September 19, 2018

Banking

Interns, Here’s the Lowdown on Ernst & Young’s FSO Assurance Practice in NYC

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected] with your problem(s) but only if you’re comfortable being mocked in an older sibling kind of way.

GC,

I know my question is somewhat specific but I just accepted an Internship offer for E&Y FSO Assurance in NYC and was interested in gaining some insight into the 3 divisions within FSO Assurance. First, I would love to hear your opinion on the pros and cons of each of the three sectors (Asset Management, Banking, & Insurance) including which EY is best known for. I was also wondering if there was a clear leader in each of those sectors in NYC and was wondering which of the Big Four was bestnks so much for your help. I know I am still a year away from having to actually select one of those options but gaining people’s opinions never hurt. Thanks so much.


Congratulations on landing a sweet summer gig with Uncle Ernie. You’ll be working for a great firm in a great city making a great salary while fetching great coffee for your superiors. Cheers!

But really, welcome to New York. You’re smart in thinking ahead to the fact that where you start with your internship will lead to a fulltime offer with the same group. This is because internships are essentially training camp for your first year – make it through the summer successfully and you’re in the club. I did a little digging within my professional circle to uncover some of the EY clients that you’d have the potential of working on, as well as my own two Lincolns.

Insurance – Let’s start with this one because I have a feeling that the group consensus will be unanimous: DO NOT JOIN THIS GROUP. Sure, it is a small, “family-like” practice in the financial services industry, but you’re not coming to work for the warm and fuzzies (if you are, avoid public accounting altogether). You’re coming to make yourself a valuable asset to future employers – one, three, or ten years from now. Can you receive accelerated responsibilities and extensive interaction with your clients? Yeah, but that’s because your co-workers are jumping ship and no one within the firm wants to transfer to the Insurance group. Unless you have an absolute passion for the industry (which you don’t, since you emailed us), I would avoid this group. Stay in this group for five years (you know, to make the dream promo to manager) and you’re setting yourself up for a career working for an insurance (or re-insurance) firm.

Banking and Capital Markets – This group is bigger and more prominent than the Insurance group. It’s taken its hit in recent years because…ummm…the banking industry is in turmoil, but some of the pain has been buoyed by their growing Broker Dealer client base (also falls into this group). Potential clients include Bank of America (*gulp*), UBS Wealth Management (the shining star in the UBS sky), Icahn Securities, JG Wentworth, ING Financial Holdings, and Cantor “run for the hills” Fitzgerald. Sources tell me audit staff are constantly trying to take rotations to the asset management group, so take that for what it’s worth. Career advancement outside of public can take you to either a banking or hedge fund depending on your client exposure, but have you read the papers recently? Banking ain’t the hottest date to the prom to these days.

Asset Management – this is EY’s money train in New York when it comes to audit (and even tax) services. EY and PwC dominate this market in New York, and depending on whom you ask EY has a more rounded client base (blue chip and start ups). Premier clients include Eton Park, Reservoir Capital, Anchorage Capital, and Och Ziff Capital (do some Googling to get an idea about these firms). The exposure to different investment strategies and financial products you will see will be second to none. Don’t forget that you can count the relevant investment banks left standing on two hands, whereas there are thousands of hedge funds and private equity firms in the country (most of which are in the greater NYC area, too). Your easiest and most lucrative path out of audit and into the private sector will be with a background in asset management. Absolutely, positively, 100%.

So there you have it. As always, GC’er please chime in below with your comments.

More Small Businesses Ditching Big Banks for Community Lenders

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

Community banks are gaining ground in the banking sector, scooping up small business customers that are feeling underserved by bigger institutions.

The four largest US banks – Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo/Wachovia – currently hold the greatest share of small-business customers, according to a report from Aite Group released Thursday. But community banks are growing their share at the fastest rate, often at the expense of large banks.

Roughly 35 percent of US small businesses consider a community bank to be their primary financial institution, up from 24 percent in 2006.


The report revealed that large banks are failing to connect with small businesses. One of the reasons is that they struggle to understand their needs.

