Corporate Finance at F500 Company

SimplyAtEase's picture
Rank: Chimp | 5

Hi everyone,

I'm relatively very new here and need some help.

I'm currently a student in NYC and go a public business school (Baruch) and have just finished up my 2nd year (going to declare for Accounting). I am working full-time (payroll in a small private company) + taking a full-time course load. I'm also married if that helps to paint the picture of what my current situation looks like.

After hearing how boring audit is at the Big 4 (nothing wrong with Big 4) I've been looking into other career options I can pursue with an accounting degree that would be interesting with work-life balance. A financial analyst role with a mix of accounting/finance sounded really ideal to me.

Is it possible to get into corporate finance as an entry-level analyst at a F500 company straight out of undergrad without having to do FDLP in NYC? If so what steps should I take to maximize my chances?

I don't want to do FDLP because of the relocation mandate.

If what I'm looking to do isn't realistic then should I pursue a Big 4 role until I could make the jump to Corp Finance at a F500?

Sorry if the post is lengthy but some wisdom would be really appreciated.

Comments (56)

Best Response
Jul 10, 2017

Full time job and full time classes- brutal. Props to you for grinding through it.

To answer your question: I don't know about the NYC area specifically, but I can speak to fldps and entry-level non-FLDP corporate finance jobs. FLDP's are often times for the "creme of the crop" of Corp Fin new hires. It is harder to get into an FLDP than to be hired at the same company as a regular analyst.

The biggest advantage that an FLDP provides is that it allows you to rotate, which expands your network and gives you a wealth of experience in a short amount of time. If rotating is what you don't want, then you'll be shooting for a regular Financial Analyst role. These aren't too hard to get- you just need a good GPA and basic social skills. Most interviews are fit based rather than technical. In a huge city like NYC, and in a bull market like this one, it shouldn't be hard at all for you to find a role.

Being a financial analyst is going to be slightly more interesting than B4 Audit, but it is going to be a lot of rote tasks at the lower levels. The real analysis and interesting stuff comes more at the manager level. If CF is your goal, there is no need to spend any time in B4. Just jump right into a company in an industry that interests you.

Feel free to ask more questions!

Word of warning (I'm sure you've thought this through, but if not, I want to mention it anyway): The best way to supercharge your career is to be geographically mobile. I have heard it from multiple finance leaders (Directors, VPs, and CFO's of F500 companies) that you never want to be in the same job for more than 2 years. You want to move up and around and chase that next promotion and experience. These are guys who have had a great work/life balances all their lives, but once they feel like they have learned all they can learn from a certain job, they start looking for the next promotion. They cast a wide net and move wherever they need to move for that promotion.
On the flip side, I have seen it at the 3 different places I've worked that there are dozens of people who spend 20-30 years as a senior financial analyst. They hit that level in a few years, but aren't willing to chase the next promotion so they wait in line for their manager to retire and they spend their entire career in the $80k-$100k income bracket.

To each their own- you mentioned you are married (as am I!) and I know that comes with challenges to geographic mobility. My rationale is this: I will spend my 20's moving around as much as I need to, chasing promotions with all my energy. Hopefully I will hit manager by 30, and then I will settle down in a city big enough to not limit my career. I would rather move around and get promoted quickly before I have kids (or while they are young) than have to either turn down a promotion or uproot my family in the future because that management promotion came when I was 37 instead of 27.

I'm sure you can jump around to different NYC companies to chase promotions without ever leaving the area, but those promotions come faster and easier when your hunting grounds are the entire country. Something to consider!

    • 6
Jul 10, 2017

What skills should someone be brushing up on if applying for fldps or a corp. finance role right out of undergrad?

Jul 10, 2017

My comment here is my best summary of how to prepare for the actual job.

For interviews, it is very similar. You want to have good answers for the generic interview questions (what is your greatest weakness? tell me about yourself? etc etc) but you also what to show desire to work for that company. Read their 10k, listen to their last earnings call, read some recent articles about them. Show how you want to work for that company, not that you just want to get into any FLDP. Most interviews are fit based, so if you show a keen interest and excitement for their company (and not just their FLDP) then you'll do well.

    • 2
Jul 10, 2017

Good commentary by dan_yo23. Nothing I outright disagree with, but I'll offer a biased counterpoint.

Even if you're already sold on finance vs. accounting, I wouldn't discount entirely the value of spending 2 or 3 years in Big 4 audit, for a few reasons.

1) Generally, the so-called "cream of the crop" accounting students end up pursuing offers with Big 4, mainly because that's what they're told by their professors they should do. This doesn't mean there aren't valid alternatives for high performers, but this tendency ends up creating the perception in the corporate world that employees or candidates with accounting undergrads who don't go Big 4 straight out of school didn't do so because they didn't make the cut. This view will be more prevalent when former Big 4 drones are among your hiring managers, so if you know that isn't going to be the case, then probably not an issue.
2) Without doing FLDP, going straight from school and into a financial analyst's cubicle may give you fewer opportunities to exhibit the leadership attributes you'll need in order to sell yourself into a role in management. This is admittedly hard to gauge until you actually land wherever it is you end up for your first full time role as a graduate. Some companies permit high performers to shine, some others hold them back. I'm not saying that staff and seniors at Big 4 actually have any sort of inherent leadership abilities (when in reality, promotion to senior is virtually guaranteed), but in a hypothetical situation where you're recruiting for a role in CF, with a fresh CPA certification and one busy season as a senior under your belt, you will have plenty of "leadership" to talk about in an interview (coaching staff, reviewing staff work, developing/tracking engagement budgets, along with all the other substantive audit work). Like dan_yo23 hinted, it's often easier to move up by moving around, rather than biding your time for a promotion within your company.
2.5) One feature of Big 4 is that you're virtually guaranteed promotions every couple of years. Many in corporate finance know this, but then again many do not, and to the latter group, your (perceived) steady career growth will be another +1 on your resume.
3) You mentioned you don't want to pursue Big 4 because you've heard it's boring. So is being a 1st / 2nd year financial analyst. I wouldn't let this point be a show stopper if you might otherwise be amenable to a few years with Big 4. If, however, you prefer better work/life balance and less travel and less 23 year old shenanigans given you have a family, then I understand completely.

    • 1
Jul 10, 2017

Great info here. I am currently in an FLDP, so I get a lot of the same advantages as someone in B4 (yearly job change while rotating, increasing responsibility, etc). So my bias, since my long term plan is CF, is to start in CF and stay in CF. But I absolutely agree- FLDP or Big 4 are the best ways to jump start a CF career and will hand you opportunities that you would otherwise have to seek out as a regular finance hire.

I especially agree with your 3rd point- being a financial analyst means you are doing the grunt work for your manager (or mayyybe a senior financial analyst) who is actually calling the shots and doing things that make a difference. I wouldn't say that it is as boring as making journal entries, but you definitely aren't going to be coming up with projects that innovate processes and save the company millions.

    • 2
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Jul 11, 2017
dan_yo23:

Great info here. I am currently in an FLDP, so I get a lot of the same advantages as someone in B4 (yearly job change while rotating, increasing responsibility, etc). So my bias, since my long term plan is CF, is to start in CF and stay in CF. But I absolutely agree- FLDP or Big 4 are the best ways to jump start a CF career and will hand you opportunities that you would otherwise have to seek out as a regular finance hire.

I especially agree with your 3rd point- being a financial analyst means you are doing the grunt work for your manager (or mayyybe a senior financial analyst) who is actually calling the shots and doing things that make a difference. I wouldn't say that it is as boring as making journal entries, but you definitely aren't going to be coming up with projects that innovate processes and save the company millions.

Most recent grads (1-2 years) do not innovate processes and save millions in general.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jul 11, 2017
SimplyAtEase:

Hi everyone,

I'm relatively very new here and need some help.

I'm currently a student in NYC and go a public business school (Baruch) and have just finished up my 2nd year (going to declare for Accounting). I am working full-time (payroll in a small private company) + taking a full-time course load. I'm also married if that helps to paint the picture of what my current situation looks like.

