CPA in Banking

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How do you view the CPA certification in banking (useless, a feather in the cap, valuable, etc.)? How will a CPA affect the banker who has earned it throughout his career? Please include your position level (analyst, associate, etc.).

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Comments (31)

Dec 19, 2007

It shows that you have an interest in business/accounting/finance (though "interest in business" could be debated...) and that you either did some independent study or work experience or both in the field.

While this is always good to see, it doesn't give you a big advantage when applying to banking jobs. Going to a top 10 university, having a finance internship, or even having some really good leadership-oriented extracurricular will make far more of a difference than getting a CPA.

In summary: feather in the cap.

Dec 20, 2007

I agree with DOSK17. In the end it doesn't help, it doesn't hurt, but it wont distinguish you in any way. I will tell you that in an interview your good accting background will be helpful... going forward it will be helpful, but still interviewers just don't care. Now if you will allow me to explain the flip.... If you don't get it and are capable of doing so, interviewers will call you out. I know from experience. You need a good story to that, meaning you need a good story as to why you didn't get the CPA when you had the op.

Dec 19, 2007

A CPA designation is hardly a feather in a cap. Banks are increasingly interested in people with a deep understanding of accounting ESPECIALLY MM and boutique banks. It's obviously not a golden ticket to banking, but it is valuable.

That said, you shouldn't get a CPA just because you want to be a banker. Becoming a CPA is no cake walk with all the tests, work experience, and educational requirements. If you're not at least interested in a career in accounting/auditing then you'll probably never make it through the whole process anyway. But, if you already have a CPA and would like to move into banking, the title will serve you well.

In summary: if you already have it; GREAT! if you don't and just want it to beef up your resume; you're dreaming

Dec 20, 2007

anyone else? I'm interested in this topic as well.

Dec 20, 2007

well the amount of work for a cpa really doesn't justify going out of your way to get one.

i'm going to have to take the cpa in a year or so, and the amount of prep is significant and (for my state at least) there is a time limit on the exam. you need to finish the exam (4 parts, 14hours) within 18 months i think, and failing to do so means that you will most likely be studying new material all over again. since laws and procedures change every so often.

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Dec 20, 2007

Agree with Eat... I am not an accountant and not an accounting major but my school is known for accounting and my father is an accountant. The tests, from what I know and have heard, are probably the most rigorous with the exception maybe of the MCATS. If you got a CPA for banking you would certainly be taking the road less traveled.

Dec 20, 2007

As a CPA who is now an equity research hopeful, I would say that Schumacher is spot on given what I've heard from people.

The accounting skill is useful, but I'd suggest going with a more efficient route to ibd/finance if that's what you want. That means obtaining the finance experience, and probably an MBA if need be.

I'm doing the CFA b/c that seems to be more applicable to research, but for IBD i've been told that valuation exp and an MBA are basically what you would need.

Hope that helps and good luck!

Dec 20, 2007

CPA and auditing backgrounds can help alot if your looking to join dd teams, otherwise, not so much.

CRE NERD

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Dec 20, 2007

Why would you go through all of the trouble getting your CPA if you don't even want to be an accountant? I guarantee you that you'll get this question if you try to transfer to banking. Banking isn't rocket science. You don't need to be an accounting master to be an analyst.

Dec 20, 2007

A few points as I was licensed this year:
1. Unless you want to work in internal audit at bank, you can't get the CPA in banking.
2. As an analyst most of the MD's I have talked to its worthless. The knowledge and experience become more helpful at the associate level and higher.
3. Most likely you will need to go for the top tier MBA, and the license does help with admissions.
4. The tests are not easy. I passed all 4 the first time in a two month window. Most of the kids I know take pretty much the entire 18 months to pass all 4 and even then some take longer. It is a rigorous test and really makes sure you know alot of esoteric accounting like pensions, which from what I have heard is not all that useful in the day to day work of an analyst.
5. If you know you want to do banking, do banking. When I graduated I didn't really think about it too much. I really wanted to live and work in the caymans or bermuda for a Big 4 firm. Having done something similar, I realized I would probably lose my mind from boredom wtih that route so I am looking to go back for the MBA and go home to NY.

If you have any question send me a PM.

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Dec 20, 2007

I agree with the previous posters that the CPA is not very valuable in banking. There is one exception. If you're very interested in tax accounting, there are advisory positions available in corporate solutions groups. These groups help corporations set up M&A and other transactions in the most tax-efficient way. One of the associates in that group at my bank started off as an analyst in a coverage group, got his CPA and then returned as an associate in the corporate solutions group.

If you like to combine tax accounting and banking, this is one opportunity. However, don't get your CPA in hopes that it will give you an edge in analyst recruitment.

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Dec 20, 2007

One important thing to point out that I for some reason didn't mention in my previous post is the amount of time it takes in terms of experience. Another factor in whether or not it is worth getting the CPA, is that similar to the CFA, there is a specifically defined set of qualifying experience set by the state licensing board. If you have an approved undergrad business degree or enough qualifying accounting credits it takes two years of 'audit and attest' experience under a currently licensed CPA. The other option is the 150 hour rule which is almost all states now require 5 years of undergrad or undergrad plus an mba or ma acct to sit for the exams. They do reduce the experience by 1 year, but if you then want to move to banking, you would have to have a story. Even more so what would you do after 2 years as an analyst? Go back for another grad degree in an mba?

The real question becomes if you want to do banking and know it, why would you subject yourself to a relatively low paying audit job and 4 tough exams for some letters after your name?

Just my opinion. I just got my CPA this year and these are alot of the questiosn I have come across recently in trying to make a move to banking.

RBS is better than YOUR BS, and that's not saying much

Dec 21, 2007

Try and get your foot in the door at a bank at an entry level position. If you're from a non-target then you'll have to network much harder.