10/10/15

AMA - I work in corporate development at a professional services company (Fortune 500) in NYC. My career path to corp dev is non-traditional and didn't involve IB but may be of some help to a couple people.

My summary background:
- graduated from a liberal arts college in 2006
- took a back office job in financial services
- left that company and took a new job in operations consulting at a major BB
- while at the BB, moved into a new role that focused on M&A integration
- left the BB to attend a top 25 MBA with the goal of getting into finance
- interned at and accepted a full time offer to work in corp dev at my current employer

Feel free to ask questions about going from a non-traditional background into finance, business school, corporate development, etc.

Comments (30)

10/5/15

Thanks for doing this.

  • How many of your coworkers have an ex-IB background?
  • For those who are ex-IB, when did they come over (analyst, associate, VP)?
  • Any idea how progression works in your group, and what comp/hours are like as you move up?
Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Best Response
10/5/15

Happy to help.

My group is relatively small (<15 people) and only two have IB backgrounds. Both transitioned over after getting their MBA. Most of our analysts come from Big 4 finance (accounting, valuation, etc.). The MDs are ex-IB but made that switch over 10 years ago.

Career progression is much different in corp dev than other job functions and may vary significantly between different companies.
- Some firms may have a clear career path (two years as associate, three years as manager) but that relies on turnover (either people going into the business or leaving the firm)
- Other firms take a longer view, hiring people into the group with the expectation that they stay in the "same role" for a few years until they become experts and become a MD within the group or going into the business
- Some corp dev people have become CFOs, COOs, Corporate Strategy leaders, and other roles but it all depends on the firm's culture and how they view corp dev

I'm not sure what the comp is at each level but the hours are dependent on whether or not you have a live deal. Generally 50 - 60 hours per week and going up to 70-80 during a live deal. Corp dev is also changing at many of the firms I know of, expanding to include elements of strategy and analysis. I don't know how this will affect hours and comp but it's a trend I'm seeing.

10/5/15

Hi thanks for taking the time, I've got a few questions if you dont mind as id like to benchmark against my current role.

Do you mind providing what your base salary is? Also any expected year end bonus or signing bonus you received? I assume you are manager level.

Are the <15 people in your group all m&a corp dev guys? Do you have a separate corp strat team? If so how do you guys interact?

How many deals do you close per year? Do you work on a lot of live ones at a given time?

Thanks!!

10/5/15

I'm an associate in my group which is roughly structured as:
- analyst
- senior analyst
- associate
- senior associate
- manager
- director
- managing director

Not every role is filled and there's definitely role creep (i.e., associates managing analysts) so take anything I say on "role" with a grain of salt. Experience is a much better indicator of seniority.

My base comp is $110K with an annual bonus range of 20% - 30%. I'd appreciate any feedback you can offer on how that stacks up against your team because I think my group is on the lower end of the range.

We do have a separate corporate strategy group but we are beginning to work more closely with them on a regular basis. We keep a tight hold on conducting valuation and managing seller discussions but may brainstorm / test new ideas with strategy on a regular basis.

Deal flow is unpredictable so I can't say I typically have X number of live deals per month. In the past year, it's ranged from about a month of no live deals (only doing sourcing, analysis, strategy) versus a month with two to three live deals. The number of deals we close is even more variable but we tend to range from 15 - 30 per year.

10/5/15

Thanks for your response!
I'm at 100 base in post mba manager role at a large publicly traded fintech firm in low COL city. No idea about bonus but assume it's negligible. Pay here definitely is below market but I took this role over higher (total) paying banking offers in major cities since the role seemed more interesting.

Our corp dev & strat teams work together and report to the same MD. Corp dev and strat have around 5 people each. Seems like you are way more active though as we only close a handful of deals per year.

10/5/15
mooresrp:

I'm an associate in my group which is roughly structured as:- analyst- senior analyst- associate- senior associate- manager- director- managing director

Not every role is filled and there's definitely role creep (i.e., associates managing analysts) so take anything I say on "role" with a grain of salt. Experience is a much better indicator of seniority.

My base comp is $110K with an annual bonus range of 20% - 30%. I'd appreciate any feedback you can offer on how that stacks up against your team because I think my group is on the lower end of the range.

We do have a separate corporate strategy group but we are beginning to work more closely with them on a regular basis. We keep a tight hold on conducting valuation and managing seller discussions but may brainstorm / test new ideas with strategy on a regular basis.

Deal flow is unpredictable so I can't say I typically have X number of live deals per month. In the past year, it's ranged from about a month of no live deals (only doing sourcing, analysis, strategy) versus a month with two to three live deals. The number of deals we close is even more variable but we tend to range from 15 - 30 per year.

To add to this, generally salary can be all over the place for CD. I believe there was someone in this forum who just accepted a sr analyst role for $150K + 25% bonus (I believe he was pre-MBA).

10/5/15

@BankerC159, thanks for the info. Give me that guy's comp package.

10/7/15
mooresrp:

@BankerC159, thanks for the info. Give me that guy's comp package.

