Here’s how you can break into the M&A field
In 2016, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for over US$26.2 billion. Google acquired Android for US$50 million in 2005. In 1999, oil giants Exxon and Mobil merged to form Exxon Mobil Corporation in a US$250 billion deal. There are many reasons companies pursue mergers and acquisitions (M&A), including to acquire assets or technology, increase their market share or to diversify their products or services.
M&As can be very complex and challenging, in addition to being highly competitive to get into investment banking.
Askivy.net notes that there are a myriad of benefits of going into M&A, some of which include its lucrative pay, equipping candidates with essential skills such as discipline and attention to detail, while the tough environment will teach you essential people skills to navigate an environment where the stakes are high and people are constantly under stress and pressure.
Despite the perks and skills that you stand to gain, the field is not for the faint of heart, as described by one former junior M&A to The Guardian back in 2012: “In the first year I would work from 9.30 am till 3 am, every day.”
Eighteen-hour workdays aside, he added, “Basically M&A teaches you to truly understand a company; to analyse it the way a doctor would with a human body. You build models of how the company operates, where it might improve in the future, and how. It’s genuinely stimulating work.”
Getting into M&A
Typically, individuals who get into M&A have accounting, finance, economics, or business degrees, but those gunning for higher positions may need additional qualifications such as an MBA.
For those who are still in university, having good grades matter, but so do your networking skills. Doing internships and networking with industry professionals are some of the things you can do to break into the field and find out about potential opportunities. You can do this with the help of your professors, friends, and families.
For working professionals who are already in a related field, there are many online courses with reputable online learning resources such as edX and Coursera you can turn to, or even executive education courses at universities.
Coursera, for instance, offers a professional certificate programme in M&A, which is taught by instructors with decades of experience on Wall Street.
The programme equips analysts and associates with the skills they need to rise in the M&A field. It adds that directors and managers who have transitioned or hope to transition, to M&A from other areas, such as equities or fixed income, can also use this programme to eliminate skill gaps, notes its website.
Conversely, London Business School offers a five-day M&A programme for senior managers and business leaders who are, or want to be, involved in growing their organisations through M&A.
Students will explore the M&A deal cycle from start to finish by hearing guest speakers who’ll bring the entire deal cycle to life; delve into world-class case studies covering a range of deal sizes, and develop corporate acquisitions strategy and investigate up-to-the-minute developments in the M&A industry, among others.
The Graduate School of Stanford Business also offers executive education in M&A, where students learn via a combination of lectures, case studies, class discussions, hands-on learning, and visits from guest speakers.
Without a doubt, M&A serves as an interesting area to get into if you’re ready to embrace the challenges that come with the territory. With some hard work, perseverance, and willingness to learn, breaking into the field is possible.