M&A

Best M&A Courses/ Certifications ranked by Bankers (2022)

In Finance Courses & Certifications by Gaurav SharmaUpdated On:

4 trillion US dollars. That is the annual M&A deal volume as estimated by PwC. That is a big, juicy pie and investment banks and M&A consultants are tripping over themselves to get a slice of that pie. M&A continues to be one of the most rewarding careers within investment banking but it’s also one of the hardest to break into. A lot of very smart people are vying for a small number of opportunities and you need every edge you can get your hands on.

M&A is not just about the bankers though. CFOs, CEOs, business owners, M&A consultants and lawyers, regulators etc. all have a part to play. Their perspective may slightly different from the bankers, but they are just as responsible for the success of an M&A transactions and in some cases more so. A lot of mergers end up failing due to a myriad of issues and it is imperative to understand what makes them tick before diving in. M&A specialists perform activities ranging from due diligence and valuation to documentation and negotiations. You need to master these diverse set of skills in order to succeed as an M&A specialist and these courses and  certifications have been hand picked to help you do just that.

What to look for in an M&A Course

  • Personal Branding – M&A is pretty much the pinnacle of financial decision making with stakes higher than almost anything else. Which is why only the best bankers, lawyers, executives and business managers are selected for these roles. You need to demonstrate that capability.
  • M&A Focus – There are plenty of well-known finance certifications like the CFA or FRM but none of them focus on M&A specifically. Which is why this list is made up of courses that focus on M&A and the skills that you need for this role. This topic is distinct and expansive enough to be covered on it’s own.
  • Live Deal experience – Academic theory is all well and good, but you need practical knowledge and learn from actual M&A transactions. A good, solid case study is worth a hundred pages of theory in my opinion and this list has been ranked based on that philosophy.

1. Mergers & Acquisitions Professional Certificate from NYIF

Who should take this?

A purpose-built certification for M&A professionals from one of the pioneers of financial education in New York.

Course Review

This is one of the best overall M&A package that you will find anywhere. The New York Institute of Finance is a well-respected name with a long and storied lineage of training professionals in the financial services industry. This certificate will add a tonne of value to your CV. And with the amount of competition for these roles, you need every little bit of advantage that you can get.

Given the M&A focus, expect to learn about M&A rationale and decision making, sourcing and pitching deals, pricing transactions, valuations, projections, legal aspects, documentation, taxation, structuring, implementation and dozens of such topics. This is as good as you get and you won’t find a more comprehensive course on M&A anywhere. I looked.

The course is perfect for analysts, associates or interns looking to break into M&A. Whether you want to prepare for the selection process or impress the MD during you’re your internship/ rotation, this is the course you need.

They have designed this course with a laser focus on M&A, so you won’t have to worry about wasting time on unrelated fluff either. This laser focus is what you need to succeed in ac competitive field like M&A. There are plenty of other generic finance courses out there, but if you have deciding on M&A, then this is it.

Summary

Duration40 hours
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelIntermediate

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2. International Mergers & Acquisitions Expert (IM&A)

Who should take this?

Chief Executives, General Management.

Course Review

This certification is best suited for corporate professionals looking to shore up their M&A credentials, although investment banks can also benefit from it. The idea behind certifications like these is to signal your expertise to employers or other stakeholders. IMAA has built a reputation for training M&A professionals over the years and its a good brand to have on your CV.

The certification covers four key modules. The first one covers the basics like deal types, the process,. strategies, negotiation, success factors etc. This should give most learners a basic idea of what M&A is all about. You will also learn about LBOs, IPOs, divestitures, and other structures.

The second module covers due diligence. I know due indulgence doesn’t get much attention in the news or popular media, but it actually forms the core of an M&A transactions. Without proper due-diligence, any deal is bound to fall flat. This includes financial due-diligence, tax and legal due diligence, commercial due diligence and even HR and cultural fit analysis. You will learn all about it here.

