The gold standard for global accountants is a full-time position at a large company, right? Not always. While some prefer the stability and predictability of joining a large international firm, it’s not the right path for every accountant at every stage of his or her professional life. A growing number of accountants are finding that working as a financial consultant is an excellent match for their temperament, lifestyle and career goals.
As the global economy continues to rebound, some companies may not be ready to commit to additional full-time staff, yet are eager to expand their workforce to meet a growing but unpredictable demand for their products or services. That’s where consultants providing interim management skills come in. What’s more, skilled financial consultants are in demand, so, depending on your area of expertise and experience, your chances of getting hired are good.
As a financial consultant, you bring a fresh eye and an outsider’s perspective— a boon to the client. You’re not weighed down by a we’ve-always-done-it-this-way mentality and may come up with process improvements the company hasn’t considered before. And because you’re not involved in office politics or personality issues, have a more objective stance than a company employee might.
Here are some answers to other questions you may have about becoming a financial consultant.
Isn’t temp work just for entry-level employees?
Not at all. That may have been the case decades ago, but in today’s fast-paced business climate, temporary staff can be found in companies of all sizes and in all sorts of roles around the world. A growing number of global companies hire financial analysts, controllers, senior accountants and other high-level professionals for short- and long-term projects. If you have in expertise in compliance, internal auditing, risk or international finance, your skills are even more in demand.
What’s in it for me?
Accountants go into interim management work for a variety of reasons:
- Flexibility of working when you want and choosing the assignments you’re interested in.
- Not getting bored by doing the same work over and over again for the same company.
- Getting to experience a wide variety of workplaces, corporate cultures and personalities.
- Meeting and adding professional contacts to your network.
- An opportunity to sharpen the skills in your toolbox and to add new ones.
- Honing in-demand soft skills such as adaptability, leadership and teamwork.
- A good way to ramp down and transition into retirement for professionals near the end of their career.
Why do organizations hire interim help?
Many organizations need project-based accounting help during busy times such as tax season and the end of a fiscal year. Companies may also need interim management assistance if they’re going through a transition period, handling major organizational changes or recovering from a crisis. In addition, many small companies use financial consultants in lieu of making full-time hires. Whether it’s preparing for an audit or overhauling a financial system, engaging temporary workers is a quick and efficient staffing solution.
How much can I expect to earn?
The compensation for interim management jobs varies widely depending on the client, the demands of the project and the experience of the financial consultant. You can set your own rates or negotiate what the client offers. The fee structure also varies: billable hours, flat fee for deliverables, a commission or a percentage-based amount. When companies are actively looking for temporary personnel to work in high-level positions and the demand outweighs the supply, the remuneration can be quite high.
How do I start as a consultant?
Financial professionals entering interim management can go about it in two ways: on their own or working with a staffing firm. With the former, you’ll need to find clients, and be willing and able to sell yourself and your services. Or you could sign up with a reputable staffing firm and have recruiters find assignments for you. It’s best to find a firm that specializes in placing senior-level consultants as their networks are generally more targeted than generalist firms.
Consultants stay with each company for a limited time, but the work they do lasts long after they’re gone. As a financial consultant, you also get a host of benefits: deeper insight, greater perspective, more experience and a nice paycheck.