As a recruiter of 15+ years, I am asked on a very regular basis the question “do you think I should go contracting?” This is intrinsically a very difficult question for me to answer, am I qualified to tell someone what they should be doing with respect to their career or not? However is you want my independent opinion on what is the market like for contracting within Financial Services at this stage in 2014 then that is a different question. If you are a Change Agent or SME and operate within certain areas of Financial Services i.e. Governance, Risk and Compliance, on burning change agenda’s such as FATCA, Financial Crime and Compliance, EMIR, Dodd Frank, Volker, Basel II etc…
It is a question of basic economics, where in many of these areas demand far outstrips the ability to supply! Meaning you can secure a premium within the market (within reason I hasten to add!). Managing risk is essential when making any career move; therefore I would always strongly suggest the following when entering into your first contract:
- You should understand the duration of a “programme of work” you will be working on i.e. linked to regulator deliverables and associated timelines. As such your “Recruitment Consultant” should negotiate as long a contract as acceptable to the business, but ideally no less than 6 months
- You should negotiate a 1 month notice period for both parties, this not only protects you but also the business in case you are “head-hunted” and they have time to replace you, do the skills transfer and ensure a smooth transition to reduce the risk to the business
- Rate is all important; however carefully balance your day rate with the role and opportunity/challenge on offer, duration, location, notice period etc… If it’s your perfect role and you feel like you are getting a day rate in-line with the market, then why would you not accept?
It is a myth that people become contractors for purely financial reasons, it can be a lifestyle choice providing a better work/life balance, it especially suits change agents who come in to deliver a programme of change and then when it becomes BAU they move on to the next exciting challenge & opportunity. Another reason is you don’t tend to get caught up in company politics as much!
Many people become contractors where they feel they have hit a ceiling in their current role/company; they are perhaps undervalued and fancy a change. By becoming a contracting it also allows you to “try before you buy” and perhaps you end up going from a contract role into a permanent position? Allowing transparency through the process by providing a detailed insight into the role, the people, the company, the culture etc….
In summary I can’t make that career defining decision for you; however the above article may resonate and result in you dusting off your CV, talking to your trusted change recruiter and understanding just what opportunities might be out there. The grass can be greener, but you need to look over the fence every now and again.