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CFA & Uni Degree

Hi - I am studying sports science (going into 2nd year) at Uni of Birmingham. I have tried to switch to a finance related course but they won’t allow to me as I done a BTEC in Sports at college. I am still interested in a career in finance but have decided to finish my degree in sports first as my other options aren’t good. Someone mentioned doing the CFA and using that as a route in. Can anyone advise on whether this could be something worth doing once I’ve finished my degree?
Original post by TobyyyyW
Hi - I am studying sports science (going into 2nd year) at Uni of Birmingham. I have tried to switch to a finance related course but they won’t allow to me as I done a BTEC in Sports at college. I am still interested in a career in finance but have decided to finish my degree in sports first as my other options aren’t good. Someone mentioned doing the CFA and using that as a route in. Can anyone advise on whether this could be something worth doing once I’ve finished my degree?

I wouldn't recommend doing the CFA. CFA is only really worth it in two instances. Firstly, if your employer asks all juniors to do the CFA and pays for your courses/books/study time. Secondly, if you've done a decent internship/placement year in finance and want to be super productive during your 3rd year of uni or during a master's then it's definietely possible to do the CFA Level 1 whilst still at uni if you've got a bit of a background in finance., I've seen this a fair few times.

I would recommend doing more research on the CFA. It's not really something that can make up for having a non-elite degree when in the recruiting process for banks/asset managers. Also, the CFA is definitely weighted far more towards markets/trading than investment banking, so the content is pretty useless for most roles in finance outside of sales & trading and maybe research.

Whilst it depends on what your interests/target type of firms and roles are, personally I reckon the best route into finance positions would be big4 audit grad scheme path then getting the ACA and then either staying in the big4 in stuff like deals/M&A/TS/MM PE or laterling across to either banks or asset managers. I think this is generally the best path for people looking to get good finance roles who don't come from great educational backgrounds as once you've got the ACA then you have way more opportunities in finance and it does sorta negate the non-elite educational background (if you've got the ACA, nobody will care about you degree subject/uni). This path is more long term as you generally have to work in big4 audit for 3yrs to get the ACA but unless you've got family connections in boutique high finance firms, this is probably the best (in terms of value and probability) way of getting into high finance.
Reply 2
Original post by BenRyan99
I wouldn't recommend doing the CFA. CFA is only really worth it in two instances. Firstly, if your employer asks all juniors to do the CFA and pays for your courses/books/study time. Secondly, if you've done a decent internship/placement year in finance and want to be super productive during your 3rd year of uni or during a master's then it's definietely possible to do the CFA Level 1 whilst still at uni if you've got a bit of a background in finance., I've seen this a fair few times.

I would recommend doing more research on the CFA. It's not really something that can make up for having a non-elite degree when in the recruiting process for banks/asset managers. Also, the CFA is definitely weighted far more towards markets/trading than investment banking, so the content is pretty useless for most roles in finance outside of sales & trading and maybe research.

Whilst it depends on what your interests/target type of firms and roles are, personally I reckon the best route into finance positions would be big4 audit grad scheme path then getting the ACA and then either staying in the big4 in stuff like deals/M&A/TS/MM PE or laterling across to either banks or asset managers. I think this is generally the best path for people looking to get good finance roles who don't come from great educational backgrounds as once you've got the ACA then you have way more opportunities in finance and it does sorta negate the non-elite educational background (if you've got the ACA, nobody will care about you degree subject/uni). This path is more long term as you generally have to work in big4 audit for 3yrs to get the ACA but unless you've got family connections in boutique high finance firms, this is probably the best (in terms of value and probability) way of getting into high finance.

