Hire the top 3% of freelance budgeting consultants.

Toptal is a marketplace for top budgeting consultants, experts, and specialists. Top companies and start-ups hire budgeting freelancers from Toptal for their mission critical projects.

We've been blown away by the level of talent we've been able to hire through Toptal.

Brad Rozran, Optimizely

Trusted by leading brands and startups

Our Exclusive Network of Budgeting Consultants

Erik Warren

Budgeting Consultant

Erik's built and managed finance functions for global companies, with responsibilities ranging from reporting to managing capital raises for $200+ million i...nfrastructure projects. As a freelancer, he can apply his broad set of financial skills to the challenges growing companies face. He has significant experience with mid-tier companies seeking to apply finance best practices, M&A due diligence and ready themselves for financing. 

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Carolyn Deng, CFA

Budgeting Consultant

A Wharton MBA and CFA charterholder, Carolyn has managed a $700 million VC portfolio, executed 20+ VC/PE investments and exits, and advised Bain clients on... growth and return strategies. She's worked with startups and corporates across China, Canada, US, and Australia in VC financing, investment management, strategy, M&A and business development. Freelancing allows her to choose the projects that best leverage her unique experiences. 

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Jack Barker

Budgeting Consultant

Jack is a former McKinsey Partner and Carlyle Group Principal with 30 years of international experience. He has been President, CFO, or COO of 2 Carlyle com...panies and 4 others. He is a finance, strategy, and operations expert with deep experience in telecom, financial services, data centers, and manufacturing. Jack enjoys freelancing because it allows him to work on a wide-variety of issues for companies of all sizes and many industries. 

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Nitin Mittal

Budgeting Consultant

Nitin has 15+ years of experience as a banker, hedge fund analyst, and CFO, and has deep operational and fundraising exposure in growth and turnaround situa...tions. He has modeled and worked on complex equity and debt financing as well as M&A deals. He was the CFO of a VC-backed software company that grew from five employees to 200+. Nitin has led financial operations of online and offline retailers with revenue ranging from $50 to $500 million. 

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David Bradshaw

Budgeting Consultant

David has modeled multiple successful asset acquisitions and development projections from $5 million to $100 million. He's worked in industries such as comm...ercial real estate and financial services (Jupiter Realty & GE Commercial Finance), cable TV (Broadstripe & Cobridge), and health (TBG Development). His freelance focus is on financial projections for acquisition, startup pro forma, and operational projections. 

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Marty Mooney

Budgeting Consultant

Marty is a private equity professional who also has experience working inside small- and medium-sized businesses in a wide variety of industries. He has led... M&A processes and also helped CEOs create and drive strategies. In addition to closing private equity deals, he has raised debt and equity financing, built financial packages and financial models, worked as an interim CFO, and has helped start businesses.  

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Scott Bernstein

Budgeting Consultant

Scott is a seasoned CFO who has led over $250 million of transactions in the energy industry with a specific focus on structured credit and asset-backed fin...ance. In 2011, Scott led and developed the first Alaskan Oil & Gas Tax Credit receivable finance facility which served as the model for all subsequent transactions. At Toptal, Scott hopes to impact additional organizations by sharing the expertise he has amassed over a 20-year career. 

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Calvin Clark

Budgeting Consultant

Calvin has helped raise a total of over $300 million in capital for dozens of VC-backed startups, PE-backed middle market companies, public companies and in...vestment funds. He has run several buy and sell-side M&A processes. As a freelancer, he enjoys exploring strategic opportunities with companies undergoing significant change and growth. He has extensive experience in mobile technology, financial services, edtech, and transaction processing. 

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Christopher Bluem

Budgeting Consultant

Chris has driven over $30M of incremental operating profit and recommended another $85M while creating strategic business cases for the C-suite. As a freela...ncer, he enjoys solving problems, analyzing data, building models, and driving value for companies' top priority projects. Chris has gained extensive experience in financial/strategic analysis, capital budgeting and valuation while working at both a F500 company and a global investment bank. 

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Juba Tsuladze

Budgeting Consultant

Juba is the founder of angioClast: a Cambridge-based biotech startup focused on cancer research. Prior to entrepreneurship, Juba was a seasoned CFO with mul...ti-industry experience and has worked on projects ranging from an equity sale in a $150 million telecom company to the turnaround of a $50 million hotel business. He joined the Toptal network to resolve diverse challenges in FP&A, M&A, buy-outs, and strategic analysis. 

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Hire Budgeting Consultants Seamlessly with Toptal

Talk to One of Our Industry Experts
A Toptal director of finance will work you to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics.
Work With Hand-Selected Talent
Within days, we'll introduce you to the right budgeting consultant for your project. Average time to match is under 24 hours.
The Right Fit, Guaranteed
Work with your new budgeting consultant for a trial period (pay only if satisfied), ensuring they're the right fit before starting the engagement.


