Hello and welcome. Like a typical Brit, I’ll start off talking about the weather. Even though last weekend was 25 degrees, Summer is now well and truly over, and Winter is upon us. While Mrs Reeve likes to remind me it’s only nine weeks until Christmas, I’m still trying to avoid turning the heating on for as long as possible.
Onto business, and as we head into the last quarter of the year, many organisations are starting to think about the new year and upcoming projects. We’ve seen several roles and candidates enter the market over the last month, which is indicative of the annual recruitment drive before the festive period takes hold.
In this month’s market update, we explore the nuances of the candidate market and look at the demand for hiring finance talent alongside the current focus areas for streamlining business processes.
Although we’re seeing much more movement in the market as budgets tighten, there’s an increasing trend right now for internal HR and talent teams to try and manage the recruitment processes themselves. As a recruitment company, you’d expect us to have a thing or two to say about this, and while we appreciate that it can be a good solution for some, there are a few things that we’d urge any business to consider when bringing hiring in-house.
Things you can do:
Does industry experience really matter when hiring?
As I mentioned above, the market is beginning to pick up ahead of the new year, and I’ve had several conversations with CFOs and FDs this week who have been approached about roles – a great sign that the sector is seeing movement again. However, one thing I noticed was that most of the people that I spoke to were only being approached with opportunities that were in their current sector. I can’t help but think this is a short-sighted approach on the recruiters’ part. A good CFO or accountant can quickly grasp the nuances of a new business or sector. There’s a wealth of crossover for many industries, and most candidates we speak to have a versatile, transferable skill set.
Organisations that are taking a single view when it comes to hiring could be missing out on some fantastic candidates with the drive, people skills and a fresh perspective from which their business could truly benefit.
There’s a strong passive candidate market.
In 2022, we were approached by numerous companies to find specialist finance candidates to help with ambitious growth plans for 2023, and we weren’t alone in that. There was a big push in H2 of 2022 to attract the best finance talent to support new and exciting ventures, from IPOs and mergers and acquisitions to global expansions. It was an exciting time to be looking for a new role.
Several of these plans were shelved as 2023 progressed, and the economy dipped. This means we’re seeing an increasing number of candidates who moved last year in hopes of sinking their teeth into a new challenge now finding themselves in a more standard “business as usual” role. With redundancies still on a knife edge for some, now is a good time for companies to take advantage of this, and if your organisation is looking to expand or has some interesting projects on the horizon, it might be worth seeing if you can tempt any of these high-calibre candidates over to you.
Are hybrid roles the answer?
We’re all aware of the impact the pandemic had on normalising home working, and although the remote working debate has been ongoing ever since, it looks as though a lot of businesses are embracing a hybrid model. And why wouldn’t they? The benefit to your employees is charted; earlier this year, the Office for National Statistics reported that more than three-quarters of those who worked from home in some capacity said that in doing so, it gave them a better work-life balance. Not only that but half also reported that it was quicker to get work done and that they had fewer distractions.
Hybrid working has also improved employee retention and made hiring easier. One company we recently spoke with had been trying to hire for an office-based role five days a week. They were struggling to attract people to apply, and eight weeks later, they were still trying to find suitable applicants. In this market, it’s worth reviewing what your staff and potential recruits find important. Work-life balance and flexibility have shot up the list in recent years, so asking for five days a week commuting to an office will mean that some employers will miss out on talent.
When out for a coffee the other week with a client, we discussed the office versus home working setup, and he raised a valid point. Whilst home working can indeed increase productivity and improve working conditions individually, there is an impact on overall team productivity. Not having those over-the-desk conversations can hamper output, and people aren’t always as willing to put the time in the diary for a quick video call or messenger chat. Whilst remote working does have obvious benefits, businesses must ensure that collaboration is easily achieved and that employees don’t lose sight that they’re part of a bigger team. Keeping a healthy split between home and office hours could well be the best option here.
Finance transformation specialists (contractors) are still in demand.
It’s no secret that in 2023, we have seen a significant drop in the number of permanent hires, down by 25% following a bumper year in 2022. However, contractor numbers have risen by 35%, and we’re still seeing a significant demand for transformation specialists in particular. NetSuite seems to be the front-runner for growing SME’s looking to improve their reporting, Sap S/4, and Sage X3 also seem particularly popular among larger businesses, and demand seems high for candidates with experience across the entire lifecycle of ERP implementations, including post-implementation and optimisation projects.
With a focus on process improvement and driving efficiencies across the business, we’re talking to several organisations that are looking for transformation specialists with automation experience. We can see several automation projects on the horizon as businesses look to streamline their transactional finance functions and reduce the reliance on manual processing for core month-end functions such as AP, AR, Payroll, etc.
I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has been successful in implementing automated solutions into their finance function – for research purposes, not recruitment-related!
Thank you for taking the time to read our senior finance market update. As always, if you would like any advice on hiring, candidates, salary benchmarking, or a general chat about the market or to discuss your next role, you can now book a 30-minute call with me using this link – https://calendly.com/ashley-absolute-recruit/30min
N.B For those of you who are not aware, we also run a Senior Finance Community where members share ideas, experiences and solutions to finance-related issues, primarily through our WhatsApp group and quarterly meetups. If you would like more information or wish to join, drop me an email on email@example.com