Big 4 Audit or MSF?

Hello everybody,

I'm graduating in two months and a bit confused on what I should do.

To give some background, I started college in Fall 2019 at a top 60 school, got broken up with right before covid, sunk myself into school since then. I did a big4 audit internship this past summer, and have FT audit offers from Deloitte and EY. I wasn't in any clubs except for boxing. I'm graduating with a 3.5-3.7 GPA and got a 730 on the GMAT.

Now here are my goals:

  • I want to get into the finance field, and the jobs I am interested in include M&A, Sales & Trading, Asset Management, potentially VC down the road. (I know these are very different jobs, there are things that interest me about each of them and I would be happy to go after any of them) 
  • I want to end up in San Francisco (in DC area right now), I'd be willing to move to NYC,  LA or Boston for a while though. Switzerland would be another option that I find cool. 
  • Unless I do the Switzerland route, I would most likely want to do an MBA eventually, but things can change over a couple years so we will see.

 Here are my options:

  • Apply to MSFs next fall, thinking MIT Mfin, USC MSF, Georgetown MSF, or St. Gallen Msc Banking & Finance. (I know St Gallen is for Zurich placement and German is a requirement, which I am fluent in + dual passports US&EU)
  • Take one of the Big 4 offers, apply to banking jobs and if I don't get anything do an MBA after 3-4 years.

My questions to you guys are, what would you do in my situation? Is a Masters a better option than trying to career switch while in Big 4? I appreciate any advice you all have for me.

Comments (6)

Oct 14, 2021 - 10:20pm

With being fluent in German I would definitely apply to St. Gallen's and see what happens. They have a great program for Investments and it is over two years giving you a couple opportunities at Internships. Also, 1/8 the cost of many US schools hard to pass up on the price if your fine living in a smaller town. Note, to be accepted you don't need to know German but to get a internship/job in Switzerland or Germany, it would be a must have.

  • Prospect in Acct - Audit
Oct 15, 2021 - 12:21am

Thanks for the response! Yeah I will most likely apply to St. Gallen, the <$4k tuition a year is very attractive and from what I hear they place insanely well in Zurich, especially with UBS, Credit Suisse and if I am not mistaken some top asset management firms. The things that worry me slightly is Swiss career & salary progression (can't seem to find anywhere near as comprehensive info as US info), and wether it would be easy to come back to the states if I wanted to (e.g if I worked in asset management / PE over there and wanted to come back and keep doing AM/PE). On the positive side, I've seen a few people mention that AM / PE / HF is "easier" to get if coming out of St Gallen & working in Switzerland as recruiting isn't as structured, as well as a few mentions that WLB is a touch better over there. I don't know if those last two are true, but if they are that would be a huge plus 

Most Helpful
Oct 15, 2021 - 6:29am

I am posting my comment as if I am in you shoes...

You are graduating in December timeframe. That means you either have to apply now in R2/R3 and start MSF in Aug/Sept next year or wait till R1 in Sept next year to start in Aug/Sept of 2023. In either of these situations you will either have a 8 month or 20 month gap to start your academic career.

Question is - when does the full-time offer start? Does it start in January cycle? If so - I am taking the job and applying to colleges as well. If I get accepted - I have more thinking to do and at that time you will have a clear idea if you like your job or not. If the job starts in July cycle - Than depends when you applied for college. If you did R2/R3 this year you will be starting your MSF a month after your job start time. In this case you need to know now what you want to do. If you apply next year - Take the job and apply in R1 next year (do both). 

You will have a better idea when you start the job - know how the job is - and your current situation when you have a acceptance letter in hand. 

As per schools:

For U.S. - I would add Vandy to your list. (2nd best MSF option in the States). Remove Georgetown MSF. I know you are from D.C. and like possibly like Georgetown - but their MSF program is a cash cow and hasn't proved anything yet. 
For Switzerland - St. Gallen is a good opportunity - If you are "okay" to explore more of Europe - I highly suggest HEC-Paris, LBS, LSE. Your stats are more aligned to these schools and once you break into the industry, you can always move to Zurich. 

  • Prospect in Acct - Audit
Oct 15, 2021 - 1:54pm

Thank you for the response, 

Yeah the jobs start mid January so I'll be taking one of them and applying to schools at the same time, otherwise I wouldn't have anything to do for 8ish months. I think if I don't get in, or wait till applying for the classes that start in 2023, I may be better off waiting to do an MBA in 2024 or 2025, unless I decide I want to be in Switzerland in which case I think a masters in finance would make more sense. 

As for the school comments, I've glanced at the Vandy MSF, and while it seems good I am a bit worried about the "no internship" aspect, and potentially getting stuck in the south without NYC/SF/LA offers. Nothing against the south, I think a lot of its great but it is also not a place I want to live in. 

As for Europe, I am not opposed to HEC as I do like Paris, but LBS and LSE I'm not sure of. Mainly because I'm not sure if I would enjoy London. I've never been but I am skeptical on wether I would like it which is why I am unsure about LBS and LSE.

Oct 15, 2021 - 2:41pm

Yes - I think you should take the job and apply to the schools now in R2/R3. You might have a downside since you are applying in later rounds - especially with MIT, but you you should be fine with others. 

I think the second thing you really to consider is where you want to live. This is something we can't really help with. But if you are planning on staying in the U.S. MSF might just not be worth it. Especially if you go for an MBA - which will be a bit lenient in requirements that an MSF at MIT, you will be starting as an IB Associate vs IB Analyst. If you are 100% sure about Switzerland - St.Gallen/HEC would be a good choice. MBA is not a big thing in Europe yet and degrees like MSF and MiM are still largely pursued over an MBA. But that also does not mean that if you choose to go for an MBA - you can't do it in Europe. HEC/INSEAD/IMD will be great. IMD is another great Swiss school but it is for older candidates - so you may have to wait a while for it. 

Vandy isn't really limited to the south. I know quite a bit of people that have gone to Northeast region from there. If you want to go to NYC/LA/SF - it is really possible to do so. Internships are important when pursing IB (especially for Associate levels - MBA) - but I believe Vandy offsets that and it still works for you. Remember as an MSF candidate you are competing against undergrad students and going for the same Analyst level job. 

I can see why London is not so favorable. Everyone has their own choice. I personally would take Zurich over London as well. 

Oct 15, 2021 - 2:25pm

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