Pros/Cons of working in F500 Corporate Finance?

I will be working at a F50 company as a finance analyst intern over the summer and I was wondering what all the pros and cons of wiring in corporate finance were. So far I have:

Pros:
- Work/Life balance is amazing

Cons:
- Nature of work can be unsexy

Any input is greatly suggested

Comments (53)

Nov 27, 2013

Pro:
get to know an industry very well

Con:
difficult to spin to get into banking

-

Dec 2, 2013
yelloweat:

Pro:

get to know an industry very well

Con:

difficult to spin to get into banking

Is that even a con?

Nov 27, 2013

Corp fin can vary a lot- a fair amount can be helping with internal financial reporting, actuals vs. budget, 'the plan" which is projecting metrics for the future (e.g. 2014). Partnering with Controller's to do external reporting, i.e. preparing items on the 3 statements and related footnotes.

I think some FP&A and Treasury work is a lot more interesting- capital management and allocation decisions that have a big impact on business. Treasury has a big cash management focus which can apparently be dull, but understanding how the payment system works is pretty valuable and adds a good amount to your knowledge base.

Banking can be a lot of dull Excel work as well but I think people do it mostly for the exit opps. As far as anyone can remember, it has been really tough to get into banking so having IB experience has a lot of signaling value. Plus subsequent employers know you have great modeling skills, work ethic and attention to detail.

Corp fin can be a great career if you take the initiative to develop in-depth knowledge about what the company does on the product side and learn a lot about the strategic issues. F50 finance can be good enough to get into a top 15 business school which will make you competitive for banking as an Associate if you really want to pursue that path later.

Dec 2, 2013
MichaelHutchens:

Corp fin can vary a lot- a fair amount can be helping with internal financial reporting, actuals vs. budget, 'the plan" which is projecting metrics for the future (e.g. 2014). Partnering with Controller's to do external reporting, i.e. preparing items on the 3 statements and related footnotes.

I think some FP&A and Treasury work is a lot more interesting- capital management and allocation decisions that have a big impact on business. Treasury has a big cash management focus which can apparently be dull, but understanding how the payment system works is pretty valuable and adds a good amount to your knowledge base.

Banking can be a lot of dull Excel work as well but I think people do it mostly for the exit opps. As far as anyone can remember, it has been really tough to get into banking so having IB experience has a lot of signaling value. Plus subsequent employers know you have great modeling skills, work ethic and attention to detail.

Corp fin can be a great career if you take the initiative to develop in-depth knowledge about what the company does on the product side and learn a lot about the strategic issues. F50 finance can be good enough to get into a top 15 business school which will make you competitive for banking as an Associate if you really want to pursue that path later.

I completely agree with this. corporate finance is extremely broad and it varies so much between companies. It's hard to just make blanket statements about all of CF in the F500.

Nov 28, 2013

Pros:
-Great work/life balance
-If you are good, you can expect to be promoted every couple years and reach $200k in total comp mid career
-Opportunity to be part of a company that provides a service and actually helps people, as opposed to other careers where the sole purpose is making money
-Better job security (in most cases) than IB & PE
-Upside potential to reach $1M+ in comp if you are one of the few to get to the executive level
-Less of a cut throat and "stab my coworker in the back" mentality; some F500's have a great culture and are fun to work at

Cons:
-Could be less challenging depending on which company and department you're in
-Make less money when you're young compared to PE & IB
-Could get pigeonholed in a position if you're with a company that doesn't promote talent well
-Corporate politics (some are promoted based on connections instead of competence), regulation (SOX, reporting requirements, etc)

Learn More

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

Dec 2, 2013

Money is much much worse. You're making mid career (think 30s) what bankers / PE are making 3-4 years in...

Dec 2, 2013
compinvbanker:

Money is much much worse. You're making mid career (think 30s) what bankers / PE are making 3-4 years in...