After hearing how boring audit is at the Big 4 (nothing wrong with Big 4) I've been looking into other career options I can pursue with an accounting degree that would be interesting with work-life balance. A financial analyst role with a mix of accounting/finance sounded really ideal to me.

Is it possible to get into corporate finance as an entry-level analyst at a F500 company straight out of undergrad without having to do FDLP in NYC? If so what steps should I take to maximize my chances?

I don't want to do FDLP because of the relocation mandate.

If what I'm looking to do isn't realistic then should I pursue a Big 4 role until I could make the jump to Corp Finance at a F500?

Sorry if the post is lengthy but some wisdom would be really appreciated.

Yes, you probably have options at hundreds of companies in the F500. I started out after college in a management consultancy in corporate finance.

Its hard to get in the door at some of these places, especially with thousands of applications for each position.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jul 10, 2017

When you say "these places", are you referring to CF roles at F500 companies, or management consultancy roles?

If you're talking about CF F500 roles, I think it's wildly inaccurate to say that these companies get thousands of applications for each position. My company (aerospace & defense) has pretty critical staffing issues and is having a lot of trouble hiring enough people. I heard that the 2nd year employees on the northeast coast all got a 10% raise so we could keep our retention up. At my last location, we had multiple open recs and interviewed anyone who fit the basic qualifications (and we only received one or two applications per month). I was just in a meeting today where I heard that our backlog is only growing because we can't hire people fast enough. A few months ago when the list came out for the next set of FLDP rotations, the list had four times as many openings as people in the program.

Some industries might be more stagnant, but I think there is no lack of open entry-level CF jobs. I think 5-10 applications per role is a better average

    • 2
Jul 11, 2017

it will depend on if you are working in corp dev or on the fp&a side of things. definitely bolster your excel skills, you will need to know how to build full 3-statement models from the ground up with drivers built off of the company's KPIs... additionally if you are working on the corp dev side you will need to understand how to build valuation models (DCF, trading, transaction), accretion / dilution analyses, as well as layering in the effects of the various M&A financing options on cash flow and net income.

probably wont be expected to know all of this for the internship, but will definitely need to know inside and out for career progression.

Jul 11, 2017

Thank you evan for your response. I shouldve mentioned that it is more on the fp&a side of finance. Any other comments/insights from anyone?

Jul 11, 2017

The only reason why I would go to Fortune 500 rotation program is because it's easier to go to H/S/W from that route than from investment banking. Also I would like to really "live" my 3~4 years out of college.

Jul 11, 2017

So manager left, you're the only person at your site, and now you're doing the part of his work that related to your location?

That's not "all" of his work, and I'd be surprised if you started doing the controller work he did for other sites.

It should be a good learning experience, and you can leverage it come performance review. If you aren't happy with the work now, look elsewhere to leave.

Jul 11, 2017

bump

Jul 11, 2017

college->analyst->work->b.school->work

Jul 11, 2017

any other ideas?

Jul 11, 2017

doesn't really matter whether you have audit cpa/ca experience, most f500 grad programs have some requirement to get a designation during the initial years. A ca/cpa with senior accountant or manager experience might get you a good controller position though.

Jul 11, 2017

Would advancement through the ranks be faster if I started working in F500 right out of college or would it happen quicker if I went to big 4 and waited 5 years to make manager and then transferred into f500?

Jul 11, 2017

bump

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Jul 11, 2017

campus recruiting. if that window is closed, you're in a tough spot because they generally aren't even going to look at interns coming through a standard job portal.

Jul 11, 2017

If you can't get F1000, try contacting Big 4 audit departments and try to get on M&A due diligence teams. It gives you deal experience to talk about, even if it's not exactly IB.

Jul 11, 2017

Big4 generally don't pick up interns outside of OCR. A hail mary can't hurt at this point though.

Jul 11, 2017

better expand your search to the F100000

silverstein's deli down my street is hiring sandwich development associates. PM me your CV.

Jul 11, 2017

If you do corp finance at one company, you can in general transition to any industry/function doing corp fin somewhere else. Corp fin entails a pretty wide range of possible jobs and isn't quite the pigeon holed scenario that comes with Big 4.