I agree, its difficult to benchmark Corp Dev salaries is my point. But I think ~ $100K appears to be the norm.

10/7/15

Yep. One of my best friends just left banking and his base is 100k at a F500 in a pretty high COL area. All in he's making about the same or just a little bit less than banking analysts.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

10/5/15

@mooresrp" thanks for the AMA. Some quick questions:

1.) Do you see opportunities for professionals who are in Business Development roles? My current role is with an O&G company and primarily focused on Sales. I have been involved with divisional-level initiatives focused on alignment with the overall corporate strategy along with M&A deal sourcing and analysis. I would assume this is good experience and relates to Corp Dev?

2.) Is an MBA a must have for entry-level Corp Dev (coming in as an analyst and not necessarily as a manager or Director)? Do certain industries prefer top MBA programs versus those with strong regional ties (Harvard vs Rice for O&G in Houston)?

3.) Are your plans to stay within the confines of Corp Dev or are there opportunities to move into VP of Operations, VP of Sales, etc?

Thank You for your time...

10/5/15

Hey @RedRage

1) I haven't met anyone at my company or another corp dev group that came from business development. We often engage business development to help us find potential targets but the process for assessing, negotiating, and acquiring a firm is much different. You may be able to make the switch within O&G because of your industry knowledge but I haven't seen it on my end yet.

2) If you want to enter as an analyst I don't think you need a MBA. MBA is typically for associate / manager level or above, or so I've seen. Most of the analysts we've hired are either ex-IB or from the Big 4 (accounting, valuation, etc.). We aim for that group because of the familiarity with financial modeling and experience with managing the deal process.

A MBA can definitely help your career but I'd advise that you do a lot of homework on how exactly it'll help your career. I've seen a lot of people spend a lot of money to get a degree that doesn't actually help them the way they thought and it could've been avoided with a couple conversations.

3) I'm not sure about my long-term plans yet. I like working in corp dev because you really "own" the results of your deals and can actually add value to the business. I'd like to think that translates into a MD position someday but there are a limited number of spots within a corp dev group and unless the group expands (which is tough because corp dev is classified as a corporate cost and not revenue producing) you have to wait until someone leaves. I think most corp dev people stay within the function but change companies or if they leave corp dev, they go to Finance or Operations.

10/5/15

Hi,

I'm currently in audit and corporate dev is a potential goal of mine. You mentioned that the people at your firm are a lot of ex-Big 4 types. Were most of them in advisory/valuations or are there people from audit as well?

Also, is your firm unique in that they're willing to look at people who don't have an IB/MBB background, or do you think it's possible that moving from Big 4 to Corp Dev may not be as hard of a path as people here make it out to be?

10/5/15

Hi @Lester Freamon

Their background is in advisory and valuations. No one from audit that I know of.

I think it's possible to go from Big 4 to corp dev but I'll echo my comments about it likely being easier to make the change at the analyst / early associate level. It can be done at the manager level but it's a tougher sell given potential comp gaps and limited open spots. It's more about the exposure to the transaction process and modeling than not at the analyst level.

10/5/15

Nice - I have a very similar background (from back office) sans the MBA.

Thanks for sharing.

10/5/15

thanks for taking the time to do this!

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

10/5/15

Thanks for doing this.
How was the interview like? Were there a lot of technicals given your background?
Also, do you mainly work from the office or is there a lot of travelling?

10/5/15

Hey @mongonese

Interview was very similar to the MBA associate banking process. You need to nail the technicals and qualitative questions cold. The big difference between corp dev and banking is that corp dev is more company focused than banking. For example, someone interviewing for a spot in a FIG group will need to know about the valuation process, net interest income, and other industry specific things. Corp dev is similar expect you're interviewing at one company so you need to know its strategic vision, recent events, past acquisitions, etc.

My travel is low, maybe 10% of the time, but that comes in waves and is generally limited to sourcing or diligence. There's some flexibility to work remote around holidays but it's not encouraged. I've found corp dev tends to have more direct interactions with execs so you're expected to be on-site and available when they call.

10/5/15

What percentage of the work is valuation/due diligence (i.e. quantitative) vs. integration planning & execution?

Appreciate the wealth of knowledge you're sharing here.

10/5/15

Hey @the_stig

Happy to help.

It's tough for me to give an exact number because the amount of valuation vs. DD (or other activities) depends on the deal flow. You'll do a lot more valuation if the team is in "sourcing mode" since you're reviewing more companies. I think you'll find that DD and integration planning only happen when the deal has a high probability of signing because of the resources needed to complete that work. Those two activities often happen simultaneously because the things you find in diligence affect the way you integrate the business.

Corp dev may or may not be involved in the detailed integration planning and execution. Some firms have a dedicated integration team or delegate to the business.

To clarify, integration is a very different game than corp dev. I've done both in my career and think that integration is more closely aligned to project management than not. It takes a very specialize skill set in order to do it well and someone who can deliver consistent integration results is worth their salary, but they won't make as much as corp dev. They will have a better work-life balance but everything in life has a trade-off.

