There are a host of reasons why a company might hire a financial consultant. For large businesses, C-Suite changes open up a vacancy in the CFO seat, necessitating some expert help on financial matters until the role is filled. A smaller startup finding its business legs may need consultation on budgeting, planning its financial direction, effectively managing cash flow, or instituting some wise investment planning.
Not all financial consultants are created equal, and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. They should embody several traits that make them worth their salt, but what are three essential, critical, deal-breaking qualities you can’t do without before hiring?
1. Expertise and Qualifications
A good financial consultant should have a strong educational background in finance or a related field, as well as relevant professional certifications — a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation is the gold standard and a must for businesses that seek someone with the knowledge and experience in an array of financial matters. Additionally, they should have a proven track record of success in advising businesses.
When evaluating and vetting potential financial consultants, ask about their education and professional qualifications. What’s their background and experience working with businesses similar to yours? What’s their success track record? Look for evidence beyond their resume, such as published articles, industry awards, or other certifications and industry involvement.
2. Communication Skills
The right consultant should be able to explain complex financial concepts in plain language that is easy for non-experts to understand, but also hold their own among other experts. They should also be able to listen carefully to their clients’ concerns and provide clear, concise answers to their questions.
Pay attention to how well a consultant candidate communicates. Do they use technical jargon that is difficult to understand, or do they explain concepts in a clear and accessible way? Do they take the time to listen to your concerns and provide thoughtful responses, or do they seem more interested in talking about themselves? Good communication skills are essential for building trust and establishing a strong working relationship.
3. Trustworthiness and Ethics
Acting in their clients’ best interests at all times — even if it means foregoing a commission or other financial gain — is perhaps the number one, most important quality a financial consultant should inhabit. They will swear by transparency about any potential conflicts of interest and disclose any fees or commissions they receive from recommending specific products or services.
This should remain a priority whether you intend to hire a consultant short-term, long-term, or bring them on permanently. Ask about their approach to ethics and their philosophy on putting clients’ interests first. Look for evidence that they have a strong code of ethics and that they prioritize your needs. Additionally, check their background to ensure they have not been involved in any ethical or legal violations in the past.
Meet Your Expectations
The right consultant ensures you receive the guidance and support you need in any financial matters germane to an organization’s success. But it’s more than that. A strong working relationship is essential in helping reach your financial goals.
Interim or project-based, at Headfarmer we rely on our extensive network of financial professionals to meet the consulting needs of clients in the greater Phoenix area. If hiring a top-notch consultant is a priority, reach out to us today to get started.