A Move to Consulting Attractive for Most Financial Leaders

By Robert Half December 18, 2019 at 9:12am

What does the future hold for today’s finance executives? Findings from a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey of CFOs suggest a move to consulting may be in the cards for many of these highly skilled and experienced professionals.

Nine in 10 respondents to our company's survey said they think a career in consulting is attractive to senior-level accounting and finance executives. Of those respondents, about half (47%) said they find such a move very attractive, and 43% consider it at least somewhat attractive.

What do finance executives find appealing about the consulting path? For 27% of survey respondents who consider consulting an attractive option, it’s the variety and challenge of the work — a 10-point jump from a similar survey we conducted in 2015. For about two in 10 CFOs, attractive compensation (21%) and a flexible schedule (20%) are the biggest draws of the consulting career path.

For complete findings from our recent survey of more than 1,000 CFOs in the United States, check out this infographic.

Why now is a good time to consider a consulting career

One reason consulting work is on the rise is because many people want to work longer in their careers and take on new challenges. Consulting also helps professionals accelerate their career growth and continue learning skills and knowledge while enjoying greater flexibility in their work schedules.

Companies are also facing a range of staffing challenges today, including skilled talent shortages, lean middle-management teams and a lack of skills in-house to tackle strategic projects, such as an acquisition or a system implementation related to digital transformation. So, in response, they turn to consultants and other interim professionals who can provide specialized expertise and help ease the burden on their core teams.

Many businesses see using specialized consultants as an ongoing staffing strategy. They have embraced a new labor model for finance that is designed for the digital age. They rely on a flexible labor force that includes full-time employees who are focused on critical initiatives; interim and project-based professionals who help to support them, usually for a finite period; and other specialized resources that can provide additional capabilities and perform high-value work on an as-needed basis.

Download the free white paper, The Labor Model for Finance in the Digital Age, from Robert Half and Protiviti, a Robert Half subsidiary, for more insights on how companies are using in-demand talent, like consultants, to supplement their accounting and finance teams.

Attributes consultants need to succeed: 5 key traits

Consulting jobs offer freedom, a variety of work and possibilities for professional growth. They allow professionals to take the driver’s seat in their career progress while remaining in senior-level accounting and finance positions. But what attributes should finance executives bring to the table so that they can build a successful career in this challenging but rewarding profession? Here’s a look at five key traits:

Adaptability

Consultants must be comfortable acclimating to new people, processes and technologies as they move from one assignment to another.

Change management skills

Consultants often need to support teams during times of transition. Offering insights based on past experiences can help firms navigate new territory.

Drive and enthusiasm

Companies rely on consultants to take the initiative and help carry a project through to completion — and motivate staff and stakeholders along the way.

Soft skills

Consultants must be able to communicate information and ideas effectively, align diverse viewpoints, and collaborate with colleagues across the organization.

Technical expertise

Firms seek professionals who possess the subject matter knowledge and systems proficiency to parachute into a situation and hit the ground running.

Making the move to finance consulting

If you are a finance executive interested in becoming a consultant, a first step toward launching this new career is to determine the type of consulting work that is of greatest interest to you. Then, consider what skills and expertise you could offer to a company on a consulting basis. You’ll want to emphasize the range and depth of your experience, as well as your work ethic, when developing your consulting resume.

See this post for an overview of the different types of consulting.

A good starting place for leads on consulting opportunities is your own professional network. As you search for assignments, consider raising your visibility and growing your reputation as a thought leader by authoring articles for trade publications and presenting at industry events. Make sure your online profile is up to date and makes clear that you are actively seeking consulting work.

And keep in mind that you don’t have to go it alone in your search for assignments. Consider working with a staffing firm like Robert Half Management Resources, which specializes in placing senior-level accounting and finance specialists in consulting roles. When you work with a staffing agency, you still have the ability to pick and choose your assignments. And if the duration or timing of a project opportunity doesn’t suit your schedule or your desire to consult on a part-time basis, you’re under no obligation to accept the assignment.

A well-established staffing firm can also help ease your transition to consulting by securing engagements and managing the logistical aspects, such as invoices and payroll. And that will allow you to focus on a key reason the consulting path no doubt attracted you in the first place: the work.

Learn more about the benefits of working with a staffing firm in this post.

Want to get started?

If you’re ready to begin looking for consulting positions, Robert Half Management Resources can help. We specialize in placing highly skilled, senior-level professionals in consulting and interim management positions in the areas of finance and accounting, financial optimization, business systems, risk and compliance, taxation, and operations management.

See this page for an overview of the management consulting roles that we most commonly place, along with job descriptions that detail the typical responsibilities, skills, experience and educational requirements for those various positions.

You can also start your search for consulting assignments right from our website. Just click on the button below to start looking for interim project-based financial jobs in your target market.

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