The route to investment banking for an Accounting Major

For those of you who are accounting majors or accounting/finance and are looking to pursue an internship/1st year at a BIG 4 firm, this is one of the best ways to go if you want to break into IB/PE/HF in the future.

PwC - Deals: Helping our clients get the best deals done at the appropriate price, negotiating terms with leverage and control, reducing risk and enabling smooth post-deal integration.
* Due diligence
* Merger & acquisition strategy
* Reorganization & bankruptcy services
* Accounting & reporting
* Valuation

Ernst & Young - Transaction Advisory Services .
Our 9000 global professionals deliver advice attuned to your specific needs - helping you drive competitive advantage and increased shareholder returns through improved decision-making. Our services include:
* Corporate Development
* Divestiture Advisory Services
* M&A and Capital Debt Advisory
* Operational Transaction Services
* Restructuring
* Transaction Real Estate
* Transaction Support
* Transaction Tax
* Valuation & Business Modeling
* Working Capital

Deloitte - Financial Advisory Services LLP provides assistance to companies faced with opportunities for growth such as a merger or acquisition, or critical challenges such as fraud, litigation or reorganization. Our experienced practitioners have extensive business knowledge and compliance know-how along with access to a global network of industry specialists from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu member firms and their affiliates. Our tested team of professionals serves companies throughout the business lifecycle, helping them in their efforts to emerge stronger and smarter. (Business Valuation)
Or consulting - "Strategy" M&A and Restructuring
Whether you're taking a company apart or putting one together, M&A and Restructuring tend to always take place in the glare of the spotlight. These are high-visibility endeavors that come loaded with risk. By adopting approaches that have already been tested, you can expand and accelerate revenue and cost synergies, reduce transaction risk and hang on to key talent even as you make structural, fundamental changes to your business, operating model or capital model.
Our M&A and Restructuring practice has effectively guided some of the world's most high-profile initiatives for companies with little room for error, helping them enable sustainable, structural changes to the business at every critical level. We have developed a time-tested set of tools and playbooks that help you jump-start the process for any company, using the full variety of capabilities required for these types of efforts. That means you can deliver more value faster.

KPMG - Transactions & Restructuring (ADVISORY)
The ability to create, enhance, or preserve value is critical in any economy. For many organizations, this means taking advantage of merger or acquisition opportunities, or divesting struggling or non-core assets. Regardless of the type of transaction, one aspect is never negotiable: The deal must fully achieve its expected value.
That is where KPMG LLP's Transaction and Restructuring professionals can help. Our teams bring together deep experience across disciplines and industry sectors. This allows us to understand every aspect of the deal, from accounting issues to operating concerns to managing risk.
We can support you--whether you are on the buy side or sell side--with services that cover the full life cycle of a transaction. These include helping to identify targets, evaluate potential acquisitions, integrate disparate units, develop restructuring plans, provide IPO advice and guidance, and even help you dispose of non-core entities.
Add our ability to work with transaction and restructuring professionals from across KPMG International's global network members and it becomes clear that KPMG is the place to turn for transaction, restructuring, and corporate finance advice that can help your deal create the value you seek--and avoid unnecessary surprises.

This information can be found on any of the BIG 4's websites but I just wanted to get a take on which specific divisions inside each companies transaction services would be the best to work under to, one day, become a member of IB/PE/HF.

If there are any other routes that accounting backrounds can take to breaking in, please provide your insights.

Comments (57)

Jul 23, 2012

Thanks for the copy and paste reply, I'll make sure to never visit your website, fool

Jul 23, 2012

Is coming from the tax side unheard of? I'm looking into M&A tax groups, PE tax, or tax management consulting. I realize audit is a lot more doable, but I want to add value in my position and I feel that's a lot easier in tax.

Jul 23, 2012

If you're trying to break into IB/PE/HF, why would you major in accounting? Anyway, it's not productive to try to compare the Big 4 in general in any capacity. You want to compare by market region. Who has the most and biggest clients in your region, or the most employees in that division? Note that some of these positions will have a lot of travel within the market region, so you'll need to find out about the "market", which may include everything from western New York to Idaho.

Any Big 4 position can get you into IB/PE/HF; it's just a matter of how long it takes and how big of a firm you can make it into. Boutique shops are often started by former auditors, consultants, etc. Some people manage to make it straight from a couple years in audit to a MM boutique. Others start in audit, get the CPA/CA and CFA, then make the transfer. Still others take the MBA route. Coming from the tax side is also possible, but you would be more likely to get a BO role. Consultants or even auditors have more relevant experience. Tax people are like doctors or plumbers; they have one skill, and if they are good, they can do very well for themselves. However, consultants/auditors have a greater range of experience, which will position you better. Of course, neither is ideal. Switch your major if you can.

