How to Get into Consulting Career?

A career in consulting is exceptional. If you want to get into consulting career, this primer is for you. Use this as your go-to-resource to understand:

  • what consulting is all about
  • different types of consulting businesses
  • key consulting skills
  • mistakes you shouldn’t make as a consultant
  • how to launch yourself

Let’s begin.

Who Is a Consultant?

A consultant is a guide possessing vast knowledge within a particular industry and using that knowledge to help clients draw the best decisions. The purpose of a consultant is to analyse and advise.

For example, a client searching for business assessment will seek a strategic consultant or a client search for risk mitigation options will seek a regulatory compliance consultant. Consultants exist in every field such as financial, management and technical departments.

High earning potential, wide business exposure, opportunity of travel, leadership networking, freedom to make decisions, time flexibility and the chance to work with highly knowledgeable team members are some of the perks of a consulting career.

Different Types of Consulting Businesses

It’s important to categorize and understand different types of consulting businesses to put your career choice in perspective.

1x1.trans How to Get into Consulting Career?

1) Self-Employed Consultants or Consulting Firms

These are lone rangers. Much like a freelancer, the job of the consultant is to seek clients and offer consulting specializations which could be about anything. From web marketing strategies to financial analysis, there are consultants for every aspect of a business.

The self-employed consultants maintain total creative and business control. Starting from scratch, the business is built from ground-up and as such, it’s a learning experience for the consultant. There is a direct working relationship with the client and all the profits are of the consultant business owner.

A major drawback is the problem with convincing clients to get hired. Sometimes experience and talent falls short. The consultant has to market and sell services simultaneously and sometimes, the whole process of managing a consulting business becomes overwhelming.

2) Consulting Divisions of Major Brands

Companies like Oracle and IBM maintain consulting divisions for their major and associated products and services. These consulting divisions follow well-defined training programs, offer good career paths and use well-developed and proven methodologies to prosper consultancy services.

A major drawback for the consultant is the lack of decision control. Keeping aside lame policies, political machinations and other bureaucratic workings, sometimes the consultant has to force fit products into a consulting solution which is ethically not the right solution for the customer.

3) “Boutique” Consultancy

The “boutique” consultancy firms are those working with a small number of expert consultants and servicing selected industries. Working with them gives new consultants direct access to senior consultants who act as mentors and share industry insights. There is less bureaucracy and more opportunities.

A major drawback could be the lack of broad industry exposure and less infrastructural facilities.

4) Big Consulting Firms

Firms like Accenture and Price Waterhouse Coopers come under “big” consulting firm bracket. They work with Fortune 500 companies on global projects. These firms have well established consulting methodologies, well-defined career paths, training programs and preference towards young workers.

Lot of bureaucracy and rampant company politics is a major disadvantage. New entrants are often made to work conditions that leave much to be desired.

4 Key Consulting Skills

No matter what which consultant field and business type you choose, you need to have the 4 key consulting skills.

1) Interpersonal Skills

A consultant needs to possess interpersonal skills in order to relate to people within and outside the organisation. Trust and credibility is an important asset in consulting business.

You need to build rapport with other members of the organisation in a compelling and professional manner.

2) Excellent Data Comprehension

Whether you’re the lone ranger or working somewhere as a consultant, you need to be excellent in comprehending and interpreting new data. Consultants come across new data regularly and they can’t afford to spend days on analyzing them.

You have to possess the art of synthesizing any amount of data into effective presentations, and that too in a short amount of time.

3) Taking Responsibility for Actions

A lot rides on the opinion and advice of the consultant. When a client acts on your advice and it doesn’t work out, you’re held responsible. At such times, you can’t shirk responsibility or play blame game.

Clients pay handsomely as consultancy fees and they want it to be worth the amount in value-based opinion. Therefore, keep two things in mind. First, have faith in your ideas and second, be willing to accept your role in case if something goes wrong.

4) Cultivate ‘Systems Thinking’

A large or medium business organisation has various layers of operation and it is important for the consultant to understand where each ‘piece’ fits and how it contributes towards the organisation as a whole. This is called systems thinking and you can learn more about it here.

Moreover, an organisation functions based on its manpower and as such, it is useful to understand how the manpower reacts to change, be it to management changes or internal company policies. Check out the guide on change management.

3 Mistakes to Avoid as a Consultant

Whether you’re employed or self-employed as a consultant, avoid these three mistakes at all cost.

1) Favoring a Client over Another

Consultants working within the purview of an organisation should be mindful never to attach themselves with a particular client that makes other colleagues doubt authenticity of the consultant’s advice. This distorts the consultant’s reputation within the organisation and shadows career growth.

Secondly, self-employed consultants should not depend on a single client ever. You never know when the client pulls purse-strings and leaves you high and dry!

2) The ‘I-Know-Everything’ Attitude

The ‘I-know-everything’ is the death knell to any consulting career. We see many consultants walking with the air of someone who is indispensable or rather a God walking among mere mortals! The attitude is totally at fault.

As a consultant, you should also exhibit the desire to learn new things, a questioning attitude and receptive to changes.

