by Brian DeChesare Comments (53)

How to Move from Accounting to Investment Banking and Leave the Audits Behind Forever

Accounting to Investment Banking

Tired of audits?

Want to earn more and get more exciting work?

Looking forward to spending your time on changing font colors in Excel?

Congratulations! You’re well on your way to transitioning from accounting to investment banking.

Moving into banking from an accounting background is easier than moving in from engineering, but it’s about the same difficulty as a transition from consulting or law.

Here’s how to make the leap:

Defining the Scope: Ground Rules for Accountants in Search of Banking

First, this topic is more relevant if you’re in the U.S. because the CPA designation and accounting/audit/tax experience tend not to impress U.S.-based bankers, which makes it harder to get on their radar.

By contrast, in countries such as India, South Africa, and Canada, it’s more common to use the Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification to work in accounting and then move into finance.

So, if you’re in a country where accountants frequently move into banking, you should take a look at one of our country-specific articles.

Second, the ease or difficulty of making this transition depends heavily on the specific area of “accounting” you’re in and the brand name/reputation of your firm and university.

For example, if you’re working in audit at a regional, non-Big-4 accounting firm, and you also attended an unknown university, it will be an uphill battle to make this move.

Working in tax or any other area that’s not related to transactions will also make it difficult.

But if you’re working in a due diligence team at a Big 4 firm in New York, it will be easier to move in directly or to switch teams and then move in.

Finally, note that this article is based on interviews with readers who made this transition over the years. Rather than picking one specific approach, I’ve created a composite based on their feedback and suggestions.

What Are You Up Against, and What’s in Your Favor?

Bankers will believe in your accounting, math, and Excel skills, as well as your ability to work with clients.

However, they will raise objections about other issues:

  • Can you handle the hours? While some accounting jobs require longer hours, you don’t need to burn the midnight oil constantly, as you do in banking.
  • Can you pass the “airport test”? The stereotype is that accountants are “boring,” so you need to show that you have interests outside of work.
  • Why banking now instead of earlier on? Usually, it’s best to say that you had limited exposure to IB at your university and that most people went into accounting or corporate finance at normal companies, so you became interested at a later stage.
  • Do you know finance in addition to accounting? Accounting is backward-looking, while finance is based on projections. You need both for investment banking, but the stereotype is that accountants are experts on topics like Days Sales Outstanding trends but know less about financial projections, valuation, and transaction modeling.
  • Are you a job hopper? This one will come up if you’ve moved from accounting to a “steppingstone role” before applying to banking jobs, especially if these transitions happened within 1-2 years. You can answer it by saying that it was your plan all along to get into IB, so the other jobs along the way were part of that plan.

The Blueprint: Accounting into Investment Banking

No two transitions are the same, but most successful candidates I’ve spoken with over the years follow this type of path to break in:

  • University or Master’s Degree in Accounting or Related Area – And possible internships in audit/tax/accounting during university.
  • Full-Time Role at Accounting Firm for 1 Year or Less – During this time, you network with other teams and firms and learn the valuation and modeling skills on your own.
  • “Steppingstone Role” for ~1 Year – This role might be in the internal middle-market bank of a Big 4 firm, in Transaction Advisory Services (TAS), or in areas like Restructuring. You could also go to an independent valuation firm, join a corporate banking team, or move to a different accounting firm where you can work on deals.
  • Apply for and Win an IB Role – You’ll start networking for these roles midway through your second job, and if all goes well, you’ll make the transition ~1 year into it.

You do not necessarily need a “steppingstone role,” but most accountants I’ve interviewed have had one.

It’s more important if you lack top school/firm names, or if you can’t point to work experience involving valuation and financial modeling.

The ease of winning these jobs varies widely based on your region and office.

For example, a Canadian reader said that the TAS team at his Big 4 firm received 300-400 resumes for 1-2 open positions and that networking long in advance was required.

But the odds might be better if you’re in a bigger office or one with more turnover.

It’s important to move over early, but not too early.

For example, if you stay in an accounting/audit/tax role for four years, banks won’t know what to do with you (Analyst vs. Associate), and they’ll wonder why you remained in accounting for so long.

