Career Advice: F100 FLDP vs Senior Financial Analyst

skeptos's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 3

First post! Need the advice of my ambitious and anonymous peers. I am currently in an FLDP program with a household name financial services company. It is a very well respected program internally with excellent exit ops in areas like buy-side investments, corp dev, and strategy. Typically the top half of undergrads in the program go on to M7 bschools after 4~ years with the firm.

I actually love all aspects of my current job; the work life balance is excellent, I'm learning alot of quant stuff, and the internal networking is unmatched. The only main issues are my depressed wages (20% less relative to other top graduates from my uni) and a location where I don't have many friends my age and am unlikely to make any outside of work.

I have an opportunity to go work for a large foreign conglomerate with better name brand recognition as a commercial credit analyst in a position that typically requires 3-5 years of experience (I have half a year right now). The location would be better and my salary would match my peers in consulting.

Even though I'd be almost certainly burning the bridges I've been building in my current position, my gut tells me that jumping ship is the right choice. The foreign firm is rapidly growing in the U.S. and I'd be doing some strategy & corp dev. type work in addition to pricing since I'd be one of the first employees in my division. Since the conglomerate makes some of the worlds most popular consumer products, I can probably spin a pretty good story for bschool apps as well.

The new company is currently extremely profitable, but if another financial crisis occurs before 2016, I'd be boned with the new job since the new portfolio I'm helping build would probably be cut. FLDP. The other cost also be losing out on easy networking opportunities with executives across many corporate functions.

I'm envisioning jumping ship as kind of a fast forward for my career: the company is in rapid growth mode, they're starved for talent and new positions are popping up every month. At the end of the day, I also can't see myself staying long-term in my current geographic location, albeit the internal career progression would be fast tracked.

What are you guys thoughts on this? Are there any huge downsides I haven't considered?

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Comments (16)

Oct 3, 2013

Do you have an offer for the Senior FA role? I would say stay in your FLDP.

Oct 3, 2013

What's the salary difference with this new gig? How does it's location/city compare to your current one? What have the exit opps from that gig looked like? Does the culture fit you? Would this move fit into your career strategy or is it taking you in an entirely separate direction?

I only ask because if you ever feel the need to leave an F100 FLDP, it should be either because of B-school, a big pay increase, a promotion, or finding something you actually love. Hopefully some combination in your case, lol Not too many programs out there will actively groom you for leadership roles and give you access to senior management for mentoring.

Personally, I'd jump ship if the price were right so long as the move fit into my longterm strategy. No job's permanent and so long as your resume shows progression, you're set. the only downside is ending up someplace you hate.

Oct 3, 2013

So you're still in the program? In my opinion you should finish the program and then give it a year or two to see if you're going to have any good opportunities resulting from the program.

One thing to keep in mind is your career progression. Although you might not realize it yet since you are still in the program, often times high performers are being tabbed for future promotions not long after graduating from the program. You may be able to move up faster in your current company, thus making up the pay difference in the long run. Your current company is probably putting a lot of money into you (as compared to a normal analyst) and thus will probably look to promote people from the program first in order to retain them. Just my two cents.

Oct 3, 2013

i dislike the way all these brand names companies depress wages for their Management Associate Programme, FLDP, Fast Track Programme etc. Sigh.

Oct 3, 2013

What do you mean "depress wages"? Most of the programs I've seen (in the US) pay higher salaries to these programs

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Oct 3, 2013

Most programs pay higher than what a normal FA would be paid with the same experience in my experience. I'm not sure why you are comparing your salary to a SFA. Those people usually have 3-5 years experience at a minimum. Three is quick.

Oct 3, 2013

It looks like you've gotta weigh the risk vs reward here. I'm not working FT (and haven't worked in corpfin), but these are the things I'd think about:

Obviously it's going to be somewhat risky, so how well do you think the company will be able to operate in the US vs abroad?

Are you interested in international opportunities? If so, this will probably give you a better chance at making those happen than working for a US-based fin services firm.

What interests you more, fin services or consumer products? If you want to build a career in financial services, then you shouldn't jump ship. If you want to be somewhere you can't transition to from your FLDP (ie- banking, S&T, etc), does this put you at a better position to get into a top MBA program and transition from there?

Do you want to get a top MBA? If so, there's a risk that if the company does poorly it'll reflect badly on your application. This could be outweighed by exceptional performance, but I don't know enough about MBA admissions to know if that's true or how true it is

If this company is successful in the US, since you're getting in on the ground level of their US ops you have the opportunity to build a great network at the new company. It could potentially rival or even beat the network you could build in the FLDP. This is all based on the assumption that the company will be successful in the US and that your position will give you exposure to managers/directors as one of the first employees.

