FP&A Manager to Corp Dev or Strategic Finance Role?

Soros
Rank: Senior Baboon | banana points 207

I have about 5 years experience, I left big 4 audit as a senior and I'm now the FP&A manager at a small (~30-50M rev), fast growing company.

I would love to move into corporate development, but I lack the M&A experience that will likely be a barrier to entry. It's not necessarily the M&A that interests me, it's the strategic/high impact finance element that I'm an drawn to.

I do get a decent amount of exposure to strategic projects/initiatives, but I also spend some time with not as interesting things like annual budget, BvA that doesn't add value and is just QC. I expect this mix will continue in most typical FP&A roles. I'm not unhappy at my position just looking forward (and we will have an exit in the next 3 years).

In an ideal position, I would work with executive teams working on strategic high impact work.

1) I've considered an exec MBA in a year or two - would this be valuable given my experience?
2) Would an MBA make me a competitive candidate for a corporate development position?
3) Can anyone describe some positions which do work on strategic financial analysis, other than CD?

I'm not looking at IB/PE given my region.

Comments (25)

Sep 27, 2017

it's possible. what industry do you work in? corp dev varies by each group so it's really a crap shoot. if i were in your position i'd do the following:
1. refresh on valuation
2. try to understand the full cycle m&a process
3. look to make the move internally. your value add here would be you understand the company, its strategy, products, and you have a strong (presumably) internal network to leverage when you get to the due diligence phase and need to reach out to internal groups
4. if you cant make the move internally, look to other companies within your industry. know whats driving the industry - key themes, strategies across competitors, recent deals and why, etc...sell yourself as an industry expert
5. target corpdev teams that are not all comprised of bankers - they will be more open to hiring somebody from fp&a

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Sep 27, 2017

Hey this is helpful - my responses
1) Easy win, will do.
2) Any resources on this besides my knowledge from years of WSO :)
3) The company has less than 200 people, there isn't an internal team here and there is no deal flow, although potentially an acquisition next year.
4) Industry is pharma - I've made efforts to wrap my head around the industry and keep up with current news, but it's honestly a chore without a biology background. I would almost like to move out of pharma, but I know my experience will likely suit me best for another pharma company.
5) Good to know, i'll keep that in mind.

Anyone also with comments on value of MBA or other similar roles which don't require M&A experience?

Sep 27, 2017

google m&a process. this will give you an idea of the various stages. exec mba won't help you break in. full time mba may assuming you land a leadership development-type position and make a connection with the corp dev team.

now, assuming you land a role without the full-time mba...then it becomes company-specific. some companies value mbas whereas others dont care. if you break in and then decide to do a part time mba, dont underestimate the time commitment. hours can ramp up to 60+ depending on deal flow.

Sep 27, 2017

It's very possible to make the transition , but it may take a couple of moves to get there. I currently work in a strategic finance role in which I manage both corporate development and FP&A at a ~100M rev firm.

You don't always need to have banking experience to get into corporate development ( I didn't). Look at FP&A roles which are more strategy focused, some may even involve valuation and acquisition modeling and leverage that into a true M&A/Strategy role.

Best Response
Sep 27, 2017

1) I've considered an exec MBA in a year or two - would this be valuable given my experience?

I dont know too much about this, but it seems like a misuse of time. Spend that time networking, applying, prepping for interviews, and doing valuation modeling (DCF, LBO, Merger Model) and then you can just get a job rather than waste time applying THEN trying to get a job.

Incremental impact of a EMBA over your current experience for these positions is minimal. Time impact is huge. Not a good idea.

2) Would an MBA make me a competitive candidate for a corporate development position?

Probably. I would imagine you would be a competitive candidate for these positions out of an MBA. The real value you would get is the on campus recruiting / pipeline.

The main issue here is cost. Similar to the above comments, its probably not worth it and you have a good chance without the MBA. That being said there are some pros on getting an MBA you may want to look into.

The one red flag on this for you is the fact that you mentioned you are in a smaller town. Are you willing to uproot yourself completely to a new town / city (who knows where) then recruit for CD jobs (who knows where) then move to that place after incurring 6 figures of debt in the process?

3) Can anyone describe some positions which do work on strategic financial analysis, other than CD?

Corporate Strategy, some FP&A teams at smaller companies touch this. Some companies have a "Strategic Finance" group that does this sort of stuff.

I would look more at job descriptions than titles. Try searching indeed/linkedin for key words like "M&A", "Joint Venture", "Board Deck", etc.

Sep 27, 2017

FP&A to Corp dev is very difficult. We don't even look at FP&A resumes.

"Elections are a futures market for stolen property"

Sep 27, 2017

Some groups feel this way. They are usually comprised 100% of ex-bankers / consultants and it is more common in larger companies as well as bigger cities. The further you get away from that formula the better for your chances.

My advice would be to use a resume review service (I really liked WSOs) and get your resume as transactional / strategic as possible. Also, transitioning into a pharma group will be much easier than other companies given your (perceived) level of industry knowledge. This shouldn't be too hard as pharma is a very acquisitive industry.