  • How are Toptal budgeting consultants different?

    At Toptal, we thoroughly screen our budgeting consultants to ensure we only supply experts of the highest caliber. Of the more than 100,000 people who apply to join the Toptal network each year, we accept fewer than 3%. You'll work with finance experts (never generalized recruiters or HR reps) to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics. The end result: expertly-matched talent from our network, hand-selected to fit your business needs.

  • What is the no-risk trial period for budgeting consultants?

    We make sure that each engagement between you and your budgeting consultant begins with a trial period of up to two weeks. This means that you have time to confirm the engagement will be successful. If you're completely satisfied with the results, we'll bill you for the time and continue the engagement for as long as you'd like. If you're not completely satisfied, you won't be billed. From there, we can either part ways, or we can provide you with another expert who may be a better fit and with whom we will begin a second, no-risk trial.

  • How fast can I hire budgeting consultants through Toptal?

    Depending on availability and how fast you can progress, you could start your no-risk trial with a budgeting consultant within 48 hours of signing up. Most of our engagements start within 2 weeks of discussing your project with us.

Tap Into World-Class Talent

  • Trusted Experts Only

    Trusted Experts Only

    All of our talent are seasoned experts who ramp up quickly, readily contribute as core team members, and work with you to minimize onboarding time.

  • The Right Fit

    The Right Fit

    We have a knack for matching you with the right fit. Start working with your new hire on a no-risk trial period, paying only if satisfied.

  • Scale as Needed

    Scale as Needed

    Hire in under 2 weeks and scale your team up or down as needed, no strings attached.

  • Seamless Hiring

    Seamless Hiring

    We handle all aspects of billing, payments, and NDA’s. Let us take care of the overhead while you focus on building great products.

  • Flexible Engagements

    Flexible Engagements

    Choose the engagement type that suits your needs — hourly, part-time, or full-time — with the ability to change anytime.

  • Expert Talent Matching

    Expert Talent Matching

    Focus on your project and enjoy support from your dedicated account executive and expert talent matcher.

Guide to Hiring a great Budgeting Consultant

A proper budget lays everything out in the open. Every expenditure, investment, and expansion plan is broken down and tallied up. The right budgeting consultant can turn a time-consuming process into a positive experience to refocus a company's strategy. This guide presents the best way to track and test the right skills in top candidates.

Read Hiring Guide

How to Hire a Great Budgeting Consultant

A budgeting expert is a rare breed of employee. They are highly sought after for having a precious combination of skills, mixing project management and an excellent interpersonal style with a strong knowledge of accounting and finance.

The annual budgeting process typically lasts for four to six months in mid to large-sized businesses. For an activity that has such a big impact on resource planning and consumes so much time, it is no surprise that hiring the right person to lead the effort is critical to a CFO’s success. A recent Grant Thornton survey found that accurate planning made up over 1/3 of a CFO’s performance target when it came to long-term incentive compensation, and performance to budget is the yardstick by which executives are measured. This explains the pressure to find a highly qualified hire.

For smaller companies, precise budgeting adds a much needed layer of control. A strong budget can act as a leash on expenditure, extending a runway and avoiding the common pitfall of running out of cash ahead of a key milestone.

This guide will identify some of the crucial skills and traits to look for and provide interview questions to help you better identify a budget expert.

Exhibit Strong Character

Few look forward to budget season. For most, it’s a cumbersome part of non-core responsibilities. However, a proactive budget professional will remain positive about the process thereby making it more meaningful and worth a serious effort. Budgeting is a critical mission that requires full commitment. If the budget professional does not show this commitment, chances are few others will.

  • Here are some crucial elements to look for in the way a candidate interacts with a team: They must excel at relationship management and be seen as a trusted partner. Often working with strong-willed executives, they will need to be authoritative during stressful situations and be seen as a voice of reason. They will be a conscientious team member that can both effectively lead or serve, depending on the situation.
  • A qualified candidate will often serve as a coach, helping business units navigate the budgeting process while managing the expectations of others. Since a budget needs to be challenging while remaining achievable, the budget professional will help find balance by first seeking to understand the needs and considerations of each department, while providing guidance.
  • While being a coach, they will also be sensitive to how budget performance impacts executive compensation and know how to manage the tendency for departments to protect their personal interests at the expense of the enterprise’s.

