Corporate finance associate

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John Cooper is a corporate finance associate at a company that gives investment advice to other businesses. Based in the Edinburgh office, his job is to help companies improve their profits.

How would you outline your role as a corporate finance associate?

As an associate, I provide support to teams of directors and assistant directors in the organisation. I help companies looking to merge, acquire or dispose of a business, supporting them through the whole process. This may include the identification of potential targets, valuation, financial modelling and transaction decisions. During live transactions, I coordinate the different experts involved and oversee the structure of deals and negotiations. I also get involved in marketing our services to potential clients and maintaining relationships with existing ones.

Does your organisation actually invest money in companies?

No, we don't invest money ourselves. British Linen is different to traditional investment banks in that sense.We approach companies that want to invest and present our clients case in the best way; we will then do all the negotiating and complete the deal for them.

How do you determine a wise investment?

When working on acquiring a company, for instance, we will value the target company using a number of accounting techniques.We need to be sure the company is worth the price being asked and I assess how the acquisition will be funded. Sellers are obviously looking for the best price, and my clients need to feel confident that the investment will lead to good returns. Using financial models, we can work out how the business will perform over the course of the investment and what profits it will make.

What is your working environment like?

The team is relatively small, but it means I get involved in all aspects of the business, which is more stimulating. It can be very fast paced and priorities can alter quite quickly, so you do need a lot of stamina. The majority of our transactions are UK based, so travel is usually limited.

Who do you work with?

I usually work with the most senior executives in the client company.When a deal gets to a crucial stage, we will involve other advisers, such as lawyers and accountants.

What personal skills and qualities are important to a corporate finance associate?

You must feel confident dealing with clients. You need to be comfortable giving presentations and commercial and financial knowledge is also important. You will be expected to originate ideas, for instance why a particular business would make a good acquisition target for another company. You also need a knowledge of profit and loss accounts, balance sheets and cash flows.

What persuaded you to move into corporate finance?

I've always been interested in investment banking, and I knew it was well paid. Mergers and acquisitions can be very satisfying, and I enjoy having the opportunity to generate my own ideas for potential projects. I also like the exposure this job gives you to senior managers and the fact that clients value your opinions.

John's route to his career as a corporate finance associate

  • Degree in Geography.
  • Qualified as a chartered accountant.
  • Accounting and auditing experience with previous employer.
  • Securities & Investment Institute examinations.
  • Became an associate.

John's corporate finance tips

  • Prepare yourself to work hard and learn a lot in a short space of time, and you should be well rewarded.

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Salary of a corporate finance associate

  • Salaries vary depending on experience and the employer.
  • For junior banking graduates, salaries range from £33,000 to £36,000, with possibly a 10 to 40 per cent bonus.
  • Rises are usually awarded annually and a senior executive may earn £120,000 or more.

Becoming a corporate finance associate

  • Most investment bankers are recruited straight from university or college, with first class or 2:1 degrees – particularly in accountancy or economics. Increasingly, entrants also have postgraduate qualifications such as a Masters or Masters in Business Administration.
  • For non-graduates, employment options are mainly in administration. Some banks may offer training programmes for students with good A levels/H grades. Many train as chartered accountants and then move across to investment banking.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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