#8 Thinking About a Career in Corporate Finance?
An increasing number of newly qualified accountants are becoming more attracted to the prospect of developing their career in corporate finance and it’s easy to see why; 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.
But it’s not always easy to make the leap into corporate finance when you’re a newly qualified accountant. Barden’s Conor Martin trained in PwC’s Asset Management Audit department and later went on to work in a boutique Corporate Finance firm. Here he shares his insights on how to set yourself up for a successful career move into corporate finance…
#1 What does a career in corporate finance ACTUALLY involve?
Corporate Finance involves a broad spectrum of activities including raising debt & equity, mergers & acquisitions, due diligence, independent business reviews, valuations, financial modelling and advisory.
Despite the fast-paced and exciting nature of the work, it’s not all negotiations and closing deals all of the time! There is a considerable amount of report writing, analysis and financial modelling involved, particularly during the early stages of your career.
#2 What do Corporate Finance clients look for in a potential hire?
From a technical perspective, having a solid understanding of financials is pivotal to the profession. Financial modelling and performing valuations are also fundamental aspects of the work, so study up on valuation techniques and how to accurately value a business before you go for an interview.
Aside from the technical competencies, experience in building, developing and maintaining client relationships is essential. Corporate Finance is 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. On any one engagement you might have to chair meetings or calls with numerous solicitors, lenders, clients and advisors at the same time. You need to be able to keep all parties up to date on facts and findings, whilst tailoring the content and delivery of the information to suit your audience.
Project management comes in to play here too as engagements in corporate finance might not have a set timeline or end date. For example, finding the right acquirer for a business can take time, so persistence and patience are required.
Lastly (and perhaps most importantly), having a strong commercial acumen is key. 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 and who can shrewdly spot commercial opportunities.
#3 How can I make the move into Corporate Finance from Audit/FS Audit/Advisory as a newly qualified accountant?
An internal move should be your first port of call. You have spent the last 3-4 years building your network in your training firm, so use it! Talk to Managers/Directors/Partners and scope out the possibility of a move, or even a secondment.
If that fails, then it’s time to look at the external market. Again, using your network is the key to success. Don’t be afraid to ask people who have made the move before and get their advice as to how they did it. Try to get introductions to people in the industry; offer to buy them a coffee and have as many fact finding conversations as you can. Reach out to your network as you never know what opportunity lies on the other end of a warm contact.
#4 Will having a CFA exam or 2 under my belt make my move easier?
Not particularly, usually a Chartered Accountancy qualification along with experience in a practice environment is enough. Upskilling on Excel, financial modelling courses and/or undertaking the Diploma in Corporate Finance will show your commitment to your career and give you an idea of what the technical side is like, so these are probably the most fruitful ways to spend your study time.
#5 Is there anything else I need to know?
Do your research! There are so many options and career paths within corporate finance itself; different teams offer different experiences. Some firms/teams offer the breath of corporate finance services, while others offer limited services such as due diligence or financial modelling. Find out what it is you will actually be involved in and what you will gain exposure to.
Finally, be prepared for the competition! The corporate finance market is extremely competitive. The demand from clients looking for corporate finance professionals is significantly lower than the supply of accountants looking to work in this area. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to stand out from the crowd and gain a competitive edge.
Contact Conor (firstname.lastname@example.org) who would be more than happy to have a coffee and chat with you about your potential career in Corporate Finance.
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