NAO or Lloyds Banking Group? Watch

Chris_Tang
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Hi everyone,I posted this originally in Finance and Accounting, but I think you guys could also shed some light on this.I'm facing something of a dilemma about which of two graduate scheme offers to accept. One is a 3-year scheme with the National Audit Office, during which I'll study for the ACA. The second is a 2-year scheme with Lloyds Banking Group, in Commercial Banking- Business Management, which offers a range of possible qualification options including the CFA, ACT, and I think a project management one.I don't have a background in economics or finance (I studied IR at Master's level). I also am not sure what I want to do permanently, as neither of these were top choices as such, though I'm happy with the offers. So what I'm trying to do is is choose one that'll be enjoyable and interesting, and will open doors for future possible jobs.What I understand so far about this choice:

1) The NAO option offers the ACA. Though I have never dreamed about being an accountant or an auditor, I have been told repeatedly that this qualification opens doors up into plenty of non-accounting/audit jobs on a global scale. That once qualifying, jobs in investment banking or consulting become available to you. The downside, of course, is that the grad scheme may involve 3 years of doing audit. Which I have never done before, but has a reputation for being a bit repetitive and boring at times.

2) The Lloyds option is business management. Which from what I gather is a back office support role. Sounds quite interesting, and is probably a bit more vibrant and diverse than auditing. But I'm not sure whether it will be as beneficial in terms of future job options as an ACA qualification. Sure, I can potentially do the CFA whilst there, but given my non-finance background, the huge amounts of time required, and the high failure rate, it may not be the smartest option to attempt to undertake. Though experience in the job itself may prove enough to move into other roles in finance, for example.So it's a bit of a fork in the road for me. Am interested in what you guys think. All opinions are welcome, but would especially appreciate advise from people who've worked for these companies or in similar roles, and can speak from experience. Thanks!
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Chris_Tang
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Does seriously no one have an opinion or advice?
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pmc:producer
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Both companies offer a similar pedigree, so I'd go for ACA due to the arguably better exit route... For me it seems like a no brainer. Good luck either way - and congratulations.
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Chris_Tang
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Thanks. Leading a bit towards Lloyds now. Working in audit and it's pretty boring to be honest. Not sure what business management grad scheme can do for me, but dunno if I can stick it out checking financial statements for three years.
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Breakingbank
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Lloyds Banking Group imo
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Chris_Tang
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(Original post by Breakingbank)
Lloyds Banking Group imo
Thanks, Breakingbank. Any reason why you think so? Other than it'll get me out of the hell of audit
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SirAlexFerguson
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Lloyds seems like a better choice in my opinion, partly because you might see me there this summer

I think Lloyds is 2 years so even if you don't like it, you won't have to suffer for too long and as per my research it is more diverse in that you are put in different programs every 6 months. Also in terms of exit opportunites I think 2 years of working with LBG will give you access to lots of options, maybe even the same as if you had an ACA (considering you don't want to be an accountant)
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Commercial Paper
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For me, I always think it is better to go with the stronger brand which would be LBG. But this case of options isn't very obvious.

It would be good to have an ACA though but they are completely different paths.

What do you want to do?

1) Gain operational experience - will likely pigeon-hole you?
2) Gain a qualification with the potential to move to revenue-generating roles or work in internal finance at a corporate?

It is worth noting most people absolutely hate audit with all their soul. At the same time, LBG might pigeon-hole you into that role as you'd have less mobility without a qualification. Also, an ACA will usually be able to command a salary premium but likewise, a highly skilled and experienced business management professional can command a salary premium also.

What do you want to do?

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Chris_Tang
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(Original post by Commercial Paper)
For me, I always think it is better to go with the stronger brand which would be LBG. But this case of options isn't very obvious.

It would be good to have an ACA though but they are completely different paths.

What do you want to do?

1) Gain operational experience - will likely pigeon-hole you?
2) Gain a qualification with the potential to move to revenue-generating roles or work in internal finance at a corporate?

It is worth noting most people absolutely hate audit with all their soul. At the same time, LBG might pigeon-hole you into that role as you'd have less mobility without a qualification. Also, an ACA will usually be able to command a salary premium but likewise, a highly skilled and experienced business management professional can command a salary premium also.

What do you want to do?

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Hi Commercial Paper, thanks for the response!

To be honest, I'm not sure! Long-term, I wouldn't want to do Accounting or Auditing, but I hear the ACA opens up all kinds of doors into things like business management, investment banking etc. So that does sound appealing.

I'd rather not be pigeonholed, I'd like to do something that opens up options for me. I figured with the LBG scheme, the experience would allow me to progress into other management roles. I think I would also like the opportunity to get some well paid jobs in finance that might be more interesting than accounting. I know the ACA would probably take me there, but I wasn't sure whether Lloyds would. They would support me to do the CFA, but with a non-finance/econ background, not sure I would realistically be able to take it on.

