CPA or GMAT? 5 Year MAC Program Grad- Incoming F100 FLDP with Corp Dev Aspirations or MBA -> IBD

kendrick1993's picture
Rank: Baboon | banana points 105

Hi Monkeys,

A little about me. I graduated from a top 20 target in Econ but didn't get the job I wanted out of undergrad, decided to do a masters of accounting degree at a similar school and now will work at a F100 FLDP. As stated above my goals are to break into corp dev internally then possibly an MBA -> IBD.

Given my situation is it worth it to do the CPA? I only have about 2.5 months before I start work. If I don't do the CPA I planned on traveling/relaxing and getting >=720 on the GMAT. Worst case scenario and I don't get into Corp Dev I end up in corporate finance, does the CPA matter there? Would I be held behind if I didn't do the CPA.

Will having a Master of Accounting degree without a CPA look strange? Obviously it a different situation since I opted for a FDLP vs Big 4 so unsure on how to determine the CPA's value.

Thoughts?

Comments (11)

Aug 5, 2017

Bump

Aug 5, 2017

I'm assuming you bumped this because you're in a similar situation. The biggest question I would have for the OP is if they would be working under other licensed CPAs, in order to even qualify for licensing. If so, then maybe.

At the end of the day, while the CPA affords you certain abilities - very few of which are applicable to finance -, it's more of a signaling device than anything else. It signals that you have the discipline and capacity to sit down and teach yourself a somewhat robust curriculum, and retain enough of it to pass a series of tests that are graded on an arbitrary curve.

That said, it's not all that applicable to finance, but the material you learn will certainly help you in your professional career. It is a significant time commitment, and completing it while working full time does suck.

While people in the accounting world may look at you cross if you went through a MACC program and didn't get a head start on the CPA program, if you don't aim to be an accountant, it's not that great of use to you.

In terms of Corp Dev and IBD, if you don't aim to have at least a year or two of accounting work in your background, I wouldn't bother. Focus on kicking ass at work and on the GMAT, then re-evaluate your options after you attain a promotion -or two.

Aug 7, 2017

Well my situation is that, i currently work in corporate finance (financial modelling Team) in the Big 4 in Australia, meaning my bosses are licensced CA/CPAs. (In Australia we have the CA which is a bit more respected than the CPA).
My rationale was that accounting is the language of business and thus may be useful for fundamental analysis/IB/Corp Dev and maybe to a lesser extent PE.
Only issue is whether the marginal benefit from doing the CA/CPA is worth studying all over again (as you say studying whilst working sucks) - or whether a CFA will be more worth the time.

You mention that the CPA would definitely help one's professional career - by that do you mean by the educational learnings of accounting/language of business?

Aug 7, 2017

I spent nearly 5 years in public accounting before transitioning into CF, so I'm a bit biased.

Since you're working for a Big 4, and working directly for other CPAs/CAs, I would think it would be in your interest to complete the CPA/CA. Accounting is undoubtedly useful for analysis, and the CPA/CA is a nice feather to have in your hat, and a nice line on the resume. It will always be a generally respected designation.

Some here fear that attaining the designation "brands" you as an accountant. To some extent that is true. However, you're already employed by B4, so people expect that you know accounting, regardless - even though you're not technically in an accounting function.

Personally, i think having a CPA/CA with your job duty would identify you as a high performer. Your job gives you a finance background, but having a CPA/CA would allow you to sell a finance and accounting background to wherever your next move may be.

As far as CPA vs CFA, and especially in terms of time commitment, you're choosing between bad and worse. You could bust your ass and get the CPA done in a year while working full time, or you could bust your ass for two years and still quite possibly be stuck on Level 2 of the CFA. In terms of what you want to do, the CFA is infinitely more valuable. However, it is much, much more difficult, and more of a time commitment.

It's up to you, but I think the CPA/CA is a low hanging fruit for you. The material would likely be educational and applicable to your work, and it would give you another great line on the resume.

Aug 5, 2017

Just curious what the reasoning behind macc instead of msf was? Seem's like it would've been the better fit for a program given your career goals, did you change your mind at some point or something? As the above poster said, some might look at you cross but in the end that doesn't really matter. What does matter is that the CPA might actually make it harder for you to get into corp dev. Once you finish the FLDP your company would want to stick you in an accounting roll and work you up to a controller if you're performing well, given the CPA.

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Aug 8, 2017

I did the MACC because I wanted to safety of going into public accounting if I couldn't reach my goal of a top FLDP, not because I want a career in accounting. After the FLDP I plan on either corp dev, corp strat, or corporate finance (worst case). Long term I'd like to get into either corp dev or IB (via MBA). Plus MSF is an awkward program that doesn't place that well into jobs, with MACC I had the safety of public accounting and had the capacity to reach for finance jobs.

Best Response
Aug 8, 2017

@kendrick1993, the CPA does not really matter in corporate finance. Even many controllers do not have a CPA (at least at my firm). That being said, when you are in a career field like corporate finance, corporate development, etc. where most applicants are virtually identical, these designations do help to differentiate yourself. That being said, sitting for the CPA is not mutually exclusive to taking the GMAT. Corp dev does not exactly have IB hours, so I would personally wait on the GMAT and just study for it while working.

    • 3
Aug 22, 2017

Do not get your CPA. I wouldn't say it's useless, but if you have a basic understanding of Accounting principles then you'll be just fine in any Corp Dev role. Even if you're looking to break into IB as an Associate post-MBA, you really don't need to go into Corp Dev before going back to school.

I would hold off on the CPA, get a few years of work experience under your belt, take your time studying for the GMATs and then apply to schools.

Sep 5, 2017

The MAcc program was mostly created for aspiring CPAs who need 150 credits and want to work in public accounting. (To sit for the CPA exam, you must have 150 college credits. Most bachelor degree programs are 120 credits, and a 30-credit MAcc program gets you to 150.)

It's a great path if you want an accounting career.

If you want to work in Corp Dev, there are faster ways to get there.

Sep 9, 2017

I don't think you have thought enough about your goals to give you a helpful answer. You say corp dev then possibly mba>IBD.

If you want to do IBD I would say you should have a laser focus and go after it. Then CPA doesn't mean much.

If you are considering staying in Corp Fin, then I would say CPA does have value within the corp finance realm. I also work for a F100 and at my firm CPA>MBA in the controller group.

If you're thinking you want a corp dev/strat job (which you state) then I would suggest moving around in the controller group (accounting) to learn skills in a few groups. A CPA isn't needed for this. Then you can leap to a finance role.

I have zero desire to work within our controller group and thus an MBA>CPA for me.

At the end of the day, rethink your goals and what you want. You may not know enough yet to be able to make that decision. In the end the CPA will not hurt you. Do you want to spend the time doing it if you never work in the accounting areas of corp fin? Also, speak with people at your company and see if the company values the designation.

Sep 11, 2017