Best non-banking career out of semi-target

thedude12r43w's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 326

Hey everyone,

I am currently a non-traditional junior at Emory and am doing some career path exploration. My goals are to make ~150k+ 8-10 years after graduation while having good work-life balance. As I am non-traditional and already married I am not interested in heavy hours/travel jobs such as ibanking, consulting, p&e, etc. However, I am wiling to work about 60 hours a week with longer hours on some days during the beginning of my career. I would also like to stay in Atlanta.

Based on careers that I explored could you please tell me which of these options are best for starting out and why you think so:

-Financial analyst at an Atlanta F500 such as The Home Depot, Coke, UPS
-Big4 Auditor (goal to either transition to TS after) or to make jump to industry without going TS [possibly get MBA before going to industry]
-Commercial banking for Wells Fargo, BAML, BB&T (eventually move into corporate banking - if not right out of undergrad).

In terms of salary and career progression which of these would you recommend. I have heard that getting promoted in F500 takes a really long time compared with working a few years in Big4 and then making the jump in industry.

I know Big4 auditors and TS can pull in some money and be making ~100k at the manager level 5-6 years out of undergrad.

However, there is not a lot of information on commercial banking and corporate banking on these forums - career path and compensation.

Thanks for your time guys.

Region: 
United States - South

Comments (35)

Dec 1, 2011

You make me sick.

Dec 1, 2011

mckinsey

Dec 1, 2011

mckinsey

Dec 1, 2011

I apologize that it makes you sick that I don't go to Emory and would rather not work in banking and made a post on these forums to learn more about potential career opportunities from industry insiders....

Dec 1, 2011
n1cktm:

I apologize that it makes you sick that I don't go to Emory and would rather not work in banking and made a post on these forums to learn more about potential career opportunities from industry insiders....

...on a banking forum

But I digress, take the FA gigs in the ATL F500 firms.

There are also really good small PE and IB firms based in ATL that will not be anywhere near as hectic as NYC BBs.

Croft & Bender, Brookwood Associates, Roark Capital Group, etc.

Dec 1, 2011
n1cktm:

I apologize that it makes you sick that I don't go to Emory

wait i thought you just said you go to emory

Dec 1, 2011

Just curious- were you in the military?

If you are any good you can easily hit the $150K mark doing F500 corp fin after 8-10 years. I get the impression though, that you are looking for a faster paced/more lucrative position.

Edit: Forgot you were looking in Atlanta, so I might be off with that $150K statement.

Dec 1, 2011

You shouldn't be confined to Atlanta. Be more flexible. It'll make what you're looking fro a whole lot easier if you're willing to relocate. However, If I were you I'd choose commercial banking at Wells.

Dec 1, 2011
Tiger Blood:

You shouldn't be confined to Atlanta. Be more flexible. It'll make what you're looking fro a whole lot easier if you're willing to relocate. However, If I were you I'd choose commercial banking at Wells.

Well, the guy did say he is married. It is entirely possible he resides in Atlanta with his wife and cannot just pack it up and move anywhere because of his wife's career.

Dec 1, 2011
Nefarious-:
Tiger Blood:

You shouldn't be confined to Atlanta. Be more flexible. It'll make what you're looking fro a whole lot easier if you're willing to relocate. However, If I were you I'd choose commercial banking at Wells.

Well, the guy did say he is married. It is entirely possible he resides in Atlanta with his wife and cannot just pack it up and move anywhere because of his wife's career.

Shouldn't sacrifice your own career for your wife's. Just my view.

Dec 1, 2011

Maybe someone with Big 4 audit experience can chime in here - I have never heard anything to suggest to me that travel/hours are consistently less in audit than consulting (whereas the money is not as good and the exit opps to industry when you want to stop traveling altogether are even weaker in comparison).

If you are willing to suck up some travel up front, I'd suggest Bain or BCG (regional staffing, decent opportunities to work locally from the Atl office - I think Coke is a Bain client).

If your plan is truly to limit travel then FA at F500 is a good choice. I would strongly second the point that you could anticipate $150k in 8-10 years if you are good in the role and look for opportunities to advance (downside to this is that relocation is not uncommon as a prereq of advancement for F500 companies - on my current client, I am working with a team of ~12, of which 4 relocated to this office in the past year, 2 others in the past 2 years, and 2 are leaving for other offices or have left since the start of our project).

