CFA for jobs in corporate finance: business analyst/financial analyst

I work in corporate finance now and most of the people there are good employees but not entrepeneurial or super ambitious. They’ll work 50 hours a week, but not 80. They’ll be happy with 75k a year where most of you want double, or even triple that. There’s a dude in Treasury that told me that the CFA is well respected for treasury jobs, but I’m not in treasury.

We have like 14 people in our finance/business analyst roles and 20 people in accounting. In the finance team, only 1 guy has his CPA and 3 people have their MBA (one tier 2 and two lackluster schools). Nobody has their CFA or is even thinking about it.

  1. Which parts of the CFA charter would be most relevant for success in this role?

  2. If I was a manager in 6 years, how would I convince my fresh recruits to pursue the CFA exam for a corporate finance job?

I’m committed to finishing my CFA journey, but it’d be a lot easier if I knew more about what I was fighting for.

This thread is relevant to my interests as well. Good to have another corporate finance guy here on the board

This really depends on where you are employed as a corporate finance analyst. Public or private company? Big company or small company? Is the finance group a support function of the company or an integral part in decision making?

  1. I have yet to take level 3 but I would say level 2 would be the most appropriate for corporate finance, at least in my perception of CF jobs. Project financing, long term forecasting, rationing and reporting (if public) mixed with accounting and a dash of analytics.

  2. I would say to the new recruits, even if you don’t envision plan on being at xyz company 5 years from now, being a CFA charterholder still will and no matter how many new people try to get the charter, a charterholder vs a non charterholder ceteris paribus is always a plus in my book.

^ agreed.

If you are young, imo there’s no reason not to go for it. odds are, at some point over the 25-35 years left in your career, it will come in handy/help get a job. Better to have it than not, because who knows what lies ahead. If you are 55 years old, it’s a different answer.

Just my humble opinion and why I have talked myself into doing it.

I’m in the hospitality industry (found recently sold majority ownership to a private equity firm), a mid-sized company that is looking to grow into a large company through both organic growth and acquisitions. Maybe it will have 500M revenue and 12000 employees in 4 years?

Does that affect your advice?

I live in a country where designations are king, so having any top designation is a minimal requirement for promotion in the corporate world. So I found a lot of value from the Charter for that alone. The subject matter didn’t teach me a lot of how to do my job directly, but some of the equity stuff has helped on business development projects and corporate finance helped in treasury and planning work. I find overall it made me more conversant with bankers and research analysts if you deal with them. For example, I know more of what a sell side analyst is looking for when explaining my firms results and forecasts (when I did that work). Now I’m doing some work for now (probably moving back to FP&A soon) where I’m an expert on financing of a certain industry group. Wouldn’t have got the job I’m in without the Charter. But this is a one in a billion job so don’t count on that happening. Summary: go for it.

I agree that Level II is probably most relevant. I work in corporate treasury. I would say the Fixed Income, Derivatives and Financial Reporting and Analysis sections have been most helpful to me. Each person’s response would be unique to their situation though. We issue public debt, utilize swaps and options and run hedge programs so those were my hot buttons. As for convincing the new recruits, I suppose I’d point out the level of detail they’d learn in the CFA program compared to a garden variety MBA or CPA program.

Just my $0.02.

When you say “corporate finance”, you could be talking about extremely different things.

A guy on the acquisitions & divestiture team works in corporate finance, as does the guy who helps manage the company’s derivative portfolio.

But when I worked in industry, most of the “corporate finance” people were not anything like what the CFA covers. They worked in accounts receivable, trying to collect all the unpaid bills. Or handling customer disputes when a customer doesn’t like what they’ve been charged for.

Or they worked in “credit analysis”, which sounds cool. But in reality, what happens is that your customer can’t pay their bills, so in order to try to increase profitability, the “credit analyst” will fill out a “credit application” and “analyze” it, and extend them a letter of credit. Then, the unpaid amount becomes a “receivable” instead of bad debt. (Of course, whether or not you ever collect the receivable is up in the air.)

Some corporate finance people work in the credit card department, handling all the corporate credit cards and making sure that they get paid and that all purchases are coded correctly.

I guess what I’m trying to say is “14 people on the finance team and one is a CPA and three have their MBA” sounds more like a wannabe accounting job. Not really something that the CFA is geared toward.

you’re right i should clarify:

20% of our duties is approving invoices that accounting is sending out to clients

1% of it is M and A activity

19% is forecasting

30% is business analytics/ KPI (figuring out which client sites are paying too much in labor expenses or have poor risk mitigation, or are being flat out inefficient etc)

20% is financial reporting for our execs/shareholders

10% is other

i’m not entirely sure what my best exit opp is.

Most mid-cap or larger firms would have at least a couple CFA relevant roles in corporate finance. Who do you think the FO BSD’s deal with on the corporate side? Who raises the money? Invests the funds? Determines capital budget allocations?

Sure, the accountants like grouping themselves in with that, but FP&A and corporate treasury are not accounting roles.

Especially if your designation is . . . Pope.


CFA automatically bestows the Cardinal rank upon you. That’s right, I got the the cool red robes.

A _ nice red uniform _?



I didn’t come here expecting some kind of Spanish inquisiton! (One of my favourites).

Nobody . . . .