Over the past two decades, the consulting landscape has undergone a significant transformation. What was once centered on offering general guidance to corporate leaders has evolved remarkably. Consulting has expanded beyond strategic advice, now encompassing specialized sectors such as IT, HR, operations, and notably, corporate finance consulting.
This specialized field has swiftly emerged as a rapidly growing sector within the broader scope of management consulting. Esteemed management consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain, and BCG have entered this arena, delivering a wide array of high-impact services. Let's delve deeper into this ever-evolving landscape.
What is Corporate Finance Consulting?
Corporate Finance consultants are responsible for creating and implementing strategies to manage budgets and oversee working capital. All of these are directed at maximizing opportunities for a company to increase shareholder value, thus balancing capital funding for the long run. At the highest level, corporate finance consultants work for the CFO of a client organization.
What does a financial consultant do? The work involves a few critical activities:
- Analysis of the current financial status. This helps the leaders of a business take stock of how stable the business is, and if they need to prepare for any impending financial shocks.
- Investment management. If leaders are planning on making significant investment for the growth of the business, corporate finance needs to manage the same.
- Debt management. Debt is a significant factor in the decision-making of many large corporations. Ensuring your clients make optimal use of their debt is very critical.
- Special projects. If a business plans to engage in M&A activity or divest to raise funds, there is a financial component to this decision that financial consultants will assess.
Top Corporate Finance Consulting Firms
As mentioned earlier, many top consulting firms offer dedicated practice areas to corporate finance consulting. Subsequently, there is stiff competition for corporate finance projects between these firms.
The top five corporate finance consulting firms, in no particular order, are:
- Bain and Company
- Alvarez and Marsal
We base this ranking based on the size and prestige of the financial consulting practice areas within these firms.
Corporate Finance Consultant Salary
A corporate finance consultant’s salary is dependent on a variety of factors like seniority, firm salary bands, experience, demand, education, and geography. But assuming similar conditions, the salaries of corporate finance consultants tend to be slightly lower than a strategy consultant of the same rank.
Because corporate finance consulting is a specialized part of consulting, the skill set is different from a generalist strategy consultant. Most analysts come in with a Finance degree, and corporate finance or IB experience is valued highly. While most management consultants focus on the income statement and statement of cash flows, financial consultants spend more time working off the balance sheet (and determining how cash flows will affect that, as opposed to the operations of a business).
How to Get into Financial Consulting
If you’re wondering how to get into financial consulting, the process is generally like the approach for breaking into general management consulting. To start the process, you need to get the attention of the target firm(s). If you’re at a target school, this is easier – attend networking events on campus and apply through your school’s channels. If you’re not at a target school, or already out of school, leverage the networking tactics we outline here.
The importance of networking in such situations cannot be overstated. Consulting firms are human-capital-driven businesses – the people are the secret sauce! Therefore, firms treat networking as a “Round 0” interview – if you haven’t talked to someone at the firm before applying, it is very difficult to be invited for a first-round interview.
Once you have decided to apply, the next step is to craft a one-page resume that demonstrates both your finance skills and your ability to drive impact. Don’t fall into the trap of sharing a list of tasks you’ve completed – nobody cares!
While less important than it has been in the past, some firms may still ask you to write a cover letter. A good cover letter serves as a writing sample (are you concise, clear, and detail-oriented?) and highlights your motivation for applying.
Once you’re invited to interview, expect to go through anywhere from 2-5 rounds of interviews (specifics will depend on the role and the firm). At most firms, the interviews will include finance-focused case studies. Leverage the dozens of practice cases in our Case Library to prepare.
Finally, don’t forget to prepare for the fit (or behavioral) questions you’ll see as well.
For help preparing for either part of the corporate finance consulting interview process – case or fit interviews – work with our expert team of former MBB consultants today.
Nabbing a role in corporate finance consulting is not an easy task, but with the right kind of preparation, you’ll be well on your way to the career of your dreams!