Barden Insights | A Career in Corporate Finance

The 70 cranes (and counting) on Dublin’s skyline are a key indication that the Irish economy is getting back on track after a few turbulent recessionary years. In line with this recovery and growth, the Corporate Finance sector is bustling. Barden caught up with Jamie Carton, a Corporate Finance Executive, to gain an insight into a career in this fast-paced sphere.

Corporate finance involves giving considered and bespoke financial advice to clients on transaction based activities such as mergers and acquisitions, growth capital and debt funding. “It’s important to understand what is going on commercially”, Jamie begins. Clients who engage with corporate finance firms expect expert advice from knowledgeable professionals, who are continually up to speed with economic and financial market trends. “We have got to know what is happening in the market and how this will impact on our clients’ transactions’”.

“There is no typical background of a successful corporate finance professional, more so a typical set of skills and characteristics”, Jamie explains. Having a solid understanding of financials is pivotal to the profession, hence an accounting qualification is a pre-requisite for most firms hiring in this space. More technical skills such as financial modelling and performing valuations are also fundamental aspects of the work. “Valuation techniques, and a true understanding of how to accurately value a business are paramount; if you’re not coming from a corporate finance background, I would recommend to set time aside to do some study on this before any interviews”, Jamie advises.

Aside from the technical competencies, experience in building, developing and maintaining client relationships is essential. “It’s a trust based business”. Most deals are worth a considerable amount of money; thus, clients need to have faith and confidence in their corporate finance advisors. “Clients expect to be continually kept in the loop as to the status of the transaction. When they ask a question; we have to give them a timely and comprehensive answer”, Jamie explains. This is where project and stakeholder management skills prove to be useful.

Due to the fast-paced nature of the work, and the often pressurised deadlines, this profession will only suit an adaptable individual. “The hours are not 9-5, or even 9-6; the stage of the transactions you’re working on dictates the hours you work”, Jamie says. However, a career in corporate finance offers the opportunity to be at the forefront of challenging and exciting work, enabling you to gain an insight into how key business decisions are made, and the chance to learn from senior leaders.

If you’re seriously considering a career in corporate finance, do your research first, before applying to any firms. “Firms in Ireland tend to be boutique; with different firms focusing on different areas of work”, Jamie explains. Thus, spend time analysing what type of work each firm does, how many transactions they complete per year, and the nature of their deals and client base. This will ensure that you are steering your career in the right direction, and avoid being pigeon-holed in an area you’re not interested in.
To learn more about opportunities in this space, or to take part in our Barden Insights series, contact Heather Gordon (hgordon@barden.ie).

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At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future.
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