by Brian DeChesare Comments (5)

Do You Want to Be a Financial Analyst at Google?

Google Financial AnalystDo you believe everything you read?

Probably not.

But what if it’s from an authoritative source – one you’ve trusted because the information is reliable?

Then you might believe a higher percentage of information from this source.

That’s the approach we try to take on this site: rather than letting everyone from high school students to gold farmers in World of Warcraft to imprisoned ex-financiers write articles, I am quite strict about what gets published.

But there’s a problem with this approach: broad topics like “corporate finance jobs” or “private equity interviews” or “hedge fund stock pitches” are tough to generalize, and there are always variations.

One place where you see a lot of variations is with “financial analyst” roles at normal companies – especially at a company like Google.

In this interview, a long-time contributor to the site joins me once again to discuss:

  • What you might expect in a Financial Analyst role at Google
  • Recruiting, what the team is looking for, and how to get in
  • What an average day is like, from meetings to VBA
  • How to tell if it’s right for you

Get the full MP3 recording, the transcript, and the summary of key points after the jump:

Meet Jerry: Google Financial Analyst Extraordinaire

If you’ve read the sales & trading articles on the site, you probably know Jerry Chi, who wrote several of them and who also recorded the sales & trading podcasts with me a long time ago.

Since that last round of podcasts, he graduated from Wharton, completed several internships, moved back to Tokyo, and worked as a financial analyst at Google for a few years.

Meanwhile, I’m doing exactly the same thing I was back then.

(Not that I’m feeling inferior or anything, really…)

Since so many bankers and financiers want to move into technology these days, finance roles at Google seemed like the perfect discussion topic.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely Jerry’s personal views and do not reflect the official views of Google, nor do they reflect official information from Google.

Click here to download the MP3 of the M&I Podcast – Episode 003.

Click here to download the Transcript for the M&I Podcast – Episode 003.

iTunes / Apple has been annoying lately, so our feed is currently broken there and their support team is unresponsive.

Luckily, SoundCloud still works and is also 100x easier to set up and use than iTunes, so if you want to subscribe you can do so there:

Key Points

We covered quite a few topics in this discussion, but some of my favorite points were as follows:

Point #1: Want More Programming or VBA? Apply to Google

I’ve gotten a ton of questions over the years on whether or not you “need” VBA and more advanced Excel skills for investment banking and private equity roles.

The answer is “No, not really,” although they can come in handy sometimes (which is why there are a few VBA lessons in our Excel course).

But if you do like digging into data at a deeper level and doing some amount of programming, a financial analyst role at Google might be right up your alley.

Point #2: Banker or Consultant? Sorry, You’re Not Guaranteed a Financial Analyst Job at Google… or Any Other Company

While banks and finance firms look for fairly generic qualities in entry-level candidates, “normal companies” often look for very specific qualities.

A lot of former bankers or consultants mistakenly think, “Aha! I worked at a top-tier bank, I can now go to any company in the world.”

And that’s just not true.

You need the Excel / analytical skills, yes, but you also need great communication skills and polish, as well as the ability to “intuit” a lot more about your environment.

Working with a senior executive is a lot different than working with a senior banker, even if both titles read “VP.”

Point #3: Financial Analyst != Corporate Development != Business Development

Don’t judge a role by its title – even if two roles have similar titles, they might still be different depending on the companies.

In the case of Google, you’ll get a lot of interaction with other teams at the firm as a financial analyst, but less interaction with clients and external 3rd parties.

That’s almost the opposite of corporate development and business development roles, even though they have some superficial similarities (Excel!).

The purpose of the role is also quite different: as a financial analyst, you’re there to determine which initiatives make financial sense.

There is some element of that in the other roles, but there is more focus on getting a deal done in the first place.

Point #4: Applying Online… May Not Be Such a Bad Thing, After All

While I’ve previously used terms like “black hole” and “bottomless pit inside a large dragon” to describe where your resume goes after you submit it online, it’s not quite so hopeless at non-finance firms.

It always helps to have internal referrals, but you may not need to be quite so aggressive with networking outside the finance industry.

