As we get further into busy season, public accounting firms are gearing up for the influx of work and added responsibilities. However, this year’s busy season is likely to look different than ever before. In the aftermath of the pandemic, some firms went through hiring freezes or laid off parts of their tax and audit teams to make up for lost business. Others put a pause on most operational functions to focus on adapting to the uncertainty. All of these factors have contributed to a significant backlog of work.
“Facing double the work, firms know they have to double their efforts to get through the backlog,” says Alex Wright, Vice President of The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division. “Now that they have the foundation to operate in a remote capacity, firms are focused on hiring high-level accounting consultants who can hit the ground running.”
Due to the project-based nature of audit and tax work, hiring on a contract basis is a strategic way for firms to tackle the increased workload. “In an environment where things are changing by the day, this hiring strategy is becoming increasingly common among top tier accounting firms,” says Alex. “If you’re thinking about becoming an accounting consultant, either on a full-time or part-time basis, there are a ton of career benefits for you as well.”
If you are thinking of becoming an accounting consultant, here are three reasons why you’ll want to take advantage of this hiring trend:
You have the control
When you take on consulting or project-based work, you have more control over the companies you work for. Because of this, you can make a change if your assignment isn’t right for you, and you can find opportunities that allow you to diversify your experience, gain new skills, and try out different industries. For example, if you’ve primarily worked with individual tax clients, pursuing a path as an accounting consultant could present the opportunity to work with high-net worth clientele on a much larger scale. This could provide you with a more challenging experience—helping you develop new skills throughout each new assignment.
Access to new technology
As a public accountant working with the same client or industry, it can be easy to become complacent with the technology and/or software you are using. In this day and age, however, the demand for tech-savvy accountants will only grow stronger.
“The pandemic has led to a digital revolution across the industry,” says Alex. “Firms that may have dragged their feet in the past, are making strong investments in cloud and automated technology. Accountants must follow these trends, and gain the skills needed to adapt and keep pace with these changes.”
By giving you exposure to different tools and software, working as an accounting consultant can help you become a more marketable candidate for future opportunities.
The opportunity to get your foot in the door
Additionally, a great temporary experience has the potential to transition into a full-time position. “In some cases, these consulting opportunities can serve as a working interview where the employer can extend you a longer-term or full-time offer based on your performance,” explains Alex. “This also gives you the opportunity to evaluate the fit before making a long-term commitment.”