Wow! That’s amazing. Thank you so much, that’s a lot of VERY helpful information! I was unsure about the CFA but that has cleared a lot of information up and has made my life a lot easier. I had seen some information about the Big4 but nothing in depth so will definitely have to look into this as it sounds very promising. My question back to you is - obviously I have another 2 years of my degree left. What are some things that I can do during these next 2 years to improve my chances at getting onto a grad scheme? Things like books and just improving general knowledge of the industry?
Original post by TobyyyyW
Wow! That’s amazing. Thank you so much, that’s a lot of VERY helpful information! I was unsure about the CFA but that has cleared a lot of information up and has made my life a lot easier. I had seen some information about the Big4 but nothing in depth so will definitely have to look into this as it sounds very promising. My question back to you is - obviously I have another 2 years of my degree left. What are some things that I can do during these next 2 years to improve my chances at getting onto a grad scheme? Things like books and just improving general knowledge of the industry?

Ultimately the best thing you can do is gain internship experience. Accounting firms sometimes offer first year internships but they pretty much all offer second year internships. If you get onto one of these and fine then you'll get an offer to return as a graduate after your third year, so this massively takes the pressure off. Obviously getting the internship in the first place isn't super easy though. If you genuinely want to go down the big4 ACA to high finance roles then I'd make a list of the top20 UK accounting firms and figure out when their audit summer internship applications open. Typically, for a summer internship in your 2nd year (for you summer 2023), applications open in Autumn 2022 (normally Septemeber/October). Between now and then I would start learning about all the different stages of the accounting internship recruitment process, often they have 5-6 stages that range from initial application, numerical test, situtational judgement test, verbal reasoning test, online virtual interview (just you speaking to a camera for questions that pop up on the screen), then an assessment day (day of interviews and group tasks). If you research each stage and start practicing for them now then you can be prepped for when applications open in the Autumn.

Beyond that, I'm not an accountant or have ever worked in that field so no idea, just seen quite a few big4 ACA's lateral over to IB, PE and hedge funds after a few years. For learning more about the industry, Youtube is probably going to be your best friend to be honest. Maybe others who have studied or worked in the field can offer better suggestions.

You should also note that if you don't get a big4 offer then it's definetely not the end of the world. An internship at any accounting firm will better prepare you for graduate big4 applications in the Autumn of your final year at uni (to start the following summer). One tip that I often see is to apply to regional big4 audit internship and graduate schemes as they're notably less competitive than the London ones, can then switch to London once you've worked a bit or you have the ACA, I'd apply to your the office that's closest to your home or closest to your uni (if you wanna stay in your uni city over the summer/after graduation), if you're not from London.
Reply 4
Hi, I have no internships lined up for third year, but I am keen on getting into the ACA grad scheme route. Have you got any tips for me to be able to get into the big four? (en route to getting a 1st/ 2:1 upon graduation)
Original post by cocobro
Hi, I have no internships lined up for third year, but I am keen on getting into the ACA grad scheme route. Have you got any tips for me to be able to get into the big four? (en route to getting a 1st/ 2:1 upon graduation)


Practice your psychometric tests. The Big 4 and every large company loves them.
Original post by cocobro
Hi, I have no internships lined up for third year, but I am keen on getting into the ACA grad scheme route. Have you got any tips for me to be able to get into the big four? (en route to getting a 1st/ 2:1 upon graduation)


First - what are you A level grades plus English and maths GCSE?
Reply 7
Original post by ajj2000
First - what are you A level grades plus English and maths GCSE?


A- Levels : A,A,B (Maths, Physics and Econ)
English - 6 (B)
Maths - 7 (A)
Original post by cocobro
A- Levels : A,A,B (Maths, Physics and Econ)
English - 6 (B)
Maths - 7 (A)


Thats great news! I guess you are planning to submit applications in Sept - so perhaps in 6 weeks time?

If so things to do for a start:

- perhaps see if you can get copies of application forms from previous years to think about what you may emphasise on the forms and demonstrate reflection. Things which tend to be common - working in a team, leadership, dealing with a difficult person. Perhaps you have had some part time work which would let you show your abilities? Or perhaps you can use the next few weeks before university starts again to develop your skills?

- Practise for aptitude tests. These are really important.

- Get an idea of how online interviews work, and start noting down some good examples for competency based questions.

- Learn a bit about what an audit firm does, how training contracts work and what your life would be like. Look through the ICAEW website, find some youtube videos and try to arrange to meet a few people who are either on training contracts at present or work as qualified accountants.

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