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What is a Financial Adviser?*
Financial advisors advise the management of a company on financing investments. You are part of the corporate finance team and report to the CFO, which makes it clear that financial advisers are almost exclusively active in large companies. In SMEs, questions of internal project financing are usually taken on by the management or the managing director; the banks and other consultants are consulted there for external financing issues.
* We use the Anglo-Saxon spelling »adviser« throughout; in American, »advisor« is primarily used.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Studies in economics with a focus on finance and accounting/banking and several years of experience in financial advice at a bank or in private financial advice
- Starting salary: €45,000
- Top salary: €80,000
- Opportunities for advancement: Takeover of a line function / advancement within the finance department
What to do with free funds?
Companies that have spare funds or excess capital must decide what to do with it. The basic decision – to invest or to distribute – is usually already laid down in the corporate finance strategy, which the financial advisers have helped to influence. If a »distribution« was voted for there, the free funds are part of the dividend policy and are no longer available for further planning.
However, if the corporate finance strategy stipulates that no distribution will be made or that only part of the free funds will be distributed, a decision must be made as to how the free funds are to be invested. The focus of the investment goal is increasing the value of the company: Can this goal be better achieved by using the funds, e.g. B. invested in the capital market or by remaining in the company itself and flowing into internal company projects that promise returns? And what is to be done if internal company projects cannot or should only be partially financed with your own funds?
In these cases, it is the task of the financial adviser to ensure an optimal structure for the investment financing as part of the corporate finance strategy.
Financial advisors are both wealth and investment advisors
If free funds are not to be invested in the company but in the capital market, it is the task of the financial adviser to find suitable opportunities for this. They act like investment advisors who develop a plan on how the defined goals can be achieved in accordance with the corporate strategy: Should the return be maximized in the short, medium or long term, should capital be saved for investments or »parked«, which one If you are willing to take risks, does it make sense to set up a pension fund, etc. etc. They carry out this task, usually supported by banks and/or external consulting firms, by looking for suitable investment opportunities, investing there and following developments.
It becomes more difficult if free funds are to be invested in the company itself, because then the company’s internal – quantitative and qualitative – resources have to be integrated into the consultation.
Every investment decision is preceded by an assessment of the probabilities: will the project being invested in be able to be successfully completed and how long will it have to be “subsidised” by financing?
The financial requirements and duration of a project therefore determine the type of financing to a large extent: financing with internal funds deprives the company of liquidity that may not be available elsewhere, external financing via loans on the capital market costs money that could possibly be better invested elsewhere. Financial advisers must therefore have an in-depth understanding of the project before recommending the manner of project financing. Like an investment advisor, they have to evaluate and weigh up all the information relevant to the decision and weight the individual factors. This is of course all the more difficult when, as is usually the case, there are several projects in a company with different prospects of success and durations,
A constant balancing of risks and opportunities with more and more technical support
Investment decisions are generally evaluated today using different mathematical methods. However, there is always a bit of imponderability that management and therefore also the financial advisers have to deal with. The risk that a project will fail or be delayed (also the chance that it will be completed faster than anticipated) may require a “shift” in fundraising and use.
Of course, financial advisers also receive support from modern software that includes alternative financing options, takes changes on the capital market into account and creates forecast models. However, the human factor remains, and especially with investments, e.g. B. in research and development, financial advisers should always be prepared for the fact that things can turn out “completely different than planned”.
What does a Financial Adviser do?
- Advising the management on the development of an investment strategy
- Implementation of the adopted investment strategy, if necessary in cooperation with banks and external consulting firms
- Development of proposals for investing free funds in the capital market
- Implementation, success control and, if necessary, changes to external investments made
- Regular and ad hoc reporting on the status of externally invested funds
- Advising the management on the financing of internal company projects
- Regular and ad hoc reporting on the status of internal project financing / if necessary, development of correction proposals
How to become a Financial Adviser
Financial Advisers are the Company’s financial and asset advisors. As such, they must get involved in the development of an investment strategy and present their recommendation convincingly and rationally.
The implementation of the strategy requires an in-depth understanding of the development on the financial markets and the handling of financial products.
Financial advisors should therefore have completed a degree in economics with a focus on finance and accounting/banking. In addition, they should have several years of experience in the financial advice of a bank or private financial advice or have already worked in a similar function with comparable activities in another company.
What does a Financial Adviser earn?
up to €80,000
Financial advisor salaries also depend on the responsibilities they are given:
If they are authorized to make investments on their own, the salaries are naturally higher than if financial advisers have to obtain approval from the CFO before closing any financing.
In addition, salaries vary greatly depending on company size, industry and location. In some cases, they are also supplemented by success-related components.
What do you expect from the Financial Adviser?
- Profound knowledge of finance and accounting
- Safe handling of financial market products
- Understanding of economic relationships and feeling for capital market developments
- Affinity for numbers and IT
- Confident use of MS Office and analysis tools relevant to the financial market
- Convincing team player with strong communication and presentation skills
- Analytical and conceptual thinking
- Fluent in German and English
Opportunities for advancement as a Financial Adviser
Financial advisers have arrived at a level below the CFO. Your next step can be B. the CFO of a subsidiary or the CFO position in your own company.
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