February 7, 2018

Q&A: Interning as a Financial Analyst

Jinnan Jiang MS Finance 

Tao Yang MS QMM interviewed Jinnan Jiang (MS Finance) about her unique internship experience.

Tao: So you work for one of the biggest ecommerce companies on earth, but instead of being a coder or a data scientist, you work as an Investment Management Analyst. That’s very intriguing! What is it like and how do you like it?

Tao Yang MS QMM
Jinnan: It seems unusual, but when you take a closer look at any big company, they often have an investment arm so that they can capture the profits generated by the liquidity of their international operations. I’m glad that I have an opportunity here and I really enjoy my day to day.

Tao: Fantastic! I guess before we go further with your day-to-day, my next question is naturally going to be, how did you find the opportunity?

Jinnan: Sure. I’ve leveraged all the avenues to find a job. I based my job search on many applications through all channels available: GCMC, OCR, company websites and career sites like Indeed.com. On top of that, I tried to network with contacts from my undergraduate university as well as at Baruch. I asked for casual coffee chats and informational interviews every week. I also think that the Executive on Campus program Baruch offers is very helpful. In the end, I found my shot through a thread on LinkedIn.com. I saw the job advertisement and I applied.

Tao: I guess it’s always a numbers game. In this case, a healthy supply of job applications really helped. Also your language skill really helped here too. So, could you give me more color on your day-to-day?

Jinnan: Yes, I also think timing is very important. I was lucky. And to come back to your question, my job as an investment analyst is to look at real estate opportunities, syndicate deals here in America, package them, and market them to ultra-high-net-worth individuals overseas. There is a lot of due-diligence work to be done and my job is to help with the process. I read presentations on investment opportunities, I examine the financial models, then I communicate with my manager to see if these opportunities are worth to pursuit.

Tao: Where do the deals then go?

Jinnan: My colleagues on other teams follow up. I think there is also a lot more work to be done, such as risk assessment, etc., before they reach the marketing teams. So far, I only answer to my manager since I’m still getting training done. I’ll learn more about the process very soon.

Tao I bet. How do you like being part of the investment management environment? I know you had experience in other industries before. How does it compare?

Jinnan: The investment management industry is certainly very challenging and exciting. It requires a very high level of diligence and attention-to-detail. I always walk out of the office feeling absolutely exhausted, but very happy and satisfied at the same time. It’s exactly the same rewarding feeling after a good workout.

January 29, 2018

Q&A: Check-in with PwC Assurance Associate Huanxi Zhu

MSA '18 Xiaojia Liu
Xiaojia (Katie) Liu (MS'18) interviewed alumni Huanxi (Edison) Zhu about his role as Assurance Associate at PwC.

Katie: Edison, what made you end up choosing assurance as your current profession and how do you like it so far?

Edison: Basically, audit and tax are the two most common options to accounting students when they graduate. I did a busy season interning in tax at a mid-size accounting firm, and realized tax was not my passion. Therefore, the only option left was audit. Luckily, PwC gave me an offer in audit at that point, so I decided to give it a shot. So far, I haven't regretted my decision.

MSA '16 Alumni Huanxi Zhu
Katie: What are some skills that you think are necessary for students who are planning to enter into public accounting?

Edison: There are hard skills and soft skills. Technically wise, you want to have a solid understanding of accounting principles and strong Excel skills. Since we are all in New York, most students want to work in financial services. It will be really helpful if you understand financial derivatives and how hedge fund or private equity works. For soft skills, a good attitude with a personality that shows you are willing to learn and be a team player are very important.

Katie: Edison, what it is like working in the assurance practice? What are your daily responsibilities?

Edison: Audit is still accounting work. We receive accounting records from clients and utilize different audit approaches to make sure numbers on the financial statement are correct and accurate. Sometimes, we pick samples and confirm them with third party records. We will also reperform or recalculate a client's work-paper to understand how they got to their result.

Katie: What are your thoughts about current assurance practices? How do you think audit engagements can be improved? What are some trends you are seeing, and what do you think is the future for Assurance?

Edison: Utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a trend in every industry. Audit is not an exception. My firm is adopting a new system that imports client records and does testing automatically. So, the auditor needs to know more than just accounting. We need to keep updating our knowledge base and know-how to be able to use software like SQL, Python and so on. In the future, the auditor is going to do less field work and do more testing on software controls. So, for example, if through testing we know the client is using an intelligent accounting software to prepare their financials, we can rely on their system.

Katie: Can you give some tips to students who are currently looking for jobs in public accounting? What are some methods you find useful in order to obtain a desired job offer?

Edison: Passing the CPA exam when you are still in school not only makes your resume stand out but also makes your life much easier. I have many colleagues who are struggling with studying for the CPA while they are working full time. Attending more professional events also helps. Many people think the purpose of networking is to get a referral from a professionals, but I don't agree with that. I go to events to talk to professionals who are working in the area I am interested in. By having conversations with them, I get to understand their practice and what kind of work they are doing every day. So when I get an interview in the same area, I will have more to say to the interviewer and show I am prepared to start the job.