Jul 11, 2017

My suggestion to anyone in F500 Corp Fin would be to change companies on a regular basis - basically a guaranteed salary bump and potential for some title inflation. When I was doing Corp Fin out of college, a guy at my company had left a few years earlier for another opportunity, worked there for about 1.5 years, then came back at a ridiculous premium to his prior compensation.

Jul 11, 2017
duffmt6:

My suggestion to anyone in F500 Corp Fin would be to change companies on a regular basis - basically a guaranteed salary bump and potential for some title inflation. When I was doing Corp Fin out of college, a guy at my company had left a few years earlier for another opportunity, worked there for about 1.5 years, then came back at a ridiculous premium to his prior compensation.

this is a good point, but i wanted to expand on it. corporate finance professionals are relatively interchangeable, and it's fairly easy to change companies, industries, and even specific corporate finance functions (fp&a vs. financial reporting vs. controllership vs. etc). as a result, if you have a solid background and resume, you will have a constant stream of recruiters presenting you with jobs. in some cases it might make sense to leave your current job after a short period of time. maybe your next job comes with a promotion, higher salary, or other great perks. in other cases, the negative connotations associated with job-hopping will out-weigh the benefits of leaving.

i do think the employment market is much more forgiving than it was previously in regards to job-hopping, but i would still recommend treading lightly in this area. you just don't want the first 10 years of your career to have 5+ jobs. now, if you are smart about it and time your moves correctly, you can definitely take 3-5 jobs in your first 10 years, and most likely enjoy higher compensation, rate of advancement, and also greater breadth of experience. i honestly think after 2-3 years in a corporate finance role you need to change things up and see something different. many companies have internal rotation systems intended to foster this.

overall, always keep in mind your story. how can you explain your job changes? how do each of the movements make sense in terms of where you want to be and what you are trying to accomplish? if you can articulate that to a recruiter or hiring manager, you should be fine.

Jul 11, 2017

What about B-School? I'm assuming FA or Sr. FA are a dime a dozen so it seems you need to get up to being a controller/FP&A/or Corp Strat it seems?

Edit: And if a decent B-School is a realistic option what is someone looking at as far as placement? Top20? M7?

Jul 11, 2017

That's not really true. Not every FA/Sr FA wants to go to b-school. A lot of them also do PT MBAs so they don't have to take time off work and help get their MBA paid for.

From what I've seen, it looks like 4-6 years of experience needed. Steadily increasing responsibility helps a lot. Partially depends on the company (F100 is different than F499, also is it a "hot" company). Programs like GE's FMP look good. International experience looks good. Something substantial on the side looks good (volunteering, starting a biz, something).

Somebody else posted on this a while back, can't find the post. Essentially what it came down to is analysts from F500 get into the M7 every year. They may not be the most represented group, but the amount that make it there is significant. It's just going to be harder than someone who went 2 years MS M&A -> 2 years Mega PE or 2-3 years at MBB

    • 2
Jul 11, 2017

Working in corp fin at an f500, what is the typical progression over the years? For instance bankers want to go to a PE or HF after their 2yrs. For corp fin folks what is typically sought after? Treasury? Corp Strategy?

Basically what is the "next step" so to speak and how is it typically done?
For instance, financial analyst for 4-5 yrs, then MBA, then treasury/corp strategy, from there director then c-level?

Would really appreciate some career progression framework.

Jul 11, 2017

Not working FT, but I've talked to a lot of people that are.

There isn't a "typical" path like in banking, there isn't something specifically sought after. Everyone has different interests. Some people want to do Treasury, others Controllership, FP&A, CorpDev, etc. That said, usually the corpfin department will have a specific group/program that's known for getting people promoted more quickly/up into the senior levels. People who want that path go into that group/program.

CorpStrat isn't a "typical" exit for corporate finance in most companies. It's more of an exit for consultants/new MBAs it seems like (though it's definitely not unheard of to go from corpfin -> corpstrat).

