FDLP Long Term Path & Comp

Weighing a corporate finance offer and had some questions

Background: I will graduate UG in May '23, I go to a commuter non-target state school. (Important context I feel like I should add: I'm 3 years older than I "should" be- aka I'll graduate college 7 years after high school). Got lucky this summer and received two great FT offers, a 2 year F500 finance rotation program and a buy-side commercial real estate acquisitions analyst gig at a small shop. The finance rotation total comp package pays 30k more than the RE in year 1 and over 3-4 years the spread could be a lot of money, not to mention top of line benefits, 401k match, etc. So I want to make sure I'm not crazy if I possibly turn the finance rotation down lol.

My career interests are best laid out like this:

equity research or transaction facing roles like corp development/strategy >> real estate acquisitions >>>> FP&A/accounting/controlling 

I know commercial real estate quite well, just asking about the finance rotation path. I want to make an informed decision.

So really my question is:  if I perform/work hard/network could the FDLP lead to a reasonable shot at my desired finance career preferences down the line (even if it means getting an MBA); or am I kidding myself with how competitive those areas are to enter combined with my school/age/experience?


Comments (7)

nycmadison, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A F500 FLDP will likely give you exposure to things like FP&A, financial reporting, accounting, investor relations, MAYBE corporate development (but not usually). I think you can definitely get some looks for a corp dev/strategy role at another firm after your 2 years in the program, but you won't be the most ideal candidate if you lack M&A experience. ER is also kind of a stretch and you would have to do a lot of learning on your own to prep for those interviews. These outcomes are definitely possible with fortuitous networking and a polished story, but most people who do FLDPs end up in back office finance roles (FP&A/accounting). By the way, age is irrelevant in this discussion. Only experience matters. I would also add that not every F500 FLDP is the same -- are we talking about a brand name company like GE or J&J, or something most people haven't heard of?

I don't know anything about real estate acquisitions but importantly, it's a front office revenue-generating role. It will pay less than the FLDP initially, but I think you potentially have much higher upside in the long term (think 5/10/20 years) if you're successful. You're also building a skill set (diligencing, acquiring and selling real estate) that can be used to start your own company or fund down the line. So no, I don't think you would be crazy at all. 

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev

Agree with the above, I made it to Cop Dev via FLDP. I asked to work on as many CD-adjacent projects as possible while in FP&A (capital raises/allocation) and forecasting (helped with synergy cost modeling). You are viewed as a up-and-commer while in a FLDP and the company wants to keep you so don't be afraid to ask for specific projects when you hear rumors about potential opportunities going around.

If you look to make a move externally you might need to end up at a smaller group but that'll get you some concrete experience but any type of work with a Corp Dev group - even if not direct - is critical to building up a resume that doesn't get immediately thrown away. Also make sure you know your M&A modeling.

dan_yo23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would say that the best path to CD would be from banking, and the best path to ER is either banking or straight to ER.

BUT, I do want to share my experience. I did a F500 FLDP with rotations in cost accounting and FP&A. I then jumped to a F500 utility in an FP&A role. I got a T30 MBA on the side, and then got recruited to IR at a F500 CPG company. This role is adjacent to ER and CD, interacting heavily with those folks. I think after 2ish years in this role I could make a play for either of those paths (though I'm thinking I stay in IR.. we'll see).

So while I'd say my path isn't the typical one, I didn't do anything crazy and would say that if you find yourself in the FLDP you can absolutely shape your experiences to get to ER or CD.

sterling.archer1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks a ton for the insight, pretty encouraging. How do you enjoy the work now? And if you don't mind what's the ballpark pay in a role like that?Sounds pretty interesting.

I've just never been around a large entity. For instance the way I got the acquisitions gig was taking a property accounting internship and almost begging the acquisitions department for work whenever I could and eventually I lucked out.

So I'm sure it depends on the company but did you/do you find the corporate world receptive to that type of mobility? I do have some concerns about politics and stagnation, but it does sound like the firm encourages switching teams even after the rotation (not as sure about depts).

End of the day, I'm not necessarily opposed to any path in any industry or concerned with prestige, maybe I shoot for CD but find something else is more for me on the way. I care about comp and how interesting the work is.

Most Helpful
dan_yo23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I enjoy the work a ton. Maybe it will wear off, but we've had so much go on in few months I've been here. Two earnings cycles, a product recall, another recall-eque event, a secondary offering, a bond raise, investor conference, dozens and dozens of investor calls.. I feel like I've seen so much, which makes me confident that in a couple years I can lead an IR function either at the current company or elsewhere. Current comp is base in the 120s, bonus of 15%. Title is manager, 6 YOE, LCOL.

Internal mobility should be pretty common at a company with an FLDP- there is likely a network of prior FLDPs in various positions who you can work with to get placed somewhere. The whole point of having an FLDP is to develop a pipeline of finance people who can get trained up and stay in the company. The company I did my FLDP with would have been pretty open to movement I think- I just didnt like the industry or the locations they were in.

Huge companies have lots of movement because there are always people leaving or retiring. My current company is F500, but the corporate office is tiny. Since corporate is so small, everything is so relationship based and they seem willing to move you around if you ask and try to target certain roles.. just comes down to timing.

In your shoes I would shoot for entry level ER roles- easier to roll from that to IR or CD than to do it from the FP&A route.. but if nothing comes through, I wouldn't begrudge the FLDP because it is an avenue to shape the career you want.

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev

Yes, FLDPs open up a path to the careers you are seeking. It's not automatic and you have to position yourself correctly but it's doable to get into a transaction or market facing role. I was in a FLDP program and worked myself into a strategy rotation which allowed me make the move to a late stage startup in a joint corp dev and strat function. To be eligible for a pure corp dev role, I probably needed to work in corp dev, or complete more transactions in strat, or do IB.

I'd also caution you that a pure corp dev job can be great depending on what you want to do with your career and your employer but there are downsides. Namely, there are very few corp dev c-suite execs, so it shouldn't be your end goal if you are interested in the c-suite. This is to say have a plan for positioning yourself to eventually take on a CFO or another executive role, which means you'll have to transition to a non-corp dev role at some point. Depending on the company, this could be easier or harder but it's just something to keep in mind. The one constant rule is that if you become a VP it becomes much harder to transition to a non-corp dev function as you'll be making decent money and could be too senior without the right experience to take on say an FP&A or head of sales role. The exception to this rule is if a company has a lot of former corp dev or IB people in its c-suite and corp dev is seen as a general leadership pipeline. 

Klavin, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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