UK finance departments are facing a problem. Many don't have enough of the right staff in place.
Six in ten chief financial officers (CFOs) at UK companies said that they expected to have skills shortages, according to research published in August 2018 by recruitment company Robert Walters. Eight in ten of the CFOs surveyed said they expected their finance teams’ workloads to increase.
The finance skills most in demand were analysis (38%), business partnering (36%) and financial reporting (29%), according to the survey of almost 1,000 UK accounting and finance professionals. Respondents said that technical “certifications” were more important than experience in accounting and finance.
Over half of employers questioned (53%) said that ACA/ICAS was the most important technical qualification, followed by ACCA and CIMA.
So how can finance leaders plug the gap in their skills shortages and ensure they have the right qualified members on their team?
Interim staff can help plug skills gaps in your finance department.
Norman Broadbent, an executive search company, said that demand for interim chief financial officers (CFOs) increased by 69% in the first half of 2018, compared to the same period a year earlier.
Digital transformation projects and geo-political upheavals, such as Brexit, were increasing demand for interim CFOs and senior finance professionals, the company said. This demand was seen in companies of all sizes.
The variety of work and experience involved in being an interim FDs is a plus. Being an interim FD can strengthen a CV and make it easier to return to full-time FD roles, or other board functions.
Cloud technology can make being an interim FD easier by providing access to IT systems and tools when out of the office and on the go. Technology like video conferencing and calls can also replace face-to-face meetings.
Perks of the Job
Another trend we see emerging is that amid a shortage of finance staff, candidates are becoming more demanding. They’re able to ask for higher salaries and be pickier about the work they accept.
Some companies are offering new perks to attracts the best candidates, especially among younger workers. For example, some companies are letting staff choose what hours they work (new recruits to PwC can choose what hours they work) free food, generous parental leave and trendy shared work spaces, rather than soulless office cubicles.
Companies are using shared workspaces to encourage staff to interact more, boost team spirit and make workers feel more motivated and inspired.
It’s not just offices that are changing. So is the type of work in all levels of finance and accounting. Accountants and finance teams need to be business analysts, project managers, comfortable with the latest technology and have good “soft skills” too (for example, communication skills, empathy, leadership and team work).
After years of training, newly qualified accountants and finance staff don’t want to spend most of their jobs capturing data and filling in forms. If finance staff feel unmotivated, staff morale will fall and your staff turnover may increase.
Higher salaries and staff turnover increase costs for businesses in a number of ways. There’s the training and recruitment factors to consider for starters. So, how can finance leaders keep turnover to a minimum?
Technologies such as mobile apps, machine learning and AI can reduce the drudgery from finance jobs by eliminating paperwork for administrative tasks such as expenses and invoices.
Little changes like this can improve staff morale. It can also mean that finance staff spend more time on interesting work, such as analysing business performance and planning strategy.
For many businesses, it’s early days for co-working, AI and choose-your-own hours. But finance departments that ignore these trends in recruitment and working are likely to regret it. They may struggle to attract the best finance staff and see their staff turnover increase as unmotivated workers leave for companies offering better terms and conditions.