Create your consulting career

Nov 05, 2019
If you’re considering a move to consulting after you qualify, Lisa Hughes ACA, Team Lead in Barden, tells you what you need to know.

Consulting – everyone has a different understanding of this broad and all-encompassing term, and it’s often an attractive career path for this very reason. Over the last five years, an increasing number of newly qualified accountants have opted for a stint in “consulting” post training contract, but what is consulting all about?

Here are seven keys areas you need to understand before jumping into the consulting pool.

Finance transformation

As simple as it sounds, finance transformation teams help transform finance functions! ‘Transformation’ can cover anything from devising and implementing a target operating model to ensure optimal performance within the finance function with regards to people and processes, to working with CFOs to map out their strategy, or to improve/upgrade/implement a finance system. All these activities ultimately aim to identify areas of improvement and drive efficiency within a finance function.

Financial accounting and advisory

This is a broad area of consulting within itself. It can range from outsourced accounting to improving finance processes, to working with finance functions to understanding how new accounting standards impact how they operate. This type of consulting can be a good option for people who enjoy client-facing roles and work across a variety of industries, as opposed to working as an accountant in one particular industry. It’s like the best of both worlds between practice and industry.

Risk advisory

This is an increasingly growing area of consulting as businesses are under more scrutiny than ever in terms of ensuring they are compliant with regulatory standards. The ultimate objective is to work together with clients to advise and implement best practice, minimising their exposure to risk across areas such as Internal Audit, Governance, IT Risk and Regulatory Risk.

Project management

These teams often work with consultants from other teams to assist organisations who are going through change projects. They assist with the roll-out of such projects, ensuring effective and efficient execution. The nature of these projects tends to be wide-ranging and varied, so each project can have a different focus/goal to the last one. Consultants in these teams often have qualifications in project management, as well as a natural love of working on a varied mix of projects with clients across industries.

Financial services advisory

These teams work with financial services clients to ensure best practice and efficient operating models in this highly regulated market. Consultants in this space have very particular expertise and are focused on providing solutions in the fast-paced and ever-changing environment. A career path in this area can lead you to being a subject matter expert in your chosen field.


This broad heading can include data analytics, cyber security and forensics among other offerings. These teams offer organisations advice to ensure they are maximising the technology they have in place, and also suggest new technologies that offer increased efficiencies and improved ways of working. They also provide advice on privacy and confidentiality. This is a rapidly growing area of consulting in today’s increasingly tech-driven world. These teams empower their clients to use data to make key finance and strategic decisions.

HR consulting/people and organisation advisory

Consultants with experience in HR, talent management, change management, etc. help clients who are undergoing wider transformation projects. They also provide advice on performance management, reward, talent management, mobility, etc. Organisations are constantly seeking to improve employee engagement and develop global workforces – these consulting teams help companies future-proof their businesses.

If you’re considering consulting after you qualify, make sure you  seek further qualification in the expertise you want to pursue. How you spend your first two to three years post qualification matters. Best to make that step armed with the right information.