I guess I'm looking for something that is a balance of interesting, and that will create opportunities for decent salaries and ideally the ability to work abroad.
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Commercial Paper
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(Original post by Chris_Tang)
Hi Commercial Paper, thanks for the response!

To be honest, I'm not sure! Long-term, I wouldn't want to do Accounting or Auditing, but I hear the ACA opens up all kinds of doors into things like business management, investment banking etc. So that does sound appealing.

I'd rather not be pigeonholed, I'd like to do something that opens up options for me. I figured with the LBG scheme, the experience would allow me to progress into other management roles. I think I would also like the opportunity to get some well paid jobs in finance that might be more interesting than accounting. I know the ACA would probably take me there, but I wasn't sure whether Lloyds would. They would support me to do the CFA, but with a non-finance/econ background, not sure I would realistically be able to take it on.

I guess I'm looking for something that is a balance of interesting, and that will create opportunities for decent salaries and ideally the ability to work abroad.
It's true the ACA does open up doors, for sure. Although, personally and realistically, I think coming from the NAO even with an ACA, it would be very difficult to get into something like investment banking. Big 4 would be more achievable as well as business management and finance roles at large corporates.

In some ways, I guess you could have the best of both worlds. Do ACA and then do business management if you still wanted to. You can't do business management and then the ACA (well, you can, but such a long way round to do it).

Yes, LBG would open up management roles. I think 'interesting' finance roles would be challenging to get hold of with that background though.

CFA, even at Level I, is a good thing to have as it shows motivation but it is extremely difficult and not really worth doing unless you intend on getting fully chartered. CFA is more applicable for asset management and investment management type roles, if that's what you're looking at?

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Chris_Tang
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(Original post by Commercial Paper)
Yes, LBG would open up management roles. I think 'interesting' finance roles would be challenging to get hold of with that background though.
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So why do you think that might be the case? Because of the type of work, or the organization? I was assuming that a couple of years experience in finance might be a nice launching platform.

But yeah, I take your point about doing it the long way, that might just be too slow. I'm also a growing a little sceptical of the claims that with the ACA, the world is your oyster, and that you can stroll into an investment bank or hedge fund. And something like asset management or investment management might well appeal to me at some point--but yeah, without the foundations, I'm not sure if I have what it takes to pass the CFA...
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Commercial Paper
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(Original post by Chris_Tang)
So why do you think that might be the case? Because of the type of work, or the organization? I was assuming that a couple of years experience in finance might be a nice launching platform.

But yeah, I take your point about doing it the long way, that might just be too slow. I'm also a growing a little sceptical of the claims that with the ACA, the world is your oyster, and that you can stroll into an investment bank or hedge fund. And something like asset management or investment management might well appeal to me at some point--but yeah, without the foundations, I'm not sure if I have what it takes to pass the CFA...
Well, I don't know the scheme but business management is normally very back-office and more operations based so the experience isn't directly transferable to finance. So the type of work.

Even people at Big 4 with ACA don't go strolling into investment banks or hedge funds. Even actual traders and researchers at investment banks don't stroll into anything. So yes, it would be incredibly difficult.

You could maybe take LBG and then transfer to something you like internally?

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Chris_Tang
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(Original post by Commercial Paper)
Well, I don't know the scheme but business management is normally very back-office and more operations based so the experience isn't directly transferable to finance. So the type of work.

Even people at Big 4 with ACA don't go strolling into investment banks or hedge funds. Even actual traders and researchers at investment banks don't stroll into anything. So yes, it would be incredibly difficult.

You could maybe take LBG and then transfer to something you like internally?

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I think that ultimately might be the route I take. I started work for the NAO as part off their early starter's program, and can't say I'm enjoying audit that much! Not sure it's what I'd want to do for three years. And as I said, I'm also a little sceptical about what you can actually do with it beyond accounting and audit. Seems a little too good to be true, the way it's told.

Thanks a lot for your advice, Commercial Paper. May I ask how you know so much about finance careers and all the different routes? I'm guessing you've worked in finance for a while...
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Commercial Paper
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(Original post by Chris_Tang)
I think that ultimately might be the route I take. I started work for the NAO as part off their early starter's program, and can't say I'm enjoying audit that much! Not sure it's what I'd want to do for three years. And as I said, I'm also a little sceptical about what you can actually do with it beyond accounting and audit. Seems a little too good to be true, the way it's told.

Thanks a lot for your advice, Commercial Paper. May I ask how you know so much about finance careers and all the different routes? I'm guessing you've worked in finance for a while...
I'll PM you.
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