In recent months we have seen a steady increase in job opportunities within corporate finance teams based outside of London. Whilst many candidates I meet are fixated on wanting the 'London experience', it is often worth taking some of these regional vacancies into consideration if you want to get ahead in your corporate finance career. Below are just some of the great benefits of looking at opportunities outside of London.
I want to help candidates understand what they are up against when applying for entry-level corporate finance roles in London. Firstly, hiring managers tend to pick candidates from their own audit pool, especially within Practices. It is very unlikely for them to take on an external hire when they already have skilled individuals who can do the job within their own firm. They know the processes, systems and already work for them – so why look elsewhere?
In addition, it is worth noting the number of direct applicants some of these firms receive on a daily basis. They receive applications from people who live in London, those willing to relocate to London and international applicants. Therefore, competition is fierce.
Should you choose to look at opportunities just outside of London, not only is it less competitive but your chances of having a face-to-face interview are much higher. Regional audit teams may not be big enough for corporate finance teams to pick from, leaving them open to bringing on candidates externally. This also means there are fewer people interviewing and overall you have a better chance of getting the job.
Firms in London generally have bigger teams in comparison to their regional counterparts. This can sometimes mean you may only get the chance to be involved in aspects of the deal, as opposed to being involved in the complete deal cycle. You may find roles in London sitting in segments of a deal for example; valuations team, due diligence team, financial modelling team etc. If you want to gain a wide range of corporate finance experience, I would recommend looking at smaller teams.
Regional teams tend to be smaller which means you can gain greater exposure to the transaction. Not only does it give the firm more of a boutique feel but also you are likely to be involved in both transaction support as well as lead advisory. You would take on responsibility from the get go and have the ability to move into a broader corporate finance role.
If you are in the early stages of your career and don't want to move into a specialised sector yet, looking at roles outside of the capital might be the best option. London teams tend to be bigger, therefore they have the capacity to split the team to specialise in certain sectors. Regionally, however, this may not always be the case. Should you want to develop your experience across various sectors, regional teams would be able to support this. Regional teams also tend to be more flexible with the work they take on, allowing you to work on a variety of different transactions and a broader pipeline of work.
Moving away from London doesn't have to mean giving up the city lifestyle. There are many corporate finance firms in key cities such as Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester and Nottingham. Although the salary of roles can be lower in these areas, the cost of living is also much cheaper in comparison to London, so you might find you're actually better off financially.
Although this varies depending on the firm and their requirements, regional offices tend to have a slightly better work-life balance. They have more flexibility in working across different offices, the ability to work from home a little more and working hours tend to be better.
You can always move back to London
Taking a job located outside of London does not always need to be a permanent decision. You could move to another city to get yourself started in corporate finance and always move back to London once you have gained relevant experience. The majority of vacancies in London tend to be suitable for candidates who have already worked within corporate finance and hold experience within the field.
Overall, there are great opportunities outside of London should you wish to make the move into corporate finance or progress your career within the field.
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