If a financial analyst gets an MBA, there are a few reasons:

1) Wants to switch job function
2) Got stuck at Senior FA level (or maybe even Analyst or Manager)/MBA might be required at the company to advance
3) Some other random reason

If you go to a top MBA program, you should be able to switch into CorpStrat. If you go to U of Phoenix MBA online, you're probably not going to get into CorpStrat. A lot of companies have programs and/or recruit specifically for Strategy, some of them have programs for Treasury. Others have general business programs. General management programs are sought after by some MBAs because you're really involved in all aspects of the business.

What you need to know is:

1) CorpStrat requires a top MBA and/or a consulting background. Exceptions are definitely possible, but you'll have to find the path to that exception. It won't be a cut-and-dry route.

2) Treasury is definitely an option post-MBA.

3) Be damn sure you are interested in what you try and get a job doing. The MBA is one of your last opportunities to switch into a job function you're passionate about. If you don't get your first choice, but there's something else you're interested in that you have an opportunity in, roll with it.

4) RESEARCH PROGRAMS. Pick the industries you're interested in. Pick the companies you're interested in (you should be able to list 30 companies that interest you by the time you're done - go down the list of F500s). Go to their career pages and see what advertised programs they offer. Check your school's career resources, some companies don't publish opportunities because they want people from a specific school. If there's a program you want into but it's not traditionally an option for someone in your position, start reaching out to your network first, and then cold email after.

Lastly, look into rotational MBA programs. If you aren't 100% sure of what you want to do, this is a great opportunity to experience different aspects of a company's corpfin department or their business in general.

    • 5
Jul 11, 2017

^ +1 SB DM. Very Informative post.

How are the exit opportunities from F500 to Investment Banking? Although not common, Big 4 to IB is certainly very possible and not uncommon and I see a lot of the Big 4 guys on the board looking to switch over to IB but I haven't seen much people wanting to go from F500 to IB. Is this because its basically uncommon/extremely difficult?

More specifically though what about in the case of someone doing a F500 internship transitioning to full time IB?

Jul 11, 2017

This is all from what I've seen/heard, so take it with a grain of salt.

One thing I can say for certain is if you want to jump from F500 to IB, you're going to need a top MBA (or maybe a top regional MBA, if you're looking at MM/boutique IB). You *might* be able to jump straight from CorpDev to IB, but that's a loooong shot. The cases of people going to IB from F500 directly are usually higher-level guys that have been around for 20 years and are at the Director+ level.

I don't know of many people breaking directly into IB from Big 4, but it has been done. Still not easy to make that happen, you'll be networking your ass off to get there and you better have a damn good performance record and know the shit out of DCFs/whatever else you need to know.

Going from F500 intern to IB FT is going to be difficult, but it's doable (maybe a little easier than directly from Big 4 -> IB). It'll help if you're a top-rated intern at the bank you want to go into IB at because you'll have the opportunity to network (and you damn well better). After that, know that not all F500s are seen equally. Having Amazon on your resume is a lot different than Regions Financial. Generally F100s probably have a shot at an interview (assuming you're from a target school or maybe even a semi-target, have a good GPA, and have some extracurriculars to talk about). Hot companies like Facebook are probably possible.

It's just hard if you don't got he traditional route. They want people to fit their cookie-cutter mold. Target School, 3.5+ GPA, IB internship. It's worked for decades so every step you take away from that makes it more difficult to break in. You can still do it, but you're going to need to shake a lot of hands, send a lot of emails, and be willing to take lots of rejection without the guarantee that you'll get a job.

You could do everything right and just get the wrong interviewers or you could do everything wrong and luck out with the right interviewers. Luck plays a role, but you can swing it your way by getting more people on your side.

    • 1
Jul 11, 2017

+1 for you guys. Very helpful post. Currently at a target mba and took a strat and finance internship at a Fortune 10 company. Hoping to leverage that for ft bank recruiting.

