Published on 14th December 2017
What is corporate finance?
Corporate finance relates to the financial activities fundamental to running a business and is primarily concerned with maximising shareholder value. A career in corporate finance offers the opportunity to be at the centre of how a business operates; it is the way in which companies finance creation, growth and the acquisition or disposal of business.
A corporate finance professional is primarily tasked with managing an organisations money and you could find yourself working on a wide range of matters, including capital raising (through either securing a loan from an investment bank, restructuring the business or winning financial backing through another platform e.g. crowd-funding), mergers, acquisitions, changes in ownership and other activities to improve business. The role of a corporate financier is an exciting one; it’s forward-looking, pro-active, strategic, entrepreneurial and often international in nature.
What type of person works in corporate finance?
If you enjoy working with numbers and you have strong analytical skills, then corporate finance could be the career for you. Those who are good problem-solvers and have a strong attention to detail do well in the area.
In addition to technical ability, you should have an understanding and natural interest in business; a strong commercial awareness, including keeping up to date with the industry through business publications to understand market conditions and trends, and some people even invest themselves. You will also be a natural communicator, enjoy meeting people and have a natural flair for negotiation.
Often, corporate finance professionals have some kind of related qualification e.g. ACA/ACCA, CFA, or an accountancy and finance related degree.
What qualifications do I need to work in corporate finance?
Although there is no specific qualification you must have in order to work in corporate finance, there are some qualifications and courses that will put you in a strong position and provide you with the foundations necessary to understand the fundamentals. Depending on where you wish to take your career, you would ideally have studied accounting & finance or economics.
Many professionals qualify as an accountant first, typically within an audit capacity, taking either the ACA or the ACCA. More and more professionals are doing the CFA programme (Chartered Financial Analyst) or the IMC (Investment Management Certificate), especially when working with the likes of corporate finance boutiques, investment houses and private equity firms. We are also seeing a rise in the number of people taking specialised financial modelling courses to help themselves stand out from the crowd.
How do I get into corporate finance?
There are many ways to get into corporate finance and many different career paths, the most common are highlighted below:
- Training within the audit team of an accountancy firm and studying for the ACA/ACCA, typically qualifying after three years. Having established strong foundations, the move into corporate finance is much more natural. Typical moves usually include other accountancy firms, advisory firms, and investment banks.
- Joining the corporate finance team of an accountancy firm as a trainee and studying for the ACA/ACCA, typically qualifying after three years.
- Joining an advisory firm or investment bank straight from university as an analyst, with the option of studying for one of the qualifications if needed.
Roles can vary depending on the firm and which team you sit in; typically, you will either work within transaction support or M&A/lead advisory. Some firms offer a hybrid role which provides the opportunity to develop a broad skillset at an early stage.
Where could I work?
As corporate finance is so integral to business and covers such a range of duties, the opportunities really are endless. Many people choose to qualify and then remain as an advisor within an accountancy firm, or make the move to professional services companies, investment banks, brokerage firms, independent advisory firms or within a corporation.
If you're interested in pursuing a career in Corporate Finance and would like to discuss your options, feel free to get in touch with me for a confidential discussion or browse our latest vacancies here.