Corporate Finance Career Path | Top 9 Jobs You Must Explore!

Updated on April 11, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM
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What Is Corporate Finance Career Path?

Corporate finance career path are the paths or levels which leads to head of all levels, i.e. chief financial officer who directs and controls all the paths. The various paths are financial planning & analysis which is also known as management accounting which analyses the figures and report or controllership which reports in the books of accounts.

Corporate Finance Career Path

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This ensures accuracy of reports and treasury which is in charge of all cash inflows and outflows. This career path comes with huge responsibility and complexity but has unparalleled levels of importance in the industry. Even though they are quite financially lucrative, it is necessary to have good understanding and skill in order to achieve performance levels.  

Corporate Finance Career Path Explained

Companies need funds to thrive in business; looking into every aspect of funds needed by a company is referred to as Corporate Finance. It can be defined primarily as the optimum utilization of the financial resources of the company. It is that area of finance which deals with the arrangement of funds for various projects at minimum possible cost, so as to maintain the capital structure of the company.

A corporate finance career is generally stable; the work culture is of a lot of responsibility and accountability since it involves raising capital crucial for the growth and expansion of business in the form of acquisitions, managing cash resources, or charting out the company’s future roadmap by managing cash efficiently. Professionals in corporate finance deal with lawyers, researchers, finance providers, and other key professionals who are the driving force behind any organization, hence in career path in corporate finance, there is a lot of learning opportunity available for a corporate finance professional. Good analytical and problem-solving skills, along with commercial awareness, are the key ingredients companies look for in a candidate planning to make a corporate finance career.

Every company, be it a big or a small organization, rely a lot on the knowledge and skill of these professionals, with regards to decision making and positive growth opportunity.

The main skillset required for this in career path in corporate finance is a flair for number crunching and ability to do analysis of the same. Apart for the above it is also necessary to have the interest to go deeper into details and find out information beyond what is easily available so as to have a better understanding of the entire situation or problem. Going an extra mile not only helps in better understanding but also enhances one’s existing knowledge base for future cases.

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List of Top 9 Corporate Finance Career Paths

  1. Financial Analyst
  2. Cost Analyst
  3. Credit Manager
  4. Cash Manager
  5. Benefits Officer
  6. Real Estate Officer
  7. Investor Relations Officer
  8. Treasurer
  9. Controller

This kind of career opportunity is a perfect fit for those who love to remain informed about the financial market in advance through news and media, so that candidates who want to pursue corporate finance analyst career path should be ready to face the challenges at workplace with authentic and updated information. They are highly dedicated individuals who actively participate in the company affairs with the aim to profit maximization and cost reduction.

It is a career option which come with stability and confidence in one’s one ability. The main positive side of this profession is that even though every professional may experience some ups and downs in their career path at any time or levels, corporate finance is an avenue which can handle this very well. This is because it is a requirement of every industry and it is quite unlikely that any artificial methods or procedures will be able to tackle such work efficiently in future since it requires qualitative decision making and sometimes quite subjective approach which comes with personal experiences.

In this article, let us discuss the job details and career opportunities of this category, along with the qualification and skill set that candidates of corporate finance analyst career path require in order to perform their best. Let us discuss each of them in detail –

Corporate Finance Career Paths Video

#1 – Financial Analyst

Role
  • The career of Corporate Finance Financial Analyst can be further classified into capital budgeting, which involves estimation of revenue for the annual budget and monitoring the same from time to time to investigate any deviations.
  • It also involves the assessment of capital proposals and decisions regarding buying or leasing of particular equipment.
  • Financial analysts also differentiate between projects depending upon their profitability.
  • Every decision has one or more options, to evaluate which option will be better for the company, in the long run, is taken by a financial analyst for example, whether it is profitable to manufacture a particular product in house or procure it from some other firm depending upon the comparative cost analysis. (have a look at NPV vs. IRR)
Salaries

The median salary of Financial Analysts is around $56,928 in the United States.

Financial Analyst Salary - Career in Corporate Finance

#2 – Cost Analyst

Role
  • A cost analyst is involved in making decisions regarding the cost of any service or product concerning their pricing.
  • He/ She also has the role of identifying any areas which will be helpful in cost reduction of any particular product or service by completely understanding their cost and helping in taking pricing decisions as well.
  • Job-order costing, activity-based costing are some of the fields, especially in the manufacturing industry, where a cost analyst’s profile is most suitable.
Salary

The median salary of Cost Analyst is around $57,946 in the United States.

