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Entry level finance positions for new grads

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 7th, 2017 9:12 am
[OP]
Newbie
Dec 4, 2017
1 posts
1 upvote

Entry level finance positions for new grads

Hello everyone,

I don't know where else to turn and I hope to get any advice to help me with my next steps. I don't have any guidance or support from anyone else unfortunately, any feedback is greatly appreciated.

I recently graduated from University (Finance major) and during my time at University I worked for a one of the Big 5 banks as a Customer Service Rep. I needed a steady job and benefits, and I couldn't risk taking on co-op/intern positions despite knowing the importance of them.

My next big step is to write the Level 1 CFA exam June 2018, I have been and will continue to put in the work to ensure I pass this June.

I want to break into the finance industry, and I understand and accept that I will have to work very basic and entry level positions as a new grad with no experience. I just don't know which companies/positions to apply to. At this point, I feel optimistic about trying many paths within finance.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you everyone.
14 replies
Newbie
Jul 1, 2017
99 posts
48 upvotes
I think you need to go back to school and do another undergrad or a masters; I say this because you should have taken advantage of networking opportunities to come out with a job; going back to school can open these opportunities up and allow you to break in. I know a friend that did an accounting undergrad and went back to double major in finance; during his finance major, he spent the majority of his time in conferences, networking with the big banks, etc. The result? While keeping his GPA in the +3.7 range, he landed an equities position and is now doing very well.

You are in a glut that thousands of finance/accounting grads are falling into every year; the reality of the situation is that you have no transferable skills that would make you employable. Truth be told - finance is incredibly cut-throat to even break into these days. I have no advice, other than "Search" for what you want to be doing and align your skills with that outcome. More education will never hurt - but it's not the solution.

You are likely 22 and confused that competition is this stiff. This is a failure of institutionalized education - preparing students for a robust workforce is virtually impossible. There are CA-Articling positions being filled with CA's needing to break into a company; there are entry-level I-banking jobs being filled by level 2/3 and even CFA holders; an undergrad is basically going to a gun fight with your bare hands.

I'd personally take what you learned in finance and venture into a different undergrad; programming is incredibly lucrative if you are good - which takes ~5-10 years to "be good"; tomorrow's jobs need programmers; learn how to manipulate data; be a jack of all trades.

Speaking from personal experience - a jack of all trades makes you pretty damn amazing at whatever you do; even then, getting noticed is the hardest part. Took me a year to land my dream job and I know many people who are still on the sidelines +5 years on you. I'm also +7 years experience / designated. My take is the fight will never end in finance/accounting. The two cannibalize one-another for jobs which nobody is talking about. It really just comes down to networking and getting lucky. The only edge is having an idea of what jobs you want to narrow down your search and/or required development to be competitive.

To give you some context; analyst jobs are seeing thousands of applications a year and these don't slow down. Next level up will see even more applications - but the competitive bar is even higher; management/director level see even more competition in scale and the quality of applications are very high. If you think breaking in finance is hard - try moving up; unless you're "really good", you will be sitting on the side lines wondering what you did wrong. Truth be told - you likely did nothing wrong; it's just the market is too robust and saturated; the niche skill-sets you provide are a drop in the bucket relative to the market.

My personal advice - don't go into finance and/or accounting. It doesn't get "easier" with letters - look how accessible letters are these days. People are even expanding to dual-charter holders to gain an edge on the market. In all honesty, how can you compete with that caliber - especially when dual-charters are not even good enough to land an interview.
Deal Addict
Nov 22, 2009
2103 posts
351 upvotes
Toronto
HelloWorld3 wrote:
Dec 5th, 2017 11:35 pm
I know a friend that did an accounting undergrad and went back to double major in finance; during his finance major, he spent the majority of his time in conferences, networking with the big banks, etc. The result? While keeping his GPA in the +3.7 range, he landed an equities position and is now doing very well.

You are in a glut that thousands of finance/accounting grads are falling into every year; the reality of the situation is that you have no transferable skills that would make you employable. Truth be told - finance is incredibly cut-throat to even break into these days. I have no advice, other than "Search" for what you want to be doing and align your skills with that outcome. More education will never hurt - but it's not the solution.
Your friend is probably one of the top student to be able to maintain such a high GPA while also attending so many events.

