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In consulting, do you have to get your own clients?

Hi I'm a first year college student and I'm considering consulting as a career or advisory such as financial planner. But I do NOT like reaching out to people and the idea of trying to get clients on my own. Is this the only way to get clients or do some firms do that for you?

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Joseph’s Answer

As a beginner consultant, you won't have to worry about finding clients. The experienced leadership team will take care of securing clients for you. Meanwhile, the Human Resources team will ensure you're placed onto those projects. This way, you can focus on learning and growing in your role.
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Kate’s Answer

Great question! As a first year, you are not expected to find your own clients. Specifically, at big firms you will be staffed by a deployment team which will put you on client projects that have already been established. Typically, directors and partners create these relationships with clients and are responsible for bringing in work. With that being said, it is still important to maintain good relationships with clients and network where you can because one day you will be the one finding clients!

Explore on Access Your Potential’s site potential career opportunities like internships and paid consulting externships for nonprofits. To learn more: http://accessyourpotential.pwc.com/.
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Francisco’s Answer

Ivana,

Consulting responsibilities can vary greatly across the many different companies and industries that you may have an opportunity to work for or with. In many cases a consultant particularly one early in their career will not be counted on to drive business development through new client acquisition. Unfortunately, many of the same relationship building skills required to secure new client relationships would also be needed to effectively build relationships with contacts at clients whether they preceded you or not. Being a consultant certainly requires "reaching out to people", finding ways to connect a skill, capability or area of expertise offered by you or your firm with a business client challenge that they aim to address is a major feature of the profession. If this is a career path that you have an interest in, you will need to learn that your ability to translate knowledge or expertise can be extremely valuable but is nearly always reliant on your ability to connect with the people you are working with while building trust and credibility.

A good place to start would be to begin researching firms and the industries you are most interested in and then working to build your knowledge in what is needed to perform a role that you are interested in.

Good Luck!

Francisco recommends the following next steps:

A good place to start would be to begin researching firms and the industries you are most interested in and then working to build your knowledge in what is needed to perform a role that you are interested in.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the response and advice. Ivana
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Jiaming’s Answer

It's fantastic that you're exploring a career in consulting! Indeed, many consultants and financial planners have the task of acquiring their own clients, but there are firms out there that can lend a hand in this aspect.

Certain consulting and advisory firms come with an existing client base and effective marketing strategies that could give you a kick start. These firms can also offer training and support to bolster your skills and grow your client base.

Nonetheless, bear in mind that even when you're part of a firm, the responsibility of gaining new clients may still fall on you. It's also worth considering that being part of a firm might cap your earnings as opposed to working as an independent consultant.

In the end, the most effective method to secure clients will hinge on your unique situation and objectives. If you're leaning towards joining a firm, it would be beneficial to investigate various firms in your vicinity and connect with them to understand their recruitment process and what they can bring to the table. If you're more inclined towards working independently, it would be wise to concentrate on enhancing your skills and creating a robust personal brand to draw in clients.

I trust this information will be of assistance!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Ivana
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Max’s Answer

Hi Ivana,
I've been in consulting for a couple years at this point, and at the beginning of your career, you definitely won't be expected to go out and get your own clients. That is mainly reserved for more experienced roles such as Director and Partner. People at those levels are expected to bring in work, and that may involve reaching out to prospective clients for opportunities. When you start your career in consulting, you will be put on a project team, and your day to day will be working on that project and completing any activities assigned to you by your team (such as the Senior Associate or Manager). One area in which you should reach out to people when you first start is to try and get involved in "internal" work, which is work that isn't billable to a client, but helps out the consulting practice you are in. This work could be things such as conferences, proposals, file organization, etc. All it takes to reach out to someone asking about potential opportunities like this is an email or ping, and it would be a great way to get more involved in your practice and show people that you are willing to help out and learn.
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Trevor’s Answer

Lots of good answers so won't repeat. Early in your career it's not a requirement and later in your career it's quite easy as you've built relationships both internally and externally to naturally find clients.
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Iliasu’s Answer

As a beginner consultant, your role involves teaming up with experienced consultants to assist both new and existing clients. Essential expectations for a beginner consultant often include a keen interest to understand the workings of the organization, the ability to grow and broaden your connections both within and beyond the organization, and the commitment to work on client deliverables, among other things.
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Michelle’s Answer

As a novice, your primary concern won't be acquiring clients. However, as you advance and develop in your profession, you'll acquire the necessary skills and understand various operational areas. This will include learning how to market yourself, acting as a consultant, creating engaging presentations, and demonstrating your expertise. These skills will gradually boost your confidence, enabling you to actively seek business opportunities for your company. Building a strong network is crucial in this journey, as is finding a mentor. A good mentor can not only provide encouragement but also represent you and speak up for you when you're not around.
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Darnell’s Answer

As a newcomer, you won't be required to secure your own clientele. This duty falls on the shoulders of those positioned higher up. Your role may include assisting them in preparing proposals or executing tasks, but it's unlikely you'll be involved directly in client outreach.
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Stephanie’s Answer

Hi! You are doing a great job by already making plans like that in your first year of college, so keep up the good work and the drive to succeed! My experience in consulting has been with a large firm, one of the Big 4, which I think is a great option for starting out when you graduate. At my firm, the partners and directors are the ones that typically go out and find clients. Those at the manager and below levels typically do not have the task of finding clients, moreso performing quality work so that we can earn more contracts with existing clients. Generally, as a college graduate, you would start in an entry-level role and wouldn't be expected to find your own clients.

