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 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:
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:
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: