Best way for an accounting major to break into finance?

I'm a recent accounting graduate, with only accounting experience on my resume with dreams of breaking into the finance field. IB or Sales and Trading is pretty much out since I didn't go to a real target school (Baruch College in NYC), but I'm, interested in Private Wealth Management (which is basically sales from what I hear? which I would say I'm better at that number crunching), FP&A, Corporate finance, etc. I know it sounds bad that I'm willing to take anything, but almost every area of finance sounds more exciting than any area in accounting haha.

I'm currently working as an audit intern at a public accounting firm, and while it's not so bad, I am 100% more interested in the finance field. I chose accounting thinking it would be an overall better degree to have, but now I'm afraid I'm going to get pigeonholed into accounting positions for the rest of my life.

My question is: if I want to do finance eventually, and I'm 100% certain I want to make the switch in careers, should I even bother going for the CPA or should I just start applying for entry level finance positions right now and try to break into the field right away? The only reason I want to pass my CPA is to put myself into a better position when applying to other jobs, and just look like a more qualified candidate. But I also hear once you move into M&A, IB, or almost any area of finance, CPA means jack. And while I'm very attracted to Asset Management/Wealth management, etc., I'm not sure how desirable of a candidate I am.

-Baruch College, Bachelor's degree in accounting
-Have professional work experience, a general accounting position, and currently an audit intern (though no direct finance work)
-Above average excel skills, use excel at work all day, pretty fast on the keyboard, always looking for new formulas and shortcuts to add to my arsenal
-Have Bloomberg Market Concepts certification, and comfortable using a Bloomberg terminal
-Have taken a financial modeling workshop before, haven't practiced enough or made my own models enough to put on my resume
-Have great interest in all things investing and the capital markets, just finished my 2nd book on investing, 3rd if you count trading and investing, and I'm currently going over it a second time to highlight key points (I seriously love learning about this stuff)
-I have above, I would even say way above average people and interviewing skills. I read books on influence and persuasion, body language, books and videos on sales, it helped tremendously with scoring and acing interviews, and I have coached friends and fellow students on their interpersonal skills.

Comments (15)

Mar 29, 2018

Fr0nt0ffice, way too quiet in here. What about these resources:

  • Best way to get into PWM? What is the best way for me to get a FT job in private wealth management. I am graduating in ... 2 months and have already had an investment banking internship and just started a PWM internship. Will ... a financial advising training program help me for this or is that a waste? What would you do in my position? ...
  • Private Wealth Management/Private Banking Guide for Associates it takes an average of five or six years to reach that level. 2. Main Private Wealth Management ... Investor? 1.3 Industry Today 1.4 Career Paths within Private Wealth Management 1.5 How to Build a Book 1.6 ... return goals are critical to success in this industry. Private Wealth Mana
  • Which major is best to get into Equity Research/ Asset Management/ Private Equity? able to secure a job offer from the Big 4 if I major in Accounting. Work there for 5 years, get into ... a non-target, but have the opportunity to enter into the Accounting program. While my school is not known for ... a non-target as an Econ major? Is it very difficult to get an
  • Best way to break into Private Equity Business I am looking for any good advice on how to break into the Private Equity business. I have ... extensive training in M&A but have not worked in the business yet. Any help would be great. private ... Interviews</a></li><li><a href="">Private ...
  • The route to investment banking for an Accounting Major For those of you who are accounting majors or accounting/finance and are looking to pursue an ... internship/1st year at a BIG 4 firm, this is one of the best ways to go if you want to break into IB / PE / HF in ... to understand every aspect of the deal, from account
  • What is the best way to break into AM from the Big 4?? Hello all! I was just curious as the best way to break into AM (possibly hedge funds) down the ... want to get stuck being an "accountant" which I have read on multiple threads, if one is to ... road from the Big4. Would working at the big 4 for a few years and trying to network work? I do not ...
  • Best Way to Break Into Shareholder Defense? quite a few people asking for advice on how to get more involved in shareholder defense specifically- ... Hi everyone, I am currently an Investment Banking Summer Analyst in the M&A group of a bulge ... general providing advisory services to boards during times of shareholder unrest. I've talked to ...
  • More suggestions...

