Many Financial Executives Find Consulting an Attractive Bridge to Retirement

By Robert Half on May 6, 2014 at 7:00am

As they progress in their careers, many executives may feel the pull of two competing forces: the desire to work and the desire to spend more time pursuing personal interests. Fortunately, the choice isn’t an either/or one. In fact, in a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey, three in four chief financial officers said they find consulting an attractive bridge to retirement.

Being a finance consultant allows professionals to continue lending their expertise to organizations while enjoying greater control over their schedules, resulting in more flexibility and better work-life balance.

Consulting also provides career rewards. For example, an executive can step into an interim executive position to help a company during its pre-IPO period or give stability to an organization searching for a full-time hire. Finance and accounting professionals also can provide specialized expertise they’ve accumulated over their careers, such as guiding an ERP implementation process or supporting new compliance initiatives.

The press release posted below includes the broader survey results along with questions for professionals thinking about consulting to consider.

Survey: Three-Fourths of CFOs See Appeal in Consulting When They Near Retirement 

MENLO PARK, Calif. -- For chief financial officers (CFOs) who may not be ready to stop working upon retirement, consulting is an enticing option, according to a recent survey from Robert Half Management Resources. Among financial executives interviewed, three in four (75 percent) said they find the prospect of consulting somewhat or very attractive.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world’s premier provider of senior-level finance, accounting and business systems professionals on a project and interim basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with more than 2,100 CFOs from a random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. markets.

CFOs were asked, “How attractive would you find the prospect of consulting when you approach retirement?” Their responses:

Very attractive: 17%
Somewhat attractive: 58%
Not at all attractive: 23%
Don’t know/no answer: 2%

View an infographic featuring the research findings.
“Financial professionals who are ready for a change but don’t want to retire often choose consulting as their next career step,” said Paul McDonald, Robert Half senior executive director. “Project work provides intellectual challenge, the opportunity to take on new types of assignments and the ability to mentor others.”
For those deciding whether to transition to project consulting, here are four questions to consider before making the move:

1. What do you hope to accomplish through consulting? You may be looking to work fewer hours or at your own pace, or to bring in supplemental income once you leave your full-time job. Whatever the reason, have a plan before you begin consulting to ensure you are on track to reach your goals.

2. What expertise can you provide? If you can serve a niche in your field, you’ll be in demand as a consultant. Think about a particular skill set or area of expertise you have trouble filling on your own team. The more marketable your skills are, the greater your opportunities. 
3. How much do you want to promote yourself? If you’d rather focus your time on consulting versus self-marketing, consider partnering with a staffing firm that can help locate consulting gigs for you. A staffing firm also can take care of logistics – such as billing and taxes – on your behalf.
4. Do you thrive in new environments? If you would happily trade the predictability of a full-time job for the variety and flexibility of project-based work, an encore career as a consultant may be right up your alley.  

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