My personal experience (finance/accounting grad myself) is that there's a huge gap between the new grad in the bottom vs the new grad of the top. I have classmates that are still making $15/hour 2 years upon graduation while I also have some that are now in the 80k salary range. In my opinion, at the end of the day, in the finance/accounting field, you either make it or you don't.
Deal Addict
Nov 22, 2009
2103 posts
351 upvotes
Toronto
blitzforce wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 10:19 am
Your friend is probably one of the top student to be able to maintain such a high GPA while also attending so many events.

My personal experience (finance/accounting grad myself) is that there's a huge gap between the new grad in the bottom vs the new grad of the top. I have classmates that are still making $15/hour 2 years upon graduation while I also have some that are now in the 80k salary range (prob 100k in another two years?). In my opinion, at the end of the day, in the finance/accounting field, you either make it or you don't.
Newbie
Jul 1, 2017
99 posts
48 upvotes
blitzforce wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 10:19 am
Your friend is probably one of the top student to be able to maintain such a high GPA while also attending so many events.

My personal experience (finance/accounting grad myself) is that there's a huge gap between the new grad in the bottom vs the new grad of the top. I have classmates that are still making $15/hour 2 years upon graduation while I also have some that are now in the 80k salary range. In my opinion, at the end of the day, in the finance/accounting field, you either make it or you don't.
In hindsight, you learn how to study overtime: smarter vs harder. This is why most 4th year university students don't seem to try hard to get a B; I sure went through that cycle from C's to A's over my time in university. If I took another major, I'd be surprised if I scored below an A-. Also, most curriculums are taught through summarized notes (ppt) and/or course packs; you don't actually need to be at school to do well. Going back to personal experience, I worked 40h weeks through my entire schooling and still managed to land a 3 (overall) / 3.5 last 2 years.

I do agree that finance/accounting is really one of those you make it or don't. There are so many variables in that can effect your progression: company culture (slow moving), management (bad bosses), role (no progression/junior work), economy (few opportunities), references (bitter co-workers), etc. There is no "magical solution" to make it in finance/accounting. I was seriously depressed last year (as my thread history probably shows); damn near ready to leave finance/accounting as a whole. "It" just requires persistence - never giving up; keep applying for the jobs you want and do not settle. As cliche as this sounds - it will happen, it just takes time. I do believe there is a natural outflow of finance/accounting prospective employees due to this "make it or don't" construct; if you think about it, this can work in your favour - although not immediately, it will help longer-term.
Deal Addict
Sep 23, 2007
4222 posts
713 upvotes
I'm a CPA. Some comments:

-In practical settings, the word "finance" often means accounting. "Finance Director" title typically means something more like a controller or CFO. In every company I worked at "Finance Department" means accounting. Only in school does "finance" mean more like valuation and stock market. So if you are job searching for "finance" jobs, keep this in mind.

-I mentioned the above because the range of jobs for "accounting" is much greater than for "finance". The only companies that really need "finance" jobs are just banks. And the competition is tough. Lots of people like to work in a bank.

-You worked at a bank before as CSR so this gives you a leg up. There are quite a lot of people who have nothing.

-Connections matter. You don't necessarily need to be in school to get connections. You can try joining some events or seminars and you might meet some people in a position to hire

-I don't recommend going back to school. If 4 years of school can't get you a job, I don't think dumping another 2+ years and $$$ will help. It doesn't hurt to go back to school but just not worth it imo.

-At the end of the day, getting a job is a matter of convincing someone you can do the job. Hiring decisions are made by humans. So try to get up to speed on how to improve yourself in ways besides technical knowledge and credentials. The best analogy is dating. Getting a job is like finding a guy/girl. At first you might be awkward about it. As you gain experience you develop a better sense of what you want and also what you have to offer to your potential partner. A job is a reciprocal exchange, just like human interaction. And just like dating, practice your thoughts. Learn to dress and talk better.
Newbie
Feb 10, 2017
50 posts
27 upvotes
To actually answer the OP's question...

