Flexibility, pay are top reasons finance chiefs consider consulting attractive

CFOs view consulting as an attractive career option, citing flexible schedules and compensation as top draws in a new survey.

Eighty-three per cent said they find consulting at least somewhat attractive in a survey by staffing firm Robert Half. That’s up from a similar survey last year, in which 75% said they considered consulting an enticing option as they approached retirement. This year’s survey did not include retirement in the question about consulting’s attractiveness.

Fifty-nine per cent said a career in consulting was somewhat attractive, and 24% said it was very attractive; just 13% said it was unattractive. A year ago, 23% called consulting unattractive as a close-to-retirement career option.

In the most recent survey, a flexible schedule (24%) and compensation (22%) were the top two aspects of consulting, followed by variety and challenge of work (17%), active employment (16%), and the ability to make decisions more autonomously (10%).

 “Many companies seek on-demand subject matter expertise from independent consultants to help guide them through corporate transitions, such as IPOs, mergers or restatements, or managing business process improvements,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, said in a news release. “Professionals who have years of experience directing their organisation’s financial success are often the ideal resource to provide that counsel.”

Robert Half offered tips for those considering a move to finance consulting, including a suggestion to hire a staffing firm. The others:

  1. Determine your desired specialisation. What size or type of company interests you most? Do you want to be a troubleshooter, or do you want to guide a company through a stage of growth? Or maybe you will decide to focus on a specific type of engagement, such as compliance.
  2. Identify your most marketable attributes. Once you’ve determined the work that interests you, focus on the skills and experience that will make you attractive to target companies.
  3. Check in with your network. Let those you trust know you’re making a career switch, and be generous with your expertise, Robert Half says. This can remind contacts of your strengths and help you gain referrals that are a necessary boost when becoming a consultant.
  4. Build your visibility. Organisations want to work with committed, passionate experts, so it’s important to demonstrate expertise. You can write articles for trade publications, present at conferences, and be active on social media, sharing pertinent content.

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.