Most candidates who make the transition after undergraduate spend 1-2 years in other roles.

If you’ve been working longer than that, you may have to consider the nuclear option: a top MBA program.

Focus is essential because you cannot work 50-60 hours per week, learn valuation/financial modeling, network, and also recruit for 4-5 different industries at the same time.

So, if you’re applying to IB roles, don’t also apply to PE, corporate development, and VC jobs just to “see what happens.”

Finally, the CFA can help your case, but you shouldn’t spend 1,000+ hours on it.

You can benefit by saying that you’re studying for it and pointing to specific progress you’ve made; you don’t need to have passed multiple levels.

Here’s a quick look at each step in the recruiting process if you follow that plan above:

Part 1: How to Tell Your Story

We have a detailed example of how to tell your story from an audit/accounting background in the IB Interview Guide, but here’s the summary:

  • Beginning: Where you’re from, your university, and your first audit/accounting job. Insert an interesting fact here, or you’ll risk coming across as “boring.”
  • Spark: A client or other engagement/work assignment that sparked your interest in finance (e.g., due diligence on a PE firm’s latest acquisition, auditing financial statements for an IPO, etc.).
  • Growing Interest: You started teaching yourself valuation/financial modeling and deal analysis and moved into a more relevant role, such as a TAS/TS group, an independent valuation firm, or a pre-MBA internship at an investment bank.
  • The Future and Why You’re Here Today: You want to use your accounting, valuation, and finance skills to advise companies on major transactions similar to the one that sparked your interest, and this firm has a great reputation in that area.

You will likely get the “Why now?” objection, so be prepared to explain the lack of exposure at your university or that you switched majors or quit another career track earlier on.

If you went to Wharton or Harvard and still ended up in accounting, I’m not sure how you respond to this one.

Part 2: Networking

I don’t have much to add beyond all the other networking advice, articles, and email templates on this site.

The main difficulty is deciding on how focused your efforts should be.

For example, should you focus on boutique and middle-market banks and ignore bulge brackets and elite boutiques?

And should you target bankers with non-finance backgrounds, such as career changers who entered from law, consulting, or engineering?

On the first question, I would not recommend networking with only smaller banks.

Yes, your chances are higher there, but you can get a lot of good information and practice by conducting informational interviews with large banks as well.

On the second question, you shouldn’t target career changers exclusively or you’ll run out of names quickly.

It’s better to find people with whom you have something in common, even if it’s a stretch, because you’ll have to contact dozens or hundreds of professionals to make this move.

Part 3: Your Resume

You can use one of our resume templates, such as the “Experienced” one, but you also need to spin your experience into looking more relevant to finance.

To do that, you should remove “backward-looking” language and make your work appear more forward-looking and results-oriented.

For example, if you have an entry like this:

“Performed Sarbanes-Oxley testing and found that client’s controls were sufficient; reviewed journal entries and determined that client’s reserves were appropriate, which allowed them to project prices of raw materials for upcoming construction project.”

It would read better as:

“Worked with client to develop Excel model that allowed them to project prices of raw materials based on previous historical patterns and proven reserves; client later used this as supplement to financial statements and in internal projections to validate potential return on new construction project.”

You shift the focus to a small part of the project, but a part that is highly relevant to banking.

You may also have to downplay your full-time accounting experience and emphasize internships that were more relevant (e.g., if you completed a PE or VC internship in university).

Part 4: Interviews

We covered the most common objections above, so you must be prepared for all of those – the hours, the airport test, why banking, finance knowledge, and job-hopper issues.

And, of course, you need a rock-solid story of 200-300 words to answer the “Walk me through your resume” question.

Technical questions will come up, but you are not likely to receive accounting questions because you’ll probably know more about accounting than the interviewers.

Beyond accounting, almost anything on valuation, M&A/merger models, LBO models, and credit analysis is fair game.

Detailed technical questions are more likely if you’re moving into banking without a steppingstone role or valuation/modeling experience.

I don’t have much to say other than “Read our guides, or look at all the free technical tutorials and YouTube content here.”

Part 5: Win the Offer

If you win an offer at the pre-MBA level, you’ll most likely start as a first-year Analyst – even if you’ve had 1-2 years of experience in accounting/audit/TAS/valuation.