It's all relative. I would take $50k a year to work 40 hours a week in a low cost city like Charlotte any day over making $80k a year to work 80 hour weeks in NYC

Dec 2, 2013
F500Guy:
compinvbanker:

Money is much much worse. You're making mid career (think 30s) what bankers / PE are making 3-4 years in...

It's all relative. I would take $50k a year to work 40 hours a week in a low cost city like Charlotte any day over making $80k a year to work 80 hour weeks in NYC

Fine. But while you'll be making $50k in Charlotte, the PE guys will be making $350k in NYC at the same level. Apples and oranges.

Dec 2, 2013
compinvbanker:
F500Guy:
compinvbanker:

Money is much much worse. You're making mid career (think 30s) what bankers / PE are making 3-4 years in...

It's all relative. I would take $50k a year to work 40 hours a week in a low cost city like Charlotte any day over making $80k a year to work 80 hour weeks in NYC

Fine. But while you'll be making $50k in Charlotte, the PE guys will be making $350k in NYC at the same level. Apples and oranges.

That is not an accurate comparison at all. No one fresh out of undergrad is making $350k in PE.

It's cool, I will still get to $1m+ in total comp at a F500 and I'll never have to work over 50 hours a week or sell my soul to get there.

Dec 2, 2013

I would love to hear about this 1st-year PE associate making $350k. I'd actually just like to hear about the guy who got a PE gig straight out of college, much less starting at tree fiddy. Yes, Wall Street guys are going to make more. They're also working a lot more, spending a lot more, and likely not going to be at their company 3 years from now. You definitely won't be working there after you hit ~40 years old, so just hope you're not one of the guys that didn't save anything or has massive mortgage payments.

The fact is, corpfin is a great, stable career path. If you want to be a rock star, you can aim for the CFO-level jobs and you'll eventually be making WS-level comp (probably by your mid-30s). If you want to take your time, you can earn six-figures in ~10 years and enjoy your cushy job for another 20 after.

It's a trade-off. Some people want the Street lifestyle, others want to something outside of work.

Dec 3, 2013
compinvbanker:
F500Guy:
compinvbanker:

Money is much much worse. You're making mid career (think 30s) what bankers / PE are making 3-4 years in...

It's all relative. I would take $50k a year to work 40 hours a week in a low cost city like Charlotte any day over making $80k a year to work 80 hour weeks in NYC

Fine. But while you'll be making $50k in Charlotte, the PE guys will be making $350k in NYC at the same level. Apples and oranges.

I'm surprised to see such a ridiculous comment come from someone claiming to have work experience. You aren't even in the zipcode of approaching something reasonably correct.

Dec 2, 2013
Aspirant21:
compinvbanker:
F500Guy:
compinvbanker:

Money is much much worse. You're making mid career (think 30s) what bankers / PE are making 3-4 years in...

It's all relative. I would take $50k a year to work 40 hours a week in a low cost city like Charlotte any day over making $80k a year to work 80 hour weeks in NYC

Fine. But while you'll be making $50k in Charlotte, the PE guys will be making $350k in NYC at the same level. Apples and oranges.

I'm surprised to see such a ridiculous comment come from someone claiming to have work experience. You aren't even in the zipcode of approaching something reasonably correct.

You have no idea what you're talking about. I stated 1st yr associate salaries in my AMA thread. What do you think people in PE make? Do you have any relevant experience at all?

    • 1
Dec 3, 2013

The difference is there are like 40 guys make 350k in NYC in their mid 20s vs thousands making 60 in their mid twenties in Charlotte. If you want a high percentage play you go Charlotte.

I agree that this guy seems a bit confused though.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Dec 2, 2013
happypantsmcgee:

The difference is there are like 40 guys make 350k in NYC in their mid 20s vs thousands making 60 in their mid twenties in Charlotte. If you want a high percentage play you go Charlotte.

I agree that this guy seems a bit confused though.

Agreed all around...but I think 40 is a bit low. I think bankers and college kids (and scarily even high schoolers) are over represented relative to buy side guys on this board. I for one was incredibly surprised by the jump in salary from banking to buy side.

