This guide will outline the main types of corporate finance jobs at large operating companies. From a corporate finance perspective, the best jobs are those that are the closest to decisions related to the allocation of capital, investments, and long-term planning and value creating. Therefore, the best corporate finance jobs are corporate development, financial planning & analysis (FP&A), treasury, and investor relations (IR).
Note: For the purposes of this guide, investment banking is considered separately, as its own industry. In Europe, investment banking is often referred to as corporate finance.
The Corporate Development team (Corp Dev for short) works on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) for a company. They work closely with investment bankers to find target companies, negotiate with them, and strike deals that create value for the company.
These transactions can be very large and often transformational for companies. Because of the high dollar values at stake, this group often works in secrecy and can have a lasting impact (good or bad) on the company.
Corp Dev is sometimes grouped together with the Strategy group, and sometimes they are separate. While Strategy is not a “pure” corporate finance team, it is closely linked to major long-term decisions related to how the company allocates capital and positions itself in the market.
#2 Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A)
The Financial Planning & Analysis team (FP&A for short) is responsible for all budgeting, forecasting, key performance indicators (KPIs), variance analysis, and related functions in a company. They work closely with operations, accounting, and sometimes, Corp Dev and investor relations to manage the company’s internal operating model.
FP&A can be one of the most interesting and rewarding corporate finance jobs because it is so closely linked to operating budgets, capital spending, and performance measurement.
The Treasury team has responsibility for a wide range of financial activates at a company, including cash management, short-term investments, liquidity management, foreign currency exchange, hedging, buying and selling derivatives contracts, insurance, and issuing debt and equity.
The Treasury group is responsible for ensuring the company’s capital structure and financial position are optimized. They spend a lot of time meeting with bankers and dealing with products such as lines of credit, money market securities, and FX trades. The group has to carefully manage the company’s current cash position relative to what’s expected to happen operationally in the future.
#4 Investor Relations
Investor Relations (IR for short) may not always be considered one of the corporate finance jobs, but at some companies it is. At a company with a very sophisticated IR team, they are often involved in decisions around dividend policies, share buybacks, and M&A activity, which are all core concepts in corporate finance.
Sophisticated IR professionals have strong skills in financial modeling and valuation and can have detailed discussions with equity research analysts.
How to Get Corporate Finance Jobs
Let’s take a closer look at how to get the corporate finance jobs listed above. Each of them has their own most common path, but it’s important to note there is a wide range of paths to these jobs.
Paths to corporate development:
Investment banking is the most common (since bankers work as advisors on the transactions)
Moving over from FP&A with good financial modeling skills
Moving over from an operations role with good financial analysis skills
Equity research analyst who covers the sector
Moving from a competitor company
Paths to FP&A:
Moving over from the accounting team
Coming from a public accounting company (e.g., The Big Four)
Coming from a bank (investment banking, equity research)
If you’re looking to break into the industry or make a transition, it can be helpful to have a certification or designation that gives you the practical skills you need to move up the ladder as a top performer.