3) Heavy Duty Presentations

You will be surprised to know that most consultants think that the prime agenda of consultants is to create presentations! However, are the presentations actually useful to the clients they were intended for? Barely! The clients want actionable information, not long PowerPoint presentations.

People like Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki suggest that business communication should be simple. The purpose of consulting is to offer timely advice that helps an organisation. We recommend keeping presentations simple but the decision also depends on your consulting firm and their demands.

Launching Yourself as a Consultant

Launching yourself as a self-employed consultant requires only a single thing – good contacts.

All the education, skills and experience is nothing if you don’t have good contacts to get clients.

Depending on the chosen consulting field, find ways to connect and network.

If you’re finance consultant, having contacts with bank employees, investors, insurance agents, bank human resource personnel is good.

Launching yourself as an employed consultant calls for additional steps.

  • Education: Most consulting field doesn’t require special education; a simple graduate degree works but in fields like ‘legal consultant’, you need a law degree.
  • Certifications: Apart from college degree, augment chances of getting hired with additional certifications. For instance, the IMC USA Certified Management Consult® (CMC) is recommended for those interested to work as management consultants in USA.
  • Salary Expectations: Salaries are competitive depending on education and experience (if any). For instance, if you’re in Canada, the following screenshot (updated for 2014) gives a clear idea of what consultants can expect. Credits: TalentEgg.ca

1x1.trans How to Get into Consulting Career?

  • Job Applications: Write a resume and head over to prominent job application sites like Career Builder to create a work profile. Mention every detail useful to get you a consultancy gig. Use professional networks like LinkedIn to contact recruiters.
  • Internship: If you’re currently studying, we recommend an internship of few months as a consultant in any chosen organisation. This will help test the waters and show whether you’re really cut-out for a consulting job. Campus placements are a good way to land full-time consulting jobs.
  • Clearing Interviews: An interesting but intimidating step, preparation is the only way to clear consultant interviews. Behavioral questions, personal brand value, knowledge-oriented questions, logic and reasoning questions, organisation and decision-oriented questions are common. You can check out this quick guide.

Endnote

Be doubly sure before getting into consulting career. If you like advising, this can be the right option for you. Make sure you’ve the necessary skills and industry-related knowledge to become a consultant.

BIWS Certification Review: Features, Benefits and Courses

All students and professionals interested to pursue a career in equity research, investment banking and private equity sector often enroll in financial training programs.

One of the trusted and preferred financial training programs is offered by Breaking into Wall Street, known as BIWS certification. The article is an in-depth review of BIWS certifications – its importance and relevance.

What Is BIWS Certification?

The BIWS certification is your ‘entry’ to the world of investment banking.

Based in the US, the BIWS programs offer the highest quality training programs in the finance sector. Over 75 countries, 150 schools and universities and 150 finance firms and corporations use the BIWS certification as a proof of candidate’s merit and recruitment caliber.

The investment banking training offered by Breaking into Wall Street comes from Brian DeChesare.

In 2007, Brian DeChesare created Mergers & Acquisitions based on his experiences in Internet-based businesses and in the investment banking world.

Brian DeChesare is a leading speaker in business schools and universities around the world.

A brief iteration of BIWS certification benefits are given before:

  • Rigorous examination structure and instant results
  • 90% passing score is mandatory
  • Focus on self-testing
  • Tests practical and conceptual understanding of learners in a complex environment
  • Learning opportunity from experienced investment bankers
  • Free support and lifetime updates
  • Access to all programs instantly

BIWS offers multiple online programs in investment banking, financial modeling and industry-specific modeling sectors, such as:

  • Advanced financial modeling (sample)
  • Excel and financial modeling fundamentals (sample)
  • Bank and financial institution modeling (sample)
  • Real estate and REIT modeling (sample)
  • Oil and gas modeling (sample)
  • Investment banking networking toolkit (sample)
  • Investment banking interview guide (sample)

You can buy all BIWS programs from here.

Importance of BIWS Certification

The BIWS certification is used by:

1. Individuals

2. Firms and Businesses

3. Educational Institutions

Let’s see each of the sections in detail.

BIWS Certification for Individuals

At the individual level, BIWS works with

(1) University students who want to land high-paying jobs in private equity, hedge funds and investment banking;

(2) MBA students who wish to maximize the opportunities available in the financial industry;

(3) Career switchers who want to break into private equity and investment banking mid-career and

(4) Existing financial professionals at the associate level who wish to gain an edge over other finance professionals with real-world training.

Some reasons why BIWS certification for individuals is a prized asset are as follows:

#1. Active Community Support

All BIWS certification students get the benefit of its active community through interactive Q&A sessions. Moreover, BIWS offers lifetime support to its students. Apart from the active community, the students can contact BIWS support 365-days a year without any hesitation.

#2. Avail Courses Anywhere

The BIWS is based on interactive learning. The custom-designed courses enable learners to track learning progress and interact with the active community for better performance. Moreover, all the content is digitally downloadable on all available devices like laptop, desktop, tablet and smartphones. In short, BIWS certification courses are learning on the move.

