Career Advice Career Guidance and Counselling

Making the move from banking to corporate

Over the past year, I have been speaking to senior finance leaders from top corporate Chinese companies, noting that they are increasingly hiring investment banking professionals. This is mainly because these companies are looking for relevant professionals to guide them through IPO and M&A procedures.

The pay scale between the investment banking division and corporate development or corporate finance jobs is also narrowing, making the move more attractive. So for those looking to make the switch from investment banking, perhaps due to the heavy workload and long hours, here are some tips.

Ideally, you should have a background in equity capital management (ECM) or M&A. With the majority of the larger Chinese and Hong Kong conglomerates looking to make acquisitions overseas, those with ECM or M&A backgrounds will be most in demand.

Think about moving early. Chinese conglomerates and Hong Kong corporates are not only seeking senior investment bankers, but are open to mid-level and junior candidates. Companies prefer candidates who have a passion for this line of work who can then be trained in the complexities of IPO listing or M&A procedures.

Research targeted companies, and picture yourself working in an organisation which may not have the dynamic pace of an investment bank. In-house roles are often in slower-paced environments that can be more bureaucratic.

You should also investigate the long-term viability of in-house roles, and whether or not a particular role will provide the potential for you to become the future head of finance.

While banks are notorious for layoffs this year, corporates do not necessarily guarantee job security. 

My final pointer is: don’t act like a banker. Find a hot sector to specialise in, and show true passion for that industry.

This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Swapping sides.