Lifestyle & Hours in Corporate Finance

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Rank: Monkey | 32

We've heard so much in this forum about the lifestyle and hours in IB/PE/HF/CO/etc., but little have been covered for corporate finance.

I'll start on this. On average: 70hours/week (excluding commuting/lunch). 85hours/week (including 2hrs for 2-way commuting & 1hr lunch). Industry: FMCG/Tech/Retailer.

To be honest, I was expecting less before I entered the industry. What are yours?

Comments (51)

Apr 10, 2017

Spending 2 hours a day on a commute is brutal. Did housing costs influence the commute time (are you in Seattle)?

I interned with a big Fortune 500 company and it was 8am to 5pm Mon-Fri. Everyone was in around 7:59 in the morning and out by 5:01 at night, and I mean that place cleared out. Almost no one stayed past sundown, and people would think you were crazy for working on a weekend, at least I think they would. I say it like that because I never actually saw anyone work on a weekend. The security guards would think you were a thief who had broken in if they saw someone inside at night - that's how rare it was for people to work late.

With an hour-long lunch break at noon, it was almost exactly 40 hours per week. Enough time to go to the gym every day, watch a few hours of Netflix, cook your own delicious meals, and get a healthy 9 hours of sleep each night.

It was also in a very low cost of living city. New York or San Francisco rental rates would let you live in a gigantic apartment by yourself here, and still be a 10 minute drive from work.

It was enjoyable, but I think that kind of work isn't the best for a person in their 20s. However, a person who is married with kids and in their 40s might appreciate it a lot more.

Industry: food/beverage

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May 11, 2017

I can't speak first hand on the matter but I've heard what you are saying from friends working at F500s in corporate finance as well.

Some of my buddies in SF get to roll in at 8/9ish and leave at 5 sharp on most days. Fridays they get to leave a bit earlier.

Can't say it's this way across the board, and a large part of it is dependent upon your location's office culture, but most of my friends left BB to not work the hours OP is talking about now.

Apr 10, 2017

I call bullshit on your hours. No way are you averaging 70/hrs week consistently....hell I'm going through our 3 year strategic planning on I'm doing 80hours right now...which is far away from the average I normally put in of around 50.

Assuming your name is indicative of your company that you work for I've heard it is brutal from close friends, but still not 70 hours.

I work for a big name tech company.

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Best Response
Apr 10, 2017

The only way CF hours can be upwards of 70+ are if

A) your systems are so archaic that you have to do significant amounts of offline work during your reporting periods or

B) your executives are so dense that they demand work to be done on unrealistic timelines (like a client) and don't have good leadership to allow their direct reports the freedom to push back or

C) you are terribly inefficient at your job

I work for a F50 conglomerate, and came in through their LDP. I've never pushed 70 hours, had handfuls of 60 hour weeks, and mostly average 45-50. I've gotten promoted on schedule and have met or exceeded my bonus target each year. Our systems are pretty good for the size of the company, and I've always worked under people who encourage you to take ownership for your time and allow you to push back when necessary. That's a skill that will ruin you if you cannot do that. Wall street is different, I get it, but in the corporate side of things, you have to master when to say no.

This is not to boast, it is to illustrate that the hours conversation is always dependent on where and who you work for.

Apr 10, 2017

Interesting, thanks a lot for sharing. I have four questions if you are willing to share further detail:

  1. Where are you based?
  2. What is your background?
  3. Do you work on weekends?
  4. What does your compensation look like?
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Apr 26, 2017

This.

My average week is between 45-50; budget season runs closer to 55. Anything "special" (acquisitions, debt issuance) will throw that off, but those have thus far been temporary in nature and are typically accompanied by an "easy" 40 for a month or two thereafter.

Anything more and you aren't taking advantage of the benefits corporate finance provides in lieu of the compensation you'd receive from a bank...or you're working for someone who just transitioned out of a bank and hasn't figured it out yet.

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May 11, 2017

Data points from only a couple of companies, but I have friends who were at AAPL and AMZN in various roles (corporate finance and operations, mostly) who consistently had to put out ~60-70 hour work weeks, so I don't think 70 hours is that much of a stretch. Especially if you're in corp dev at one of those acquisition-happy F500s that picks up a dozen small companies a year.

