There are a few different routes you can take to develop a career in Corporate Finance or Private Equity. Many corporate finance professionals begin their career within the traditional professional services firms, often as an auditor before taking an internal move into the Corporate Finance team. The other route many take is to go straight into corporate finance as an analyst or executive/trainee. Others may start within a corporate finance advisory firm/boutique, investment bank or private equity firm.
Before we jump into which environment may be best for you, let’s break down what Corporate Finance covers in a general sense:
What falls under the corporate finance umbrella can vary between firms, but as a rule of thumb it applies to:
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A)
Management buy-outs (MBOs)
Fund Raising & Debt Advisory
Flotations or IPOs
Insolvency & Restructuring
The majority of individuals that work within Corporate Finance Advisory have either an ACA or ACCA background. Saying that it is becoming more apparent that the ACA is not absolutely necessary to be successful within corporate finance and we are seeing more people opting to take the CFA in addition or as an alternative.
Whilst not historically the core business, corporate finance has become an integral part of most professional services firms and not only does it bring in large levels of revenue, but it also provides complimentary service lines to the firm’s customers and encourages loyalty. The wider teams are taking notice and realising the value a corporate finance team can deliver.
A benefit of choosing a career within a larger professional services firm in the first place is that you are put through the ACA qualification which can make you incredibly valuable in the business world and it stands out on your CV. Typically speaking, and there are exceptions to this, but larger firms advise large blue chip firms and multinationals on their acquisitions or mergers. This can be a fantastic opportunity to see how some of the worlds largest brands structure deals, assess opportunities and ultimately execute large deals.
Outside of the Big 4, transactions are typically smaller and ranging between €5m - €200m, and you are often working with owner-managed business, SME’s, management teams and private equity firms. Naturally, the environment is entrepreneurial, fast-paced and forward-thinking, with the opportunity to work with interesting people and their businesses. For the most part, unlike moving into a very small practice for traditional training (audit accounts prep etc), moving to the smaller boutique firm can be a fantastic move when it comes to Corporate Finance. If you have a strong leadership team around you, your hands-on experience can be better and you will probably gain more exposure.
From a monetary point of view, smaller boutique firms can offer quite unique and innovative bonus structures. Since Big 4 or larger firms predominantly have to play within certain salary and package guidelines, the smaller firms can attract strong talent if the bonus structures are better.
Looking for a steer on salaries in this space? Download our Salary Guide below.