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What is a Corporate Finance Manager?
The structure of the Corporate Finance department varies from company to company, depending on its size and business area. However, the overarching goal is the same everywhere: corporate finance should support the company’s value creation. To this end, the manager of corporate finance, if necessary with a team, should identify opportunities and risks and provide critical information and analyzes in order to enable optimal operational and strategic decisions.
The Corporate Finance division typically consists of four pillars:
- Investments: What is the company using its limited financial resources for? This aspect is particularly important for large, strategic investments that have a long-term impact on the company. The Corporate Finance Manager analyzes various options/projects, taking into account the specific risk/return profile, and makes recommendations for action to the management.
- Financing the company: From which sources should the company obtain its capital or how should it be financed? This includes both long-term and short-term aspects (cash management) as well as determining the optimal financing and capital structure.
- Use of returns or free funds: How does the company deal with any returns? For example, are dividends paid or is the capital reinvested?
- Working capital management: How can smooth operation be ensured and the short-term tied-up capital optimized in such a way that all due liabilities can be serviced at any time and at the same time as little capital as possible is tied up in current assets?
The Corporate Finance Manager is therefore responsible for the capital structure of the company and the financing of activities that increase the value of the company. In other words: He ensures that his company is financially sound – i.e. above all in accordance with the desired risk/return profile – and that his capital is invested sensibly.
Internal consultant with close connection to management
When a company has centralized the M&A function, this is usually located in the Corporate Finance organizational area. In his role, the Manager Corporate Finance is to be seen as an internal advisor. Because he analyzes various options and gives recommendations for action and assessments to the company management.
Despite the similar naming, manager corporate finance and manager finance or finance manager often refer to different roles. The latter are often responsible for all of the finance departments (finance and accounting, controlling, etc.) in a higher-level position. In other cases, the tasks of Financial Planning & Analysis are bundled to support the operational business units. The corporate finance manager, on the other hand, considers the capital investment decisions and the cash situation of the entire company.
Corporate finance is relevant for every company, but not every company employs specialized corporate finance managers. These work primarily in listed companies and other types of companies with sales in the three-digit millions. There they report directly to the CFO and also work closely with the CEO.
Corporate finance and digitization
Digitization is having a profound impact on the work of the Corporate Finance Manager, because compared to before it brings with it the following possibilities:
- Amount of data: Much more data is available that can be digitally evaluated and made usable. As a result, there is now data and data links that were previously not available to the manager of corporate finance.
- Automation and Robotics: Automation offers the opportunity to take the productivity and performance of the field to a higher level. In order to perceive these, the corporate finance manager needs a clear understanding of which activities can be automated. In addition, he must fundamentally redesign processes and the organization around technological development and keep them agile. Processes within corporate finance management are simplified, which means that some simpler activities have been eliminated and the range of tasks has increased again in terms of quality.
- Visualization: With the help of a variety of tools, relevant information, data and complex issues can be displayed and made available in a target group-oriented, intuitive and real-time manner – and thus promote focused problem-solving discussions.
- Speed: Due to the availability of data in digital form, new technology concepts and software solutions as well as higher computing capacities, large amounts of data can be processed faster. This allows the corporate finance manager to make or prepare decisions in less time.
- Linking: As part of “Advanced Analytics”, data can be related to one another and compared. This not only improves the ability to make forecasts, since historical developments and patterns can be used. In addition, so-called “granular areas” are also revealed — areas that were not previously visible. Above all, companies that have been on the market for a long time and are therefore growing slowly can benefit here in particular.
Digitization will continue to advance and mean further changes for the area of corporate finance. Managers of corporate finance must therefore grasp the possibilities offered by the technology and the advantages that result from this for their own work area.
In addition, major changes can be expected in the future with regard to business models: companies not only have to ask themselves more: What do I really have to do myself and what should I leave to others? Rather, more and more companies are emerging — often digitally driven — with new business models and in a very short time.
For the Manager Corporate Finance, this has an impact primarily in the area of investments. Because investments in startups and the promotion of incubators and accelerators are increasingly becoming the focus of companies – especially if they are already established and have been on the market for a long time.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Degree in economics, ideally with a focus on finance and accounting or financing
- Starting salary: €60,000
- Top salary: €250,000
- Opportunities for advancement: CFO, management consultancy, investment banks, private equity, family office investors
What does a Corporate Finance Manager do?
- Head of Corporate Finance (and M&A)
- Treasury and risk management
- Preparation of capital use and financing decisions
- Liquidity planning and procurement
- Preparation of capital market transactions and coordination of cooperation with financial service providers and, if necessary, advisory firms
- Determination of company values
- Financial due diligence and preparation of structuring for M&A and investment projects
- Analysis, reporting, preparation of information and KPIs for corporate management and, if necessary, the supervisory board and other stakeholders
- Sparring partner for CFO and CEO (and possibly board members of the business units)
- Sparring partner for managing other functions (e.g. taxes)
- Digitization of the area
- Knowledge and expertise development of the organization in the areas relevant to corporate finance
How do you become a Corporate Finance Manager?
System-based processes are constantly gaining in importance, which is why it is crucial, especially with a view to future security, for a corporate finance manager to act confidently in systems and to understand processes. In addition, corporate finance managers should have the following skills:
- Successfully completed studies in business administration or another subject with an additional business administration qualification (e.g. MBA)
- several years of professional experience in the field of corporate finance/ M&A in a dynamic environment; transaction experience
- Experience in a managerial position in the financial sector
- Ability to assess the risks and opportunities of financing options with different maturities
- Skills in financial modeling and the common procedures for company valuations
- Knowledge of the possibilities of digitization
- IT skills are an advantage
- Understanding of derivative financial instruments and regulations as well as accounting and tax standards
- Familiarity with preparing financial statements and reports
- International professional experience an advantage
- possibly a degree as an auditor or Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Fluency in spoken and written English
What does a Corporate Finance Manager earn?
up to €250,000
A corporate finance manager earns between € 60,000 and €250,000 a year. The upper items still include variable components. The range is large because the salary depends on a variety of factors. The most important criterion is professional experience. The size of the company is also dependent on this and is an additional factor – and accordingly the range of tasks and responsibility that a manager of corporate finance has.
Industry experts assume that the area of corporate finance as a whole — and thus also the position of the corporate finance manager, if he knows how to structure his position — will continue to gain in importance in the future. It is therefore to be expected that the salary level will also increase again.
What do you expect from the Manager Corporate Finance?
A corporate finance manager uses his strong analytical and conceptual skills as well as his high level of economic understanding to set up and control the financial structure of a company in a solid manner. He is problem-solving and results-oriented. In addition, he strives to prepare decisions in such a way that they can be made with appropriate information transparency and as intelligently as possible and enable creative solutions. To do this, he should network and position himself well inside and outside the company.
The larger and more international a company is, the more corporate finance managers have to travel. Because they maintain contact with banks and stock market analysts, attend shareholders’ meetings and inspect potential target companies for planned M&A projects.
In addition, he must be able to communicate and present very well, to clarify and understand complex issues and to have negotiating skills. Last but not least, as an advisor to the board, the manager of corporate finance is close to the top decision-makers and gains insight into a range of sensitive data. Integrity and accountability are therefore essential.
Opportunities for advancement as Manager Corporate Finance
A corporate finance manager has a very high status in the company. He knows the figures and the processes very well and is usually well networked. Against this background, corporate finance managers have very good chances of becoming CFOs. The path to management consulting, investment banks, private equity and family office investors is also possible.
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