Any pros willing to rescue this discussion? @Yu-Gao1" @Maxim-Sukhanov" @Sloan-Stevens"

If those topics were completely useless, don't blame me, blame my programmers...

Apr 4, 2018


Apr 4, 2018

I personally agree with your logic re: getting a CPA to better position yourself. I would look into transitioning into one of those deal advisory groups / risk consultant groups within the big four, i look at those as a step closer to finance and less auditing and im sure you'd get solid experience there. at that point i would think you'd have to make the call on whether you'd want to try to transition to a finance firm / bank before or after your MBA (which many refer to hitting a 'restart' button on a career).

interested what you think and what others think.... i had a friend go from a role similar to yours to buy-side after one year but he was brilliant / had a very good GPA and could articulate himself very well in the interviews.

Apr 4, 2018

Start networking well. To be honest I think accounting would help you more with IB than AM. They can teach someone how to build models, they don't wanna teach someone how to read and tear through financial statements. Network more?

Best Response
Apr 4, 2018

I did exactly what you are trying to do, started in accounting/auditing and moved into finance (equity research).

Two things that helped me, definitely position yourself/resume to target getting into finance role. For example, when I was in auditing, I didn't have much financial modelling experience, so I took outside classes online to be able to have that skill on the resume. Also, I followed markets and stocks to be able to have talking points.

Second point, ABN (always be networking), reach out to high school networks, college networks or cold call/email anyone you can through linkedin (it is a networking site after all). And if you can attend a networking event that helps too. You just need to get your resume in as many hands as possible (always ask if you can send them your resume).

I have the CPA, it definitely is better than not having it, and I wouldn't necessary look down on it.

Just remember, you're young and can afford to take a couple of leaps to get where you want. I started at a smaller boutique, but now that I have the skills I can go to a BB or other places. It just takes one offer, which leads to the next.

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Apr 4, 2018

Get the CPA. People might say it won't help you, but it probably was one of my biggest selling points to my firm when exiting Big 4.

Apr 4, 2018

Make sure you keep an eye out for WSO Networking Month...coming to a newsletter near you. It is going to lay out specifically how to network properly to increase your odds of breaking into finance.

Yes, there is hope, but not unless you hustle and are networking like it's your primary job. You may also be somewhat limited depending on where you live.

Apr 4, 2018

Thanks, that sounds like it'll be helpful. I live in North NJ, a half hour or so from the city, so that isn't an issue.

Apr 4, 2018

I'm on the verge of channeling my inner Robbie Hart a la The Wedding Singer and just walking into a bank and asking for a job.

Thank you in advance for your input and advice.

It worked for this guy:

Apr 4, 2018

I will be entering my fourth year at a target school for the Big 4 so I can offer some insight. If you go the Big 4 route, they will ask you if you are tax or audit, so it's best to have an idea when you start recruiting with them. They rarely offer TAS positions to college students, so it would be best to go the audit route and the make the transition to the TAS group. It will be somewhat tougher in my experience to land a job at a bank/other financial institution as an accounting major just because many finance majors and MSF students will be competing against you and they've had actual advanced finance courses under their belt.

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Apr 4, 2018

Greetings WSO,

I am going to be attending Rutgers as an Accounting major spring 2014, after I finish my A.S. from a 2 year CC, so I have a few questions for anybody on the forum who could offer some insight and advice.

1. I know big 4 does heavy recruiting at Rutgers, if I get recruited to one of the big 4 would I just get stuck in audit, or could I go somewhere like Tax or TAS?

2. I know there are a few banks that recruit at Rutgers, being an accounting student would I be able to land a job at a bank or other financial institution as an accounting major?

Thank you in advance for your reply.

PM me I can help you

    • 1
Apr 4, 2018

double major in finance. A lot of people double in acc and fin anyway

Apr 4, 2018