Apr 10, 2017

Consistently 45. Very enjoyable work environment.

Apr 10, 2017

Regarding the 2-hours commute, it's a 2-way commute (i.e. 1hr each way). No bullshitting on my hours here, and I'm not the only one in my team putting in these hours - I can assure you this.

And yes, you're right that the hours and culture are extremely team-dependent. I have colleagues from other teams who have great hours (i.e. mostly 45hrs, capped at 60hrs).

Apr 11, 2017

Can you elaborate on what drives your hours?

Apr 11, 2017

My role is in finance business partnering.

70% Operational work, including:
- Business partnering: Working with the sales team on analysing financial performance & maximizing sales/margins/etc. There are multiple stakeholders in the sales team to work with.
- Reporting: Customer/suppliers/margin analyses/cash position/inventory position/etc., both on excel and on PPT deck for presentation to higher-ups.

30% Projects: Including initiatives to improve efficiency (e.g. automation), improve cash position, maximize margins, improve controls, etc.

I guess that the key thing that drives my hours is the overall culture and the pressure to perform. This is especially during the weekly updates, where you have to present an overview on what you've done and how your project is progressing. You don't want to fall back behind your team, when your teammates are working similar hours and just as hard as you are.

Apr 12, 2017

@Amazon" Are you in a structured rotational program there? Is the 'project' side of your work what makes people stand out?

Apr 11, 2017

Typically 40-50 hours a week, may ramp up to 60-70 hour weeks if it gets busy.

Good work/life balance.

Apr 12, 2017

First year analyst in an FLDP for an Aerospace/Defense company. I work exactly 40 hours a week, never more, never less. My managers work around 45-50, and their boss works 45-55.

I was initially attracted to IB for the pay, but the prospects of working 90-100 hours a week didn't seem worth it to me. I thought that if I get into a good FLDP (with rotations through Corp Dev/Strat) I can still get a good MBA and come out of the MBA with nearly the same corporate jobs open to me and the ex-IB guys. Seemed to make sense.

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Apr 13, 2017

A two-hour commute is brutal. My two-way commute is 30 minutes, and that's already enough for me.

My role involves 40-45 hours per week with weekend work maybe once every six months. I'd quit and go back to IB if I were working 70+ hours a week. If I were putting in that type of work, I'd want the IB salary to go with it.

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Apr 13, 2017

Exactly.

May 31, 2017

just to defend OP, I know of two F50 companies I have a corporate relationship with that have finance departments similar to what he's describing (long hours), but the comp is closer to IB. not as high, but closer.

Apr 17, 2017

I was part of an FLDP program for a large Healthcare company and am now at a large Tech company my hours across my roles have been as follows:

1st rotation: 55-60 hours/week on average, worse during close obviously. This was a supply chain role at a manufacturing site.

2nd rotation: 45-50 hours/week on average. FP&A role.

Role at Tech Company: Currently averaging 50-60 hours/week although this has more to do with me getting up to speed on the role and the business since it's a complete switch of industries for me. My direct manager is in the office 9:30-4:30 on most days. I will say that emailing after hours and on weekends is more prevalent here so overall even when/if I cut back my actual in office hours I would still hover around 50 hours/week working.

Apr 18, 2017

Are you at Amazon? I have anecdotally heard that corp fin hours can be bad for "some" groups at Amazon. Additionally if you are at a start-up/early stage/spinoff/merging company you can have some crazy hours as well due to the unique circumstances.

Apr 26, 2017

FP&A Analyst at a F50 tech firm. 55-60 is the average for us. Sometimes it'll go up to 70 if it's an unlucky time with a lot of fire drills.

I'm on a team of 3 analysts responsible for all FP&A activities (reporting, planning, projects) for >>$1bn cost base at the company.

Director probably puts in 75-80 a week, but it's a bit more flexible in terms of working in the evenings after dinner, etc-. More being on call than anything else.

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Apr 26, 2017

Work in tech F100 and can easily get away with 30-40 per week.

May 2, 2017

if i was working 70 hours/week in a CF role i'd be looking for another company to jump ship to.

that's absolutely ludicrous.

