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Why Corporate Finance professionals should consider working for a smaller accountancy practice

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Speaking to Corporate Finance professionals on a daily basis, it’s rare to meet an individual looking to move into a Corporate Finance team at a mid to lower-tier accountancy practice.

I believe that these firms are often wrongly overlooked due to a fear of lack of deal flow or that they may not be perceived as being as exciting as a Big 4 firm or investment bank.

A career in Corporate Finance can indeed go down many different paths and there are many options to choose from when it comes to the type of company to work for, from professional services firms to corporate finance boutiques and from investment banks to advisory firms.

When looking for a new Corporate Finance role, not only will you consider the type of firm but also the industry and sector. You may specialise in the TMT, Healthcare, Energy sector or be completely sector agnostic.

However, there are several advantages as to why a small/mid-market accountancy practices may be the ideal place to work within a Corporate Finance team - and here’s why...

Greater responsibility

Firstly, a major advantage of working for a smaller Corporate Finance team is the amount of responsibility you will be given and at a quicker rate than what you may receive when working within a large corporate firm.

When working in a smaller team you will tend to liaise directly with senior management on different transactions and projects allowing you to “hit the ground running” and quickly prove your worth to the Directors or Partners of the team. You will gain more responsibility working within a small corporate finance team because naturally there is nobody else but yourself and a few others who are responsible for the workload.

At Executive grade, you will be quickly brought up to speed with corporate finance engagements and will have responsibilities of drafting Information Memoranda’s, building detailed financial models from scratch, and both preparing and attending pitch presentations.

Increased exposure and a broader skillset

Within a smaller practice firm, you will also have more exposure to a broader corporate finance role than you may get within a larger corporate finance department.

Usually, within a corporate finance department, there will be a number of different teams that will be the make-up of the department. You can typically separate a corporate finance team into 4 sub-teams;

- M&A (lead advisory)
- Transaction Advisory Services - TAS (due-diligence)
- Financial Modelling
- Valuations.

Therefore, it is important to understand that those within the TAS team may not get the exposure to running an M&A deal and vice-versa.

On the other hand, when working in a smaller Corporate Finance team you are more than likely to be working on every aspect of a Corporate Finance role. Not only will you be supporting a transaction through financial modelling and due diligence, but you will also gain the exposure of working across a variety of lead advisory assignments.

Whether joining as an experienced Corporate Finance professional or starting as a newly qualified Executive, the exposure to every aspect of a corporate finance role is a major advantage when working for a smaller corporate finance team within an accounting practice.

Cover a range of sectors

The small/mid M&A market is extremely competitive with countless specialists across the industry. As part of a corporate finance team in a smaller accountancy firm, you will be competing with boutique M&A firms, advisory firms and sector specialists within the field.

However, the benefit of working for a smaller accountancy practice is that the brand name tends to be well known within the market. Many smaller accountancy practices have corporate finance teams across the UK and therefore their reputation may be stronger in the market than other advisory firms, hence making it easier to win-work and have a larger deal flow.

Furthermore, many boutique firms or larger investment banks specialise in specific sectors within the market. At a smaller accountancy practice, the corporate finance team tends to be sector agnostic and this can be advantageous to individuals at the Executive grade who may not want to tie themselves down to any particular sector at the beginning of their corporate finance career.

Of course, as a Corporate Finance professional you may have specific goals which you want to achieve in your career in many different types of firms, however, I believe you should stop overlooking smaller corporate finance teams within practice firms as there are many benefits to considering this career path! 

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