A corporate finance professional has a plethora of roles and responsibilities to look after. Of course, other than undergoing a professional qualification that gives him knowledge of accounting and taxation rules, he/she must possess the following skill sets –
Key skills for an entry-level role would be:
1) Strong analytical and quantitative skills: Since this is a core finance and numbers related job, it is important to be comfortable with numbers and to possess strong analytical skills to put together various kinds of reports.
2) Knowledge of accounting, financial analysis and reporting, regulations, taxation: Knowledge is the differentiator that can decide who can and who cannot be hired for this role. Someone who already has the requisite knowledge will always be preferred since being a support function, firms prefer not having to train the employee. Having the required qualifications and/or undergoing courses offered by training institutes would help in a big way.
3) Attention to detail and diligence: Ultimately, you will be working with numbers and it is no good if you made a decimal point error in writing down the profits! Every word and number put out has strong implications on the company’s finances and hence accuracy and diligence is key. Accounting and auditing require careful inspection, hence, the finance professional must possess a strong eye to detect errors, omissions, frauds, etc. A keen observer is necessary who understands the financial implications.
4) Problem-solving: You need to demonstrate problem-solving skills if you are vying for a senior role. Moreover, portraying the role of a finance professional is no mean feat as one has to be vigilant at all times.
5) Strong interpersonal skills: You will liaise with a lot of people in this job. They could be people within your own team, other departments, investors, customers, suppliers, bankers etc. To be effective, you need strong interpersonal skills and assertiveness
6) Abreast with the latest knowledge: Knowledge plays an important role, as the finance professional must be aware of the relevant accounting and corporate laws in the particular country. In case of transactions with foreign clients, he has to understand foreign accounting rules and regulations. Also, tax laws keep on updating periodically, hence, the finance professional must keep himself abreast with the latest knowledge.
How to get in:
- A major chunk of Corporate Finance professionals or Finance Managers are Chartered Accountants or MBAs in finance
- Rarely, you also see commerce graduates who have worked their way up the ladder.
- Certifications like the CFA may give you the extra knowledge/edge needed