Need WSO to Help Me Once And For All on Two Things (long but please help for bananas...cliffs at bottom)

Al Bundy's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 502

Scroll to cliffs at the bottom if this post is too long for you to handle.


So basically, I'm a junior at a non-target and I need help deciding on whether I should major in finance or accounting (no, a double major is not possible, so please don't say do both) and whether I should pursue banking or consulting. I have a few possible dream scenarios in terms of where I want my career to eventually take me:

  1. High-level financial manager at a large company. It doesn't have to be F500, but a large company with good growth prospects that I can grow while I'm a manager would be excellent.
  2. A key player in the corporate development/corporate strategy team where I can play a key role in helping the business grow and become more competitive/profitable.
  3. Start my own company with some other entrepreneurial people and apply skills that all of us learned from our jobs to hopefully grow the company. This one is a helluva lot less realistic to pursue full-time but any job that will allow me to work with creative people where this may be possible would be awesome.

In addition to this, I'd want to pursue any of these in an emerging market, particularly back where my family is from in case that matters.

Decision 1: Major in finance or accounting. Basically, I need to figure out whether its easier/more beneficial to major in finance, endure stuff that I might not need such as portfolio theory, and learn accounting on my own (I have an intermediate accounting textbook so that's doable) or major in accounting, endure shit I don't need like taxation/auditing, and learn valuation/DCF modeling on my own. Finance is a bit more flexible and I might be able to graduate a bit sooner and have more time to do other stuff while majoring in that, but accounting has more jobs open (and I'm not talking about the Big Whore or other accounting firms).

Decision 2: Pursue Consulting or I-Banking. I know that I want to do something in financial management, be it as a general financial manager such as VP of finance, corp development/strategy, or start my own firm. The thing is, which would be best for this? Consulting will give me all the softs/problem solving skills I need, but banking will give me the valuation/excel skills I'd need. Furthermore, "good" consulting experience will be much harder to get because MBB are even more selective than BB banks, and boutique investment banks (even outside of Lazard and all) will probably offer a better experience than most boutique consulting firms. So in terms of both ease of breaking in and quality/relevance of experience, which is better for me to pursue?


-Junior at non-target with good GPA but otherwise non-stellar resume.
-Want to pursue either financial management at a large company, corp development/corp strategy at a large company, or start my own company for my career goals
-Need to decide whether I want to major in finance and learn intermediate accounting on the side or major in accounting and read about DCFs/Valuations on the side. Finance gives me more flexibility/time to pursue other things since its easier, accounting has more jobs and is harder to get a good GPA in.
-Deciding between i-banking and consulting. Banking is easier to get into (BBs are easier than MBB, regional boutiques aren't too hard to get into but are unpredictable in hiring), will give me hard skills such as valuations/excel but lack the soft skills and big picture problem-solving consulting will involve that I need in corporate finance. Consulting is much harder to get into at the top levels, small consulting shops will have questionable training compared to small banking shops, I will lack the hard skills, but will directly be involved in business strategy at large corporations and will develop good soft skills/problem-solving ability
-What would you recommend I do?

Comments (6)

Oct 12, 2010

I could care less for the bananas but here is my advice.

I have found accounting to be a little bit more helpful in finding an entry level position because it will get your foot in the door if you come from a non-target school. If you are on a career path that will lead you into a good program (ie target school with solid gpa), go finance. Therefore, I would recommend accounting but we each take our own paths. I realize at age 19 or 20 you are making a major career choice but take a second and relax. Things will work out, I promise.

I dont know if others see it the same way but I find it a bit radical the decisions you are trying to make. I can empathize with you over these decisions but I approached them a different way. I hope you have worked on a support group in your life of mentors who can help you out. It seems rather far fetched for me to read a short positing and give advise on what is best for you to do. I would recommend you going to people who know you best and converse with them over the topic.

Lastly, why not approach both paths and see what comes from both experiences. You must remember that interviews are two way streets; I have turned down second interviews at good firms for personal reasons. Some jobs you will reach a point where they couldnt pay you enough money to do the task they require. It would be harmful for your career to try and specialize too soon. Both Consulting and Banking can lead into your "dream scenarios."

Oct 12, 2010

Agreed on the accounting major at a non-target to get your foot in the door. And I hate accounting.

Oct 12, 2010

This might not be what you want to hear. But, DEFINITELY accounting. It's a no-brainer in your situation. Most all F500s look at accounting (more accurately, a CPA) as the defining symbol of "their type of mind". The best angle for you is that if you put your nose to the grindstone and stay an extra semester or year, you can get your CPA right out of undergrad. This will give you A TON of flexibility, which (in spite of what you hear) is what you really want at your age. This will give you lots of options and you will never get pidgeon-holed. Worst case scenario if everything goes wrong, you'll always have a gig making comfortable coin. Accountant demand is solid and will continue to grow. As far as running your own business, doing valuation for a big company, etc...accounting skills are used far more often than DCFs, NPVs, LBOs, etc. The finance material is good if you want to be an investor. Otherwise, much more options with accounting. In spite of what bad things you've heard (and they're mostly true) Big 4 (or is it 6 now?) gives you great exit ops into Corp. Fin. which is a far surer way to upper corporate management than IB.

My $0.02

Aug 30, 2012


Oct 12, 2010

Hi all, thanks for the responses, it seems like I should major in accounting unanimously, so I'll look into that. But what should I do about my career? Should I try for banking or consulting? Otherwise, honestly, my dream has always been to work for a large company, so I'm wondering how bad it would be if I went straight to working for a company and climbing the ladder? I'm aiming for the top F100 companies and working as a financial analyst/cost accountant and then eventually becoming CFO/Controller/Finance Director (preferably more on the finance versus accounting side), but is it really that much harder to do this if you try to come up from within the company as opposed to doing banking/consulting and being hired from the outside? I'm really confused about what to do. A lot of people here say that you'll get stuck if you try to come up within the company, but I know of some people who have done it even without an MBA just because of sheer work ethic. So should I apply to banking firms, consulting firms, or F500 firms based on my situation?

Also, if I PM my resume to someone, can anyone help me edit it?

Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer.

Oct 12, 2010

Still not sure if I want to spend the next 30+ years grinding away in corporate finance and the WSO dream chase or look to have enough passive income to live simply and work minimally.