WSO's focus on the prestige and exit opps tends to overstate the difference between banking/consulting and corporate jobs both in terms of pay and time/travel commitments. I'm not sure the differences are quite as stark as you seem to think. It's certainly not to the point where you would have trouble making a 3rd or 4th year consulting salary 8-10 years into your career, but it's also not like you will crank your first few years and then cruise into 40 hour weeks with no travel if you want that role/salary...

Dec 1, 2011

I don't think you are very likely to make that much money 8-10 years in your career at any of those gigs in Atlanta. In my understanding you are most likely to reach that amount if you take the big4 auditing position and then transition to industry. But you are going to work more than you want to in that position and may end up having to be flexible with relocation and travel.

Dec 1, 2011
bears1208:

I don't think you are very likely to make that much money 8-10 years in your career at any of those gigs in Atlanta. In my understanding you are most likely to reach that amount if you take the big4 auditing position and then transition to industry. But you are going to work more than you want to in that position and may end up having to be flexible with relocation and travel.

This isn't true at all. I know people with 8-10 years (roughly 30-35 years of age) in my firm making that.

Dec 1, 2011
Nefarious-:
bears1208:

I don't think you are very likely to make that much money 8-10 years in your career at any of those gigs in Atlanta. In my understanding you are most likely to reach that amount if you take the big4 auditing position and then transition to industry. But you are going to work more than you want to in that position and may end up having to be flexible with relocation and travel.

This isn't true at all. I know people with 8-10 years (roughly 30-35 years of age) in my firm making that.

Sure, but a good majority of people that age aren't, are they? Hence why it's unlikely.

Dec 1, 2011

Sorry about the second post, I do go to Emory my iphone edited that post to say "don't" for some reason. I'm married and can't just take off and move to another state really. Also my wife has a really big family in Atlanta and relocating just for extra $ is something that she does not believe in. Unlike some people I am not trying to be filthy rich but I just want to strike a good balance between success and life at home.

Nefarious- I have heard of Roarke Capital and see that they have several Emory alums as well as former E&Y transaction services guys.

As for travel with the Big4 I was under the impression that travel out of the Atlanta office is regional and most of it can be done by driving. Also depends on the client you have (if its Coke you aren't really going to be going out of state much).

Relocating mid-late career is something that we would have to decide when the time comes. I just know that starting out I do not want to be living away from home for weeks at a time or working 12+ hours a day.

Nefarious- were you suggesting trying to break into a small PE, M&A shop out of undergrad or doing something like Big4 TS first or F500 analyst roles and then getting an MBA to have more career stability?

Dec 1, 2011

@bears1208

In terms of sheer probability, it's hard to argue. I was working on the assumption (and I am guessing many others as well) that OP is confident in his ability to do well in these roles. If you look at the average entry level FA in F500 8-10 years in, $150k would not be an appropriate number.

Given that OP is posting on WSO, seems confident in his ability to get a Big 4 gig and is choosing not to pursue banking/consulting (not that this means he was guaranteed a shot, but would suggest either delusions or a certain baseline level of competence), it doesn't seem like a huge stretch to think he could meet the $150k in 8-10 years goal. I was certainly not trying to suggest that this would represent the average career progression in an entry-level corporate role...

Dec 1, 2011
signposts:

@bears1208

In terms of sheer probability, it's hard to argue. I was working on the assumption (and I am guessing many others as well) that OP is confident in his ability to do well in these roles. If you look at the average entry level FA in F500 8-10 years in, $150k would not be an appropriate number.

Given that OP is posting on WSO, seems confident in his ability to get a Big 4 gig and is choosing not to pursue banking/consulting (not that this means he was guaranteed a shot, but would suggest either delusions or a certain baseline level of competence), it doesn't seem like a huge stretch to think he could meet the $150k in 8-10 years goal. I was certainly not trying to suggest that this would represent the average career progression in an entry-level corporate role...

Fair enough. On WSO we seem to get a lot of "everyone on this site is in the top 5% in ability" type posts

Dec 1, 2011

Good job and non-banking are mutually exclusive terms.

Dec 1, 2011

I understand that Emory is not a top target but Goizueta is solid and we have strong recruiting for ibanking and its picking up. Same for consulting. Will BBs favor someone from an ivy/michigan/nyu/etc - most likely..but once again it comes down to the individual person. If you are good your success won't be defined by your school. Having BBs presenting on campus and resume drop is a lot better than cold calling. However, I am not interested in ibanking due to lifestyle and I have no ambition to work at a top PE or HF.