I will tell you it won't be easy, if you consider "easy" sending out a couple apps and making a call or two to a headhunter, but its definitely doable if you:

-Apply to any CD/CS position you see online
-Network with these postings
-Also network with groups you are interested in not looking to hire right now for the future

Keep in mind you almost always will be asked to take a case study testing your modeling skills, so make sure to know those cold. I.E. you can create Merger Models and LBOs from scratch.

Keep it up, maintain your contacts, keep your technicals sharp. It can definitely be done.

Sep 29, 2017
Esuric:

FP&A to Corp dev is very difficult. We don't even look at FP&A resumes.

This isn't the norm.

Nov 16, 2017

My experience has been the same. We mainly interview folks with backgrounds from IB, PE, Corp Dev, VC, and in some instances Transaction/M&A Advisory from Big 4. Because my group is a pure M&A transaction shop, financial modeling skills are at a premium and quite frankly a bare minimum requirement.

However, I have friends at Corp Dev shops that are less M&A in nature and theysplit their time doing work in market sizing, business development, partnerships, strategy, etc. I would suggest OP to seek out these type of opportunities to maximize chances of getting into Corp Dev.

The job description should give you a good idea of what the role entails, whether it is transaction heavy, or has more "strategic" work in nature.

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Sep 28, 2017

I've done banking for many years and now in a junior corporate development role at one of the largest Fortune 500 companies in a purely M&A / investments capacity. I'd say this role sucks at the junior level. Yeah I could ride it out for 5 years and rise through director level then to VP, but that's a long slog and until then, the pace would be extremely slow. Pure M&A roles in corp dev is so compartmentalized into just plugging inputs from business units into simplistic models, that you don't really get the strategic exposure that you'd want until you hit VP level.

I'd honestly rather be in a strategic finance role where you're responsible for running the operating models for your company, faster pace to make it to VP of Finance where you're extremely critical to the CFO in that capacity. More strategic exposure there.

Sep 29, 2017

how many people in your group? i interact with senior leadership and business heads regularly across the business. this affirms CD experience really varies firm to firm.

Sep 29, 2017

There's only 5 of us.

We run all m&a and investing activity for our firm call it $100bn+ Fortune 500 company

My vps do most of the interacting across business units given their level of experience and domain expertise

Sep 29, 2017

This hasn't been my experience at all. Which industry are you in?

"Elections are a futures market for stolen property"

Sep 29, 2017

Surprised to hear this. In a slightly smaller company, but even analysts / associates get a fair amount of exposure and can own significant pieces of the deal process. The ownership piece obviously depends on the size of the deal, but I've seen junior people be the point person for diligence, interfacing with the sell-side bankers, etc. on top of doing the financial modeling, on smaller deals regularly.

Sep 29, 2017

I'm not saying we don't do the financial modeling or interface externally or don't get to own parts of the deal process.

What I'm saying is at a huge firm like this we are not the ones strategizing on the inputs for the long term model. That comes from other business units and we just plug and chug whatever they tell us.

Sep 29, 2017

Do you at least have the opportunity to discuss (or challenge) with the business units on their strategies/assumptions? If you do not have such opportunity, do you honestly think that you're able to formulate better strategies/inputs than what the business units would have been able to?

Sep 29, 2017

You're misinterpreting the situation. In banking I was involved in every aspect of every process and was held accountable for every number or detail.

As a junior Corp Dev member in a large firm, I lose the exposure to the strategic buildup of how the business units arrive at their numbers that we use to input into our models for valuation purposes.

I don't get exposed to the cost build or pricing strategy or revenue build etc. by not getting that exposure I lose the valuable experience that anyone in a smaller firm gets in understanding their firm's strategy.

I'm not saying I'm here to challenge what they give us (sometimes we do) or coming up with the numbers myself. I'm saying without exposure to the thinking behind the inputs I become a dumb excel monkey. That's not good value for Long term

Sep 29, 2017

I see.. interesting - thanks for the clarification.

Nov 16, 2017

Hmm extremely different than my experience in Corp Dev. I'm in a purely M&A deal execution Corp Dev shop. We work with the business units to develop the strategic rationale and investment thesis and we challenge the business units assumptions frequently as they could sometimes have a biased view. We would never ever just plug and chug any model assumptions that the BU provides on face value. We always have a thoughtful conversation with the BU and challenge/make them defend their assumptions before we output a model and valuation that is presented a senior audience.

Nov 16, 2017

Yeah we are so big that most acquisitions are just a rounding error for us so the financials are almost irrelevant. It just comes down to making sure the valuation is fair

Nov 16, 2017

Yeah we are so big that most acquisitions are just a rounding error for us so the financials are almost irrelevant. It just comes down to making sure the valuation is fair

Nov 16, 2017

I actually completely understand what you mean. I did Corp Dev at a fortune 100 prior and had a similar experience.

Sep 28, 2017

Financial modeling for pharma can be a pretty complex and niche skillset, assuming you've been involved in some detailed revenue modeling by drug, etc., and not just standard G&A budgets. This would definitely give you a leg up for CD positions in pharma companies.

Also, may be worth sticking around for the exit as that could be a valuable bullet on your resume.

Oct 4, 2017

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