Dec 2, 2013

Is this from multiple data points? Outside of NYC the people I know haven't gotten anywhere near $350k their first year in PE (most 120-200, but they're all in the midwest/south).

I wouldn't be surprised if there were only 40 guys in their mid-20s making $350k+ in NYC, assuming they went the traditional IB analyst -> PE associate route. There just aren't that many positions available at companies willing to pay tree fiddy starting out. Of course, this is all conjecture from my end.

Dec 2, 2013
D M:

Is this from multiple data points? Outside of NYC the people I know haven't gotten anywhere near $350k their first year in PE (most 120-200, but they're all in the midwest/south).

I wouldn't be surprised if there were only 40 guys in their mid-20s making $350k+ in NYC, assuming they went the traditional IB analyst -> PE associate route. There just aren't that many positions available at companies willing to pay tree fiddy starting out. Of course, this is all conjecture from my end.

Yes, multiple data points but all from similar funds. I wouldn't say 350+, but around 350.

A strong 3rd yr analyst at a bank can make 180 - 200.

Funniest
Jan 24, 2019

"Tree Fiddy".....thank you kind sir

    • 3
Learn More

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

Dec 2, 2013

If you pick a low cost of living state (w/ little to no income and sales taxes) then a Corp Fin gig could get you pretty far. I envy all of my friends and relatives living in spots like Ga, TX, and NC. From Biz Dev and FP&A on up to VP They've got 5,000 sq. foot homes, nice nest eggs, and time to pursue their interests. Having spent most of my life in NYC I'll prob. end up going that route myself. Once you hit Director though, it's pretty easy for your career to get stuck if you're not willing to aggressively jump ship and/or move.

Dec 2, 2013

Pros: Work/life balance, still great comp compared to most careers, ability to still make it rain at high levels
Cons: Lower comp than other finance careers at comparable levels.

Types of work can be a positive or negative depending on the job you're holding. Most of the pros/cons outside of comp and work/life balance are company dependent.

Dec 2, 2013

I did an Financial Analyst internship in the corp finance department of a F500 for a year and a half in college. I learned a lot but among those things was that I couldn't work in corp finance lol. The work/life balance is amazing (at least where I interned) and the pay is definitely good but I watched 6 grown ups argue over 2 days on how to book a used truck that was coming down from another plant..........at some point I just thought to myself "there's no way I could do this every day."

That's not to say that you shouldn't go for it but my guess is the internship, aside from giving you experience, will help you decide pretty quickly if that career path is the one for you.

Give me a kid whose smart, poor, and hungry...............

    • 1
    • 1
Dec 2, 2013

I think the short answer is that if you want to make a ton of money and "live the high life" - IB/Consulting/PE/HF are the way to go. If you are OK with making less money (but still really good money by most accounts), having more geographic flexibility, and having time outside of work to pursue your interests, corporate finance/accounting are better choices in the long-run. The only caveat is that it's easier to go from IB => Corp Fin than Corp Fin => IB, so if you are unsure, I'd say take IB. corporate finance is a solid gig IMO though.

Dec 2, 2013

For starters, $120k is inflated for someone fresh out of undergrad, but lets use that number to give you the benefit of the doubt. Divide that $120k salary in half because you are working double the hours as someone in CF, that puts the pay at $60k. Also, the cost of living index is 41% higher in NYC compared to the average US city, so that brings the pay down to $42k, clearly less than CF when adjusted for hours worked and cost of living.

I thought you wallstreet guys were good at math.

Dec 2, 2013

That's an oversimplification of it though, WS does pay more starting out AND in the long run on a yearly basis. I personally think the corporate route is much better, but WS is the route to riches.

Dec 2, 2013
D M:

That's an oversimplification of it though, WS does pay more starting out AND in the long run on a yearly basis. I personally think the corporate route is much better, but WS is the route to riches.

It isn't oversimplification, it's common sense. Someone working 40 hours a week making $40,000 a year and someone working 80 hours a week making $80,000 a year are both making $19.23 an hour. Wouldn't you agree?