Can you guys tell me why you prefer F500 finance instead of say Big 4 audit --> F500 and making the transition at the manager level. Or say Big 4 TS --> internal M&A, small PE shops like Roarke capital ($1b fund in Atlanta).

When I talk about work-life balance, I talk about not living out of a suitcase or working 80+ hours a week on a consistent basis. I can work 60-65 hours with an occasional 70-80 as long as its not very frequent but that does not really describe a typical analyst stint at an ibank. I've done my reading on S&T and am not really interested in that career path.

Currently I am liking my accounting courses and do pretty well which is why I listed audit/ts as a possibility. I also enjoy financial statement analysis. I recently participated in the pwc xtreme case competition and we had to value a target - assess financial/operational risks and make recommendation for/against acquisition. I definitely enjoyed doing the analysis there and presenting the information to management. Yes its more of something that ibankers would do but just pointing out that I like working with the financial statements. I know that commercial banking as well as a bunch of other professions do financial statement analysis.

Can you guys tell me a bit more about commercial banking - compensation, lifestyle, career progression etc.

Also I've heard that it sucks to start in f500 as analyst unless you complete a leadership development program first and that career progression is slow. Is this true.

Heard it goes something like FA --> SFA --> Manager but it takes a long time to make manager; whereas Big4 would be Assoc --> Sr Assoc --> Manager (5yrs) --> F500 manager

Dec 2, 2011

Six years out you will be right on the verge of $100k at Big4 audit, maybe a little less if the economy tails off again. However, as mentioned in many posts on this site, it is soul-draining, mind-numbing work if you're into that kind of thing. If you went to industry at that point you would be an accounting manager, possibly assistant controller at a mid-size company at maybe $110-120k. There is little to no travel in Big4 audit at least on a consistent basis. 50 hours is the average during summer and fall, 65-75 hours during winter and early spring.

Dec 2, 2011

Not to belabor the point, but if you're looking for a quick path to F500 manager or mid-market PE, I don't see why consulting is not far and away your top choice. Out of MBB, Bain and BCG do not have much travel (<50%) - out of the undergrad level, many of your peers will prefer travel, so you may be able to get it down to even less. I don't believe this is significantly different from Big 4 audit (I went to school in Atlanta as well and have several friends in Atl consulting/Big 4 offices).

Even if you don't get an MBB offer, there are a number of firms that would pay better than Big 4 with comparable travel, similar or better hours, and significantly stronger exit opps.

It sounds like your main concern is on hours, but if you go into consulting knowing that you plan to leave for corporate and don't kill yourself to be top-tier, I think the hours could be better than audit (harder to b.s. in audit) and audit tends to be boring as hell.

If you can get a consulting offer from a tier 2 or 2.5 firm, the only other option on your list that should give you pause is probably Big 4 TS role...

Dec 2, 2011

you can get into MBB from Emory

Dec 2, 2011

I know - I'm from a weaker background than the OP and joined out of undergrad, but my point was just that even if he doesn't get MBB, I'm not sure audit compares favorably to second tier or boutique consulting firms along all of the factors he has mentioned.

Dec 2, 2011

If you are still considering consulting, check out kurt salmon associates (KSA). Pretty good consulting firm based in ATL with a big alumni network to Emory.

Dec 2, 2011

OP, I believe your questions were answered in the thread you already started on this topic 2 weeks ago.

I will reference the thread here since it seems evident you "blacked out" creating that thread and receiving answers.

http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/best-career-...
SB's welcomed.

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.

Dec 2, 2011

aempirei the answers were not comprehensive enough and I wanted to get some specific information regarding F500 vs CB vs Big4.

The issue with consulting is living out of a suitcase you might not travel many times throughout the year but you may have to stay on site for a while.

Does the Big4 valuation/ts group work long hours and travel frequently in Atlanta or is it better work-life than audit & consulting.

Does anyone have experience with commercial banking at all? Not many suggesting it. Does audit/ts compare more favorably with CB?

Dec 2, 2011

Do the F500 analyst gigs offer higher starting salaries than Big4 or is it about the same. I was wondering if places like home depot pay 65k to undergrads for FA roles?

Dec 2, 2011
n1cktm:

Do the F500 analyst gigs offer higher starting salaries than Big4 or is it about the same. I was wondering if places like home depot pay 65k to undergrads for FA roles?

65 for an FA at home depot for a recent grad sounds extremely incorrect.

Dec 2, 2011
Comment
Dec 4, 2011