It’s no secret that successful financial consulting requires staying on top of business and economic trends. You must be well-versed in factors affecting the business climate, such as compliance regulations, hiring trends and security risks.
As a financial consultant, how can you ensure you’re up to the minute on breaking developments that might impact your clients? Here are four tips to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening.
1. Broaden your sources of industry trends.
Relying on one or two reliable, proven sources of information on economic trends can be tempting. Yet, by branching out and expanding your repertoire of publications, you’ll be exposed to new and different opinions.
Look for outlets offering perspectives that diverge from the norm. Also tap into different content types, including webinars, some of which qualify for continuing professional education credit, videos and podcasts. The diversity in voices and perspectives from these sources will give you a broader, deeper view of the forces shaping accounting and finance and your client's business and help you identify other thoughts leaders you’d like to add to your network.
2. Go offline.
The Internet is an incredible tool when it comes to staying in touch with industry peers and updates. In fact, a Robert Half Management Resources survey found CFOs, in general, prefer networking online.
However, don’t neglect the value of in-person industry and professional development events. Perhaps the keynote speaker is an expert who’s just released groundbreaking research. Or maybe you’ll get a juicy insight from a fellow attendee during lunch or a social gathering. Your client may be willing to pay your conference fees, especially when they see how much you'll learn and how you can bring that knowledge back to the office.
3. Use your network.
You haven’t spent years — or even decades — building your network merely for the sake of having a fat Rolodex. Each contact is an individual with access to information. Reach out to them, whether it’s through a monthly happy hour gathering, joining a LinkedIn group or just replying to a tweet.
Start a discussion about the economy or the latest trends, and be sure to listen to and ask for their perspectives. Share what you've learned and respond to others' questions. Everyone appreciates colleagues with helpful, generous attitudes.
4. Get tech savvy.
Is there a new app on the horizon that could help update financial information more quickly or improve your client's efficiencies? Do your contacts prefer tweeting? Are you as active on LinkedIn as you need to be?
Technology is essential when it comes to keeping up with economic and business trends. If you’re not as proficient as you'd like to be, research the relevant tools and consider working with a mentor, whichever steps you need to get up to speed quickly.