With more regulations affecting businesses and new technology emerging, firms are hungry for specialized professionals to handle complex finance and accounting projects.
However, many organizations may not need this expertise on a full-time basis. This is where financial consultants come in.
Financial consulting can be a rewarding career path for senior-level accounting and financial professionals who have the right expertise and experience. Our research shows that nine out of ten Canadian financial executives consider a move to consulting attractive, and are enticed by the flexibility and compensation of working as a consultant.
Whether you’re currently a finance consultant or considering making the move, here are three top attributes you’ll need to succeed:
Financial consultants are hired by companies both large and small, as well as by public, private and nonprofit organizations, to help solve problems and achieve strategic goals. As a financial consultant, you could be engaged to help steer regulatory compliance initiatives at a large public financial institution or asked to fill an interim management role at a fast-growing company. Says David King, Canadian president of Robert Half Management Resources, "Many financial executives are attracted to the challenge and variety that consulting work offers, which means good news for companies seeking immediate and highly-experienced interim support."
The variety of assignments you might experience working in consultant jobs requires you to adapt easily to different work environments and accept new challenges head-on. Many consultants consider the diversity of their work to be one of the top perks of their careers.
2. Sharp skills and expertise
Because many companies will bring in financial consultants to help solve complex problems, hiring managers will expect you to be prepared to provide viable solutions. In short, they want to hire experts. And the most successful consultants understand that whatever the project or business challenge may be, they’ve been asked to come in and set things right for the organization.
To remain an expert, a financial consultant must continually refine his or her skills. View learning as a lifelong process, stay on top of industry trends, and figure out which skills are in high demand for the types of roles you seek.
Keep in mind it’s not just technical expertise you’ll need. Nontechnical skills, or soft skills, are in growing demand for financial professionals. In addition to adaptability, strong communication and collaboration abilities are particularly important for consultants as they work in diverse business environments.
3. Strong leadership
Financial consultants must also have the motivation and confidence to step into leadership roles in any setting. Whether you've been asked to use your high-level skills to push a complex project forward or take on an interim management position, a large part of your success will depend on your ability to meet a challenge and run with it.
The best financial consultants are self-starters who can identify the obstacles standing in the way of a project and use their creativity and innovation to overcome them. Your leadership skills will also come in handy as you prepare to wind down your portion of the project, and to give full-time employees the tools they will need to pick up where you leave off once the initiative is completed.
Financial consultant jobs may be for a finite time, but they have lasting effects on the companies you work with. Flexibility, high-level skills and a natural drive for leadership will have a huge impact on your success in this field.