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Corporate Finance

An Overview of Corporate Finance, Including Job Functions, Positions and Salaries

What Is Corporate Finance?

Corporate Finance Definition: Corporate finance is the division of a large company that manages its audit and financial statements, budgeting and planning, cash flow and cash, capital structure, risk, and tax, and makes key decisions in all these areas.

The purpose of corporate finance is to report on a company’s business accurately on the financial statements and to external parties, and to plan and facilitate future growth.

The three main divisions within corporate finance are Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A)Controllership, and Treasury, and each one manages a different aspect of the company’s finances.

When most people think of corporate finance, they think of FP&A roles, where your job is to plan the company’s budgets, compare expected and actual performance, and so on.

But that’s just one small part of this field; Controllership (accounting and the financial statements), Treasury (cash and cash flow needs, including external financing), and even areas like Internal Audit, Pricing, Risk, and Tax also play big roles.

Corporate Finance Jobs & Hierarchy

Corporate finance may not be as “prestigious” as investment banking, and it doesn’t give you as many exit opportunities…

However, it does offer a stimulating career path where you can still make hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even millions in annual salary and bonuses if you’re at the right company in the right role.

Most corporate finance departments at large companies are similar, with the King (or Queen) of the castle being the Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Reporting to the CFO, you find the following roles: 

  • The Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) Manager: Heads the management accounting department and is in charge of reporting on and forecasting the P&L.
  • The Controller: Heads the financial accounting department and is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the balance sheet for reporting, investor relations and audit purposes.
  • The Treasurer: Heads up the treasury department, and deals with everything related to cash and cash flow.

Corporate Finance


Corporate Finance Salaries

Compensation varies widely depending on the size of the company and the size of the P&L, but here’s what you might expect at each level:

FP&A Salaries

  • Entry-Level Analyst: $70K USD base salary
  • Senior FP&A Analyst: $100-130K USD base salary, plus up to 10% bonus
  • FP&A Manager: $200K USD for a smaller P&L (e.g., the German division of a global company)
  • Global FP&A Manager: up to a 7-figure salary in a large organization

Controller Salaries

  • Entry-Level Controller: $40-50K USD for an entry level position on the “traditional” accounting side
  • More senior Controller roles will earn equivalent to FP&A salaries above

Treasury Salaries

  • Entry-Level Analyst: $70K-$90K USD base salary
  • Senior Analyst: $100-170K USD, with a 15% bonus
  • Treasurer: $200K USD at the low end, up to $4MM USD for the most prestigious global roles

Corporate Finance Courses

Corporate finance is a “relatively competitive” field to get into.

“Relatively competitive” means that it’s easier than investment banking or equity research (for example), but also harder than most non-finance roles at large companies.

You don’t need an Ivy League degree or perfect grades to win offers – just a good knowledge of accounting, the financial statements, and key tools such as Excel.

And you don’t necessarily need to prepare for case studies or modeling tests or anything like that because interviews for corporate finance roles tend to be a bit more qualitative.

Our courses on Breaking Into Wall Street (BIWS) are not geared toward corporate finance, but there is some overlap because they teach many skills that are useful in all finance roles.

We recommend the following courses and packages if you’re interested in this field:

  • Excel & VBA – Get up to speed quickly on the most important shortcuts, commands, and formulas
  • Core Financial Modeling – Provides an overview of financial modeling in different industries via the 10+ global case studies
  • PowerPoint Pro – Learn how to make slides and presentations with the key shortcuts and our custom macro package
  • BIWS Premium – Learn Excel & VBA, financial modeling, and PowerPoint to accelerate your on-the-job performance
Excel & VBA (BIWS)
PowerPoint Pro (BIWS)
Core Financial Modeling (BIWS)
BIWS Premium