Bankers tend to discount that experience and assume that you’ll have to learn everything on the job, so they’re reluctant to bring you in at a higher level.

However, you may receive an “early promotion” option where you could become a third-year Analyst after only one year on the job – if you’ve performed well.

Once you go beyond 2-3 years of full-time work experience, the appropriate position gets murkier, which is why it’s harder to break in at that point (unless you complete an MBA).

Success Stories and Examples of How to Break In

For inspiration, here are stories from readers who moved from accounting-related backgrounds into investment banking:

Story #1: Regional Audit to Valuation to Boutique/Middle-Market Bank

This one is a great example of how you can use “steppingstone roles” to move into finance. The reader here spent a year in audit, another year in valuation, and then won the IB role.

Story #2: PE Internship to Big 4 Restructuring to Investment Banking

This one shows that you don’t necessarily need a steppingstone role if your current and previous experience is close enough.

In this case, he downplayed the Big 4 role a bit and emphasized the private equity internship.

Story #3: Strategy Consulting to Big 4 TAS to Investment Banking via a Top MBA Program

This story is a good example of how to leverage banking-related experience at a Big 4 firm and a top MBA program to get in.

Story #4: Non-Big-4 Valuation to Corporate Development

The reader here found it difficult to recruit for IB roles because he had too much work experience, so he moved into corporate development instead.

Story #5: Big 4 Audit to TAS to Corporate Development

This is another story where the reader did not end up in investment banking.

But in this case, it was by choice: He interviewed for IB roles, decided it wasn’t for him, and used ~1 year of TAS experience to move into corporate development instead.

Story #6: Accounting to Financial Advisory to Pension Fund Private Equity

In this story, the reader skipped IB entirely and moved directly into a private equity role at a pension fund in Canada.

This one is probably less viable in the U.S., but it might work in other regions.

Story #7: Commercial Banking to Valuation to Investment Banking

This person was not from an accounting background, but he still used a common “steppingstone role” – an independent valuation firm – to move into IB.

Plan B Options

If nothing works out, you have a few options:

1) Stay in the Steppingstone Role

And then you could leverage this role into something else, such as in the corporate development and pension fund examples above.

2) Consider Non-Investment-Banking Options

Yes, banking gives you high pay, good exit opportunities, and solid advancement opportunities, but it also requires brutal hours and a lot of silly grunt work.

You might be much happier if you take a role in corporate development or corporate finance, or if you go into something more specialized, such as real estate private equity or commercial real estate lending.

3) Go to Business School or Complete a Master’s in Finance Degree

A top MBA program is not a magic bullet, and neither is a top MSF degree, but they can give you better access to recruiters.

They’ll also give you more time to win deal-related internships and to spin your background into seeming relevant.

4) Keep At It

You’ll likely need at least 6-9 months to have a good chance at winning offers.

The main constraint is that you cannot wait too long to make a move.

Once you go past 3-4 years in accounting, or any other field, it gets very difficult to move into investment banking without using the nuclear option (business school).

And you should never take the nuclear option lightly – even if it means you’ll never have to look at another audit again.

Want More About the Accounting to Investment Banking Transition?

If you liked this article, you might be interested in reading:

And if you need help pivoting from accounting to investment banking, our friends at Wall Street Mastermind might be able to help you out.

They have helped other candidates lateral from accounting to investment banking, and they can even share a few case studies on how they did this.

Their students have gotten offers from every bulge bracket and elite boutique bank on Wall Street, and their team of coaches includes a former Global Head of Recruiting at three different large banks, so you’ll know exactly what banks are looking for in candidates.

They provide personalized, hands-on guidance through the entire networking and interview process, and they have a great track record of results for their clients.

You can book a free consultation with them to learn more.

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, running, traveling, obsessively watching TV shows, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Cody Ravalli

    I have 2 years in big4 tax investment management with my CPA. I’m willing to study for my CFA. What do I need to do to get into IB?

    1. The CPA and CFA are unlikely to lead to IB roles. See our previous coverage. You really need relevant work experience, such as valuation or transaction services at a Big 4 or other/independent firm.

  2. Hi Brain,

    I have coming up M&A transaction parterner interview. How can i prepare for that?

    1. Read all the tips here:

      And see our free content and all the interview-related coverage on this site to learn the fundamentals.

  3. Hi Brian,

    After graduating from a mid-tier university, I went into a large accounting firm as an auditor specializing in financial services such as PE and hedge funds. After a year there I moved into a senior accountant role at a well-respected PE firm working directly with the deal/investment team. I am currently very early in my first year here at this PE role. What should be my next steps, duration, etc. to move into the investment side. Any tips?


    1. I am not sure about internal mobility within PE firms, but your best bet is probably just to approach the senior-most deal team member (assuming you know them or have at least traded emails/calls before) and directly ask about transferring. If they don’t even seem open to it, then you may have to get deal experience elsewhere first, such as at a Big 4 firm or even a boutique bank. It doesn’t make much sense, but recruiting in this industry is strange.

      If you’re still early in your first year at this firm, wait at least ~6 months until you get more deal experience and prove yourself first.

      These roles sometimes open up when PE firms raise new funds or hire new Partners, but I would not wait too long for that to happen because the longer you wait, the harder it is to get in (you’d be better off by joining a different firm where you can get actual deal experience vs. waiting several years there).

      1. I appreciate your response, thank you! Would you recommend me getting my CPA?

        1. It’s not going to help with this type of transition. No one will question your accounting/audit skills.

  4. Hi Brian,

    I am currently on a 3-year ACA graduate scheme in audit at a Big 4 firm in the UK. I am nearing the end of my first year and at this point passed 7/15 ACA exams (all on first try). It is my dream to work in M&A at a bulge bracket bank but I am not sure about how to achieve this. I have been told that once I finish my grad scheme and become a chartered accountant, then I can request to transfer internally to Deals. Is my best route to finish ACA, work 1-2 years in Deals and then get an MBA? I applied for IB internships and analyst roles before and passed numerical and verbal reasoning tests but never got to the interview stage; I think this is probably because of my degree not being relevant to finance which in Maths and Computer Science from Imperial College. From what I also know, none of the departments at my firm apart from audit were hiring when I was applying for grad schemes in the middle of the pandemic.

    1. Yes, that would be one option. I can’t say why your first attempt at transferring didn’t work, but I don’t think it has much to do with your degree.

  5. Hi Brian,

    I am an ACCA qualified Internal Auditor (Financial Services) with 5 years experience since graduating. I have tried to break into investment banking every year for the last 5 years, and keep getting rejected at initial application stage. I suspect going to a poorly ranked university isn’t helping my case (even though I obtained a 1st).

    I have applied for both analyst and occasionally associate roles.

    I feel like I have run out of options now. Should I just give up? Or is there something I am missing? (I doubt even getting an MBA will make any difference at this point.)

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    1. I can’t really say without knowing your full background (university, grades, experience, internships, networking), but at this stage, you’ll probably need a top MBA to break in. At the 5+ year mark, you’re over-qualified for Analyst roles, and firms generally won’t hire you as an Associate without an MBA or previous experience.

  6. Great Article Brian, thanks.

    Initially I wanted to start from IB, but I was refused many time, therefor I went to Big 4 auditing, once I graduated. Now I am second year associate (Part Qualified), taking ACCA exams at the moment. I also have MBA degree.
    Do you recommend to stay in Auditing and start applying actively in AB once I fully qualify, or its better to start applying ASAP.


    1. You should apply to other roles outside of audit as soon as possible because you don’t want to wait more than 2-3 years total to network your way into IB.

  7. Michelle

    Hi Brian, great article, many thanks! I have an audit background and now I have a job offer from EY Financial Accounting Advisory Service (FAAS), should I take it? Will it help my transition into investment banking? Thanks

  8. Hi Brian,

    This is a great article, many thanks for that.

    I am going to have an interview in a week time and I was wondering what sort of questions/guideline I could get before interview. I am an experienced auditor with CPA and looking forward to joining our TS department. After having years of experience in audit, it is really hard to get focused or generate ideas how to tackle TAS interview questions.

    Would appreciate your advice.