10/7/15
mooresrp:

Hey @the_stig

Happy to help.

It's tough for me to give an exact number because the amount of valuation vs. DD (or other activities) depends on the deal flow. You'll do a lot more valuation if the team is in "sourcing mode" since you're reviewing more companies. I think you'll find that DD and integration planning only happen when the deal has a high probability of signing because of the resources needed to complete that work. Those two activities often happen simultaneously because the things you find in diligence affect the way you integrate the business.

Corp dev may or may not be involved in the detailed integration planning and execution. Some firms have a dedicated integration team or delegate to the business.

To clarify, integration is a very different game than corp dev. I've done both in my career and think that integration is more closely aligned to project management than not. It takes a very specialize skill set in order to do it well and someone who can deliver consistent integration results is worth their salary, but they won't make as much as corp dev. They will have a better work-life balance but everything in life has a trade-off.

So an integration role is essentially project management? Could you elaborate on the specific skill set you refer to and the work-life differences from corp dev?

Again, much appreciated!

10/7/15

Broadly speaking, integration focuses on project management and requires an understanding of the business' operations whereas corp dev is transaction-based. They both require strong organizational skills, a certain amount of project management, but the differences become clearer after that. Corp dev sources deals, evaluates them alongside the business, values the target, helps with negotiations, and runs diligence. Integration teams will develop a plan to bring the target in-house, work with business teams to achieve that plan, and complete the scope of work within a budget. Their work may result in certain cost savings (or spends) but they aren't coming up with the strategy or targets, they deliver the work the business and corp dev establish.

Hope this helps. Feel free to DM me with any additional questions or if you want more detail about integration.

10/5/15

What are your hours like?

10/5/15

Hi @tommyclarke73"

Take a look at my first response to tds2006. I discuss hours and unpredictability a bit there. Let me know if you're looking for something else.

10/6/15

Hi Mooresrp, I work in the BO and am going to be applying to schools (for an MBA) this fall. How receptive were the schools to your work experience? Any advice on school selection (assuming a 730+ GMAT)? I would like to pursue investment banking. Thanks for taking questions.

10/6/15

Hi @FutureMBA27

My advice on b schools will depend on if you are applying full-time or part-time. Happy to discuss this in more detail over DM but if your GMAT is that high I'd strongly recommend going for a Top 25 that has a solid reputation and finance network. If you get into a top full-time program, potential employers will view that as the school "vouching" for your skills and employability.

I can't speak much about part-time programs but I can tell you that when we took first year students on job treks, more than one employer told us not to bring any part-time students because the internship / recruiting process is very structured and not conducive to someone who already has a job. I know it sounds unfair but it's the truth.

That being said, once you're in the program, whether or not you get a job is about how much you hustle. Tons of people walk into a MBA program thinking "If I got into this program, employers should be lining up to me give me a job". Trust me, this is a path to failure. Get into the best program you can, practice your interview questions (technical and qualitative), and dedicate time to networking. Each of these three things are crucial and missing even one can derail your chances of getting into IB or any other job for that matter. Plenty of students think if they practice their interview questions and skip networking that they'll get the job. The risk you take with this approach is an interviewer's first question being "So why haven't you spoken to anyone in the IB group about working at our firm?". I can't think of anyone who successfully came back from that.

There is a lot more to this subject than I can write here but this should help start your evaluation process. The MBA is a great degree if you get it for the right reasons, but it's not a silver bullet.

10/8/15

~$100k seems low for someone with 3-5+ years of experience especially coming from banking/consulting + MBA. I'm in a in a high COL city...probably the highest in the country and I've seen $120k-$150k all in for someone coming in as a senior analyst right out of banking. Even some of the FP&A guys at the unicorn companies are right around $110-$120, with FP&A managers making $130-$160+ all in (base/stock/bonus). Seems to be all over the place across different industries.

10/8/15

Thanks, this is helpful feedback and adds to the info I've gotten talking with other people. Comp is definitely all over the place, but I think the ranges you mention are in line with what a F500 should be offering.

10/8/15
OMS:

~$100k seems low for someone with 3-5+ years of experience especially coming from banking/consulting + MBA. I'm in a in a high COL city...probably the highest in the country and I've seen $120k-$150k all in for someone coming in as a senior analyst right out of banking. Even some of the FP&A guys at the unicorn companies are right around $110-$120, with FP&A managers making $130-$160+ all in (base/stock/bonus). Seems to be all over the place across different industries.

I threw out a similar compensation and got monkey poo thrown at me!

10/9/15

1-Click to Unlock All Comments - 100% FREE

Why do I need to be signed in?
WSO is a knowledge-sharing community that depends on everyone being able to pitch in when they know something.
+ Bonus: 6 Free Financial Modeling Lessons with 1-Click Signup ($199 value)
10/15/15

"The essence of man is imperfection. Know that you're going to make mistakes. The fellow who never makes a mistake takes his orders from one who does. Wake up and realize this: Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success."