/PE are relationship businesses. For what its worth, the few presidents/sector ceo's I know all have top MBA's, as they are former engineers who took on management roles. For finance, some do some don't.

  • In reply to romborama
    Accrual Dictator's picture

    romborama:
    Thanks for the responses everyone. There's another thread on here somewhere that linked to some cfo/director bios, and it seems like most of them had MBA's under their belt. Based on what I've gathered from past internship experience, and what others have told me, PA is really good for teaching the ins and outs of accounting, but not really too much on the analysis/decision-making end. I figure the MBA would be good to have later on, and would teach more of the overall analysis I need to know. Being "well-rounded" and all...Again, any comments are appreciated.

    Interesting. When I see most CFO bios, a lot of them worked in public accounting or worked their way up from the bottom of the company to CFO. The only CFOs I see that typically have i-banking experience are in the social media tech companies; everyone else seems to be B4 accountants.

    One thing you may have to consider is that if you're only looking at F500 companies, the whole MBA thing is likely just an add-on and wasn't something that really pushed them to the top. For example, GE's CEO, Jeff Immelt, went to Harvard for his MBA but mostly got where he was by being an outstanding performer in GE's FMP program (which a lot of people claim discourages MBAs). Having a CPA + MBA is very, very attractive, but all I wanted to say is that you don't have to rush out and get an MBA because there's a good chance you might not need one.

    Especially if you do a FT MBA, you're giving up a lot in real and opportunity costs for an extra few letters, so I wouldn't necessarily do it unless your employers start saying otherwise. Also, I don't think an MBA will teach you much about "analysis/decision-making". I might be in the minority, but I firmly believe a lot of an MBA is about perception and the networking one gets. Practical experience trumps any "case-work" that one does in business school when it comes to making real, analytical business decisions that impact an organization.

    Best of luck to you whatever you decide!

  • Bullet-Tooth Tony's picture

    MBA is better suited for CEO than CFO. It is still a big plus as you compete to move up the corporate ladder IMO. People discount the value of the thought process you develop in an MBA program. I've always found that most accountants really struggle with strategy, high-level and even financial terminology (again, that is a generalization from my experience with them).

    As a CFO you need to know more than just basic accounting, depending on the industry you work in. You may get grilled on CapEx plans, derivatives, M&A, etc.

    Those CFOs that understand more than just the pure accounting side are the ones that become coveted and tend to be able to make the switch to CEO.

  • In reply to Bullet-Tooth Tony
    romborama's picture

    peinvestor2012:
    People discount the value of the thought process you develop in an MBA program. I've always found that most accountants really struggle with strategy, high-level and even financial terminology (again, that is a generalization from my experience with them).

    As a CFO you need to know more than just basic accounting, depending on the industry you work in. You may get grilled on CapEx plans, derivatives, M&A, etc.

    Those CFOs that understand more than just the pure accounting side are the ones that become coveted and tend to be able to make the switch to CEO.

    And this is part of the reason why I've strongly considered getting an MBA. There's a world's difference between knowing the right debits/credits and knowing how to improve a company's financial standing. Plus, I'd rather have the MBA and not need it than need it and not have it.

  • chimpout's picture

    just a quick look at any mba curriculum should tell you the answer -- you do it for access to recruitment, not skills.

    if you already have some financial background, you should be able to pick up what you need to know on your own. otherwise it's doubtful you have what it takes to progress anyway

  • Industry84's picture

    "Plus, I'd rather have the MBA and not need it than need it and not have it."

    Exactly. Go for the MBA, but if I were in your shoes, I would get into a F500 first and then do a top ranked part time MBA and let your employer help you with the tab. No need to give up two years of income while paying tuition with the full time program. I work in FP&A at a F500 and folks from public accounting are highly sought after in the corporate accounting/finance world. You don't need the MBA to get into a F500 job, but the MBA will definitely help to push you up the ladder after you're in.

  • Accrual Dictator's picture

    ^Exactly. The MBA is mostly just a bolt-on. I was speaking with someone who works in strategic finance and he said that doing Big 4 audit => CPA => FP&A is a reasonable transition. He did say that having an MBA would help for whatever reason, but he also said that getting a part-time from a decent school (i.e. not necessarily an M7 like MBB/IB/PE/HFs would require but a top-tier state school like UCLA would work if you're in LA for example) is probably good enough at that point. No need to kill one's bank account unless you want to change careers and move into high finance for an extra 3 letters.

  • romborama's picture

    This is all great info everyone. I'm about 90% sure that an MBA is in my future somewhere. Another concern I have is my geographic location. I'm going to be working in my hometown, and know for a fact that I plan on leaving here. Before, I saw the MBA as another chance to get out of my city and go elsewhere, but it seems like the advice I'm gettig is to go to corporate first and convince them to pay for it. Any suggestions on moving out of my city for the FP&A job before the MBA? How often do companies actually look at apps from their website? Other methods?

  • Industry84's picture

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