Cost Analyst Salary - Corporate Finance

#3 – Credit Manager

Role
  • A credit manager, as the name suggests, is involved in the credit decisions of the company, how much credit is to be given to the suppliers, the rate, credit guidelines, collection of receivables, and their securitization are all decisions taken by a credit manager.
  • This profile requires in-depth financial statement analysis and complete knowledge of the customer profile so as to make strong decisions.
Salary

The median salary of the Credit Manager is around $61,810 in the United States.

Credit Manager Salary - Corporate Finance

#4 – Cash Manager

Role
  • In case of career path for corporate finance, the cash manager manages all the short-term as well as long-term cash requirements of a company.
  • It involves maintaining a healthy relationship with banks for short-term credit needs, safeguarding the company’s interest by having adequate working capital, and investing the surplus cash in such avenues that can give sufficient interest.
  • It also requires managing international fund transfers. Hence it is a meticulous job and requires you to have excellent negotiation skills.
Salary

The median salary of Cash Manager is around $61,984 in the United States.

Cash Manager Salary - Corporate Finance

#5 – Benefits Officer

Role
  • The job of a benefits officer is that of an intersection between finance and human resource.
  • It involves managing pension funds and other health care benefits and plans which are cost-effective and, at the same time, are for the benefit of the employee.
  • Knowledge of organizational behavior, along with human resources and finance, is an added advantage for a candidate planning for this role.
Salary

The median salary of Benefits Officers is around $46,722 in the United States.

Benefits Officer Salary - Corporate Finance

#6 – Real Estate Officer

Role
  • Real estate officer, as the name suggests, has to deal with the real estate issues of a company, be it purchasing a piece of land, negotiating lease terms and conditions with the opposite party, acquiring real estate properties, and evaluating them.
  • It requires thorough commercial knowledge of real estate along with finance.
Salary

The median salary of Real Estate Officer is around $56,344 in the United States.

Real Estate Analyst - Salary Corporate Finance

#7 – Investor Relations Officer

Role
  • The investor relations officer is responsible for maintaining good relations with a company’s investors, be it individual or institutional investors.
  • This job role comes into the ambit of PR and advertising since it involves maintaining good relations with the top executives, replying to institutional investor queries, organizing investor teleconferences, issuing a press release for corporate events, and circulating financial information about the company value for the investing public.
Salary

The median salary of an Investor Relations Officer is around $86,770 in the United States.

Investor Relation Salary - Corporate Finance

#8 – Treasurer

Role

Treasury Management is an all-encompassing function of any company; it gives a holistic view of all the duties and functions performed by the other departments by keeping a check on their activities. A treasurer’s job role involves supervising the treasury department, which is involved in the following processes.

  • Financing involves analyzing the funding needs of a company and arranging for the requisite capital either through the bank for short-term funding internal or external sources that involve equity, debt, bonds, commercial papers, etc.
  • Cash Management involves sorting out the company’s working capital requirement or daily cash needs by negotiating with the banks for favorable credit terms and keeping enough cash for it along with parking the surplus cash in short-term investment options.
  • Risk Management involves managing the risk of each and every aspect of running a company, be it through investing in insurance policies or currency hedges for the company’s assets or safeguarding the company’s foreign currency and commodity exposure by regularly checking it.
  • Pensions Management involves managing a company’s pension fund pool, investing the funds in the right avenues, managing a particular employee’s payment schedule after duly considering the pension payment periodicity. It basically involves making decisions regarding every aspect of smooth pension fund investment and disbursement.
Salary

The median salary of Treasurer is around $87,435 in the United States.

Treasurer Salary - Corporate Finance

#9 – Controller

Role
  • This is a managerial position that involves duties pertaining to financial planning, accounting, reporting, and cost analysis.
  • It also requires financial re-engineering and transfers pricing knowledge along with developing forecasting models for the projection of revenues and costs.
  • The work arena involves property, revenue, benefits, derivatives, lease, and joint venture accounting of a company.
  • The controller is an experienced professional who is called upon to sort out complex costing issues and even be the company’s representative in front of the auditors.
Salary

The median salary of the Controller is around $76,344 in the United States.

Financial Controller Salary - Corporate Finance

Example

Let us take the case of John who started his career as an accountant after completing his bachelor’s degree in commerce. But then he realised that along with number crunching skills, he has a lot of interest in the fields of investment or banking or financial products. He also enjoys studing the financial performance of companies in different sectors using historical data related to financial statements and quite often ends up making a good prediction for short to medium term related to their growth opportunity and stock prices. Thus, his journey started towards a career path for corporate finance.