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Jul 4, 2016

I disagree, accounting is arguably the most important major for a prospective banker. Think about it, all IB models are just arcane iterations of basic accounting concepts. Plus, having a solid understanding of regulatory policies is highly important for a banker in this post crisis, highly regulated finance world. Just my two cents, ofc. taking rudementary corp fin and m&a courses will also be helpful.

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Sep 26, 2016

I believe accounting knowledge is important as well. I spoke with a managing director of an investment bank before and he said people with accounting experience tend to do better in the investment banking role than people with MBA's.

Jul 24, 2012

What if you are majoring in both finance and accounting and plan on going to work at a big 4 after graduating. Whats big 4 service is going to give you the best exit opps?

Sep 26, 2016

5

Sep 26, 2016

7.5

5 is way too low.

Sep 26, 2016

you better have a damn good gpa and some other amazing criteria to get a BB position.

I could definitely see a small boutique having an interest in you though.

Sep 26, 2016

I'm also in a similar position. My school is a non target, although we are recruited by a few of the BB banks. My GPA is 3.92. This summer I interned at a Big 4 in a Transaction Services group. I'ts a deal-based environment, and I worked on valuation, and very technical accounting issues for the financial reporting.

Do you guys think this experience is relevant to banking? My problem is that I'm worried that a Big 4 would limit too many career options (PE, Hedge funds, top B-schools), so I'm looking more seriously at banking.

Your opinions on if it would possible for me to get into banking, and any other comments would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Sep 26, 2016
eli1535:

I'm also in a similar position. My school is a non target, although we are recruited by a few of the BB banks. My GPA is 3.92. This summer I interned at a Big 4 in a Transaction Services group. I'ts a deal-based environment, and I worked on valuation, and very technical accounting issues for the financial reporting.

Do you guys think this experience is relevant to banking? My problem is that I'm worried that a Big 4 would limit too many career options (PE, Hedge funds, top B-schools), so I'm looking more seriously at banking.

Your opinions on if it would possible for me to get into banking, and any other comments would be much appreciated. Thanks!

If you can't get a BB, big freaking deal. If you want to work in finance, go to a MM or boutique. This should be obvious.

Sep 26, 2016

I agree that you'll need some sort of miracle to get into a BB IBD with no previous industry experience and going to a non-target university (with no strong contacts I assume).

I would try to get a job with a MM bank and work my way up there....

Sep 26, 2016

What would look better to an investment bank, an internship at a Big4, or an internship doing finance at GE?

Sep 26, 2016

What would look better to an investment bank, an internship at a Big4, or an internship doing finance at GE?

Sep 26, 2016

I'd say in order
1) IBD
(big drop)
2) GE, provided you are talking about FMP
(precipitous drop)
3) Big 4

Anyone with half a brain and an accounting major has a good shot at working Big 4. With SarbOx they need as many warm bodies out there doing audits as they can find.

I guess if you did TS or FAS for a Big 4 it would be close to GE'S FMP, but if you are at a nontarget it will be difficult to gain entry. Big 4 TS and FAS seems reserved for Ivy League kids who want something similar to BB IBD but don't want the hours or don't get a job in that field for whatever reason.

Sep 26, 2016
gomes3pc:

I'd say in order
1) IBD
(big drop)
2) GE, provided you are talking about FMP
(precipitous drop)
3) Big 4

Anyone with half a brain and an accounting major has a good shot at working Big 4. With SarbOx they need as many warm bodies out there doing audits as they can find.

I guess if you did TS or FAS for a Big 4 it would be close to GE'S FMP, but if you are at a nontarget it will be difficult to gain entry. Big 4 TS and FAS seems reserved for Ivy League kids who want something similar to BB IBD but don't want the hours or don't get a job in that field for whatever reason.

Are you for real? The CPA is a highly respected and saught after qualification. In the UK, accountants are in high demand. And, I say accountant, not people who do internships - those who are qualified CPA's have PLENTY of transactional experience and are highly sought after.

Sep 26, 2016

Sorry, what is FMP?

Sep 26, 2016

FMP is Financial Management Program, one of GE's programs that starts with a summer analyst and then turns into a full time offer if your pretty good at it.

Its not really at all relevant to banking, but GE is known for their management programs. They are probably not all that valuable to investment banks at the entry level though.

Gnomes, thanks for the response. I'm actually not in FMP since they only take rising seniors (i'm a rising junior), but my internship(year round) is one of the recruiting pipelines for FMP.

Thanks for the advice

Sep 26, 2016

Nice replies. points taken.

Sep 26, 2016

seeing as you're already a billionaire, i think the answer is irrelevant

Sep 26, 2016

seeing as you're already a billionaire, i think the answer is irrelevant

Sep 26, 2016

This GE talk has made me wonder if anyone ever considers going into corporate finance after banking or for that matter, instead of banking?