Jul 11, 2017

Good luck! Not sure how easy it is to make that jump at the MBA level, but I can't imagine it being easier than for UGs. Definitely start networking/reaching out ASAP

Jul 11, 2017

Definitely possible. Prior to B-school I was headhunted out of a top Entertainment firm (think Disney, Paramount,Warner Bros) into a top tech firm. Just make sure you're aware of any differences in reporting protocols or standards when you interview. I did that by reaching out to contacts in the industry/company I was considering. In Corp. Fin, I find that the name/size of the company goes further in determining your next step than anything else. Having a company like Boeing on your resume should be able to help you land anywhere you want.

Jul 11, 2017
Jamshad:

A lot of you guys mentioned one big "exit opportunity" is the ability to pretty smoothly transition one company to another doing corp fin for another company. How does this transition fare when making a jump towards a different industry because I am currently in Aero/Defense (Boeing) and I am looking to make transition to Tech or Entertainment (i.e:Microsoft or Disney).

For me it's been pretty easy. I'm going into my third job in 3 years since undergrad next month and each one has been in a different industry. I did aerospace/defense FLDP, then healthcare for a year, and now financial services. And each time I've really been able to upgrade the type of work I'm doing, my exposure, and my income. In fact my new job I negotiated both a better title and an salary+bonus package that will land me around 100k a year in a non managerial position.

For me jumping around has been easy and great. But with this next move I was a little more cognizant of making sure it was the right move for me and one that I can make stick for awhile and has a lot of room for growth. Like someone said earlier if you start to get a resume that has a new job every year or two it can start to give people pause, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't move if the right opportunity presented itself. And changing companies is the easiest way to move up and get a good raise in a lot of situations.

Jul 11, 2017

^^ I am curious about this as well. Not as specific as above poster but more in a general sense. Anyone have insight on this?

Jul 11, 2017

I know a couple of people that have made jumps to different industries relatively early in their careers (>4-5 years), also seen a couple of posts by people on this board that I know are working full-time and have made the transition.

I think this is really going to be on a case-by-case basis though. Depends on the company, the industry, etc.

Jul 11, 2017

Great info as always DM - you are the go-to-guy for this. Could you please talk a bit more specifically about transitioning from corp fin/FLDP to corp strategy? It seems less common but its something I'd like to know more about, especially the odds and what needs to be done. Naturally networking and good performance in the FLDP is key but what else is necessary/helpful if you wanted to make the move without leaving the FLDP for an MBA?

Jul 11, 2017

Really networking/performance is the only way to do it. Some fldps have corpstrat rotations either formally or informally (network your way in). Beyond that, maybe try looking into some strategy-related materials. The McKinsey Way, Porter's Five Forces, Harvard Business Review, etc. Try and get an idea for what strategy actually does and how. Give yourself something to talk about when you're networking/interviewing.

Jul 11, 2017

Thanks DM - yeah I felt those would be the most standard paths to follow from within the FLDP. I guess best to start reaching out at different FLDP's to see which has a corp strat rotation or instances where analysts have lateraled into corp strat. Any FLDP's off the top of your head? I'll be going through the list myself. Thanks again.

Jul 11, 2017

From what I understand these responses deal with transitioning for full-time folks. What about people making a transition from internship to FT recruiting at a F500/F100/F50 in a different industry? I am currently at a Finance analyst intern F50 non-tech company (Target) and I would like to transition into F500 financial services or tech (ideally JPMorgan or something like Amazon). I'll be entering my final year with a 3.27, what are my chances of making the transition in my situation from internship ---> full time F500 corpfin, having previous F50 experience?

Jul 11, 2017
bruce-wayne:

From what I understand these responses deal with transitioning for full-time folks. What about people making a transition from internship to FT recruiting at a F500/F100/F50 in a different industry? I am currently at a Finance analyst intern F50 non-tech company (Target) and I would like to transition into F500 financial services or tech (ideally JPMorgan or something like Amazon). I'll be entering my final year with a 3.27, what are my chances of making the transition in my situation from internship ---> full time F500 corpfin, having previous F50 experience?

The industry you were in for your internship will have no bearing on FT recruiting. The brand name may, but that's about it. Just be able to sell your experience whether it was at Target or Apple.

Jul 11, 2017

^^ Curious about this as well! I'm in a similar jam