May 3, 2017

It's all about maximizing your dollars/hr. If you're making CF pay while putting in IB hours, then you're doing it wrong. There are some exceptions to this, like if you're making an investment in your career by putting in 70hrs/wk at $70k/yr for the very short term.. But if it's a role with no clear rewarding exit for your effort, it might be time to move on.

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May 9, 2017

what's the average salary for a CF analyst?

May 10, 2017

Starting salary range is between $40k-$70k, with the average at $55k-$60k, I'd say. This fluctuates depending on the size of the company and your location.

May 10, 2017

Yes, fully agree that the hours and culture vary widely depending on your team.

Although the hours are long in my team, the silver lining is that the exposure is possibly more than what I could have otherwise obtained in other teams.

May 11, 2017

I had an interview at Amazon on the tech/engineering side, I heard that it's a brutal company to work for. Are people generally unhappy there? You seem quite the opposite.

May 13, 2017

I don't work at Amazon, but am in a company which is very similar. For my team, it's generally viewed as a great place to learn and is a good stepping stone.

As a side note, the toughest part isn't the hours - it's the culture. People just generally bear with it; there are many complaints, but we'll eventually will just put our heads down to get the necessary work done. Turnover is relatively high, so for those that are really unhappy, they could probably leave for somewhere else.

May 11, 2017

2 hour commute is so brutal. I'm 5 minutes from my office and literally just walked home mid-day and played piano for 10 minutes (slower day). Definitely tainting me

May 11, 2017

FP&A Manager (5 yrs work exp total) at a large private manufacturing company (~$3B revenue). Work a pretty consistent 45 hrs/week. Periodically have 55-60 hour weeks every other month or so, but also throw in some 35-40 hr weeks. Commute is about 25 minutes each way (with a nice driving range on the way home).

I work directly below the Business Unit CFO and GM, so the role has a lot of exposure. I have shown I am available when needed, which has allowed me to have an extremely flexible schedule during times where we don't have hard deadlines.

I started at a big 4 firm out of undergrad and have more than doubled my base salary since then, in a city with COL less than half of NY/SF. I think its important to realize not all Corp. Fin jobs are created equal. There is potential for a much wider range of responsibilities (monthly close activities, budgeting & forecasting, CF/Margin analysis, more strategic project work, etc.). Many companies also view these departments differently. In my company we don't have a leadership development program, but FP&A is where many of the HI-POs are placed prior to being moved into various operational or financial management roles.

May 11, 2017

Curious- what was your path from undergrad to your current role? as in Big 4 -> ??? -> FP&A Manager
How long were you in each role? And, if you're willing to share, general comp range?
I'd love to be at the manager level 5 years out of undergrad. Trying to learn what various paths can take me there.

May 11, 2017

Big 4 (2) - FP&A Analyst (6 months) - Sr. Analyst (2) - Manager (6 months)

I worked in Advisory (glorified Internal Audit) in Big 4 for 2 years. Passed the CPA prior to starting work which proved to be irrelevant in my role. I had a lot of issues with the structure of my team/firm (effort + performance did not equal reward) so I started looking. Went in to interview for an IA job, and they mentioned an FP&A role as well, so I jumped on that.

I was lucky that when I was a Sr. Analyst, my boss left and I was working directly under the CFO for about 4 months. He was a former MD at a BB, and we had a really good relationship. I worked a lot more during that time than I do now, but it was rewarded.

Part of getting to manager so quickly was being at the right place at the right time. But my role also had a ton of executive exposure, so when I performed well, the people that mattered most were the ones that saw it. That way, when roles opened up, or important side projects came about, I was looked at for them. I think this was one of the biggest factors; working for people that are real decision makers at the company. Also, we aren't extremely hierarchical or bureaucratic, which helps.

General comp is $100K with a 15% bonus.

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May 11, 2017
<span itemprop=name>kc274208</span>:

FP&A Manager (5 yrs work exp total) at a large private manufacturing company (~$3B revenue). Work a pretty consistent 45 hrs/week. Periodically have 55-60 hour weeks every other month or so, but also throw in some 35-40 hr weeks. Commute is about 25 minutes each way (with a nice driving range on the way home).

