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Essentially, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) jobs involve the counseling of companies that are seeking to buy or take over other companies. Professionals in these jobs are required to be well versed in all sorts of ways of raising funds, from debt to equity, to finance M&A deals. Oftentimes, M&A activities will be delegated to a department of an established investment banking firm. The M&A professional employed by such an entity might be a person who holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, a lawyer who is an expert in the legal aspect of M&A deals or an accountant who mostly takes care of tax issues but can also help in the valuation of businesses. All three of these roles, and others in some cases, might require the candidates to work together to find ways to best structure a deal and accordingly advise the companies that are seeking to merge with or acquire other companies.
Mergers and acquisitions jobs might revolve around fields such as leveraged buyouts (LBOs), corporate takeovers, reverse mergers and more. Most of these jobs will have the aim of merging or buying companies to form one entity, but there are cases where M&A deals will have the purpose of breaking up companies to form separate entities. Also, M&A professionals might be expected to survey all departments to evaluate and determine whether particular mergers or acquisitions are good business strategies for their clients. Thus, M&A professionals are required to have an overall strong business acumen that allow them to understand different business models quickly.
Generally, mergers and acquisitions jobs will allow the professional to advise either the selling company or the buying company, and his or her job is to practically broker the best deal for the client. In a buyout, for example, the finance professional will advise the client about different ways of financing the M&A deal, which is normally through debt and equity issuance. He or she usually will also propose the proportions of debt and equity capital and might also be responsible for dealing with private equity investors, especially when the deal involves private companies.
An M&A lawyer will normally address the legal matters concerning the deal, and he or she will also likely have a good grasp on finance. The M&A accountant will tackle the tax issues, and he or she can also help in the appraisal of the company being bought. Moreover, both the lawyer and the accountant will work with the finance professional who is in charge of raising funds for the buying company. All three are charged with making sure that the deal makes sense and will likely be profitable for the client. Large M&A deals might require teams of finance professionals, lawyers, accountants and perhaps other parties.
Many mergers and acquisitions jobs will demand that a potential candidate has a degree in a discipline such as finance, management, accounting or law. One can gain an entry level job with an undergraduate degree in these disciplines, and he or she can ascend in the firm by applying himself or herself, and ideally by getting continual education for higher qualifications. The skills that are highly regarded include strong interpersonal skills, numerical and analytical adeptness, strategy, competent negotiation skills and the ability to handle complex deals. Moreover, mergers and acquisitions jobs might demand prolonged work hours, so perseverance is a good trait for one to have for this type of career.
Typically, to get a shot at many mergers and acquisitions jobs, one might need to start as financial analyst for an investment bank. The analyst can get hired fresh out of college, then he or she will work for the firm to gain experience. At the same time, he or she might continue his or her education in order to get an MBA or the other relevant qualifications. He or she can work for the firm while studying concurrently, which can be ideal for some people, because it increases the chances to get a better and higher position with the firm, along with a higher salary.
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