My Graduate experience at BDO

01 January 2018

Mathew Barrie |

When finishing year 12 at school, I was adamant I was heading towards a career in Engineering. I had focused heavily on mathematics and science related subjects, and while I enjoyed Commerce in year 10, I had not undertaken VCE Economics. When I received my VCE score, I changed my university preferences to include Commerce, as well as Engineering. This was following the suggestion of a number of people that a Commerce degree would assist my management skills down the track in Engineering.

A shift in mindset

I had been introduced to equities trading at school in the form of the ASX Sharemarket Game. I managed to ride the coat tails of the mining boom and perform well one year, only to lose the majority of my fictitious $100,000 in a short period of time the following year as the full force of the GFC struck. I could then see that capital markets were far beyond my comprehension at the time and was driven to learn more. This coincided with my first year of university, where I realised that while studying Engineering was interesting and the learning engaging, I did not want to work as an engineer day-in-day-out. So began to breed my interest in commerce, financial markets and business.

Throughout the remainder of my degree, I attempted to broaden my financial acumen, primarily through my studies but also continuing with equities trading, using my own capital this time. Post-university I took two years off to travel before fortunately landing a job at BDO in the Corporate Finance team, the area most consistent with my interests.

No two days are the same in Corporate Finance

Immediately upon starting in Corporate Finance, I saw how varied the work and on-the-job learning can be. While the analysis undertaken is primarily process driven, the structure of that analysis varies depending on the individual project at hand. With a small yet growing team, each of us works across every aspect of Corporate Finance. This includes mergers and acquisitions, valuations, financial modelling and transactional services.

The different phases of a transaction process each offer a unique perspective into the way a business is run, its comparative advantages and the processes that create and maintain earnings. Transaction advisory, or mergers and acquisitions, has become an area of considerable interest. The fast paced and often pressure filled nature of these engagements is an atmosphere I relish, as well as the opportunity to link all areas of Corporate Finance together in a single project. For a sell-side engagement, this involves going out and seeking potential buyers for a business, looking at the value of the business prior to sale, putting together an information memorandum for potential buyers and executing through the process of due diligence and subsequently selling the business.

I have also been fortunate enough to undertake a short-term secondment to Alpin Advisory (confirm with Partner that we can include client name) earlier this year to extend my experience in the deals space outside of BDO. This involved working on three simultaneous transactions with an ASX listed client, offering due diligence, valuations and transaction advisory services.

Life at BDO Melbourne

Having passed Level II of the CFA Program in June of this year, I am currently enrolled to sit the Level III exam in June 2018 and looking to earn the Chartered Financial Analyst credential. This is slightly different to what graduates in other service lines study which is typically the Chartered Accountant program. Although the CFA Program comprises a significant accounting component, it is considerably more finance focused. The extra hours studying outside of work can be strenuous at times; however, the technical knowledge I’ve gained while studying the course has produced a far greater trade off thus far.

BDO’s Melbourne office has a great, inclusive culture. A positive work-life balance and the opportunity to work directly with people at higher levels is something which attracted me to BDO in the first place. These opportunities, as well as the support they have provided to me whilst I have been studying, has been extremely beneficial to my career to date.