Help! - Hoping to switch to F500 Corp Finance from a possible pigeonhole!

Hey everyone,

I am currently a Senior in college about to graduate in a few months and I recently accepted an Audit Analyst position (essentially Internal Audit/Risk Management) at Bank of America Merrill Lynch as apart of their 2 year Corporate Audit Analyst Program. I was really hyped for applying because I thought it would be an awesome experience as far as getting to know the ins and outs of Bank of America. It turns out that wasn't the case.

Unfortunately, I researched some more after accepting the and read that Internal Audit is not a great career path especially coming out of college because it pigeonholes you and the only other opportunities outside of Internal Audit is more internal audit unfortunately. This doesn't really fall along my future career plans since I would eventually like to go get my MBA and then possibly transition to consulting or possibly even IB. From what I read, I don't think a career in Internal audit can get me to either of those career goals. What's worse is that I can't renege since I would get in some beef with our career services and it may affect my graduation.

Last summer I interned at Boeing in their Procurement Finance division. I enjoyed the work, but I chose to reject the offer hoping I would find something "better" and it turns out this internal audit gig was that "better opportunity".I realize now that a F500 career path would offer me more opportunities down the road and won't pigeonhole me. That along with the fact that I have had experience in the F500 corporate finance route is why I would love to make the switch to that route if possible.

With all of this, WSO members I could use your much needed advice, guidance, and suggestions on this issue. Any feedback is greatly appreciated whether its good or bad news.

TL;DR: Accepted Internal Audit offer at Bank of America Merill Lynch looking to see if F500 CorpFin transition is possible!

Comments (27)

Jan 17, 2015

I would suggest applying to all the FLDP's or Financial Analyst positions you can, if that is your goal.

I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things

Jan 18, 2015

Thanks for the feedback TravelBonobo! Just curious do FLDP's take experienced hires (or hires that are out of college)? I was under the notion FLDP's hire straight from university and not people who were out of college. Is this correct or no?

Jan 18, 2015

Yes they mostly recruit straight out of undergraduate, but I believe there are some that take experienced hires under 1 year experience.

Barring that, you have essentially two options:
1.) Apply to financial analyst positions now
2.) Wait until you have two years experience and try to transition into senior financial analyst positions

I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things

Best Response
Jan 27, 2015

I would think that IA to CorpFin @ a different company would be a fairly easy transition into since a lot of rotation programs at F500 have an internal audit rotation so F500s would value the experience (GE comes to mind). This is based off my knowledge of reading about transitioning from WSO and other members so I could be wrong.

@"D M" @"MBA_Junkie" @"dagro" and/or @"da chief" we could probably use your sage insight on this topic to confirm if this is in fact true cause I am kinda curious as well.

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Jan 28, 2015
freddyflintstone:

I would think that IA to CorpFin @ a different company would be a fairly easy transition into since a lot of rotation programs at F500 have an internal audit rotation so F500s would value the experience (GE comes to mind). This is based off my knowledge of reading about transitioning from WSO and other members so I could be wrong.

@D M @MBA_Junkie @dagro and/or @da chief we could probably use your sage insight on this topic to confirm if this is in fact true cause I am kinda curious as well.

This is correct. Not only is internal audit to corporate finance doable, it is pretty standard, at least in my experiences.

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Jan 28, 2015
TwoThrones:
freddyflintstone:

I would think that IA to CorpFin @ a different company would be a fairly easy transition into since a lot of rotation programs at F500 have an internal audit rotation so F500s would value the experience (GE comes to mind). This is based off my knowledge of reading about transitioning from WSO and other members so I could be wrong.

@D M @MBA_Junkie @Dagro and/or @Da chief we could probably use your sage insight on this topic to confirm if this is in fact true cause I am kinda curious as well.

This is correct. Not only is internal audit to corporate finance doable, it is pretty standard, at least in my experiences.

I'll second this. At my company IA includes a lot of travel which exposes you to many different aspects of the business and tons of people. One of my colleagues transitioned from IA after 2 years to a sr. financial analyst role directly underneath a business unit controller. He had prior experience to IA mind you but this illustrates the fact you don't have to start over. In fact, many managers within F500 value internal audit experience because the experience is incredibly valuable. I myself am planning on doing either IA or internal consulting for these exact reasons. Audit can be looked at as either a bane or benefit you just need to go into it with the right attitude and take the right things from it.

Now for transferring from lets say BAML to F500 I think the IA experience is still relevant you just may need to work a bit harder. It's definitely doable, especially since you already have F500 experience.

