Corporate Finance: An Overview
Most companies are in the business of making money. But what happens to that money once it’s earned — who makes the decisions on how to manage it, maximizing its potential while minimizing any risk?
Corporate finance covers two key functions: accounting and finance. Where they differ is that accounting oversees the minutia of the day-to-day, whereas finance looks at the bigger picture. An accountant will track revenue and expenses, manage the balance sheet, and track the data needed to ensure the company’s compliance with financial statement obligations. Conversely, a finance professional will analyze their accountant’s data to make recommendations on the most effective use of the company’s capital to maximize its return. They advise on earnings, costs, investments, and assist in the growth of the company, often through acquiring other companies or expanding internally through investment.
You could say that the two roles are like two sides of the same coin. The budgeting and data from the accountant informs the projections and recommendations of the finance professional.
It should be no surprise then that corporate finance jobs require strong analytical and quantitative skills. Knowing how to collect, manipulate, analyze, and interpret numerical data along with being able problem solve and think critically about your data are critical. Your company will be looking to you to translate revenue, expenses, profit, cash flow, and investments to help guide their decisions.
To succeed, you will need not only an attention to detail, but the ability to see the numbers from a high level and understand their impact both day-to-day and long-term. And in order to do that, you will need an interest in your industry to follow market conditions, economic forecasts, and trends. External factors will be almost as important to your company’s decisions as internal ones.
At the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, we understand the needs of today’s top employers and how to prepare our students to meet these demands. Our online degrees are uniquely suited to help you advance your career. They are affordable, engaging, and academically rigorous — that’s why they help you to improve your professional value to employers, and better position you to take advantage of future business opportunities. And by choosing a concentration that best fits your career goals, you can maximize the return on your most valuable investment — yourself.