Compensation Structure at the mid-management level in Corporate Development / Strategy / Finance

Curious how comp structure looks in Corp Dev / Strat / Fin as you progress through the ranks. I know it can vary a lot by industry/company at the senior levels (VP, SVP, EVP), but I wonder if it is more or less the same at lower levels. Would be great to get some insight from more experienced folks here. My current understanding laid out below:

Analyst / Associate level: Salary + Bonus + RSUs, where bonus is based on firm and individual performance.
Manager / Sr. Manager level: I believe structure is similar to Analyst/Associate. This is purely based on interviewing candidates at this stage who are looking to join my team. Would love more experienced folks to chime in on this.
Director / Sr. Director level: I believe this is the level where the comp structure can start to look a bit different and can vary widely across industries / companies, but I don't have any empirical evidence (as I'm not there yet).

Any insight would be greatly appreciated, thanks!


So i would say my path was atypical. I spent a little over three years in FP&A and then jumped to a tier 2 consulting role doing transaction-related work (think TAS/Merger Integration). Spent about two years there and decided it was great experience but wasn't for me and left for my current role.

Current firm is a good place to work with a lot of growth potential, so plan on sticking here for the forseeable future.


Thanks for the reply! Where about in the F500 are you? was the consulting work pivotal to getting the manager role you have now? as in, did that help you skip ahead a few years, or would you have been just as well off (been able to land the same role) if you stayed in FP&A?

I'm trying to get an idea of what experiences I should get next, with a goal of being an FP&A manager 2-4 years after finishing my FLDP. I've done program finance and FP&A in my rotation program. Really enjoyed FP&A, hated program finance (basically all cost accounting.. dull, life-sucking work)


So I would not say consulting was “pivotal” in getting my current role. I think there is a general misconception that consulting always gives you a major leg up for corporate roles and I don’t think that is necessarily the case. Two challenges I ran into coming from consulting were answering the questions: 1) Why do you want to move back to FP&A? and 2) How does your consulting experience apply to this role, specifically? Ideally they were looking for someone with 7+ years of tech FP&A experience as well as some unique domain experience relevant for the position. So the fact that I had 3 years of FP&A and two years of consulting didn’t necessarily make me an ideal candidate.

However, I would say that the consulting experience was a differentiating factor and since I had good answers to both of the above questions it was definitely a net positive for me. Additionally, one of the hiring committee members was an ex IB/Consultant and he knew my practice well and thought highly of it. However if I had just had five years of tech FP&A I think I would have had the same shot at getting the role.

To your question on where are we in the F500, i’ll just say we are not in the F50 and leave it at that. But we are a very good size company.

I think the main decision you have is do you want to stay in Defense? If so, then I think sticking where you are at and building relationships is a good strategy. But FLDPs are generally well regarded and you could probably get hired at a tech company or other industry company if you were interested in doing that.

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As with so many things, the answer here is: it depends. Compensation within corporate structures varies a lot more widely than you might imagine. The exact same role at two similarly-sized companies in the same city might see markedly different comp packages. That's doubly true for corporate development.

While most companies will use some third-party service to sanity check their compensation levels, those salary surveys are pretty worthless in corporate development. The reason is simple: there are too many variables to make a ceteris paribus comparison. Even the title 'director' means different things at different companies. That's even more true for the 'manager' title. Some firms (especially high-growth tech companies) massively inflate the titles of their employees, so 'managers' in corporate development at a lot of pre-IPO firms may only have 2-3 years total experience.

A 'director' at any firm should be the equivalent of a principal at a PE fund. You need to be able to source, analyze and run your own deals from inception to close. That means you are a known entity within your sector. Bankers, consultants, lawyers, accountants, etc have worked with you several times before. You know what to pay them for their services for deals of various sizes. You know how to negotiate term sheets, SPAs, APAs, etc. You know what your investment committee is likely to accept, and you know how to convince your board of directors/C-suite that what you think is worth pursuing on the terms you (largely) negotiated.

In the United States, this should be a person with about 10-15 years of experience. The 'Sr. Director' title is bullshit. It's used in some very large corporate development teams, but there is almost no difference in responsibilities between the roles. For a handful of very large companies, they split corporate development into separate functions (sourcing/scouting, execution, and post-merger integration). You might have s 'senior director' head one of those functions, but a 'director' may do so instead. Or your firm may do full life-cycle deals, and want someone who can oversee the whole process. This is much more typical at Fortune 51-500 firms than in the Fortune 50.

I explain all this so you understand that roles and responsibilities in corporate development at large corporations can vary widely. Some firms use the term 'corporate development' to specifically mean M&A. Some mean a combination of M&A and strategy. And some even include certain aspects of business development (like large partnerships & alliances) or venture investing in their 'corp dev' teams. The scope of the role matters a great deal in determining compensation. Location matters a great deal. The structure of the team matters a great deal. And the preexisting compensation structure for other corporate officers at the same level also matters A GREAT DEAL.

A lot of firms that don't have large corporate development teams or perhaps have 1-2 people running deals for them (companies in the $1B-$5B enterprise value range who don't do a lot of M&A) may simply have their existing staff on some bullshit HR-crafted comp structure that the firm uses for all executives within certain pay bands. It's the responsibility of the Head of Corporate Development to make sure his people are paid outside the normal pay structure the company uses for other types of jobs within the firm or you'll never attract good people.

Given all that, a 'director' can make between $170k-$250k base + 20%-50% cash bonus + 30k-50k RSUs. I've seen higher cash bonus structures and higher stock grants, but these are the figures you more typically see. VPs can expect $200k-$300k base + 20-50% cash bonus + 50k-100k RSUs. And the Head of Corp Dev at a Fortune 100 company can make a great deal more than that.

As I said, the numbers are highly variable and noticeably higher in the US than in the UK or the rest of Europe. Just another reason among many to not work in Europe if you have other options.


One other key thing I'd like to add to explain why the numbers become a lot more variable at higher levels within corp dev:

While companies might hire a few analysts every year and an associate or two every couple of years, they're not hiring that many directors or VPs within corporate development. A company might go years between hiring a new director. And they may have been an internal promote the last time. Or the firm may not have revised its comp structure in a long time. Or they might never have hired a director in corp dev. I interviewed for a director position at a fast-growing tech firm a few years ago, and they had absolutely no idea what the comp package should look like. The recruiter admitted that she had never recruited for a corp dev role before, and that it was a new function for the firm. Basically, they were guessing, and they were wildly off-market.

As a rule, corporate recruiters aren't especially bright, but when it comes to corp dev roles, they're completely fucking useless. Unfortunately, it's a bit self-serving to allow corp dev set their own compensation plans, so HR gets involved and cocks-up the whole system. This same nonsense occurs at endowments attached to hospitals and universities for a similar reason. HR doesn't know what to do with one-off or rare positions.

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