And a NYC salary is 41% less valuable than the same salary in the average US city, so that is clearly also a factor.

Dec 2, 2013
F500Guy:

For starters, $120k is inflated for someone fresh out of undergrad, but lets use that number to give you the benefit of the doubt. Divide that $120k salary in half because you are working double the hours as someone in CF, that puts the pay at $60k. Also, the cost of living index is 41% higher in NYC compared to the average US city, so that brings the pay down to $42k, clearly less than CF when adjusted for hours worked and cost of living.

I thought you wallstreet guys were good at math.

120k is an accurate number for straight out of undergrad. Also, what's the obsession with calculating hourly wage? If you're working full time, be that until 8pm or 11pm, you have minimal time for other activities during the week. As long as your weekends are free (not always a given) then they are not that dissimilar.

Dec 2, 2013
compinvbanker:
F500Guy:

For starters, $120k is inflated for someone fresh out of undergrad, but lets use that number to give you the benefit of the doubt. Divide that $120k salary in half because you are working double the hours as someone in CF, that puts the pay at $60k. Also, the cost of living index is 41% higher in NYC compared to the average US city, so that brings the pay down to $42k, clearly less than CF when adjusted for hours worked and cost of living.

I thought you wallstreet guys were good at math.

120k is an accurate number for straight out of undergrad. Also, what's the obsession with calculating hourly wage? If you're working full time, be that until 8pm or 11pm, you have minimal time for other activities during the week. As long as your weekends are free (not always a given) then they are not that dissimilar.

Dude, just saying: as I understand, you live in London. Making $120k in London in your 1st year is not only accurate, but also below the poverty line, unless you want to live in Leyton or something :D I do believe in the US, but even in continental Europe, $120k out of undergrad is a very, very fat comp. True 1-percenter stuff, even looking only at finance.

Dec 2, 2013
compinvbanker:
F500Guy:

For starters, $120k is inflated for someone fresh out of undergrad, but lets use that number to give you the benefit of the doubt. Divide that $120k salary in half because you are working double the hours as someone in CF, that puts the pay at $60k. Also, the cost of living index is 41% higher in NYC compared to the average US city, so that brings the pay down to $42k, clearly less than CF when adjusted for hours worked and cost of living.

I thought you wallstreet guys were good at math.

120k is an accurate number for straight out of undergrad. Also, what's the obsession with calculating hourly wage? If you're working full time, be that until 8pm or 11pm, you have minimal time for other activities during the week. As long as your weekends are free (not always a given) then they are not that dissimilar.

So working 8 AM to 5 PM during the week is the same as working 6 AM to 11 PM? Come on now..

Dec 2, 2013

I love this argument. The reality is you work a lot more to make a lot more in high finance. Corp fin has much more relaxed hours, with good pay compared to most other careers. You can still make 500k+ at VP and above and work ~40-55 hours a week. Making 1 mill+ is still possible at C level, and probably at SVP level at some companies.

Those of you arguing purely on compensation are missing the point, and most likely are focused completely on the $$. If you want to be working 70+ hrs a week for the rest of your life, that's fine, but it's not for everybody. Most people would be thrilled with 100k + 15-20% bonus a year at age 30 working 45-55 hrs a week on average with a good possibility of making 200K + bonus in their 40s.

    • 1
Dec 3, 2013
GoIllini:

Those of you arguing purely on compensation are missing the point, and most likely are focused completely on the $$. If you want to be working 70+ hrs a week for the rest of your life, that's fine, but it's not for everybody. Most people would be thrilled with 100k + 15-20% bonus a year at age 30 working 45-55 hrs a week on average with a good possibility of making 200K + bonus in their 40s.

This is a fairly accurate representation of potential career progression in a corporate finance setting. Are you going to be making several hundred thousand dollars by your early 30s? Very very unlikely. Is it reasonable to assume you can make in the low $100K range by that time? Absolutely. Is there a guarantee you will ever be making $200K+ in corporate finance? No. It's going to come down to many factors, your personal abilities and leadership potential, the company you work for and your resume history, and a fair amount of luck.

