What is corporate finance and what does a corporate finance professional do?

Corporate finance is the managing and overseeing of a firms' financial activities and capital investment decisions. Professionals in this field are involved in a variety of matters, including raising capital, mergers & acquisitions and restructuring initiatives

Corporate finance professionals work as advisors in accountancy firms & professional services companies as well as in investment banks and brokerage firms. In larger or highly acquisitive companies, dedicated internal corporate finance roles are important contributors to strategic growth. In smaller organisations, it is more usual for corporate finance activities to be undertaken as part of the duties of a chief financial officer (CFO) or finance director (FD).

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include:

  • Preparing information on the financial direction of the business
  • Creating reports to assist with strategic financial planning
  • Advising on how to meet targets and create investment capital
  • Providing investment advice, tactics and recommendations
  • Using financial modelling to predict outcomes
  • Generating finance from shares and loans
  • Supporting in targeting and winning business
  • Negotiating and structuring financial deals
  • Ownership of all stages of a transaction and liaising with all parties involved
  • Preparing relevant legal documents and prospectuses
  • Assessing and predicting financial risks and returns
  • Liaising with accountants, lawyers, financial experts and regulatory bodies

Why are they important?

Corporate finance activities are strategically key to an organisation being able to maximise shareholder value. Internally, the role is typically high profile and deals directly with activities that impact the finances and strategy of a company such as mergers, acquisitions, disposals, IPOs (Initial Public Offering), capital raises and lending. As advisors, corporate finance professionals are usually important fee earners for professional service companies and banks

Skills needed for this role

Corporate finance professionals are typically commercial and analytical, sometimes even entrepreneurial, in nature. They require excellent analytical skills and a natural ability to communicate and deliver in highly pressured environments.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

Advanced Financial Management

Career opportunities presented by this role

As advisors, corporate finance professionals are important revenue generators and the relationship skills required by the role mean that practitioners are well placed to move their career forward, potentially to director and partner level

Internal corporate finance roles are closely aligned to the key strategic decisions made by the business. Exposure to senior leadership is high and the skills developed in the role can position professionals for moves into more senior finance roles such as CFO.

Competencies

High level competencies required include:

  • Advisory and consultancy

    A. Gathers and understands financial and non-financial information to develop complete knowledge of the client business and the environment in which it operates.

    B. Provides expert advice that will add value to the business and gain advantage.

    C. Identify and advise on business partnering to develop strategic relationships to create opportunities, improve performance and solve business problems.

    D. Prepare and present business plans and advise on the actions to implement these plans.

  • Data, digital and technology

    A. Identifies strategic options to add value, using data and technology.

    B. Analyses and evaluates data using appropriate technologies and tools.

    C. Applies technologies to visualise data clearly and effectively.

    D. Applies scepticism and ethical judgement to the use of data and data technology.

  • Financial management

    A. Links developments in global trade, markets, business practices and the economic environment to required improvements in the financial and risk management of an organisation.

    B. Advises on business asset valuations, capital projects and investments using appropriate analytical qualitative and quantitative techniques.

    C. Identifies, evaluates and advises on alternative sources of business finance and different ways of raising finance.

    D. Communicates and advises on the impact on financial decision making on current developments in regulation, governance and ethics.

    E. Assesses and advises on appropriate strategies to manage business and organisational performance regarding business and finance risk and effectively communicates the impact.

     

  • Stakeholder relationship management

    A. Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    B. Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholder.

    C. Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

    D. Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.

    E. Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.

  • Strategy and innovation

    A. Applies business acumen and commercial awareness to deliver business objectives.

    B. Recommends a range of suitable strategic options from which to develop sustainable plans and objectives.

    C. Evaluates, justifies and implements suitable strategic options.

    D. Adopts and applies innovative methods to implement strategy and manages change.