Best MSF for ER

Hi all,

Looking to apply to MSF programs now and was hoping some of the MSF experts could chime in here. Goal is to break into ER

Planning on applying to: BC, Nova, Vandy, UTA, U of R, and WUSTL. Any others programs I should consider specifically for ER? 


Graduating December 2020 (off cycle due to internship) non-target. Will intern full time & sit for CFA Level I during the spring following graduation.

Extracurriculars: Varsity athlete, research challenge

3.91 GPA. Double Major in Accounting & Finance w/ Minor in Math (Calc I-III, Linear Alg, Stats, Combinatorics, Game theory).

Internships at F500, and BB (think GS, JPM, MS). GMAT 670 with low quant split (43Q). Any input is appreciated.

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Comments (11)

  • VP in ER
Aug 30, 2020 - 12:32pm

I don't think MSF is that useful for breaking into ER. I have seen many people breaking into ER after a few years of Big 4 experience. If you are accounting major and are already taking CFA, will you learn anything really that useful from MSF program for the time and money spent? 

Oct 14, 2020 - 2:06pm

Network on your own. Save you time and money. 

Instagram: @dickthesellsider | Substack:

  • Intern in AM - Other
Aug 30, 2020 - 4:11pm

I'm going to BC this fall (tomorrow lol). If you have any questions lmk

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Aug 30, 2020 - 5:10pm

Good luck! From what I understand they have a great program. What are your post MSF goals? What other programs did you apply/get accepted into and with what stats? 

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Aug 31, 2020 - 8:47am

Sorry, but whoever gave you the impression that a MSF helps break into ER was probably pulling your leg.  The only time that a graduate program helps with breaking into ER is if that specific program has a track record of consistently placing people in ER and thus has a large alumni base that you can network with.  Networking with a bunch of students who also don't have ER experience and professors who have virtually no work experience isn't super useful for breaking in.

When we looked through resumes at the firms I've worked in, the rough pecking order is: Experienced ER associate within the exact same sector > Experienced ER associate within the overall sector (e.g. HC Dist vs HC Services) > Experienced associate in another sector > Associate with completed licenses > Associate without licenses > Big4 TAS > Big4 everything else > Undergrad > MSF without exp.  (this isn't comprehensive and bankers or people with industry experience would be relatively higher in the pecking order)

That's not a typo at the end with MSF since those types usually wanted more money and thought they were smarter than they actually were even though they were functionally at the same level as an undergrad.  Furthermore, if you think ER is anything like the academic finance they teach in school, you should probably do some more reading/networking to get a better grasp of the field because I'd estimate that I used maybe 15% of what I learned in school and most of that 15% was accounting and not finance related knowledge.  You would likely be better served by getting an accounting job in TAS or audit, and begin applying for jobs around the middle of your second year (and networking the entire way through with alum from your firm who made it into ER).

  • 7
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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2020 - 9:49pm

Assuming you meant FDD by saying TAS, why did your group prefer those with a FDD background over a valuation background? Where would someone with IB experience fall?

Most Helpful
Aug 31, 2020 - 10:05pm

Not sure what FDD stands for? My experience w/ Big4 TAS (Transaction Advisory Services) is that they're the ones with the most directly relevant experience as ER in that they 'think' most closely to an ER associate when compared to audit or tax (though I'd personally note that I've met some incredible associates who started in audit or tax).  Not entirely sure which specific valuation groups you're talking about, but in my experience, people who focus too much on their excel / valuation models tend not to do great in the long run since ER is much more about laying out a compelling thesis than modeling company guidance +/- some arbitrary amount.  For example, most of my buyside friends have flat out told me that they don't value sellside models - something you wouldn't expect from observing how much value many sellside analysts attribute to their models.

Within the overall pecking order, the teams I worked on would generally view IB experience as being directly comparable (i.e. 1yr in IBD = 1 yr in ER), though idiosyncratic factors could impact this.  For example, if there's a lot of consolidation going on (or expected) in an industry, an analyst could be biased in favor of hiring somebody with deal experience within the sector.  On the other hand, if the industry is super steady-state and the analyst just wants to coast, they may be inclined to favor someone with ER exp since that person will know the process flow better than the IBD person and could hit the ground running.  But all else equal, the IBD exp is roughly equivalent to ER exp with the same caveats noted above concerning the sector experience that they have.

  • 6
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Oct 14, 2020 - 1:39pm

Update: got into Vandy MSF and will be attending. After speaking with alumni and current students, it sounds like ER is possible out of the program. 

  • Research Analyst in AM - Other
Oct 14, 2020 - 6:24pm

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