He took this hint and enrolled into the MBA course in finance and then went on to complete earn a certification as CFA. This opened many avenues for him with regard to job opportunities in the financial market and finally within a short period of time, he ended up with the post of a financial controller in a reputed company. Thus, we see that it is important for individuals to recognize their true skills and interests in order to select a career path. Along with that comes perseverance to achieve the best.

Organization Structure

Let’s understand in detail the areas of career path for corporate finance where you can fit into the structure of corporate finance in an organization. Like any other industry, the corporate ladder has entry, mid and senior-level positions.

Entry Level

  • At the entry-level, a bachelor’s degree in finance or economics is needed.
  • Practical knowledge of MS office, along with good communication and analytical skills, will give you an edge amongst other candidates.
  • The entry-level positions generally include Financial Analyst, Cost Analyst, Business Analyst, Support Analyst, and reporting.

Mid-Level 

  • A mid-level professional can be employed in the capacity of a Cash Manager, Strategic Planner, Sr. Financial Analyst, Budgeting, and M&A professionals.
  • Hence a degree in Masters in Business Administration or a Chartered Accountant has sought after.
  • If you have good analytical skills, the ability to pay attention to detail and make quick and informed decisions when needed, then you stand a fair chance at a mid-level position in corporate finance.

Senior Level 

  • As and when you grow in the organization, with further experience, you will be exposed to more challenging situations, which would help in developing strong management skills and a solid understanding of macroeconomic factors accompanied by persuasive communication skills along with excellent leadership skills where you won’t waver in taking bold financial decisions involving large sums of money.
  • Such capabilities represent the senior-level managers who are at the top of the hierarchy in corporate finance; the positions include the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Treasurer, Controller, Special Project, and Business Development Managers.

Skillset

The corporate finance setup requires an individual to have an analytical mind with the ability to think on his toes and make decisions based on careful analysis and research. The skillset needed for a corporate finance career include the following:

  • Problem-solving ability
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills and persuasion ability
  • Interpersonal and Intrapersonal skills
  • Team cohesion and management
  • Commercial Awareness
  • Research-based thinking
  • Understands what is Financial modeling
  • Networking ability
  • Comfortable with ambiguities and constantly changing scenarios

Do you like taking challenges head-on? Then a career in corporate finance is the place for you. Studies conducted by Robert Half and Arthur Anderson suggest that there is a steady demand for finance professionals across the world. CEOs across the world were polled by CFO magazine regarding the qualities they seek in finance professionals, and they unanimously stated that “Strategic thinking, fresh perspective, and candor” are the most sought after qualities accompanied by excellent interpersonal and communication skills because it is a team effort after all.

The professional field of corporate finance has a very high growth potential in the coming years with a huge expansion in job creation opportunities. Various new specialities and methods of handling financial problems are discovered every day to keep up with the ever changing financial landscape. However, it is important to work with complete dedication and interest and use them in an ethical manner so as to achieve success.

Corporate finance professionals don’t have any targets to pursue like their marketing counterparts, but their job is a lot more exciting and challenging because the employees have to make decisions regarding the long term benefit of the organization rather than achieving short-term goals. Undoubtedly, corporate finance careers jobs are the most sought after and desired in the entire financial industry worldwide.

This has been a guide to what is Corporate Finance Career Path. We explain it with a list of 9 options with example, organizational structure & skillset. You may also learn more about Corporate Finance from the below articles –

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Dhirajkumar bhujel says

    Thank you for providing such information, which is useful to me.

  2. Gerado Gerrix says

    I got to know the exact things about Corporate finance career. Thanks for sharing such a helpful blog. I want to advance my career in project finance. But actually I don’t have much knowledge regarding this field. I want to know what skills are required and what companies look for.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      My pleasure Gerado! Nice to hear that you are interested in project finance career. Project finance jobs are very interesting especially to those who enjoy travelling, advising the client for the financial decisions, analysing and projecting the financial statements. I have an article in which I have provided the brief details about the project finance jobs.

  3. John Smith says

    Thank you so much for providing such a useful knowledge. Brilliantly explained. Are there any fundamental principles in corporate finance?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks for your note John! Yes there are three fundamental principles of Corporate finance and they are
      1. Investment Principle – This principle revolves around the simple concept that businesses have resources that need to be allocated in the most efficient way.
      2. Financing Principle – here corporate financer must make sure that the business has right amount of capital and the right mix of Debt, equity and other financial instruments.
      3. Dividend Principle – Here the company needs to determine the ways of rewarding the owners with it.