Feb 2, 2015

I expect this to be true. The only hurdle might be to convince interviewers that you really want to make the transition for good as opposed to trying your hand at something else just for fun.

Jan 29, 2015

I actually know a person who did this program and it was a great experience for them getting exposure across the bank and after the program they ended doing something completely different outside of audit with the same bank (corporate banking). It's a better opportunity than you give it credit for.

After the program is over you should have an easy time moving to corporate finance at BOA but also to other roles that are not audit rated in the bank and other companies. Also financial services pays higher salaries for audit/corp fin, etc starting out than traditional widget companies.

Jan 29, 2015

I know at the BB that I was an SA at over the summer the IAs and FLDP/FADP were under the same program director, so there was essentially no barriers between the two programs.

That being said, IA is very pigeon-holeish but CF is very much so, as well. I too had an issue with career services where some very powerful alumni made a way me coming from a very non target school to get a CF offer from a BB. Still, I turned down the offer with nothing else in hand but knowing that I wanted to do IB. I've now accepted an IB position at a well known MM. Sometimes you just have to grab life by the balls and hope for the best.

Tl;dr Don't settle for IA OR CF if you want to do IB.

Jan 29, 2015

If you want Corp fin than as others suggested apply to every FLDP. In banking it may be different, but a lot of F500 look for top talent in audit and move them around (especially to corp fin). Audit stinks, but it does give you exposure to a lot of processes and enables you to learn many different areas / aspects of the business. Most FIN roles have some type of SOX compliance and you would understand that process which would be a benefit.

Jan 29, 2015

Eh you're not in the best position to find something else to do. I also don't think Audit is as bad as you think it is. I think at most companies people in Audit transition to corpfin at some point. You need at least 4-5 years of experience before you go for your MBA, so that will give you 2-3 in corpfin. IA also gives you a good glimpse into a bunch of different areas of the business. I know at GE and Dell, lots of people go to Audit after their FMP/FLDP program is over - it's usually a rung on the ladder to CFO. That's not to say it's the same at BAML, just that I'm pretty sure you're wrong about it being a shitty opportunity.

In case you're dead set on doing something else, here are some ideas:

- Start applying to every corpfin job/FLDP you can find

- Reach out to alumni or any people in your network who might have an open position

- Reach out to anyone you might've connected with (supervisor, HR, whoever) at Boeing

If you can't find something else that way, you could consider doing a 1 year Master in Finance or MAcc. That's a drastic measure, personally not sure I'd go that route.

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Feb 8, 2015

Thanks for all the responses and positive feedback everyone I really appreciate it!

I had another quick question regarding this issue. A lot of you guys suggested the switch to a Finance Analyst role is indeed possible. In this context did you all mean the switch to a financial analyst in the F500 financial services industry or other F500 industries (e.g: Tech, Oil, Defense, etc.)?

I would imagine the skills I'd get from this role would be transferable directly to the financial services industry but what about in other industries in general? I am actually quite interested in F500 healthcare or CPG after reading even more about it so I would eventually like to end up in either one of those industries in particular if industry switch is realistic.

Feb 11, 2015

Good question. I would think since your role in Internal Audit is specifically getting an overview of a financial services company your transferable skills would limit you to financial services F500 companies. That's assuming you would transition to the same IA role at a different company. In terms of general corp fin roles I read a few times that since the skills are standard within corporate finance, so industry transitioning shouldn't be an issue at all.

Again I could be wrong here so if anyone can confirm that would be great again!

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Feb 12, 2015

I've got to partially disagree with the above two comments.

Yes, your best FA exit opp will be in financial services. No, I don't think that will be your only exit opp. Look at Big 4 audit. They send people to FA roles at F500s all the time. Part of this is because of interacting with clients and getting jobs that way, but it is by no means unusual for someone to get an FA job with a company or in an industry that they've never worked for/in before.

What's most important right now is the brand recognition and how well you perform. B of A is going to be respected everywhere. Yes, the audit thing is going to hurt you a little, but I think you're still going to have a shot.

The most important thing about this time:

GET YOUR CPA

If you don't, no, you won't have a shot.

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Feb 11, 2015

@"freddyflintstone" is right.

Audit is more FI focused (e.g. you could for a Controller position at another FI), but it isn't a death knell if attempting to transfer outside of FIs.

There are differences especially when it comes to roles such as Financial Panning & Analysis and Business Management (expenses, revenue drivers), but the fundamentals (analyzing and interpreting data for higher ups) are more or less the same. More importantly coming with the BAML brand name on your resume should help quell any questions about your skills that your prospective employer might have.

