Corporate finance jobs aren’t just about crunching numbers all day in a hidden corner of a corporation’s financial department. A variety of employment opportunities are available within the corporate finance function, including the following:
Entry-level positions: The entry-level positions in corporate finance are typically the same as the ones you see in accounting:
Payroll: The people who make sure you (and the rest of your company) get paid
Accounts receivables: The people who process incoming payments and money owed
Accounts payables: The people who process outgoing payments and money owed to others
Bookkeeping clerks and other forms of paperwork processing: People who work on data entry; think Charles Dickens’ character Bob Cratchit from A Christmas Carol
Analysts: These people get to do a whole lot of research and analysis to derive useful information from data or otherwise yet unstudied scenarios. Normally, analysts receive budget information or corporate financial information and are told to do the calculations necessary to make recommendations.
Often these projects are fairly broad, and analysts have to model new forms of calculations, assess market trends, and make other similar efforts that require a degree of creativity and innovation.
Auditors: Auditors are kind of like the spell-checkers for corporate finance. They go back and check the work of all the other financial professionals, making sure everything is accurate, correct, and done properly. They’re also usually the ones who discover cases of fraud or embezzlement. A special type of auditing, wherein auditors do their calculations for the purpose of presenting them in court, is called forensic accounting.
Adjusters: Adjusters are people who work for insurance companies and analyze your insurance claim to determine how much the insurance company will pay for damages and whether your claim is fraudulent or real. Any claim large enough for a corporation to file is guaranteed to attract an adjustor inspection.
Executives and managers: These people who make the final decisions based on the recommendations that all the other financial professionals make. In other words, these people take recommendations from analysts and then either follow the recommendation or do something else completely.
Although corporations frequently try to keep someone from each department in executive positions (in the case of corporate finance, the Chief Financial Officer, or CFO, is supposed to be a financial professional in executive management), that isn’t always the case.
Traders: The term trader refers to anyone who makes a living by buying and selling investments with great frequency. Unlike investors, who purchase investments with the intention of holding onto them for an extended period of time with the expectation that they’ll rise in value, traders hold onto investments just long enough for them to rise in value a little bit and then sell them at a profit.
Really, any schmuck can try to be a trader; some will succeed and others will fail. The only requirement is that you have some starting capital (in other words, money).
Treasurers: These people are in charge of managing financial assets. In other words, they’re responsible for keeping track of cash management, foreign exchange, pension management, and capital structure. Often treasurers are also in charge of risk management, although this responsibility is sometimes given a separate position, depending on the company.
Misc. related positions: Every corporation has a number of positions that are strongly related to finance but different enough to warrant their own categorization.
Economics, for instance, is far broader than finance. In fact, finance is only one subdiscipline of economics. Economists, as a result, do similar work to financial analysts but on a much broader scale that encompass more than money-related items. Accountants also have a heavy overlap in finance, but while accountants are generally more responsible for recording and reporting, financiers deal more greatly in analysis and planning.