    Many thanks

    1. You can start with some of the suggested questions here:

      They will tend to focus on accounting and valuation with some transaction-related questions as well. There’s a ton of free content online, as well as our paid courses and guides, so I’m not sure what to tell you in terms of finding questions when you could Google a few simple terms and find a lot.

  9. Hi Brian,

    I have a grad offer for regional Big 4 audit in the UK, starting in September. However, I want to end up in Transactions in London (to focus on getting into IB/PE). I think it would be very hard to jump from regional audit straight to Transactions in London, so what would be the best timeline for this:
    1 year in regional Audit, 1 year in regional Transactions, then move to London Transactions in 3rd year? Or 1 year in regional Audit, 1 year in London audit, then 1 year in London transactions?
    Although it would be preferable, I am not bothered about going into IB, but would be happy to go into mid-market/LMM PE after 3 years at Big 4, which is not uncommon in the UK.
    Since there’s still 5 months before I start, should I ask my HR contact about switching grad scheme to London Audit/Regional Transactions instead?

    1. It’s best to move over as soon as possible, so option #1 is the best plan here. I think it’s a bad idea to ask HR for any type of switch before you start, especially now with a global virus shutting down the world economy and hiring frozen almost everywhere.

      1. Ok, thanks Brian. Should I wait a year between each step, or should I try and switch sooner?

        1. Sooner if you can, but it depends on how much experience you have and what the job openings look like when you want to switch.

  10. Hi Brian,

    I’m currently an intern at EY in Australia in TAS (IA). I have 2 more years of my finance degree to go. EY are very supportive and want me to stay while I finish my university. Within EY, what is the best team/service line to be in to eventually participate in the mergers and acquisitions space. My long term goal is to be in investment banking.

    1. Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) or Transaction Services (TS), of their “internal bank” if they have one (varies based on the region and office).

  11. I’m fighting and uphill battle and wish i would have found your site earlier. I want to switch into real estate IB to get exposure to deals with the end goal of becoming a CIO at a REIT. I worked 2 years at big 4 audit firm specializing in REITs and then switched over to a short biased equity research firm for two years. I have my CPA and cleared L2 of the CFA this summer. Is it too late to switch to IB without an MBA?

    1. Hmm… I’d say “borderline”? I think you might have a shot at a smaller bank or something like a real estate-specific bank because they’ll like your background with REITs. Larger banks may object and say that you have too much experience to be an Analyst. So, if you have your heart set on GS, MS, JPM, etc., then you might need a top MBA at this point.

  12. Hi Brian,

    I attend a non target university going into my final year of undergraduate with a very high gpa in accounting. I am planning to get a masters degree in accounting afterword. Also, should I consider other one-year masters programs?I want to go into investment banking and am wondering what would be the best next steps for me like what internships I should try for next summer before I get my masters. Is there any possibility of skipping auditing altogether and going straight to IB or a valuation-based job?

    1. The only way you can skip audit altogether is if you get a deal or valuation role first and then you use that to intern in IB and win a full-time offer there. See:

      I’m not sure why you’re doing a Master’s in Accounting if your goal is IB. You should do an MSF or something else that seems closer. But the biggest point is that you really need relevant internships ASAP because IB recruiting has evolved to the point where you need a sequence of finance internships to get in.

  13. Hi Brian – I’m a CPA in Big 4 international tax with 3 years of experience (including work on transactions). I am looking for a change because I need more of a challenge among other reasons and some of my strengths including working long hours, excel modeling and organization / project management. I gather my best bet is to do an MBA program (assuming I am accepted into a good program and there are a few very good ones in my city). Is a full time program almost always a better bet versus staying in my tax position and pursuing a part-time MBA, even if the part-time MBA is very highly rated?
    Additionally, I can’t find any guidance on having kids within the site and work life balance from a parent’s perspective (maybe because there is no hope at all). Assuming a few years down the road I get a MBA, my only concern with actually performing the job is having time with my son. Is there no possibility for flexibility in IB or PE? Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Full-time programs are better bets, yes, but if you can do an executive program at a top-ranked school with a lot of on-campus recruiting (e.g., UCLA), that could also work.

