Flexible Hours Overview: The option for finding a job with flexible hours, limited hours and/or telecommuting options is an important consideration for increasing numbers of people. The reasons can be many: childcare, eldercare, personal health reasons, personal lifestyle preferences, and length of commute. Choosing employers or identifying jobs that offer these options typically is not a straightforward exercise, and often requires individual negotiation.
Opportunities: Among the career tracks that tend to offer above-average opportunities for flexible hours, financial planners are especially noteworthy. In particular, financial planners who work in small firms or as sole practitioners are best positioned to work out arrangements that allow for flexible hours or limited hours. On the other hand, since financial planning involves occasional face-to-face interaction with clients and prospects, some accommodation to the latter’s schedules are necessary, such as night or weekend meetings.
Another strong possibility for flexible hours or limited hours are some jobs in insurance, most notably insurance sales agents. Once again, a small independent agency may be most receptive to hiring agents seeking flexible hours or limited hours. A particularly fruitful avenue of employment can be independent agencies that combine real estate and insurance practices; these firms normally already have a cultural disposition towards hiring people on a limited hour basis, especially working mothers. Even more so than financial planners, insurance sales agents must be prepared to meet with clients and prospects at times and places convenient to the latter.
Within support functions that do not normally involve client contact and the maintenance either of regular office hours or adherence to the trading hours of the principal securities markets, several possibilities stand out in terms of their amenability to flexible hours or limited hours. One is computer programming, as a member of information technology staff. Another is as a writer of advertising and marketing brochure copy. Lastly, occasionally jobs within the controller, management science or market research functions that are involved with extended analyses of data can be adapted to suit employees seeking flexible hours or limited hours.
Caveats: Be careful to have ironclad assurances, in writing, that the firm will respect the agreed upon boundaries regarding your work days and work hours, and that you will receive overtime pay or get comp time if your manager forces you to go beyond those limits. Otherwise, you may wind up being paid for a supposed limited hours job, while actually being forced to put in as many days or hours as a typical fulltime salaried employee.
Conclusion: While the financial services industry is becoming increasingly more welcoming to people who desire flexible hours or limited hours in their work schedules, finding such positions often is not especially easy, especially for a prospective new hire. More often, these tend to be options that are much easier for seasoned employees to negotiate.
Moreover, in many cases gaining such options can depend on the manager in question, and whether he or she is comfortable with staff that do not put in full standard work days, at the same work location, every day. Especially in larger companies, be sure that you familiarize yourself with firm policy in this regard, particularly as it effects your status should there be a change of manager. You want to be confident that your agreement is documented and cannot be abrogated by a new manager.