Corporate Finance Career Ladder

Hi WSO, I've been looking into CF as a potential career lately and I was wondering how long on average one spends at each level on the ladder i.e. how long does it take to reach director and VP and how does going through a FLDP or perhaps starting at a Big4 affect this? Thanks.

Comments (9)

Aug 24, 2018

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Aug 29, 2018

Adding to this thread: I've been told corporate is a much slower grind trying to move up compared to most capital markets jobs. Is this correct? How much of the movement is promoting from within vs moving to New companies?

Aug 31, 2018

Unfortunately, the easiest way to senior promotions in CF is by moving to a new company. Also, corporate titles vary widely in terms of pay and responsibilities from company to company.

Corporate roles are not structured in a way that you can "guarantee" or be "on track" for a promotion every couple of years, because you'll have VPs or Executives who are staying put for 5+ years. Unless you work for a large organization with plenty of opportunity for cross-departmental moves, or your smaller company is growing at such a pace it needs to expand departments and add upper management positions, you're kind of "stuck" for lack of a better word. This is when you would take our experience and skillset elsewhere.

While I'll allow someone else to comment, the FLDP or Big 4 starting point may bring you in at a slightly higher level (e.g. manager vs analyst) for your first job role afterwards, but doesn't guarantee you'll climb any faster.

Hope that helps.

Aug 31, 2018

I think the above is well said and I will just double down on the fact that Corporate Finance has no promotion track. Because of this, you may end up sitting at analyst, senior analyst or manager for much longer than you would like.

Sep 4, 2018

Our analysts and senior analysts all have 8+ years of experience at the F500 I work at. Granted, pay is around 10-20k higher for those roles than at other companies in the area.

There are people that spend their entire career in analyst levels. You need to work your ass off to get promotions here and most people wont. The other promotion route is getting a sponsor/sugar daddy who has the nuts/authority to get your promoted. This is the easiest route for natiral kiss asses.

Corporate Finance is far from the land of milk and honey.

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Sep 4, 2018

So say you are an above average performer and not destined to be stuck at analyst or manager. How long would it take if you're a hard worker and ambitious?

Sep 4, 2018

This is a general guide- the caveat being it is completely dependent on the individual (drive/motivation), industry, and incumbents above you to get too specific:
(Years in position)
Analyst- 1-3
Sr. Analyst- 2-4
Manager- 4-5
Sr. Manager (Most get stuck here)- 5-retirement
Director (25% of Sr. Managers get here)- 5-retirement
VP (10% of Directors get here)- 5-retirement

Sep 5, 2018

Just to be clear, do you believe your numbers to be cumulative or per level? If it's per level I think this is a general guide.

There was a post a while ago (years) about salary progression and I believe that it had tenure assumptions in there as well. Also, I might've talked to this a little bit in my AMA I did earlier this year.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

Sep 5, 2018