      You will not have much of a family life in fields like IB/PE because of the intensity of the hours and the unpredictable nature of deal work. When you become very senior it gets somewhat better, but even MDs still work on weekends all the time. Post-MBA hires may have slightly better hours, but you’re still looking at 60-70 hours weeks for the most part.

      So… if your goal is to spend significant time with your kids over the next few years, you should not even target these fields.

  14. Steven Hong

    Hi Brian,

    Cheers from sunny California! Need some of your expert advice. My resume in a nutshell: 5+ years Accounting at PE Real Estate including 2+ yrs of valuation. Undergrad in Communications with Accounting minor.

    My passion is global markets/currencies so trying to get into IB. I passed Dec CFA level 1 and taking level 2 in June. I have only been able to land interviews at PE and HF as an accountant and no offers yet. I know what is holding me back but unsure which path to take.

    Seems like MBA and access to recruiters would help. However, I am getting conflicting messages. Friends who went part-time MBA at USC said it did not help and that on campus recruiting was overrated. Friend on Wall Street who did part-time MBA at NYU while at Morgan Stanley said it did not help.
    However, MBA employment reports show that on-campus recruitment, internships, school resources are real.

    What are your thoughts? Are my friends assessments of MBA correct or is it more skewed based on their own experiences?
    Will MBA provide more opportunities to get in front of employers?
    Should I continue applying with hopes that CFA Level 2 will open more doors or start MBA?

    Thank you for everything that you do on this website.

    1. The problem is that you have too much work experience to be hired as an Analyst, but not enough to be hired as an Associate (i.e., no MBA from a top program and you’re also not in a job that is related to executing deals). Please read and take note of everything here:

      At this point, you will probably need a full-time MBA from a top school along with a solid pre-MBA internship. Part-time MBA can sometimes work if you have highly relevant experience already, but in your case, I think 5+ years of accounting might be perceived as too different.

      The CFA will not help your case. If you are truly set on IB at this stage, you need a top MBA.

  15. Hi Brian,

    I am considering among three choices: Finance at BB, Big 4, and FO at a boutique.

    I have managed to meet people including a person who did internal shift at the same BB and HR in charge of FO of the BB. I heard that once I move to Finance Division, it becomes extremely difficult to make a shift to FO, and I got worried about it due to low probability and prospect of Finance Division. I once thought about joining Big 4, but due to very low salaries to afford the living expenses in the big city, I initially did not prefer the second option over the other two choices.

    Despite the brand value and networking that I have done, I am not sure whether joining the Finance Division of BB would be a better choice in terms of career development. It will be so grateful if you could share your views. Thanks!

    1. OK, so you’re comparing “front office” as in a real investment banking role at a boutique bank to the others? If so, I would definitely pick the boutique role because you need to be able to write “investment banking analyst” on your resume more than anything else. Big 4 or finance at a BB just means you’ll have to move into more of a real IB role eventually anyway.

  16. Hi Brian.
    I am about to graduate from Warsaw School of Economics in Poland (BA). Not a target at all. I’ve been working for 6 months for one of the BIG4 firms in Corporate Finance team in Poland. I will probably stay there for the following 10 months.
    My aim is to secure a position in BB (M&A) in London.
    I will probably attend Tier 2 uni in GB. Low BA GPA forced me to pursue gmat and MSc in Finance. Perpetrating a mistake is not an option; I am going to make a genuine commitment to get all the technicals, which will be asked for during potential interviews anyway, and to get the distinction grade.
    Therefore, questions appear. Should I restrain from networking till I graduate? Is it worth the effort to network with low undergrad GPA? Wouldn’t I burn my bridges with low GPA?

    Thank you!

    1. OK, so you graduated from university in Poland and now you’re planning to attend an MSc program in the UK? If so, I would wait until you get into that MSc program to begin networking so that you can use the university’s name in your networking emails and hopefully get a better response rate. The problem isn’t so much that you have a low undergrad GPA but that you have a low undergrad GPA and also went to a school that bankers may not be familiar with. I would aim for the best UK-based MSc program you can get into (why settle for Tier 2? You might do better with high test scores) and then start networking once you get in.

