Is a CPA worth pursuing in a career in Finance?

I am currently working in the corporate finance division at a Big 4 and am deciding whether to commit to a CA (Australian version of CPA, relatively well respected in Aus)

Background: Completed Accounting and Finance majors in Uni. Unsure exactly where to go in the future - definitely not in accounting. Some potential careers which interest me include corporate development, private equity and investment analyst. (I find the former 2 options more interesting at the moment). Also, I would like to work overseas in some point in the future.
I have heard some finance professionals take the CA/CPA as accounting is the language of business/foundations for finance, and would also like to improve my ability to analyse financial statements.

With this in mind, would it still be worthwhile to take the CA? Or would my time better be spent elsewhere (e.g. CFA)?

Financial Modeling Course

  • Get An Edge For Your Interviews & Finance Career
  • The Best (and Most Affordable) Financial Modeling Self-study Courses.
  • WSO Members receive a 15% discount

Comments (13)

Aug 6, 2017

Currently an audit intern at Big 4. Congrats on being in the corp finance group. That is where I want to end up.

Anyway here in the USA the Big 4 offer a nice 5K bonus for those with a CPA. They also reimburse you for costs of courses and study material. Most importantly the undergrad classes you took are all you need for a CPA and they are fresh in your mind so take advantage.

BUT CPA is more specific in USA... very much to do with reporting. Much more language and documentation than your current job I imagine. But with that said, all the top CFOs in USA are indeed CPAs. So it might pay off way down the road

Aug 7, 2017

As @getmeout1995 mentioned, in the U.S. the Big Four not only pay for the CPA, but they give you a bonus for passing it. If that is the case in Australia for the CA, I would 100% take the CA. Even if you pursue careers that do not require the CA, the fact that the Big Four pay for it and even give you a bonus really makes this a no-brainer in my opinion.

Best Response
Aug 7, 2017

What will you do if you receive no offers from IB/PE?

Two schools of thought:
(1) Instead of spending time studying you could use that time to network and cold call to try and land a role.
(2) Get the CPA so you have a backup cert in case you don't get recruited.

Let's say you take path 2 - this doesn't mean that IB is out of the for a few years ...get into a top school and go into IB as an associate.

There is a guy at my work that went the CPA route - worked for one of the big 4 - Audit and Transaction Advisory. Then went to B-school and was at GS for a couple of years. Now I'm not a huge fan of his because IMHO he gets way to into the technicals for a strategy role...which is really because of his CPA background.

    • 2
Aug 7, 2017

In the worst case scenario where I receive no offers I will work to continue my internship (I plan on interning there year round if this summer goes well) at the search fund or look for other summer internships in hopes that one will lead to a full time offer. I could pursue option 2 but upon acquiring my CPA I don't think I would do well in a big 4 environment, and really cannot see myself working in audit period. Down the line I hope to get my MBA from U Chicago or Northwestern, but really would prefer to avoid working in an accounting role beforehand.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Aug 7, 2017

If you don't want to work in accounting, do not get a CPA. You will never escape the label "accountant"

Aug 7, 2017

Thank you, this is exactly what I was looking for.

Aug 7, 2017

It's a waste of time

Let me hear you say, this shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Aug 7, 2017

To be honest I think it would be a waste of your time and like you mentioned would be better off studying and crushing the GMAT before you start full time work, especially if you plan on doing an MBA in a few years. I am a CPA currently working as a financial analyst after a stint in public accounting looking to make the switch to management consulting after I complete my MBA and if I successfully make the transition to management consulting I have no plans on keeping my CPA designation.

    • 1
Aug 7, 2017