Does this plan make sense? (Audit CPA -> CFA -> Big 4 Corp Fin/IB)

Hey guys.

I'm currently an accounting student at a decently well-known University in a major Canadian city (not a top target like Western/Queens but has a handful of finance placements). 

I secured a Big 4 Audit position full-time once I graduate and I likely can get into a solid CPA Uni with my 3.6 GPA but not any finance spots because they're extremely competitive in my city (usually 3.8-3.9+, extremely good EC's, etc).

How bad of an idea would it be to start in Audit for a couple of years, get my CPA, then move into Transaction Advisory/FDD (which I've been told is very common after 2-3 years in audit at my firm). Then afterward, pursue the CFA and move from FDD to Big 4 Corporate Finance (MM IB)/proper IB spot/other high finance position?

Side note: In Canada, I've heard it is far easier to switch from Big 4 TAS/FDD to proper finance positions at least in my city, this is likely because we aren't a huge market and there is less talent than NYC, London, HK, etc.

I know the CFA is extremely difficult/time consuming compared to CPA and I know that it has little to nothing to do with Corporate Finance / M&A work but it's for two reasons. 1) On Linkedin I've seen a handful of ex-CPAs with CFAs who started in Audit then ended up in Big 4 Corp Fin divisions. 2) Ambition/interest in finance/I have no friends so I almost "want" to get my CFA to expand my knowledge and learn about the field (I also invest a lot personally so this coincides with my personal interests heavily). I feel like having CPA/CFA would give me an insane breadth of understanding/knowledge in the financial industry that could give me a step-up in almost any financial position. Is this wrong?

TLDR: Is it a bad idea for an accounting major who plans to break into finance to start in Audit, get CPA, move to FDD/TAS, get CFA then move into Big 4 Corp Finance/IB? Would this be a huge waste of time? From a pursuit of knowledge point of view, is the CFA worth it in my case? Is it uncommon to see CPA/CFA combinations? What flaws are there in this plan? 

Lastly, I'm also completely fine with my end-goal being Big 4 Corp Fin because in my city they're top 1-3 in amount of large-scale M&A deals they close and their comp/hours are pretty solid in comparison to true Big 5 IB positions.


Would getting the CFA as a "side project" partially for the slight edge in your career but mainly for interest/personal growth be a stupid idea in your opinion? 


I just don't think its worth it for what you're looking to achieve.

I don't have one and my charterholder colleagues don't have any edge or knowledge from it that is relevant to investment banking. Think the only time I've actually seen it be helpful is when we were trying to structure something commodity linked and the person started with "wow I can finally put my CFA to use".


This is a very well thought out idea. A lot of individuals have done this - there is a notable FIG VP at a Big 5 with a similar path and a banker at RBC with a similar story.

Try to get KPMG transaction services, EY Vals, or Deloitte deal advisory after a stint in audit. Moreover, you will develop an amazing understanding of accounting that can be quite helpful for M&A nuances. From there you can lateral to Big 5 or a smaller bank and gun from there.

We all start somewhere, and this is not a bad idea whatsoever.


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