The Consulting Career Path Means Working Happy for Many Finance Pros

By Robert Half on February 10, 2017 at 1:30pm

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Happiness at work is an individual experience. No two professionals have the same needs, goals, preferences and personalities. However, according to new research from Robert Half and Happiness Works, there are several universal factors that directly affect the level of a person’s happiness in his or her career. Topping the list? “Right fit for job and company.”

It appears this notion of the “right fit” does not describe the current career situation for many finance professionals, though. Among all groups of professionals interviewed for the IT'S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY.™ study, finance professionals said they feel the least well-matched to their work. In addition, employees in the finance sector:

  • Said they are not able to use their strengths on the job to a high degree
  • Have the lowest level of interest in their work
  • Ranked last for on-the-job happiness

If you’re a finance professional who relates to these findings from our study, you might want to consider exploring a different but related direction for your career: consulting

Many highly skilled and experienced professionals in the finance industry decide to pursue the consulting career path specifically because they are seeking greater job satisfaction. In a Robert Half survey, 94 per cent of CFOs said they considered a move to consulting attractive.

A consulting career allows finance professionals to:

Work on interesting and meaningful projects

Finance professionals who took part in the IT'S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY.™ research cited “a sense of accomplishment from work” as their top driver for career happiness. “Doing worthwhile work” was another top drive. A consulting career in finance can help fulfill both needs by providing you the opportunity to work on diverse and challenging projects for clients and making the best use of your skills and knowledge.

When asked what they like most about consulting, 63 per cent of Robert Half Management Resources consultants said they enjoy the “variety of interim or project opportunities” this career track offers. As for job satisfaction: Professionals who feel they do worthwhile work are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be happy than those who feel the job they do is “just work,” according to our research report on workplace happiness.

Achieve better work-life balance

Findings for the IT'S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY.™ study indicate that professionals who work in the finance, accounting and financial services sectors have difficulty striking an equitable balance between their personal and professional responsibilities. Only about two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents in each field said they are satisfied with their work-life balance.

Flexible schedules are a top reason many finance professionals choose consulting and contract assignments over full-time work. When you work as a consultant, you can choose client projects that suit your lifestyle needs, and decide when to work more or fewer hours.

Build positive professional relationships

One of the key factors for career happiness, the IT'S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY.™ study found, is the ability to build positive workplace relationships. Camaraderie at work leads to better communication, cooperation and collaboration among all team members. These elements can help to fuel innovation in a workplace environment — as well as create a general feeling of positivity that makes people want to come to work at the company every day.

As a consultant, you have the opportunity not only to choose assignments that you feel are the right fit for you, but also work for different firms across industries, depending on your skills and experience. Consulting assignments can last weeks, months or even years. So, you will meet a variety of people along the consulting career path. You also have a chance to cultivate strong professional relationships that could endure long after you complete a project. And the more people you meet through your assignments, the further you can expand your professional network.

Know that their expertise is not only needed, but also appreciated

A key reason that firms engage consultants is to achieve vital business objectives that require specialized skills and depth of experience in a particular industry, knowledge area or both. Preparing for an initial public offering (IPO), pursuing a merger or acquisition deal, or meeting the requirements of a specific compliance mandate are just some examples of these types of projects.

Given the business-critical nature of these assignments, most consultants fully understand before they even begin a project how their contributions will have an impact on the business. Most clients are also quick to show their sincere appreciation for consultants’ efforts, especially when they see firsthand the results these professionals can deliver to their firms.

The latter point highlights another way that a consulting career can offer finance professionals a path to working happy: Our research found that “feeling appreciated” is one of the top influences on career happiness for all professionals. In fact, for finance professionals, it’s one of the top-five drivers.

Want to learn more about the consulting career path?

Go to our Consultants page, where you can search for consulting jobs, learn about the benefits of working with Robert Half Management Resources and upload your resume.

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