11 Careers in Corporate Finance
Updated December 9, 2022
To succeed as a company, many businesses must have financial strength. Many times, the financial soundness of an organization comes from the financial analysis and suggestions that those in corporate finance provide to senior leadership and other stakeholders. If you want to work in finance, there are several positions in the field that you may earn at a corporation.
In this article, we describe what a corporate finance job is, explain the types of corporate finance jobs, share the different career paths you may take, provide a list of the types of employers and present the skills you may need to succeed in corporate finance.
What is a job in corporate finance?
Someone who works in corporate finance usually handles the day-to-day finances of an organization, which may include budgeting, statement preparation, loan payments and making investment decisions. Careers in corporate finance range in responsibilities and qualifications and because of the diversity, you may find something that's best suited for your interests.
Types of corporate finance jobs
There are four main types of jobs in corporate finance, including:
Treasury: Treasury positions are responsible for the financial health of the business and they may also handle how the business structures and assigns its capital. Individuals in these roles may manage cash flow, make investment decisions, protect equities, issue debts and plan for future operational costs.
Financial planning and analysis: Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) positions handle things like budgeting, trend analysis, key performance indicator (KPI) development and forecasting. They must work with everyone in the company whose job impacts the operations of the organization, from accounting to corporate development.
Corporate development: Corporate development positions work on growing the business through things like mergers and acquisitions. People in these positions often work to identify valuable companies to acquire, secure merger details from a larger corporation and set up the financial components of the deals. Corporate development includes a lot of strategy and partnership with other areas of the business.
Investor relations: Investor relations positions aren't at every company, but those who work in this field manage policies like dividends and buybacks. They also use financial modeling to research any equity options for the business.
Corporate finance career paths
Here are 11 positions in corporate finance with the national average salary and primary duties for each, as well as a typical path you may take to secure the role:
National average salary: $51,157 per year
Primary duties: A real estate manager is responsible for evaluating and securing commercial property for the business. They may assess property values and forecast the investment of the property over time. Real estate managers often work with others in finance at the organization to make sure the properties they secure are sound financial decisions. Real estate managers may have a degree in real estate, business or finance and have some experience working in one of those same fields.
National average salary: $66,515 per year
Primary duties: A corporate accountant is responsible for keeping track of a company's finances, preparing financial reports and guiding executives in making strategic decisions based on current and forecasted finances. They assess how the company is doing financially and make sure the organization is complying with all federal and state regulations. Many businesses hire corporate accountants that have a bachelor's degree in accounting and are either CPA or CMA certified.
National average salary: $71,023 per year
Primary duties: A benefits manager is responsible for selecting and administering a corporation's benefits program for employees. They may obtain quotes from different vendors and ensure that any benefits plans they implement make fiscal sense for the organization. Benefits they select may include everything from leave policies to health insurance and wellness programs. Many benefits managers have a background in finance and start their career in human resources at a company.
National average salary: $71,556 per year
Primary duties: A financial analyst is responsible for guiding a business in their investments and other financial decisions. They research how assets, bonds, commodities and other investments are performing so they can provide thorough and educated advice to company stakeholders. Financial analysts typically hold a degree in accounting, finance or a related field, and some corporations may require a master's level degree or CFA charter to work in a senior level position.
Read more: Learn About Being a Financial Analyst
National average salary: $80,428 per year
Primary duties: A treasurer is responsible for managing the general finances of a company. They may select a bank with which the company will hold their accounts and loans, reconcile statements and keep track of the cash flow within the organization. Many treasurers start out in the position of analyst at a corporation before becoming directors and then treasurer for the business.
Read more: Learn About Being a Treasurer
6. Cost analyst
National average salary: $83,304 per year
Primary duties: A cost analyst is responsible for analyzing items such as the cost of labor and manufacturing and how much it costs to maintain inventory to meet demand. Cost analysts use what they learn through their research to discover inefficiencies in the company's various processes and offer suggestions on how best to track and estimate costs in the future. It's common for cost analysts to start their career as a finance analyst, move on to an accounting role and later work as a cost analyst.
National average salary: $88,421 per year
Primary duties: An investor relations manager is responsible for managing the relationship between their company and investors, which may include meeting with investors, sharing financial information with potential investors and preparing reports for stakeholders. Many investor relations managers earn their bachelor's degree in a financial field and work in fields such as public relations or accounting.
National average salary: $89,354 per year
Primary duties: An auditor is responsible for reviewing the financial records of an organization to make sure everything is accurate and complete. They ensure that businesses are in compliance with regulations and prepared for more extensive audits from a governing body. Many auditors may also assess a company's financial records to discover cost saving methods that the business can use to earn more money and avoid risk. An auditor may have a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting or business administration, with experience working as a junior analyst.
Read more: Learn About Being an Auditor
National average salary: $96,548 per year
Primary duties: A controller is responsible for overseeing how a company controls their finances. They may oversee the accounting and payroll departments and help guide a company's stakeholder in their financial decisions. It's common for controllers to have a bachelor's degree in finance or accounting, as well as a master's in business administration. They often work in accounting for many years before securing a role as an assistant controller.
Read more: Learn About Being a Controller
National average salary: $113,770 per year
Primary duties: A financial planning and analysis manager is responsible for forecasting finances for the business they work for. They look for trends and any anomalies so the strategies they suggest to executives are informed through analysis. The information financial planning and analysis managers provide allows executives to communicate financial details to stakeholders and investors. FP&A managers also produce the company's budget. To become a financial planning and analysis manager typically requires a bachelor's degree and experience working as an analyst and controller.
National average salary: $133,898 per year
Primary duties: A chief financial officer is responsible for all financial activities for a company, including budgeting, planning, pricing negotiations with vendors and regular cash flow. They analyze how well the company is performing financially and develop processes to secure the financial health of the organization. Before becoming a CFO, many individuals earn a bachelor's degree in finance or business administration, and most of those go on to earn a master's in the same field. CFOs typically work as a controller or treasurer before earning the position of chief financial officer.
5 types of corporate finance employers
Consider this list of corporate finance employers when you're searching for a position in the field:
Banks may hire corporate finance roles where the employee helps the organization succeed financially. For example, CFOs may be in charge of the financial part of the business and specific departments that are part of that. Because banks may also offer financial services to customers, they may hire corporate finance roles that have a responsibility to the customers the bank serves.
Those who work in a bank may work more traditional hours during the week, although some roles may require additional working hours for extra projects, like preparing financial reports for a board of directors.
Institutions may include mutual funds, investment companies and any other institution that manages investment dollars for companies or individuals. Some of these corporate finance positions require long working hours, mostly due to the nature of trading assets, stocks, bonds and commodities.
Public accounting firms
Public accounting firms offer their services to members of the public, other businesses, government entities and even nonprofits. These firms provide tax strategies, prepare financial statements and tax documents, help raise capital and provide accounting advice to stakeholders. The corporate finance jobs that are available at public accounting firms include positions in general and corporate accounting, tax preparation and financial planning.
Corporations hire corporate finance roles to help manage investors, develop the financial side of the business and analyze the financial strength of the organization. You may find positions all throughout the organization, as certain departments may dedicate roles to those in finance, as well as the executive offices.
You may even find small businesses that are hiring for corporate finance roles to manage start-up costs and secure new investors for business expansion or security. Those in corporate finance for a small business may work longer hours to help the business continue to succeed and be as financially sound as it needs to grow.
Skills needed for a career in corporate finance
If you're hoping for a career in corporate finance, there are certain skills to be aware of that can guide you in to a successful career path in this industry. Explore ways to develop these skills:
Financial reporting and presentations
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