It looks like the location and pay is better, which is an important thing to factor in, but not the MOST important thing. Another thing to take into account is the dynamic at the company. Do you think you'll fit well/enjoy the new company as much as you do your current company?

Honestly, you're in a position that I simultaneously dread and envy. It's a tough choice to make and the wrong one could hurt your career. I do believe that if you get 2 years of experience with excellent performance, you could probably lateral to another company fairly easily if yours fails. Once again, all of these are just educated guesses. The decision is a tough one to make and ultimately up to you. I guess you just have to ask yourself if the risk is worth the reward.

Oct 3, 2013

D M, you are the most active poster on the Corp. Fin. forum. Since you've never worked for Corp. Fin., what do you do and how do you know so much?

Oct 3, 2013

I've recently return to school to finish up my degree. Quick overview of my background:

-Research analyst for boutique IB
-ops manager (~10 reporting) for national shipping company
-contracted for a career services company

Additionally, I've done a decent amount of research on corporate finance gigs (specifically FLDPs). Probably talked to around 50 people, ranging from FLDP interns to finance managers to strategy managers to junior executives. Outside of that research I've pitched and worked on projects with people ranging from dock hands to chief engineers to CEOs/Chairmen in everything from 1-man small businesses to multinational conglomerates both in the US and abroad (I'm a hella lucky guy).

A lot of the questions that are asked on the corpfin board aren't responses that only apply to corporate finance. A lot of the questions are things that guys even at the senior level ask, this being one of them (ie- should I stay at my established company making $150k/year or should I move to this growing company for a 20% pay cut and the chance to be making double my old salary in 3-5 years?).

On top of THAT, a lot of the questions regarding the FLDPs are pretty straightforward. They just need a new perspective. I generally try and make it known that I'm not in corpfin, I don't have firsthand experience, and the person asking should wait for another perspective. A lot of times it helps to get the ball rolling on a thread to offer some different ways of thinking about situations. It also helps to have someone who doesn't know much about the actual job to offer an outsider's perspective.

I'm definitely NOT the definitive person to listen to on corporate-related things. I'm the most active poster here because I want to learn more about corpfin, FLDPs, and the way it all works. Having me (someone outside the normal flow of things) posting on this board provides a number of things: unique perspective from someone with diverse experiences, a way to get the ball rolling on good questions, and a resource for me personally to look to when I have questions now or in the future.

Sorry that was kind of long-winded, hope that answers your question.

    • 1
Oct 3, 2013

if you have solid credentials and work in corporate finance for a recognized/respected company, you will almost always have attractive opportunities available elsewhere. if you have a linkedin profile, expect to receive messages from recruiters hawking a great job on a regular basis.

deciding which opportunity is right, and if it is the right time to leave can be a very difficult decision. you need to balance short-term pros/cons with long-term pros/cons. maybe this other job pays a higher salary now and provides other convenient short-term benefits, but over the next 5 years, you could be better off staying put, and making a jump down the road to an even better opportunity at a higher level.

hey, if you got bills and debt, and need the higher salary now, then go ahead and get more money. if you have some flexibility financially, it could be wise to continue in your fldp, see what opens up internally within the company where your fldp experience is highly respected and extremely valuable, and consider making a move then.

i read all of the posts fast, but it sounds like you only have 6 months of experience? if so, i think it's best to commit at least 2 years to your first job post-college...unless you are miserable, then f it, pack your stuff and leave.

Oct 6, 2013

Thanks for the great responses everyone!

I learned from these posts that there is more respect for FLDP programs than I thought. If I stay for 4 years here and work hard I'm pretty sure i'll have a higher chance of climbing the corporate ladder. The MBA associates in my program typically exit into Director positions and there are even one or two undergrads who didn't lateral to business school and are now VPs before hitting age 30.

The main issue I'm starting to realize is that I can't necessarily see myself living in this city for the long term. Its not like NYC, SanFran or Chicago where there's a lot of inflow. Most young professionals either lived there whole life here or came here for college and almost everyone has entrenched networks.

Corporate fit may also be a long term issue. I feel I would be good fit in the more fast-paced departments like strategy where the managers come from Bain or Mckinsey, but I'm not as comfortable placing into say controllership or audit where most employees have a 9-5 work mentality. Outside of my peers in the FLDP program, I don't feel the same competitive pressure I felt in college where all your buddies who aimed to be investment bankers or get into top law or PhD programs pushed you to be the best that you could. The work-life balance is excellent for my coworkers who are all older and have families, but I'm afraid it'll infect me and make me complacent. If I took the new job, it would be a much more an entrepreneurial atmosphere aimed at creating a new revenue stream. I would be more on my toes since I'll lose my job and get transferred to a role with less responsibilities if I don't succeed.