Try custodians such as State Street, CIBC Mellon, SGGG for fund accounting/client relations or something back office in finance. Not an industry you want to make a career in but at the same time, the high turnover means revolving hiring into entry level finance jobs. Most people get out by the 3rd year into something more longer term.
Deal Addict
Nov 22, 2009
2103 posts
351 upvotes
Toronto
HelloWorld3 wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 11:10 am
I was seriously depressed last year (as my thread history probably shows); damn near ready to leave finance/accounting as a whole. "It" just requires persistence - never giving up; keep applying for the jobs you want and do not settle. As cliche as this sounds - it will happen, it just takes time. I do believe there is a natural outflow of finance/accounting prospective employees due to this "make it or don't" construct; if you think about it, this can work in your favour - although not immediately, it will help longer-term.
This is why I have absolutely no clue why some people here think public sector employees have it tough. There was a TTC thread I said TTC booth collectors are overpaid at 60k doing absolutely nothing, and we have people saying sitting in a booth is taxing on your body and it's a hassle to deal with the public.....while 60k is a good salary for most university graduates. They almost essentially make the same as a cop (100k when cop overtimes) and I thought police officers were overpaid for sitting in their car eating donuts/drinking coffees most of the time.
Newbie
Jul 1, 2017
99 posts
48 upvotes
blitzforce wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 1:34 pm
This is why I have absolutely no clue why some people here think public sector employees have it tough. There was a TTC thread I said TTC booth collectors are overpaid at 60k doing absolutely nothing, and we have people saying sitting in a booth is taxing on your body and it's a hassle to deal with the public.....while 60k is a good salary for most university graduates. They almost essentially make the same as a cop (100k when cop overtimes) and I thought police officers were overpaid for sitting in their car eating donuts/drinking coffees most of the time.
I think it's in reference to the culture and/or style of work. Public Sector is not for everyone - especially the highly ambitious and type-A personalities. Waiting several weeks for a reply to an email can be daunting for a lot of people.

A lot of public sector work is unionized and defined by red-tape; this can have a negative impact on culture, as well as the political climate. From personal experience, I would never go back to a public environment. Sure the wages are higher than they should be, but money is not everything and the people you work with can translate into "taking issues home".
Deal Addict
Nov 22, 2009
2103 posts
351 upvotes
Toronto
HelloWorld3 wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 3:21 pm
I think it's in reference to the culture and/or style of work. Public Sector is not for everyone - especially the highly ambitious and type-A personalities. Waiting several weeks for a reply to an email can be daunting for a lot of people.

A lot of public sector work is unionized and defined by red-tape; this can have a negative impact on culture, as well as the political climate. From personal experience, I would never go back to a public environment. Sure the wages are higher than they should be, but money is not everything and the people you work with can translate into "taking issues home".
The money is not everything depending on what else can you get based on your skills. I can guarantee you that any admin worker in the private sector making $14/hr would gladly work in the public sector making $25/hr. In theory the highly ambitious and type-A personalities would not want to work in the public sector, but in actuality, most aren't highly ambitious and are just average joes.
Newbie
Jul 1, 2017
99 posts
48 upvotes
blitzforce wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 3:28 pm
The money is not everything depending on what else can you get based on your skills. I can guarantee you that any admin worker in the private sector making $14/hr would gladly work in the public sector making $25/hr. In theory the highly ambitious and type-A personalities would not want to work in the public sector, but in actuality, most aren't highly ambitious and are just average joes.
We are talking about how the perspective of "tough" comes from the public sector; tough is not always synonymous with technical difficulty - the work environment plays a huge factor in that stereotype.

Average Joe's are not a-type personalities; I'm A-type - and I can tell you that "real" a-type personalities do not work well in public environments.
Deal Addict
Nov 22, 2009
2103 posts
351 upvotes
Toronto
HelloWorld3 wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 3:49 pm
We are talking about how the perspective of "tough" comes from the public sector; tough is not always synonymous with technical difficulty - the work environment plays a huge factor in that stereotype.

Average Joe's are not a-type personalities; I'm A-type - and I can tell you that "real" a-type personalities do not work well in public environments.
Most people are just average Joes, and I believe the average Joes will always just be better off in the public sector. Not say all, but many of the applicants that applies to public sector jobs don't have very technical degrees, and their skills don't transfer well into private sectors where your skills needs to be able to generate income.
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Mar 31, 2008
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Tons of these threads posted here. OP do a search on "Finance entry level" or something like that. Use your research skills!
Newbie
Jan 14, 2017
7 posts
Try recruitment agencies for temp work (admin, data entry, jr accounting roles)
Deal Addict
Nov 22, 2009
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Myselff wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 11:30 pm
Try recruitment agencies for temp work (admin, data entry, jr accounting roles)
Jr accounting/finance roles - yes (persevere and kindly ask interviewers to consider giving you a chance)

admin/data entry - please no; most don't really transition from these positions to a career-related job.

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