This is followed up by the valuation module which is where all the math happens. DCF, multiples, valuation, payment structure etc. This is corporate finance 101 and then some. The final module is all about post-merger integration and that is where the magic happens. Trust me, getting the deal done is the easy part. Post-merger is where success is determined which is why due-diligence is so important. Its good that this module exists and it does a good job of informing participants of what to expect post-merger and how to navigate any challenges successfully.

Summary

Duration60 hours
FormatOnline or Onsite
LevelIntermediate

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3. The Law and Economics of Mergers and Acquisitions from LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Who should take this?

M&A bankers, M&A legal and due diligence teams, economists, senior corporate management dealing with mergers and acquisitions.

Course Review

LSE is a premiere, higher-education institute with 18 Nobel prize winners and 37 world leaders among its alumni and staff. It’s the ideal place to learn about the economics and legal principles of M&A. Some people tend to underestimate the importance of the legal aspects of M&A, but that is where the most time and effort is spent and its something that M&A bankers should be deeply interested in.

There are several modules with the first one focusing on the explaining the basic legal and economic structure of corporate transactions including contract theory and other relevant accounting and finance concepts. Then we move on to even more interesting topics like hedge fund activism and private M&A transactions, structures and contracts. The material provided is insightful even form the perspective of experienced bankers.

Next we move on to private equity transactions from a contractual point of view, value drivers, timelines and the general process. This is followed by public M&A transactions which is a whole different beast unto itself. Agency theory, synergies, value distribution, mandatory legal obligations, regulatory aspects and other such familiar concepts are explored in greater deal. There is good stuff here and I highly encourage you to download the brochure to see whats worth learning  in M&A.

We round things off the a topic on hostile takeovers. How to mount a defense against them, how to defeat them, the functions and types of defences as well as their pros and cons. The regulations surrounding these takeover defences across various jurisdictions and corporate law. All in all, this is a rigorous undertaking into the mechanics of M&A form the perspective of corporate leaders and senior M&A professionals at both banks and law firms.

Summary

Duration6 weeks (About 8 hours per week)
FormatFully online
LevelAdvanced

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4. Certified Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)

Who is it for?

A highly versatile certification suitable for all investment banking and finance roles. May be customized for M&A by selecting the right electives.

Course Review

The FMVA certification, in my opinion, is like the Lego of the finance world. There are so many electives you can choose from and you can customize it for almost any role within Investment Banking. Want M&A? Sure, there’s a module for that. Debt markets? Of course. LBO, Real Estate, even Start-Up modeling is available as an optional elective. Use all the tools they give you to make the right certification for you.

This versatility is essential in today’s world as deal flows and transactions are becoming less standardized with increasing volatility and disruption. Gone are the days where you could specialize in one vertical and expect to spend the next 5 decades there. Now you ahve to be agile and the FMVA has been built with that agility in mind and with 850K learners having signed up with CFI already, it seems to be working.

The CV value of the certification also does help. Its an up and coming certification which is rapidly gaining recognition around the world. The Corporate Finance Institute is well known in the finance community and the FMVA is their flagship certification. So you would be adding significant brand value to your CV and LinkedIn profile with this certification. Of course your academics still matter the most, but such certifications are your best at getting that extra boost in a  highly saturated job market.

Summary

Duration120 hours
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelIntermediate

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5. Executive Finance Programme from Oxford University

Course Review

This is an Executive level program meant for senior business leaders, CXOs, business owners, senior consultants and legal experts and other decision makers. Its also a great opportunity to get the Oxford brand on your CV and give your personal branding a serious boost.

This course covers the gamut of the financial challenges and decision making that finance executives have to deal with. IPOs, M&A, risk and other considerations are covered in detail from the perspective of top down decision making.

The approach that we have here is one where the basic concept is explained first  so that even non-finance managers can understand it and then you dive deeper into its strategic implications. I really like this approach as this is how executive level courses should be designed and structured.