I work directly below the Business Unit CFO and GM, so the role has a lot of exposure. I have shown I am available when needed, which has allowed me to have an extremely flexible schedule during times where we don't have hard deadlines.

I started at a big 4 firm out of undergrad and have more than doubled my base salary since then, in a city with COL less than half of NY/SF. I think its important to realize not all Corp. Fin jobs are created equal. There is potential for a much wider range of responsibilities (monthly close activities, budgeting & forecasting, CF/Margin analysis, more strategic project work, etc.). Many companies also view these departments differently. In my company we don't have a leadership development program, but FP&A is where many of the HI-POs are placed prior to being moved into various operational or financial management roles.

Is there any chance of breaking into corporate finance from TAS? I left audit after 2 busy seasons to work in FDD at another firm, but my long-term goal is to get into corporate finance in a non-financial reporting and more of a decision-making or decision-support role. Is FDD still applicable to FP&A, or will I not be considered as having the accounting chops to make the move? FWIW, I passed the CPA exams as well and am working on getting the sign-off and passing ethics to get the official license.

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May 11, 2017

There is absolutely a chance. Id argue if you are working in FDD and have an audit background, you have a great set of accounting chops. Having your CPA only makes you look better as well. If you understand the basics of accounting, and the way financial statements interact, you are golden. Some FP&A jobs at larger companies will want or require strong modeling skills. Mine did not and I was able to pick it up as I went.

Don't get me wrong though, FP&A is not always glamorous. There is a lot of boring number crunching on level with the work financial reporting does. On the other hand, I think FP&A gets a lot more exposure to senior management and also allows you to learn more about how a business works and the financial decisions that go into it.

It sounds like you have a very strong background so I think it will just be important for you to find a place that is interested in hiring and developing talent. Taking a course like Wall Street Prep to develop your modeling skills would also not hurt.

May 11, 2017

It really depends on your role. My last one had me checking my watch at 4:45. My current one (which has a lot more responsibility)- I blink and it's 7PM. Most days I'm in ~7:00. So now I'm putting in consistent 60 hour weeks. My commute is only 10 minutes.

I also take plenty of work home with me. I don't really shut down until ~9-though I enjoy my Friday nights and weekends.

Corp Finance used to be easy street but with productivity initiatives, headcount & staffing reductions, etc. they will squeeze you dry as you move up nowadays.

May 11, 2017

I usually get in around 7:30am and leave by 5:30pm. 85% of other employees here arrive between 8:00-8:15am and leave at 4:59pm on the dot.

May 11, 2017

This is also my experience. Almost exactly (I'm more of the 8:00am to 6:00pm variety, but I'm almost always here before everyone else and am almost always the last one to leave)

I do spend an average of 5-10 hours working from home in the evenings/weekends, too...also something the vast majority of my colleagues have never even contemplated let alone actualized.

May 11, 2017

I've worked at 2 F500s up to the Dir level (hopefully CFO soon). The worst "standard" hours I've had was 8-6, but normally 815/830 - 515/530. Hours definitely ramp up during certain times - active M&A, planning season, quarter end, etc...

Right now I am 815 - 515 with an hour out for lunch every day. On quarters I work a LOT more for about a week, but mid-month I could cut it back further if I wasn't concerned about face time.

My current role is the least time intensive, but I've never regularly been at 55+ in any of my Corp Fin positions. I have a pretty decent Corp Fin network and I'd say that a majority are similar.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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May 31, 2017

Hey @accountingbyday -

Could you give a general walk through of your career progression? Hitting director at 33 in an F500 (and potential for CFO!) is basically the wet dream of all of us on the CF forum. I'd love to hear about your path, about the moves that defined your career, and about any advice you're willing to share.

Thanks!

May 31, 2017

This site is funny, there used to be NO love for Corp Fin (although that seems to be changing slightly). I've approached Patrick and a few of the WSO employees about a Corp Fin focus and no interest. However, when I post my age/title I get responses.

I'll type up a post soon, but I am nothing special. Things have worked out alright for me, but it's not because I'm the best FP&A guy on the planet.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

May 12, 2017

Who the fuck takes a 1 hour lunch?

May 12, 2017

I'll do it and use it as a break to go to the gym.

May 31, 2017
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twitter: @CorpFin_Guy