Q: The client is a high growth business that has aggressively been capturing market share, with revenue up 20% a year on average for the last 5 years. However, the first half of this year has been slow and revenue is projected to grow in high single digits for the full year. In leading the budget process, you are working with the sales organization to develop their plan for next year. The CEO expects the customer base to grow by 20% with a slight increase in pricing but the SVP of Sales is only budgeting half that and no price increases. How would you work with the SVP to address this difference in expectations?

The purpose of a budget is to come up with a plan that has a high likelihood of being achieved. When results greatly exceed or fall short of the budget, the business will suffer. It is important to be able to reconcile differences in expectations that often exist between the executive board and the business unit owners to come up with the most likely outcome given what is currently known.

A good response will include the following action items:

  • An important first step is to establish rapport and trust with the goal of understanding the basis for their beliefs.
  • Facilitating open communication between both sides to prevent surprises and to help negotiate the difference.
  • Looking to find the information gaps that are creating the differences in expectations.
  • Building scenarios to model, support, and compare both sets of assumptions before a decision is taken.

Fluid Project Management

Creating a budget is a high-profile project with clearly defined deliverables and a specific, strictly enforced, timeline. Project management skills will make sure that deliverables and dependencies are understood and that schedules are kept. A budget professional will be focused on meeting a deadline while handling last-minute changes with minimal stress to the team.

Q: Budget season in the company typically starts in June with budget submission in early September and presentations to the executive leadership team at the end of September. The company has a revenue growth target of 15% with expenses targeted to grow at 10%. No capital expenditure guidelines have been issued but are up to the business areas to identify. The core business areas - Sales, Marketing, Operations, IT, and Finance & Administration - are all supposed to contribute equally as appropriate. Discuss how you would approach the process, when you would start your planning, and what the sequence of events would be.

This is an opportunity for professionals to display their project management skills and cover these basic concepts as part of their response. While some of these steps may seem obvious, ensuring each is given its own place is vital to a smooth budgeting process:

  • Develop and communicate the project calendar early.
  • Communicate strategy and objectives at the beginning.
  • Schedule key deliverables by department with a focus on sales planning and Capex initiatives as these will drive operating expenses across the business.
  • Hold cross-functional meetings for collaboration and validating.
  • Provide key stakeholders with regular status updates.
  • Plan for post-submission follow-up.

Master of Consolidation

A budget has many moving parts, with the complexity growing exponentially as more business units are introduced. Department budgets must be consolidated as well as integrated but many initiatives planned by one will impact another, requiring further synchronization. Additionally, corporate-wide strategic initiatives will need to be layered in, with every unit understanding and properly including the impact to their budgets.

A budgeting expert will be able to change their focus from a bird’s eye view to the center of the action as the situation requires. At the macro and micro levels, the consultant will be able to quickly grasp the specific concepts and drivers that influence the business. They should have a questioning mind and be constantly seeking to understand where pieces of the puzzle don’t connect or make sense while seeking to identify gaps, errors, and omissions.

Business units will look at the budgeting process differently, based on their own experience and perspective of what the important drivers for their part of the organization. For example, IT might be more focused on capital projects and labor resource utilization, whereas marketing might be focused on campaign spending. An ability to be comfortable with and integrate all types of budgets into one unified model is critical for success in the role.

Q: You have just integrated a company ahead of an upcoming budget process. While interviews and your own research have given you a strong understanding of the business, you feel you do not have enough of the insider perspective for your liking. How would you rapidly get up to speed?

  • Meet with all business unit heads and/or second-in-command to gain detailed understanding about operations of each unit and what drives their activity.
  • Review existing forecasts in advance to help identify trends and projections as a basis for their meetings.
  • In-depth meeting with CFO to gain overview of business strategy for next few years and insights into the dynamics of the business units.
  • Understand how each business unit views the budgeting process,

As part of this, a strong budget consultant will also be an exceptional communicator. They must work across many functions and be able to communicate with a broad range of employees from CEOs to business analysts. The development of an adaptable communication style is a must with the following ideally being present:

  • A history of successfully interacting with people at all levels and all backgrounds in an organization is crucial to ensure an accurate budget.
  • Ability to communicate with non-financial types. The candidate will need to be to effectively communicate complex financial projections in layman’s terms and using an appropriate medium.

Make the Most of Fintech

These skills must be also be allied to superlative fintech abilities that will provide a good structure to the models, a logical and properly organized approach to how the budgets are created, and a keen understanding of which technologies to apply.

A budget professional will have a solid understanding of GAAP and the appropriate accounting treatment for various initiatives and expenditures.

Q: You need to work with the CIO for a software development company. The company develops software for both internal use as well as for sale externally. The CIO looks for you to prepare the budget in a GAAP compliant manner. For the purpose of putting together a budget, what sort of questions will you need to ask the CIO and their team?