Summary

Duration6 weeks, 8 hours a week
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelExecutive

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6. Advanced Valuation and Strategy – M&A, Private Equity, and Venture Capital from Erasmus University Rotterdam

Course Review

Another short course better suited for a general audience – finance, economics and business students, corporate executives and corporate finance professionals, general management, CXOs and so on. That does imply its an easy course though. Going for the honours certificate that they offer can prove rather interesting even for investment bankers.

The course covers all topics like NPV, Discounted Cash Flow modelling, real options, game theory etc. In addition to these basics, it touches upon some interesting topics like like how do value a leveraged buyout, how to value a high-tech venture with negative cash flows, how to incorporate rival bidders int he analysis and so on. Its an interesting, strategic take on things.

I highly recommend taking the honours certificate for some additional learning and extra brand value. They have managed to keep things interesting with a unique angle to some common M&A problems and everyone from IB hopefuls to experienced bankers and even senior managers should find something useful here.

Summary

Duration16 hours
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelIntermediate

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7. Chartered Investment Banking Analyst (CIBA)

Course Review

This is more than a course, it is a full-commitment certification designed specifically for investment banking roles. If you want something more to fortify your CV as well as your understanding of what being an investment banker is all about, this is it.

The New York Institute of Finance has custom built this for investment bankers based on almost a century of experience training bankers. This is more than just an academic course – it is designed and delivered form an industry perspective to get you ready on desk ready.

There is an entire week dedicated to M&A but other topics to get you ready for investment banking are also covered. Starting form financial accounting an credit risk to corporate finance, valuations, financial modelling and everything in between.

I would recommend this certification to anyone who is serious about a career in investment banking and willing to commit to it. M&A is by no means an easy field to break into and you need every edge you can get.

Summary

Duration25 days
FormatFully online virtual classroom
LevelAdvanced

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8. Mergers and Acquisitions from Stanford Executive Education

Course Review

This is an executive level course which means it is better suited to mid-level professionals looking to upgrade their M&A knowledge base. In that capacity though, this course excels.

A number of case studies, lectures from experience bankers and discussions with other senior M&A professionals (in various capacities) make this is a rather interesting option. You tackle real world issues like negotiations, deal designing, pricing, taxation, structuring, Financing etc.

The course does not teach basic M&A and for that you need to look at the top course recommended in this list. But if feel the profile of a mid-career executive with some M&A experience already and looking to punch above your weight, take this course.

Summary

  • Time to Complete: One week.
  • Course availability: In-person at Stanford.

9. Mergers and Acquisitions – The Relentless Pursuit of Synergy

Course Review

This is a short and sweet course to give beginners a basic understanding of M&A. The course is best suited for finance students who need a crash course in M&A or looking at an entry level role (internship/ analyst). For a broader and more comprehensive look at M&A, definitely check the top course on this list. This is an excellent course for beginners though.

The course covers topics M&A financing, LBOs, valuation, strategies, legal, regulatory and tax aspects, stakeholder management, and the entire M&A deal process. Almost every relevant topic is covered in some detail here and should give you enough of and ideas to do well in interviews and tests.

Best suited for students or your professionals who are interviewing or preparing for an M&A role. It gives you a solid foundational understating of all aspects of M&A and you definitely are better off having this knowledge before you walk into an interview.

Summary

  • Time to Complete: Around 20 hours.
  • Available fully online and on-demand via Coursera – a trusted eLearning platform.

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About the Author

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav started his finance career as an intern in Citi’s Institutional Clients Group in 2009, eventually ending up as an Associate Director at Standard Chartered Bank’s Corporate & Institutional Banking division a few years later. By 2016, he was an independent consultant helping FinTech start-ups in London with product development and launch. Gaurav also helps banks with their digital banking initiatives and advises PE & VC firms with investments in the financial services and FinTech sectors. Gaurav writes on topics ranging from EU banking regulations and tradional finance to Blockchain startups and the future of banking itself! He has an Engineering degree in Computer Science and an MBA with a double major in Finance and Marketing. He is also a Certified Financial Risk Manager.