#3. Challenging Tests

It is not without reason that clearing BIWS is known one of the most difficult of finance tests. The course features challenging tests where the participants progress to the next level after clearing the previous one. The tests are designed to understand the conceptual and practical understanding of the coursework. In terms of practical testing, real case studies are delivered on brands like J P Morgan, Microsoft and Apple.

Before buying, you can sample their free content such as the free financial modeling video tutorials. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

BIWS Certification for Firms and Businesses

Private equity firms, investment banks and hedge funds rely on BIWS certification to train finance service professionals to become a more valuable asset to their respective firms. The BIWS helps firms and businesses to train the staff in the art of real-life finance modeling skills. The course doesn’t depend on textual theories to train the staff but on practical real-life examples of big brands such as Microsoft and Apple.

The BIWS training program doesn’t depend on traditional classroom teaching but on the proprietary B.A.S.E.S methodology. In the traditional classroom teaching system, the course is based on a lecture format where the listener is a passive participant and learns what is being spoken but it is not a conducive way to teach complex concepts.

It is for this reason that BIWS training employs the B.A.S.E.S methodology as it necessitates both application and practice of concepts, which is far more valuable to the firms and its employees. The B.A.S.E.S methodology means:

  • B: Learner is shown the before version of the financial model.
  • A: Learner is shown the after version of the same model along with the steps involved.
  • S: Learner is required to study both the versions and understand how and what happened through steps-based video tutorial.
  • E: Learner is required to execute the model.
  • S: Learner scrutinizes and compares the model with the ‘after’ model in step 2.

As you can noticeably conclude, the interactive nature of B.A.S.E.S methodology enables finance professionals to learn the nuances of financial concepts easily.

BIWS coaching materials not only trains the finance professionals but also offers lifetime support through ongoing assessments, live Q&A sessions and community support. Moreover, progress of employees is easily tracked through state-of-the-art software system.

There is a 12-month money return guarantee and discounts for companies enrolling with BIWS.

BIWS Certification for Educational Institutions

A lot of students sign up for BIWS certification programs individually but in the last couple of years, realizing the importance of financial real-time studies and the need to equip its students with financial assessment skills, many educational institutions have tied up with BIWS to train their students and gain “virtual deal experience”. Here are some highlights of BIWS certification for educational institutions:

#1. Virtual Deal Experience

BIWS offers Advanced Financial Modeling and Industry-Specific Modeling course where real deals entered by companies such as JP Morgan, Apple and Microsoft are studied in detail. This course helps students to understand the real world of financial deals and based on this experience, the students can ace interview questions by backing their academic qualifications with real statistical analysis. There are many bonus case studies to complement the studies.

#2. Bridging Difference between Classroom to Jobs

Every year, a lot of students studying finance fail to get jobs because they don’t have practical analytical skills, despite being highly qualified. To bridge this difference, BIWS partners with educational institutions and imparts practical skills, enabling students to gain financial analytical skills, which immensely helps them during interviews. This is an important step because not all financial companies are eager to train incumbents’ right from scratch!

#3. B.A.S.E.S Methodology

Similar to the training provided to firms and businesses employees, BIWS uses the B.A.S.E.S methodology to teach students. Refer to the previous section on B.A.S.E.S for details.

Lastly, the BIWS are made flexible to suit the timetables of the students. There is a lifetime support given to students and they can engage with 22,000+ active member community for peer-to-peer learning. Their interactive learning format allows tracking and verification of progress reports.

Students who clear the exam receive a certificate of merit which is widely reputed in the finance world. Here is an example certificate.

1x1.trans BIWS Certification Review: Features, Benefits and Courses

Endnote

We at FinanceWalk.com strongly recommend the BIWS certification courses for investment banking, hedge funding and equity analysis enthusiasts. Indeed, BIWS offers one of the best video-based training materials to its students. From practical training to clearing interviews, BIWS certification courses offer everything.

MBA vs. CFA vs. FRM: Roles and Careers in Finance

MBA in finance

Pursuing the right education to enter the right career path is instrumental for long-term success. Often, students are misguided due to lack of authority and credible information. People seeking a career in finance often find themselves confused between three courses: #1. MBA: Master of Business Administration #2. CFA: Chartered Financial Analyst #3. FRM: Financial Risk […] Read more »

The Definitive Guide to Wall Street Jobs

Wall Street Jobs

  In this article, I will explain the needed skills, qualities, attitudes and approaches that are necessary and imperative to gain Wall Street Jobs for prospective careerists holding Economics Majors, Engineers, Finance Majors and also finally, people seeking Entry Level jobs. First, I need to discuss about Wall Street jobs that are in store for […] Read more »

Top 12 Courses in Finance in India

Investment banking Interview Prep

 To start with, anybody who attempts to create a list, any list is always on a slippery wicket. First, any list does involve a certain bit of subjectivity and thus it will never be perfect. Despite all this one must attempt to create a list. After all, a list helps us in the simplest way […] Read more »