I know most of the time when people mention exit opps (post MBA) they think about HF, PE, and VC, but does anyone ever consider trying to work for a corporation they have always liked or another industry that they're passionate about? And I don't mean just in a finance role, it could be anything at these companies.

Sep 26, 2016
Sucker_for_Seers:

This GE talk has made me wonder if anyone ever considers going into corporate finance after banking or for that matter, instead of banking?

I know most of the time when people mention exit opps (post MBA) they think about HF, PE, and VC, but does anyone ever consider trying to work for a corporation they have always liked or another industry that they're passionate about? And I don't mean just in a finance role, it could be anything at these companies.

when people mention exit opps, they don't think about HF, PE, and VC. they think about HF, PE, and Corporate Development.

Sep 26, 2016

I know how you feel...but in the US, CPA's are a dime a dozen and are shat upon. In the UK, ACA's and ACCA's are worshipped. Similarly the C.A. designation in Canada is also worshipped.

In the US, If you're not in Transaction Services or Financial Advisory and work for Big4 you're finished.

Sep 26, 2016

[In the US, If you're not in Transaction Services or Financial Advisory and work for Big4 you're finished.]

I think there may be some truth to this, which is exactly why I'm not sure what to do. On one hand, TS is challenging, has good hours, and pays well. On the other hand, it doesn't open as many doors as banking, or if it does, those options are more accounting related.

Sep 26, 2016

ah, more childish ibankingoasis BS....

" in the US, CPA's are a dime a dozen and are shat upon."

The number of new CPAs has dropped every year and the advent of sarbanes has increased the demand for CPAs. The growth of CPAs has dwindled in recent years and there is a clear need for them. The knowledge gained from a CPA is important, even if you ARE IN finance. The overwhelming portion of corporate executives, top financial consultants, and CFOs are CPAs. It's a hard exam that requires a lot of work to pass.

"CA"

In canada, the median CFA/CA charterholder has a 250,000 USD yearly salary.

While accounting doesn't pay very well, due to the more relaxed, mundane, and historical nature of the job, earning a CPA is highly regarded.

Sep 26, 2016
sternfox:

ah, more childish ibankingoasis BS....

" in the US, CPA's are a dime a dozen and are shat upon."

The number of new CPAs has dropped every year and the advent of sarbanes has increased the demand for CPAs. The growth of CPAs has dwindled in recent years and there is a clear need for them. The knowledge gained from a CPA is important, even if you ARE IN finance. The overwhelming portion of corporate executives, top financial consultants, and CFOs are CPAs. It's a hard exam that requires a lot of work to pass.

"CA"

In canada, the median CFA/CA charterholder has a 250,000 USD yearly salary.

While accounting doesn't pay very well, due to the more relaxed, mundane, and historical nature of the job, earning a CPA is highly regarded.

How do you know that the median CFA/CA charterholder in Canada has a 250,000 USD yearly salary? Do these people have both of these designations, or only one? Also, what kind of work do these people in Canada do? How were they able to obtain these positions?

Sep 26, 2016

I agree...in fact I know that CPAs are such hot shit right now that I almost considered becoming an accountant. Any crappy Master in Accounting program has obscene placement rates that are 98%+. That beats a heck of a lot of ivy league MBA programs. My point is not to diss CPAs, only to say that CPAs do NOT have the same exit opps in the US, relative to Canada and the UK.

Ratul was right in pointing out that in the UK, if you have the ACA designation, you can pretty much walk into most BB firms.

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Sep 26, 2016
mrcanuck:

I agree...in fact I know that CPAs are such hot shit right now that I almost considered becoming an accountant. Any crappy Master in Accounting program has obscene placement rates that are 98%+. That beats a heck of a lot of ivy league MBA programs. My point is not to diss CPAs, only to say that CPAs do NOT have the same exit opps in the US, relative to Canada and the UK.

Ratul was right in pointing out that in the UK, if you have the ACA designation, you can pretty much walk into most BB firms.

Hmm, very interesting, did not know this.

Sep 26, 2016

Why don't you just work in an accounting/finance role at a bulge bracket. Merrill and Goldman both have great programs.

Sep 26, 2016

I went to a semi-target, high gpa, and interned at a big 4. I had 3 superdays with BB banks and ended up taking the first offer i got. So def. dont give up and pm me with any questions.

The key is to make your experience sound relevant and make it look like you did a lot during your internship

Sep 26, 2016

I am doing Transaction Services and I realise I probably have to get in by using people that I know. I know a couple of associates (strong connection) and an MD (weaker connection) at a BB.

also, is the money worth it for all the hours you do?

