Breaking into IB: Toronto, Canada
Hello Bay Street Folk,
After reading and enjoying WSO posts for the past 4 years; I decided to finally make an account and post for myself.
I am looking for some advice and potentially a mentor who can guide me through breaking into IB in Toronto. I appreciate the anonymity WSO offers but would love to introduce myself to mentors properly over PM/LinkedIn.
A little about myself:
Graduated with a degree in Engineering (Not CS/SWE) from a top Canadian University. (cGPA 2.74 - I know, this is terrible.)
Unfortunately I was forced into this degree by my parents, although I had expressed my interest intarget to study finance. (The typical mentality of parents back in my country is to send high performing / "smart" kids to study Engineering, Medicine or Law). Needless to say, my time in university was soul crushing. I tried hard but really lacked interest and lost my drive. By the end of 2nd year I had a 2.2 GPA, failed to secure internships and was taking medication for anxiety and depression.
Fortunately my parents realised and started supporting me in my career choices. I took a year off from my degree and evaluated my options.
It was not possible to transfer to a target B.Com / BBA so I ultimately decided to finish the degree my parents had paid ridiculous international tuition for since I wouldn't be able to live with that guilt.
However, I did some research and found that the CPA designation seemed to be valued in Canada. I found I could write the CPA exam as a non traditional applicant if I had a degree + satisfied the prerequisite education requirement.
During my year off, I indulged in CPA approved accounting and finance courses through the school of continuing education at U of T. Even though I overloaded with 8 courses in a semester, I had the time of my life and was effortlessly able to achieve high grades.
I returned to engineering refreshened, and my grades started picking up and increased a little every term until I topped out at a 3.97/4.00 in my final semester.
I am currently working in an office based insurance sales job, which offered me the opportunity to enhance my communication skills which definitely helps with interviews.
If you've been with me so far, thank you for reading. Now that I have provided sufficient background, I want to ask my questions:
Question 1) Would it be worthwhile to pursue a masters degree in Canada ? Any advice, experiences, networking opportunities you can suggest would be appreciated.
I already read that unlike the US, IB recruitment in Canada is mostly from target undergraduate programs: Ivey > QU > McGill > Rotman > Others.
I NEED to remain in Canada. I am sure I will receive my PR within a year; and am not ready to run the risk ofissues in the US. Besides, I have grown to love Canada and want to settle in Toronto - leaving it for the US is simply not worth it in my opinion.
I have finished my degree with a low cGPA of 2.74/4.00 (last 2 year GPA is 3.09). I realise this is pathetic and will not get me a foot in the door forpositions and will barely qualify me for less competitive masters programs.
It it helps, I have also completed the equivalent of an accounting undergrad with good grades - albeit with no degree credit so I doubt it will help get a job. It does qualify me to proceed with the CPA PEP program though.
What I need is a clean slate and access to on campus recruiting - options only available if I do a masters degree.
Back to the question - Is it even worth attempting getting a masters ? Have you ever come across masters candidates in IB ? Literally all my LinkedIn searches reveal only undergrads in IB Analyst roles and most associates seem to be promoted / lateral from Big 4 TAS. Am I missing something here ?
Question 2) If I were to pursue a masters degree, which one should I do ?
Ideally it would be something with COOP opportunities and given the risk that I don't get an IB position after grad, I would prefer an M.Acc rather than an M.Fin since the former would allow me to skip straight to the CPA final exam.
In the worst case, I know that with the CPA exam cleared and a high GPA in M.Acc I should have a shot with the Big 4 accounting firms and can wiggle my way into IB after working in transaction advisory. However, this is obviously the less preferred option since I might have to suffer in audit (which I am not exactly into) before I can move to TAS / M&A. Moreover, I would have to slog for far less compensation while I could be making far more money in IB doing what I actually prefer.
I did some research and came up with these options that satisfy the criteria (Listed from best to worst - based on cost, program length etc):
Option A: M.Acc at Brock University Goodman School. (7 months, 1 COOP at the end of the program; not sure how that works) Total tuition cost $12,000 The program enables me to skip CPA PEP and prepared me for the final exam. It allows me to take the CPA finance elective too.
Only issue I see is that I found literally just 1-2 undergrads from their school on LinkedIn who made it to IB.
Option B: M.Fin at Wilfred Laurier University Lazaridis School. Total tuition cost $30,000
This seems like the best option, (2 COOP terms) except tuition is steep and in the event that I fail to secure an IB role, I would be left with the entire CPA PEP program to complete, which can take 2+ years. However, Lazaridis seems well represented in banking since I see several undergrad alumni in IB on LinkedIn.
Option C: M.AccFin at University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. Total tuition cost $30,000+ (16 months, 1 COOP) Unfortunately I see no alumni on LinkedIn.
Option D: MMPA at University of Toronto Mississauga. (24 months, 2 COOP) Total tuition cost $60,000 (I could potentially do the 12 month option and save time and $ but I would need to check my eligibility)
The obvious choice seems like Option A simply based on cost, but the university name carries less prestige.
Regardless of what option I choose, I will supplement it with:
A) CFA Level 1 (Potentially 2/3 if it really helps)
B) / WSO modelling, excel, presentation and IB related courses.
Please let me know if my plan sounds like a good idea. Any and all help will be appreciated.
If you agree to mentor me, rest assured I will respect your personal time and not be a pest.
I know this was long, so I thank you all for reading: I appreciate your time !