About wages: compared to other new non-FLDP grads within the firm, we're 1 payband ahead (which along with the extra attention we get does cause some envy and conflict). But compared to my peers from college with similar credentials (excluding ibanking and prop trading which is higher risk and reward), my pay's in the high 50k's while theirs are in the high 60k's to 70's. This makes sense to me from a market efficiency perspective since FLDPs are getting a ton of training resources and scheduled time with business unit leaders that say an entry level management consultant wouldn't.

Materially, money is essentially a non-issue since I take pleasure in living at a bare minimum level and was lucky to have need-based financial aid cover my tuition. What matters more about salary is its effect signalling mechanism to future employers that your a top performer at your current firm. I know this is shallow, but as an efficient markets guy, I also view salary partly as how much the world economy values you and always feel inadequate when comparing myself to my peers in algorithmic trading who make double my pay for the similar work hours. Within my FLDP program, wages are unfortunately static until you graduate from the program 2 year later, by then which I'll be starting to look at Bschools. Ultimately, "prestige", defined as how much a stranger would look up to you, is the external driver for my career choices (which is why I want to go to a good bschool). Internally as long as I'm learning alot, am not doing the same thing everyday, and work in a non-abusive environment I'll be satisfied.

Do people think my view of salary as a signal is accurate? Thanks again for the insightful posts so far.

Oct 3, 2013

I sent you a PM, if you can't/don't want to do what I asked about ignore it. But if you want to send me the city you live in/company you work for I might be able to give you some better, more-personalized advice. No promises though, my network is very generalized and I only know a couple of people at FLDPs in financial services.

In your initial post it sounded like you have exit ops in strat, dev, investments, etc, would you be able to make one of those happen? If so, that should be your goal and you should bust your ass to get there.

As far as location, you can make the switch after getting an MBA, it really sounds like you've got a great opportunity on your hands. Also, is it possible to move to a different city on completion of the FLDP? If there are other offices, but it's not not normally done, you could pitch it to your mentor or program manager as a way of building a stronger network. Of course, the problem with that is you probably won't have access to the jobs like strat and dev, assuming they're centered in the location you're at now.

It's tough to do, but try not to worry too much about pay right now. If you went to a school where a bunch of kids got jobs in banking/consulting/trading, honestly, you're probably always going to be behind them in terms of salary. That doesn't mean you can't/won't make good money, but bankers and consultants make some of the highest salaries of any job in the world. Making in the high 50k's straight out of college is insane. Think of it like this: you're probably in the top 5% of earners as far as recent college grads go.

Also, it sounds like you're not in a city with high CoL like San Fran/NY/etc. Generally the guys in corpfin in those cities make more because their salaries are adjusted for inflation. If you're making $58k in your job working/living in Atlanta for example, and your friend is making $65k working in NYC, you're actually making more than he is adjusted for expenses.

As far as signalling value to employers, it may or may not. If it does, then you're easily in the "strong" range. Honestly, most major companies (and likely the ones you'd be interested in working for) have FLDP-type programs. If you list on your resume that you went through one, you're going to get respect for that. The salary thing likely won't make any difference.

As far as prestige goes, to the average American someone working in corporate finance making high 50s at 23 years old is prestigious. You are making more than than the average household income of the United States in YOUR FIRST YEAR OUT OF COLLEGE. On top of that, you're in a program that puts you a prestige level above "normal" corpfin entry-levels.

Now, that may not compare in prestige to M&A at Morgan Stanley or algo trading, but that doesn't matter. What matters, it seems from what you're saying, is getting into a top MBA program. Here's a few pieces of advice for that:

-If you're working less than 55-60 hours per week, find a way to put in an extra 5 hours between Mon and Fri.
-If there are volunteer opportunities through your company, take them. You want to look like you're eating the cake (all the better if it's something you're interested in... most companies have a plethora of opportunities). It won't necessarily help you, but it could, and it definitely won't hurt.
-Take on all the responsibility you can (duh) and do everything you can to progress upwards.
-If you have extra time that you can't put into work and want to do something, then DO SOMETHING. PM me and I can help you with some ideas.

This all is a bit hard to touch on though, for one main reason: we don't really know what you want. If you can write down the following, it'll help me personally understand a lot more what you're looking for:

1) What type of job do you want to do in the long run? Stay in corpfin or move to say consulting, banking, something like that. If more than one are interesting, list them.

2) Do you want to get an MBA? Are you sure?

3) What are your ideal cities to live in? Are you sure that's where you want to live for life or could you possibly want to move somewhere else further down the line? List 5 or so.

4) Are you going to get promoted before applying for an MBA? How's your job performance so far? Are you an "average" FLDPer or do you stand out in some way? (Note: average isn't bad - the way FLDPs are set up you're still going to be one of the best at the company. Someone is always better)