Dec 12, 2013

Just commenting here: 27yr old male, $110k Base, 10-20% bonus, corporate finance in Dallas. Life is sweet and it's great to have life outside of work!

Dec 12, 2013

Corpfindallas, what's your title and background, if you don'tind sharing? Would love to be in your position by 27.

Dec 2, 2013
CorpFinDallas:

Just commenting here: 27yr old male, $110k Base, 10-20% bonus, corporate finance in Dallas. Life is sweet and it's great to have life outside of work!

Awesome job man

Dec 12, 2013

Sr. Financial Analyst. Got my Masters of Finance, CPA and did Big 4 consulting for 1.5 years. Sitting for my CFA now because doing a lot of valuation and commodities hedging.

    • 1
Dec 15, 2013

Good advice.

Dec 2, 2013

Headed there for my Corp Fin internship next summer (Plano-Dallas/Ft. Worth, specifically) and cannot believe the rent prices I'm seeing. I might end up having to buy some land!

Dec 2, 2013
TheGrind:

Headed there for my Corp Fin internship next summer (Plano-Dallas/Ft. Worth, specifically) and cannot believe the rent prices I'm seeing. I might end up having to buy some land!

Rent in Dallas is similar to a city like Chicago now in my experiences. Still much better than places like NYC, SF, etc. You win when it comes to paying no state income tax, lower gas prices, etc.

Dec 12, 2013
GoIllini:
TheGrind:

Headed there for my Corp Fin internship next summer (Plano-Dallas/Ft. Worth, specifically) and cannot believe the rent prices I'm seeing. I might end up having to buy some land!

Rent in Dallas is similar to a city like Chicago now in my experiences. Still much better than places like NYC, SF, etc. You win when it comes to paying no state income tax, lower gas prices, etc.

Depends where you live. I lived in uptown for first few years and paid at least $750-900 with a roommate. However, if you live in the surrounding areas (e.g. M-Streets) you can get decent rent $600-750 with roommate.

Dec 19, 2013

pros:

-work/life balance
-less stress
-better job security
-geographic flexibility
-more relatable to the common man...ex. " Oh, he works for Delta/GE/Exxon" rather than "He's some wallstreet banker"

cons:

-much flatter comp structure, IB 1st year comp is 120k where somebody might be 30-32 before they get that in f500
-office politics
-work can be considered boring
-quality of peers is on average "lower"..ex. you might have some state school co-workers, god forbid.

Note that the pros and cons are not to compare banking and F500, many of banking pros exist for f500 and vice versa. Also, I hate when people say "well my 50k is just as much as your 100k in NYC and I work 50% as much"..There are banking jobs outside of NYC and corp. fin jobs in NYC, not to mention theres no golden rule where every corp fin employee sprints out of the office at 5:01 PM never to be found until 9 AM Monday...

    • 1
Dec 24, 2013

One of the biggest cons and why I strayed away from F500 is the lack of a clear path. In corp fin in a F500 you could be stuck in the analyst position for awhile even if you kill it. This is because the trajectory is not as clear as banking/consulting.

Most of the time you have to move around before you can move up as opposed to an up or out model.

Nov 28, 2013

"theres no golden rule where every corp fin employee sprints out of the office at 5:01 PM never to be found until 9 AM Monday.."

But on average the lifestyle and hours are much better in the corporate world. I hate when people blindly say 'I can make $80k in IB and $60k in corporate finance, so IB is better'. But in reality the guy making $60k has an extra 40 hours a week he could use to start a business, write a book, teach a class, work a 2nd job, do something else to bring in more income, or simply enjoy his free time.

I could be biased because I work in CF, but dollar per hour worked is much more relevant to me and I don't see how you can ignore that.

Dec 27, 2013

My biggest issue with CF is it tends to be less meritocratic then service based jobs.