Point #5: Meetings + Interaction with Other Teams + Chaos Management + Excel / Analysis = Financial Analyst at Google

Some buy-side roles can be very isolating – you, as the analyst or associate, have to go out there and find interesting ideas and companies.

The independence is great, but the reduced teamwork and the lack of socializing with your new team are not so great.

A financial analyst role at Google provides an interesting compromise.

You’re still doing some analytical heavy-lifting, but you also get a lot more interaction with other teammates and it’s less of a “lone wolf” gig.

And if, like Littlefinger, you view Chaos as a Ladder rather than a Pit, you’re even better-suited for it.

Table of Contents, the Transcript, and More

  • 4:06: Overview of Jerry’s Background and What He Does at Google
  • 9:08: Do Other Companies Have This Role?
  • 10:22: How This Group Fits Into Google as a Whole
  • 11:33: Technical / Coding Requirements
  • 13:21: Why Work at Google / in Technology?
  • 16:21: The Recruiting Process for Financial Analyst Roles at Google
  • 23:46: A Day in the Life of a Google Financial Analyst
  • 27:17: How “Japanese” is the Google Tokyo Office?
  • 29:44: Who Would Fit in Well / Not Fit in Well at Google?
  • 33:42: Conclusion

Click here to download the MP3 of the M&I Podcast – Episode 003.

Click here to download the Transcript for the M&I Podcast – Episode 003.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely Jerry’s personal views and do not reflect the official views of Google, nor do they reflect official information from Google.

Links, Articles, and Show Notes

This podcast had some “tech talk” around various programming languages and a few other IT-related points.

In case you’re not familiar with them:

Software is Eating the World – A great article by Marc Andreessen that you should immediately read if you want to understand the world at large.

RThis is a programming language commonly used for statistics and data mining. It’s an “open source” project, meaning that the source code is freely available and anyone can contribute and use/modify the software in any way, free of charge.

(If you’re wondering how “open source” software companies like Red Hat make money, it’s from selling support services to large enterprises using these products).

SPSS – This is another software product used for statistical analysis, but it’s commercialized and not open source. IBM acquired SPSS, the company, for $1.2 billion in 2009.

SQL – This is the language you use to communicate with “real” databases such as the ones used on web servers. Without getting too technical, a true relational database stores data more efficiently than Excel, and makes it easier to update, manipulate, recover, and retrieve data.

VBA – OK, I really hope you know what VBA is. But if not: it’s a programming language you can use within Excel and other Office programs to automate tasks like formatting data or models up through much more complex operations.

Up Next Time

I don’t have anything in particular in mind, but we will try to up the frequency so these podcasts happen more than once every 5-6 months (I know, I know).

If you’ve quit the finance industry, you’re launching a new venture, or you have anything else interesting going on, we would love to hear from you.

Bonus Points: It’s also much faster for you to record a quick podcast than to email written responses to interview questions.

Plus, I’ll even link to your new product, service, or other venture if it’s relevant.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Regarding the Google financial analyst job. Would working at a boutique IB for a few years still be considered strong enough compared to working at a BB?
    What other way can I break into google as a FA other than baking and Management consulting?

  2. I am curious, how prevalent are these types of roles (i.e. what is the job market like)? I ask because I have a similar role at my firm

    I have seen a few online listings for similar positions but the majority I have noticed are for roles with a higher data science than financial analysis focus.

    Could you comment (if you know of course) on the types of opportunities available for someone who would be more of a big data financial analyst than data scientist per se?

    Thank you.

    1. I don’t think they’re too common – this role at Google seems to be unique or at least very specific to what Google does.

      If you have Big Data financial analysis experience, I imagine that most of the opportunities would be at similar types of tech / mobile app firms that need someone to sift through data, optimize revenue from different channels, and so on.

  3. Hi Brian, please whats compensation/bonus like on this role at Google…?

    1. Good question. Jerry couldn’t disclose this since he still works at Google, but my best guess is:

      Starting salary for post-MBA: $110-$120K USD, with maybe a 20-30% bonus paid in cash and some stock (and remember, Google stock, unlike banks’ stock, is actually valuable…).

      As you move up and get more senior, that probably moves closer to $200K with more generous bonuses as well.

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