      1. Thank you for your answer.
        The university, which I’m about to graduate from, is #1 in Poland; there are some kids who managed to get into GS/MS/Rothschild in London with WSoE on their resume. Nevertheless, the said uni can’t be considered a target school, but it probably isn’t completely unheard of in London. I don’t think I can do it to the LBS/Oxford with my GPA and ~680 GMAT. Not to mention that fees are like GBP 30k + living costs (London: GBP 30k). I earn almost triple the average polish salary and still make GBP 10k/year take-home only. That’s not an option.
        Erasmus Uni Rotterdam may be an option for me; it is not located in the UK, though.

        Brian, the last question. If you were me, would you switch to the valuation team for few months to learn DCF?

        1. Not specifically to learn a DCF because it should not take you months to learn it… but it might be useful to get something more relevant-looking on your CV.

    2. Hey Rafonix,
      I’m also a student from Poland in pretty much the same situation. May I ask what you consider as a low polish GPA?

  17. Hi Brian,
    I’m 21, AAT qualified and live in the UK. I would like to get into IB. I have no degree, but my current employer offers ACA. And I’m not in a big 4 firm. Please advise me on what you think my next steps should be. Thank you.

    1. It will be nearly impossible to get into IB without a university degree. So, you would have to go back to school first for that or perhaps consider a combined undergrad/Master’s program and use that to gain access to recruiters.

      1. Chloe Leveridge

        Thank you for your reply. ACCA offers a BSc or MSc in accountancy or an MBA to complete alongside the qualification. Would this be more beneficial than obtaining just the ACA qualification?

  18. My brother just graduated from Cambridge with a third class degree in Maths. Due to the low grade he got, What is the best option for him to do, find a job or do a Master in Finance?

    1. He will have a tough time winning finance job offers with those kind of grades, so an MSF program is probably the better bet.

  19. Hey Brian,

    I’m having a hard time relating my experience to something I could use for IB. I graduated at a non-target and right away started working at a BB in their product control team. After a year and a half of that, I started working in corp finance as a treasury analyst doing CF and debt projections and budgeting. Could I say that I wanted to learn technicals and financial projection and use it for IB? Thanks in advance.

    1. Yes, you could say something like that. You wanted to work at a bank to learn the industry and figure out the best division to be in, and then to learn the required technical/valuation/modeling skills, you went to corporate finance, and now you want to combine what you learned in those roles and work in IB.

  20. Fred Smith

    Hi Brian,

    I am currently an auditor with my CPA. I am thinking about applying for a finance position with a tech company at my city. I fit the qualifications pretty well except for one thing: modeling.

    I did an internship while in school where i did a little modeling and i have knowledge about modeling from your website and also for security analysis i do, but obviously i have no business experience modeling as an auditor. i worry this would be a turn off for the recruiter. while i have no formal experience, my auditing background has given me a very good understanding of building financial statements and general accounting knowledge.

    in my cover letter, should i address this problem where i talk about how while i have no formal business experience modeling, i do have experience creating my own models and have knowledge of it? Would i be better off just writing a pretty normal cover letter for the position and address it if i am selected for an interview?


    1. You should address it in the cover letter, give examples of how you’ve learned the skills on your own, and even offer to send work samples if they’re skeptical.

  21. Hi Guys,

    I’m currently in London. I have a low Gpa from a non target university. I graduated this year and have numerous internships within the energy and engineering sector as a cost consultant. I’m currently on a Commercial Graduate Scheme working for an energy company. I really would like to get into corporate finance or consulting due to more strategic work. Should I do an MBA from a target university or a Masters in Finance?

    1. If you just graduated this year, a Master’s in Finance is more appropriate.

  22. Great article, thanks!

    I have an opportunity to join the TAS group at a big 4 after my MBA (rank 20-30 MBA program). I ultimately want to move into Investment Banking – do you think I should accept the offer? I know that the pay is less, and the work is more inclined towards audit. However, I do not have other options at this point in a related field that will give me a possibility to jump to banking later on.

    1. Thanks! I think it would be tough to move from TAS into IB *after* an MBA, but if that’s your best option, you should take it. At worst, you could always use the experience to move into corporate development at a normal company.

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