The rise of the 'freelance consultant' — 7 things to know

Once linked to established firms, consultants are increasingly breaking ties with these enterprises in favor of working independently in the gig economy as "freelance consultants," reports Financial Times.

Here are seven things to know about the rise of freelance consultants.

1. Currently in the United Kingdom, more than 31 percent of management consultants and business analysts are self-employed. What's more, Eden McCallum, a U.K.-based group that manages a network of independent consultants, has noted applications to join the network have doubled in the past five years, according to the report.

2. The top five reasons consultants want to become independent are wanting to work with clients in a different way, wanting more control over time and schedule, wanting a career change, receiving an attractive exit package from their current company and losing a job, according to an Eden McCallum survey that gathered responses from 251 independent consultants, cited by Financial Times.

3. Independent consulting is attractive to workers of all ages. For older workers it offers a more flexible schedule, and it can be easier to start freelancing in this manner after losing or quitting a job. For younger workers, it is a way to gain experience in the field. What's more, younger workers tend to be less sure of how long they want to stay in the role and are open to switching career paths multiple times, so freelancing offers them that freedom to leave if/when they are ready, according to the report.

4. Jonathan Petrides, 32,a freelance consultant who formerly worked with McKinsey, told Financial Times freelancing offers him "a creative outlet and income stream that's flexible and dependable. I simply don't have to go and commit to a full-time job: I can switch on project work and switch it off again."

5.  What draws individuals to freelance consulting? Respondents to the Eden McCallum survey by and large sought independence from rules and bureaucracy, with 89 percent saying that is a good element of freelance work. Other benefits of independent consulting include a greater variety of work (74 percent agreed or strongly agreed with this statement), freedom to take time off (73 percent), time for important non-work activities (73 percent), being able to choose how hard to work (71 percent) and being able to focus on enjoyable work (66 percent).

6. Some of the disadvantages include the challenge of being accountable for one's self (40 percent agreed or strongly agreed with this statement), lack of colleagues and community (39 percent) and frustration about marketing and administration (39 percent). Though notably, there is wider variability on these disadvantages, and fewer respondents agreed with these factors as being disadvantages.

7. Just 5 percent of independent consultants report being dissatisfied with their work, and 75 percent say they earn the same, if not more, as they did before becoming independent, according to the report.

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