A person that works as a Financial Manager at U.S. Bank, but is working there employed by McKinsey... what would we call this person?

  • U.S. Bank is an outsourcer: "company that procures some of its goods or services from usually smaller specialized companies."
  • McKinsey would be an outsourcer as well: "a specialized company that provides goods or services to a usually larger company."
  • What would the employee be called? An Outsourced Financial Manager? Can you use "Outsourced" this way?
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    In my former company we used to talk about such people being on attachment. – Ronald Sole Apr 10 '17 at 13:09
  • This one is all over the map. Some variation of "contractor" or "subcontractor" is common, but other terms are often used to obfuscate the relationship. – Hot Licks May 14 '17 at 0:48
  • A "sorcerer". :-) – fixer1234 May 14 '17 at 3:07

Yes you can use outsourced in this way, but conventionally this individual is referred to as:

A subcontractor

a person or company that does part of a job that another person or company is responsible for


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Someone who is contracted out of a business process, for non-core functions, to another party is "an outsourced employee" and you can, therefore, say your manager is an Outsourced Financial Manager.


  1. Outsourcing is the contracting or subcontracting of noncore activities to free up cash, personnel, time, and facilities for activities in which a company holds competitive advantage. Companies having strengths in other areas may contract out data processing, legal, manufacturing, marketing, payroll accounting, or other aspects of their businesses to concentrate on what they do best and thus reduce average unit cost. Outsourcing is often an integral part of downsizing or reengineering. Also called contracting out. Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/outsourcing.html

  2. Outsourcers are enterprises established and operating in accordance with labor laws, hiring employees under labor contracts, and providing other organizations with temporary labor.

  3. Outsourcing party means enterprises, agencies, organizations, cooperatives, households, individuals in need of labor, which they hire from the outsourcers for a definite period of time.

  4. An outsourced employee means an employee with full civil act capacity, who signed a labor contract with the outsourcer, hired by the outsourcer in order to work under control of the hiring party for a definite term. From -- Staffing

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Richard Jones asks whether someone employed by McKinsey but working at a U.S. bank is "outsourced."

As one answer makes clear, outsourcing is subcontracting to a person or a firm to do some part of the work of the main enterprise that the enterprise doesn't want to do itself. It's possible, for example, to outsource payroll management or the printing of procedural manuals or writing code for a particular purpose.

That's not the case here. As @Ronald Sole comments, this is called (at least sometimes) on attachment--it may also be called on assignment or on loan. I understand that it's a frequent practice for a law firm to assign (for periods of, perhaps, six months) one of its lawyers to work at an important client's firm. This is likely the case in the OP's question: a McKinsey consultant is working at a client's offices (the client being the U.S. bank). (McKinsey is a large world-wide consulting firm.)

Who, then, pays the salary of the McKinsey consultant? Or the lawyer working in the offices of a client? In the instances about which I know, the salary continues to be paid through the original employer (McKinsey, or the law firm), but the U.S. bank (or the client of the law firm) reimburses the original employer.

Thus, the proper term is not outsourced or subcontracted but assigned or on assignment or attached or seconded. In "seconded" used in this sense the accent is on the second syllable. "Seconded" is usually tagged as British but is becoming more common in the United States.



Secondment refers to the separation of a person from their regular organization for temporary assignment elsewhere; a temporary transfer to another job or post within the same organization.

The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Law Firms

By John O. Cunningham

  1. Living With Your Clients. Many leading-edge firms don't just make greater efforts to "understand" their clients; they actually find ways to live with them. Kramer Levin often sends lawyers to reside in client quarters, and McGuire Woods holds team meetings that include clients as speakers and as sounding boards. Reed Smith does both, and has even "acquired" the in-house legal department of a major client in a unique deal that yields greater expertise for the firm and beneficial cost management for the client. The firm also incorporates the knowledge of its clients into the Reed Smith University program for business training skills — a program developed in conjunction with Wharton Business School that benefits lawyers and staffers in the firm.

But perhaps the most unique approach was adopted by Alston Bird, which has even taken the step of learning a major client's business by working there. Firm employees have worked at UPS, riding on trucks along their delivery routes or sorting through materials at warehouse-distribution centers. (my italics)




We help clients with standing up IoT/Digital Factories by providing a starting team by seconding experienced McKinsey partners and consultants. Then we help with further scaling up by recruiting talent, training and developing the organization.

How does a secondment work?

The term 'secondment' describes where an employee or a group of employees is assigned on a temporary basis to work for another, 'host' organisation, or a different part of their employer's organisation. On expiry of the secondment term, the employee (the 'secondee') will 'return' to their original employer.

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  • Xanne, the case @RichardJones is talking about is the following: the U.S. Bank has many Financial Managers. Some are U.S. Bank employees. But for some of the Financial Managers positions, U.S. Bank contracts other consulting companies to give them human resources to fill those positions. These Financial Managers will be paid by the consulting companies, while U.S. Bank pays the consulting companies. [comment continues] – John Assymptoth Apr 11 '17 at 8:58
  • [comment continuation] These "external resources" are there for an undetermined term and they deal with U.S. Bank customers and suppliers just as if they were U.S. Bank employees... would one of these external employees still call themselves "Financial Manager (on assignment)" or "Outsourced Financial Manager"? – John Assymptoth Apr 11 '17 at 8:59
  • I think the first, "Financial Manager" (maybe even downplaying on assignment; but not outsourced. McKinsey is there to learn about the bank's financial management and thus serve that client better, – Xanne Apr 11 '17 at 9:30
  • McKinsey is not there to learn about the bank. McKiney is just selling a body to the bank... The bank will use the body as it sees fit (obviously I'm exaggerating a bit)... My surprise only comes from the fact that I've never heard that "on assignment" expression before. Can you provides some credible sources using this nomenclature? – John Assymptoth Apr 11 '17 at 15:18
  • @John Assymptoth See the edits on my answer. McKinsey is not just selling a body (they're not in that business). Seconding in law and assignment are both terminology that's used; on point, both outsourcing and subcontracting are wrong. – Xanne Apr 11 '17 at 17:16

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