I hope this is helpful! Good luck in the future and keep working hard!
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Alexia’s Answer

Typically and especially in larger firms, as a new consultant you are supporting existing clientele. Expectations at that point are for you to learn the business, how to deliver work, and how to make new connections at that existing client. It is a great way to both learn how to deliver and practice relationship building.
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David’s Answer

Hey Ivana!
The answer to your question is, it depends. Consultants can certainly be expected to bring business in at certain firms. In some cases, it isn't as strict a requirement as it is in others. For example, if you are hired at a very large company as a junior consultant, driving new business will likely not be a major part of your role (if it is, then you're not a consultant, you're a sales person).

The need to bring in business by wooing clients should not discourage you. If you're working as a consultant, that means you have some set of skills or insight or analytical ability that you have developed that differentiates you from the typical person doing something in that field. If you want to get new business, all you need to do is demonstrate that you are what you claim. Maybe that's speaking at a forum, maybe that's posting content somewhere,maybe it's writing a book or three. What is probably *won't* be is you cold calling random companies to see if they would like to hire someone to come do an analysis of their business practices for a fee.

Build your expertise and then pick a method to share what you love about your expertise that gets in front of people that need it and you'll do great.

Cheers and good luck!
Thank you comment icon I appreciate your support, David Ivana
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Leonard’s Answer

Great query! More comprehensive responses might be on their way. Meanwhile, I suggest considering a stint at a consulting firm to establish a solid network of referrals and contacts. This could provide a fantastic opportunity to witness firsthand how a firm expands its clientele. Additionally, you can gain valuable insights into what clients anticipate when they engage a consultant. There are numerous consulting internship opportunities to delve into. Use Google to discover these organizations. I haven't personally collaborated with them, so I'm hesitant to recommend any particular firm. Best of luck in your journey!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Ivana
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Gulshan’s Answer

So, your question states two things - you want to go into Consulting , probably as a Financial Planner, and you do not like to reach out to new clients.

To be honest, those two aspects of your personality are not going to coexist. You can either be a Consultant or stay away from reaching out and connecting with people, some of whom may be or become your clients.

Going back to basics for a moment, of course if you choose to begin your career at an existing and established Business, you may have a team to rely on for getting new Business. A lot depends on the size of the your company, and their business model. Large or even medium professional Services firms have dedicated Sales teams, and while you could choose to "Consult" without having to "Sell", as you grow in your career as a Consultant, you'll realize Selling is - quite literally - your Business. Growing into a Leader role in any consulting Business will need you to be able to reach out and connect with people - and before you cringe at the thought, remember there are multiple ways to achieve that. You must be willing to try out different avenues - either you go to them, or give them a reason to come to you.

There are volumes written on the Art of Consulting, and I'm certainly not going to make this post into another one, eventually you must come to realize that of those two aspects you mention in your question, they are like two strands of the DNA of the Professional Services industry, and you'll do well by opening up to the idea that, predispositions aside, you should certainly give it a try before deciding what you can or can't do. First year of college is not the place to come to irreversible conclusions about your capability or future path.

Give yourself time and space to learn and grow. You may just surprise yourself!

Gulshan recommends the following next steps:

Find out and talk to other consultants - either in your preferred industry (financial planning) or even general financial services
Use your college counselling resources, or LinkedIn - to connect with like minded individuals and professionals
Talk to Consultants who are in the Business of getting their own Business - either directly, or follow their public domain content - YouTube, TED Talks, even Insta or TikTok posts
Talk to your classmates and seniors - for their perspective of how they see and agree with the idea of Consulting always being a two-hatted job
Thank you comment icon Thank you very much for the advice! Ivana
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Aileen’s Answer

Hello Ivana, I'm a graduate of UT Austin and I've been in the consulting field since I left college about a year and a half ago. I believe I can share some insights about what it's like to be a consultant and what you might expect in your journey. Let me assure you, as a new consultant, you're not expected to bring in clients. That's a task typically handled by the Partners or Directors. However, if you see yourself continuing in the consulting field long-term, acquiring this skill will eventually become necessary. In your role as an Analyst or Associate consultant, your focus should be more on networking and connecting with others to find projects that pique your interest. So, while you won't be directly sourcing clients, you'll still need to reach out and build relationships.

Aileen recommends the following next steps:

Speak to upperclassmen / newly graduated consultants that have gone through the consulting recruitment process to understand the industry better and why they decided to go into the role.
Consider looking for consulting interview preparation resources from the business school if consulting does interest you.
Do some desktop research on what companies are out there and hiring from UT Austin.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for sharing your perspective. Ivana
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Aytek’s Answer

Great question, Ivana!

Other comments already capture that you will most likely need to develop the skills to reach out and get your own clients, but the key is the timing.

You can still go ahead and initiate your career in the financial planning consultation field. In your initial years, you can get a better sense of whether this is the right path for you to pursue (without the need to scout your own clients, yet). If it is the right path, then you have all the motivation to get more comfortable with reaching out and getting your own clients. Also, it is very important to remember that you will change a bunch in those initial years, too; who knows maybe you will find ways you feel very comfortable to scout your own clients successfully.

Best of luck!
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice. Ivana
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