Accounting treatment has an important place in the budget and technology development projects have distinct phases that determine how the expenses are accounted for. The candidate would be expected to address the following areas.

  • Establish where individual development projects are in their lifecycle and how much will be expensed during each phase occurring within the budget’s timeframe.
  • Identify the correct basis to amortize development expense post go-live, based on how software asset will be consumed.
  • Fully understand related ongoing operating expenses or revenue streams.
  • Identify new projects under development versus maintenance and enhancements as they have different accounting treatment.

On the technological side, a solid professional will not create Excel models only they understand. While Excel remains a critical tool in the budget process, in a global, highly collaborative business, the budget professional will be expected to work with a number of other tools. This is especially true as big data continues to change how budgets are prepared

Budget teams will need to be able to pick up new software technologies quickly as the budgeting technology continues to evolve. While Oracle Hyperion has been the dominant player, Adaptive Planning and many others are making steady inroads into the space. Whatever the software of choice, the right candidate will:

  • Use good spreadsheet practices to avoid overcomplicating models.
  • Build models with input forms for assumptions, named ranges, instructions, and reasonable documentation.
  • Link models to presentation tools, ensuring these are completely in sync for any last-minute updates.
  • Ensure models include appropriate graphic elements as, for most purposes, large data-intensive spreadsheets are poor tools for communicating financial messages.
  • Will ideally have experience of leading the roll-out or upgrading of budgeting software used by clients.

Quickly Identify Right Budgeting Method

There are good reasons for different approaches to creating a budget. Each of the three most common methods, top-down, bottom-up and zero-based, serves a different type or stage of business better than another. A good candidate will know when one is more suitable than another. However, it is not uncommon to bounce one method against another as a sanity check.

  • Top-down budgeting: The budget is formulated at the highest level of management and passed down to different departments.
  • Bottom-up budgeting: Each department or business unit lays out their own costs, which are then added together to form central budget.
  • Zero-based budgeting: Starting from a zero base, all costs, whether recurring or new, are justified in turn, allowing for optimization.

Q: A CEO with an early stage manufacturing business is being required to not only create an operating budget for the upcoming year, but also a 3-year long-range plan (LRP) for private equity (PE) investors. How would you recommend going about it and why is the method(s) chosen appropriate?

In this case, the zero-based budget is preferable for several reasons. The candidate should be able to pick up on this, choose that approach and justify how the budget would be created.

  • The zero-based budgeting approach is correct here because early-stage businesses will not have a lot of consistent historical activity to create a budget with, through bottom-up or top-down.
  • Creating a zero-based budget is also the right choice as it will make executives look at each action taken and each expense incurred, and justify them based on the financial impact.
  • Find out the expectations of PE investors and use them to create a top-down budget and and LRP that should be able to be reconciled with the zero-based budget.

Spot Challenges Before They Arise

Finally, experience with budget lifecycles will make a candidate stand out from the rest. This will help to ensure that all active participants, who already have a full plate, spend little of their time on non-value added activities.

Having been through budget cycles before, an experienced professional will have the ability to rapidly anticipate where the budget will get challenged in a specific setting. This experience will see them proactively work with the business unit leadership to prepare for inevitable challenges, either with supporting details to counter the challenges or by presenting alternative scenarios.

Either as part of the original budget planning or as part of the revision process they will be able to identify revenue opportunities and expense cuts. They will not only rely on their understanding of the business but will also have sat through the budget review sessions searching for opportunities that may have been missed.

Q: A $500MM subscription-based software provider has included a large increase in customer service representatives in their budget plan. The increase is far greater than the growth in customers. The executive team has instructed you and the Customer Service leadership team to revisit the plan and either adjust the increase in headcount to match the growth in the customer base or provide significant rationale to support the additional increase. What sort of issues might you have to address in this process?

While return on investment, payback, net present value and other financial return calculations work well for investments that produce quantifiable results, they aren’t always easy to defend for less tangible outcomes. The candidate should address this through some of the following points.

  • How would they quantify incremental costs?
  • How would they identify benefits throughout the business, eg: reduced customer churn, improved customer satisfaction, higher sales due to better reputation, lower credit?.
  • How would the executive team like the initiative to be measured, in order to get buy-in?
  • Would they prepare an alternative scenario for the lower headcount, quantifying how it would impact the business.

Turning Bureaucracy to Your Advantage

An exceptional budget professional will be able to naturally wear a variety of hats from business partner to project manager while also being the interface to the corporate finance function. The right hire will make a process that is frequently seen as bureaucratic seem meaningful and will help set the stage for progress, converting strategy into results.

Top Budgeting Consultants are in high demand.

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