“Large banks are missing the boat when it comes to effectively serving and cross-selling to small-business customers,” said Christine Barry, research director with Aite Group, in a press release. “This is evidenced by the declining satisfaction rates of their customers and their failure to meet cross-selling needs.”

Such a customer base is crucial, even for large banks, at a time when deposits are precious commodities.

Small banks have been able to make headway by purchasing failed community banks, as reported by The Big Money this week.

“As the continuing real-estate crisis pushes more tiny banks into failure, the most common saviors have been other small banks, community banks, small thrifts, and modestly sized lenders,” Heidi Moore wrote.

But small banks aren’t necessarily a safe haven from troubles ailing their bigger competitors.

Although banks with over $10 billion in assets hold over half of commercial banks’ total commercial real estate whole loans, smaller banks have an overall greater exposure to commercial real estate, according to a report from the Congressional Oversight Panel.

Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, recently voiced concerns about the risk that commercial real estate poses to community banks, noting that commercial real estate comprised more than 43 percent of the portfolios of community banks.

Those concerns are well founded, as commercial real estate has played an increasingly large role in bank failures. For the 205 banks that have failed since 2007, a third of their loan portfolio has been made up of commercial real estate loans, compared to an industry average of 26.9 percent, according to investment bank KBW. The seven banks seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation last Friday had an even higher concentration with almost 40 percent of their loans tied up in commercial real estate.

If write downs increase as expected, it could ultimately create capital problems for community banks, which could in turn curb lending to small businesses.

“The current distribution of commercial real estate loans may be particularly problematic for the small business community because smaller regional and community banks with substantial commercial real estate exposure account for almost half of small business loans,” the COP report published in February said. For example, smaller banks with the highest exposure to commercial real estate provide around 40 percent of all small business loans.

Are Direct Loans from the Small Business Administration a Bad Idea?

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

With all the news about President Obama’s proposals to increase bank lending to small business, there’s one obvious question that needs to be addressed: Why not have the Small Business Administration take a more aggressive role? Why not allow the agency to lend directly to small businesses?

The issue came up at a recent hearing held by the House Financial Services and Small Business Committees.

Turns out, the Small Business Act creating the SBA allows the agency to do direct financing of companies, as the You’re the Boss blog recently pointed out. And through at least the 1980’s, they did so, lending to companies rejected by banks.


Plus, in the past year, the Senate has introduced legislation to help the SBA make direct loans. And the House has passed two bills creating programs aimed at direct lending. That legislation would create a program which would exist only in a recession, through which the SBA would help small businesses fill out loan applications. Then, if no bank were willing to lend, the agency would step in.

But the Obama administration is against any and all such proposals. The reasons: 1) The agency doesn’t have the staff or the resources; 2) It would take as long as a year to get such a program up and running; 3) Administrative costs would be in the billions of dollars; and 4) Historically, SBA direct loans have had higher cumulative loss rates than other SBA-backed loans.

Those, in fact, are pretty convincing arguments.

It might just be that, while it sounds good on paper to give the SBA the power to lend directly, the reality is very different. Sure, drastic action is needed to increase bank lending. But this one might be thoroughly impractical.

The bottom line: Ultimately, it’s bankers who probably are more qualified than anyone at the SBA to make these decisions. In a time of scarce government resources and a need for fast action, the most efficient approach is for the SBA to do whatever it can to encourage banks to lend.

Of course, whether the steps proposed by the Obama administration are likely to do that is the $64,000 question.

Sweden, Probably Not Too Keen on Human Souls as Collateral, to Write Down Latvian Debt

800px-Flag_of_Sweden.pngIn what could be the most sensible reaction by bankers in quite some time, Sweden is writing down debt held by individuals in Latvia.
This move by the Swedes occurs, not so surprisingly, after the revelation that Latvian bankers were acting as soul brokers.
Swedbank, which is entirely made up of tall, stunningly attractive blondes that only purchase inexpensive, self-assembled furniture, stated that approximately 10% of the loans held by Latvian individuals would be written down, leaving many Latvian souls at risk of repossession by the Princes of Darkness Latvian Bankers.
Swedish Banks Prepare Latvian Debt Write-Down [DealBook/NYT]