Energy and utilities companies offer huge scope for in-house finance roles. It touches everything they do, from the maintenance and development of products and packages and pricing, to the safeguarding of power stations and financing the growth of the company overall.
The energy and utilities sector is regularly in the spotlight as a topic for debate in government and the media. Finance professionals working for these companies have to possess a deep understanding of the energy market and the particular challenges it faces; it colours the work that they do. Everyone needs an energy supplier, so this is a particularly competitive market to get involved with. Plenty to keep you busy!
In-house finance in the energy sector: typical projects…
An in-house finance role in finance will involve lots of analysis of various aspects of the company’s finances, perhaps on a particular group of customers or product, alternative or renewable energy resources such as nuclear power, operating costs, or tracking profitability of contracts, for example for domestic energy contracts.
Opportunities with in-house finance roles with energy companies can be open to graduates from any degree discipline, though some companies only recruit graduates with at least a 2:1 in accounting, finance or economics or a related subject for their finance roles.
A graduate scheme will give a taster of finance life in a number of different departments, and there’s often the opportunity to study for a professional qualification too alongside work, for example in accounting.
Possible career paths…
After a graduate scheme in-house finance professionals will usually join a division within the finance department and specialise. They may handle investments like derivatives (longer term debts used to generate capital in the long term for the company), liaising with investment bank representatives and investment consultants. Some professional focus on corporate planning, making calculations for budgets to apply to the company’s business strategies and other forecasting/planning duties.
Others focus on customer issues, or specialise in tax, ensuring the company submits the correct financial information in tax return season. They also ensure the company takes note of and adapts to ever-changing industry-specific tax legislation and regulations, such as the introduction of a new carbon tax or amendments to existing ones, as well as overall corporation taxes. Legal knowledge as well as a great head for numbers and industry knowledge is therefore necessary – it’s not just about number crunching!
Energy companies also need an army of specialist accountants to manage the books and conduct regular in-house audits across departments (investigations into the company’s finances to find out where things can be made more cost-effective and efficient). They also need accountants to be based at power stations to manage the accounts and advise managing engineers on financial aspects of their projects, production and maintenance work. There are also station finance managers based at power stations. These are the most senior finance roles at power plants; it’s their job to manage and oversee the entire financing of the plant and lead the rest of the finance team there.