Feb 17, 2015

don't have a lot of insight into this... i know mostly of law ppl that went into IA in our firm...

"... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

Feb 18, 2015

Thanks for the feedback again everyone you guys are awesome.

I have to ask this last question though: Let's say worst case scenario happens and I unfortunately don't land any FA positions within BofA or any other company. When I do decide to get my MBA and apply, how would admissions view the IA experience since it's IB/Consulting/PE/CorpFin? Will it hurt me in any way? Also would I need more than 5 years of IA work experience before applying since its not one of the previously mentioned categories of careers that can get away with getting in with 5 years or less years of work exp?

Feb 18, 2015

I can't answer for the first part of your question because I have no idea maybe @"Betsy Massar" can give some assistance regarding the MBA admissions part of the question?

In regards to the number of years of WE needed I have always been given the response "quality not quantity". If you can establish leadership skills, drive, and solid promotions then within 5 years then you should be good. Also I believe MBA admissions separate applicants in "buckets" based on career so all the IB guys will be grouped with each other, consultants grouped with each other and so on and so forth. You will be bucketed with Internal Audit guys I think so you should stand out as much as possible.

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Feb 18, 2015

Thanks @"freddyflintstone" for the shout out. first, I'll comment on your comment that

Also I believe MBA admissions separate applicants in "buckets" based on career so all the IB guys will be grouped with each other, consultants grouped with each other and so on and so forth. You will be bucketed with Internal Audit guys I think so you should stand out as much as possible.

Not exactly. They do compare like to like, but they may not split hairs that much. So yes, consultants are compared with consultants, and but financial institutions types can easily be all lumped together. In which case, internal audit is no fun at all. Now, back to the question at hand: what happens if @"tonystark" stays in internal audit. They would think what you already think: "why couldn't this guy get out of internal audit?"
But after 2 years at BAML, the odds are that you will find something better or more to your liking You aren't chained to the audit position, now or even later. But if you do decide to try it and get some experience--any experience is better than none--you will have a lot more flexibility after a year or two.

I think it's worth planning things out and keeping your options open, but you are not in a terrible place if you go forward with the BAML internal audit job as a first job.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-... Ask away!

Feb 19, 2015

I'm in IA as well with the goal of transitioning out at some point. I've done quite a bit of research and spoken to a number of people who have successful made the move. I've seen people move into treasury, corporate finance, strategy consulting, and trading. Just do a quick search on LinkedIn, it is very doable, but requires a plan and effort.

Try to get on audits that will give you subject matter expertise of a specific department (e.g. capital markets, treasury, credit risk). This will allow you to better leverage your work experience and, if staying internally, make the necessary contacts. If you don't have the opportunity initially, don't worry, just ask to rotate on other audits after a year (this is one cool thing about IA, it is project based, moving around is easy). Also, if you are in Financial Services, having a guy on the team with IA experience to deal with regulators and other BS is always helpful. Do your research, see if this applies to you.

Secondly, you need to work your ass off and always be on point. Don't be lazy, always go the extra 10%. Honestly, it is NOT hard to blow away other auditors. Further, you are in a unique situation within IA because you have a lot of exposure to senior management. This can hurt you or help you, take advantage.

Additionally, VP's of audit are very interconnected with all the BUs. If your VP is willing to vouch when you ask for the transfer, it can put you WAY ahead of the competition.

IB will be a loooooong shot from IA, and will most likely require an MBA. And getting into a top MBA will be tough, largely because an auditor's impact is hard to quantify. Despite this, if you have a well-rounded application a top 5-20 school is within reach. I'm not gonna spell it out the specifics for you, but be smart. The path is usually IA > other role > MBA.

my 2 cents

Feb 20, 2015

Internal audit, although not sexy, will not pidgeon-hole you as a lot of fldps make you do a year or so in controllers/audit.Most companies consider Recent College Graduates as late as 9 months post graduation. Keep applying for open FLDP programs and if you find one then leave BOA---if not stay and kick ass and then transition later.

Feb 22, 2015

OP, I ran across this thread not too long ago. Check it out for additional insight although I can't tell how badly the posters are exaggerating:

http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/is-internal-...

Feb 23, 2015

This is a wealth of information. Thanks for posting this OP! I too will be working in IA at a F50 financial services company and I have been considering moving to the Big 4, particularly in valuations. How possible would this move be considering it's not F500?

My undergraduate degree is in finance at a top 10 undergrad business school so I would assume it shouldn't be a huge issue since I have knowledge in valuations but I could be wrong about the transition being smooth. Any feedback on this particular issue would be awesome.

Jun 4, 2015
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