Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is the process by which a company seeks to grow through either combining with another company or purchasing the company outright. The business world today is far from stagnant, with large companies often seeking greater efficiency, cost savings or markets for their products by merging with other companies.

M&A specialists are professionals trained in facilitating this process for companies as much as possible. A diverse field with many different responsibilities for specialists depending on the progress of a deal, M&A can be an exciting option for those flexible enough to handle its many requirements.

Job Duties

The job of a mergers and acquisitions specialist is to facilitate the purchase or consolidation of companies from inception to the final merger. A merger is a complicated process, and the responsibilities of M&A specialists vary depending on the stage of a transaction. For this reason, potential M&A specialists must be highly flexible in handling a wide range of duties as needs arise.

Before any merger can take place, an M&A specialist must research potential acquisitions to find those that are both relevant to the larger company and financially beneficial. At this stage, an M&A specialist communicate directly with management personnel of other companies to identify the benefits of a deal and illustrate the terms of a proposed agreement. Companies who do not appear interested in a deal are filtered out at this stage.

With a communication link established between interested parties, the M&A specialist engages in what is known in the industry as “due diligence”. Due diligence is a financial analysis of all data relevant to the potential merger, including a risk assessment of the target company’s current management and operational structure. This audit is designed to provide the M&A specialist’s employers with as much data as possible on the financial benefits, and potential pitfalls, of the impending acquisition.

The next stage is the structuring of the deal itself, including negotiation of an equitable agreement, employee contracts, financing and future liabilities. M&A specialists are also responsible for assigning value to target companies based on asset worth and the comparable worth of similar companies.

The final stage is integration of the target company after the merger itself has been executed. At this stage, M&A specialists are responsible for carrying out management’s plan for integration as quickly and smoothly as possible so that the financial rewards of acquisition can begin to accumulate.

Salary Potential

Compensation for M&A specialists may vary considerably depending upon the size of the organization, their current skills and related experience. Salary and employment data may also vary according to geographic location and economic conditions.

Education and Training

M&A tends to require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a field such as accounting, business or finance. In recent years, many M&A specialists have pursued either MBA degrees with specialization in the above fields or, in some cases, law degrees. While certifications are not required for entrance into this field, applicants may find Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certifications useful in improving job prospects.

Beyond formal education, M&A specialists are required to have a thorough understanding of accounts, market research and negotiation strategies. Strong communication and interpersonal abilities, in addition to business acumen, are very important for those interested in the field.

Is a career in mergers and acquisitions right for you?

M&A is an exciting field with continued opportunities for those with sufficient training and experience. As companies continue to seek mergers into larger and larger entities, often beyond borders, M&A specialists are expected to see rising demand for their expertise. While M&A can be a stressful field, requiring long hours and frequent travel to secure deals, it can also be very rewarding for those with the right skills and personality. If you have an interest in business negotiation, accounts, law and in helping companies grow, a career as an M&A specialist may be an excellent option.

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