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Consulting Career Path

I want your guidance as at this stage I am very confused. Brief about myself: I am a CPA with over 8 years combined experience in public accounting and private industry. Now I am considering to make a switch to consulting job such as accounting/controller consultants. Problem is I'm not real clear on what these opportunities actually look like. Would it be difficult for me to make a transition from consulting job to a full time job later on? Also how do you decide hourly rates for a part-time controller engagement? Any and all advice and tips are welcome and greatly appreciated.

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

No offense (since you are Anonymous, we don't know who you are) but by your questions asked, you are not ready to be a consultant. This is not to say you are or aren't qualified, because as previously said, we don't know you.

Consulting is a business. Businesses should have a plan which includes marketing. Marketing research should give you these answers. The rates for interim or part-time controllers/accountants are tied to your local economy, the size of the firms you will be working with and your value proposition.

You may be better off working for a consulting group for a year or two to fully understand the consulting market (which is different that working private and public businesses in many respects, in others it is exactly the same).

As for getting hired later on, IHMO that is a crap shoot, it's all about the hiring manager or those who are screening. If they understand what the job is about, what your consulting was about it should be a value add for you and them; if they don't, yes it will hurt your chances.

Good luck!

L. Keith Jordan
Title: Sole Proprietor
Company: L. Keith Jordan, CPA
LinkedIn Profile
(Sole Proprietor, L. Keith Jordan, CPA) |

I absolutely agree with Wayne. Further, if you envision getting "a full time job later on," your quandry once again points to your lack of readiness to pursue the direction being considered.

As Wayne points out, consulting is a business. As a general rule, one should consider a business a going-concern -- not a temporary endeavor.

Roger Hardie
Title: Financial Controller
Company: Expert Home
LinkedIn Profile
(Financial Controller, Expert Home) |

Picking up form Keith & Wayne. I know of some individuals who are CPA/CFO consultants who can command good $$$, typically you have to have a top drawer resume, and have acquired sought after experience in IPO, M&A, ERP implementation, Start Up, SOX, Bankruptcy. Money is good, but contracts can be lean.
From your post I gather that you are CPA who could fill the role of an controller on a contract basis. I have worked as a Accounting Professional on a contract basis for 10+ years. (Roles= year end, Maternity leave, special projects) This is my experience
Pro's: huge exposure & exciting new challenges. Can work for as many as 4 companies across all industry sectors & seizes in a year. Variety in roles and mandates. - dare I say, can avoid some of the office politics. I have friends who like the variety and will not go back to full time, will even quit a contract and look for new work if they are getting "bored" . Can be financially rewarding. Can build a solid Network with all the people you come in contact with.
Cons: Not really invested in, if you contract rarely get to go on a course/training that is not self funded. Can be stressful, some companies are FUBAR and the expectation of results is unreasonable. You are the first to go if there is any change at C-level, strategy, downturn, regardless of your efforts. (some large companies off load contractors indiscriminately if costs need to pared). If you can carve a niche, or have a very good network you can rotate from one contract to another, otherwise you can have weeks, or months between contracts. - I met a contractor who had carved out a niche in NGO's. He rotated contracts from 4 NGO's and could plan his contract schedule a year in advance
Q: Rates, = supply and demand, during downturn you can take a hit of 30% of your normal rate, as there are many contractors applying for the role, when times are good you can get paid very well for a fun contract
Q: I transitioned from contract to perm role, not that difficult, some contractors are offered perm jobs in the company that you are contracting in (not as often as you think). The main thing to do when you want to transition is warm up your Network.
Q: Opportunities can be great, some contract work is start up, or new project, with the exposure you can see if there is a niche that you are good at, and pursue that. Possibly getting enough sought after experience to achieve the Holy Grail - CPA/CFO consultant

John Herndon
Title: Senior Consultant
Company: NOWCFO
(Senior Consultant, NOWCFO) |

You have 8 years of experience in public accounting and private industry but you do not say in which specific areas. Without subject matter expertise, I would no suggest the course of action you have focused on.

I’ve been consulting for 11 years with pre-ipo, VC backed companies and small to medium sized start up/established companies. I’ve worked on valuations, foreign currency issues, international taxation (i.e., transfer pricing), establishing legal entities, writing inter-company agreements, revenue recognition, profit splits, consolidations, contract negotiations, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, ERP enhancements/implementations, I’ve gotten two masters degrees and started my own consulting company, etc…..

I set out 11 years ago to gain access to high visibility subjects, tasks and projects….everything I set out to do I’ve accomplished and then some. Bottom line I had to have experience in these areas to consult in these areas. If you don't have the knowledge, what are you offering your clients exactly?

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