Sep 26, 2016

This whole concept of needing prior i-banking experience to get into a BB post-graduation is BS. If you have the requesite criteria (i.e. good undergrad program, GPA, sometimes athletics, etc.) you have a good chance of receiving an offer.

Sep 26, 2016

Go to cfainstitute.org

Yes these people have both designations, it's actually quite common in Toronto. They probably started out with a Big4, facilitated through on-campus recruiting.

Use caution when using these statistics. The average CFA/CA in Canada is 32 years old, shouldn't he/she be making AT LEAST 250,000 after 10+ years in audit or advisory. Think about it.

Sep 26, 2016
mrcanuck:

Go to cfainstitute.org

Yes these people have both designations, it's actually quite common in Toronto. They probably started out with a Big4, facilitated through on-campus recruiting.

Use caution when using these statistics. The average CFA/CA in Canada is 32 years old, shouldn't he/she be making AT LEAST 250,000 after 10+ years in audit or advisory. Think about it.

I don't understand the meaning of this warning. Can somebody please re-state it in other terms? Are you trying to say that 250,000 after 10+ years in audit and advisory is normal? I find that hard to believe, because a CA I know that works at BMO in Toronto (don't know the position though) makes $180,000 CAD/year.
Also, what page on CFAinstitute.com did you find this data? I tried looking for it...

Sep 26, 2016

.

Sep 26, 2016

"."
...Just because I argued that UofT's economics program is not as historically famous as Queen's does not make me an idiot. Don't you think you're over-reacting?

Sep 26, 2016

.

Sep 26, 2016

And what bullshit would that be?
- That accountants in Canada and the UK have great exit opportunities into investment banking
- That accountants in the US are highly regarded, however, have comparable difficulty breaking into BB banks relative to UK/Canada
- That Queen's was the historical powerhouse of economics in Canada and greatly influenced socialism in this country

I suppose this is all rubbish right?

Sep 26, 2016

You're more full of shit than a stable full of elephants.

Sep 26, 2016
.:

mrcanuck is a fucking idiot without any insight what so ever.

Stop posting shit and go fuck yourself.

stfu.

Sep 26, 2016

"Use caution when using these statistics. The average CFA/CA in Canada is 32 years old, shouldn't he/she be making AT LEAST 250,000 after 10+ years in audit or advisory. Think about it."

You don't need to "advise" me anything, kid. How do you know that they are in Audit/advisory, eh? This is a general database poll by CA charterholders in canada. They are from a wide range of fields, from consulting, banking, to probably even marketing. It's just a benchmark in any event.

250,000 USD is a good median salary, and mostly without banking hours. Not everyone can be the director....

Sep 26, 2016

The data is not from the CFA institute, it's from the CA's study on the matter. It's hidden somewhere in a pdf file, I don't have it anymore though.

In any event, the most flexible, educated businessperson has an JD, MBA, CFA, CPA (or CA). It's impressive to have all these skillsets as an executive.

It's my opinion that the relatively high 250,000 USD median salary is probably due to the middle corporate ranks that most people with dual CFA/CA's have.

Sep 26, 2016

I'm not too sure about Big 4 accountants making 250K after 10 years. If a person has made partner in that time, then ya they will be making that much. But I don't think a director at a Big 4 makes that much.

Do any of you have insights to what a manager or director at a Big 4 might be making?

Sep 26, 2016

Senior Managers in big 4 audit and tax usually make around $120-150k. Managers make around $70-100k depending on how many years as manager and what city they work in. Directors make a little more than senior managers. Advisory tends to be higher than audit and tax. Average partner payout for big 4 is around $700-750k. NYC skew the average up while the small cities skew the average down. First year partners make around $250-300k which usually takes around 12-15 years to do.

Sep 26, 2016

Big 4 is definitely a good career, but the pay just isn't all that high. While they certainly don't work as much as bankers, Big 4 accountants put in too many hours for that kind of pay.

Like I mentioned earlier in this thread, I'm interning for a TS group, and their salaries are higher for sure. Starting is at least 60K plus a bonus. The base might actually be a little higher than that.

At any rate, the whole thing is a trade off...just like everything else in life :/

Jun 20, 2014

I would like to know this too. Do you have to have a CFA to break into IB? I know I will have my CPA since I'm no doubt going to have a major in accounting (unless convinced otherwise). I'm going to WVU cause it's basically free, and so since its not Ivy, I'm afraid a finance major wouldnt be that valuable. Thnks guys.

Sep 26, 2016

No way. Accounting is way more applicable. Finance is probably best.

You can break in with lib arts too though. I don't think Harvard even offers undergrad business majors.

Sep 26, 2016

I majored in using the search function, now im at a BB

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Sep 26, 2016

This has beaten to death. Please use the SEARCH function. You need to know accounting but don't need to major in it.....search and you will figure out what I mean.

Jun 25, 2014
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