Right now, we are seeing many changes in the Accounting and Finance industry – with market shifts and technology developments changing the types of roles in demand. Some positions are no longer as relevant as they were in the past, while new roles have emerged and become integral to the operation of today’s organisations. To remain competitive, business leaders need to keep an eye on the market and understand what is driving candidates today.
Let’s take a look at how the Accounting and Finance sector has evolved and how you can secure the right talent to meet the changing needs of your business.
How Roles Are Changing
One of the most obvious changes across the industry has been in the roles we need to advertise for. With more systems available, many lower-level jobs are becoming automated, putting greater focus on roles with an advisory function, that interpret and pass on information to other stakeholders in the business. Three of the key positions that I have seen become more prominent are the Commercial Analyst, Finance Business Partner and Management Accountant.
The Commercial Analyst has become a lot more in-demand now than it was 10-15 years ago. The reason for this is that a larger number of businesses have access to data, with smart machines and AI gaining more widespread use and acceptance.
In the past, only the biggest companies had pockets deep enough to afford the kind of systems that make Commercial Analysts, Business Analysts and Commercial Managers necessary – but with SMEs now able to use these technologies, the norms that govern the industry are shifting, and many businesses are relying on the insights provided by these professionals to guide their direction.
Finance Business Partner
This is another newly created role that did not exist in the market 10-15 years ago. Finance Business Partners work closely with the business units to provide the real-time insights and analysis that are required in order for decision-makers to make informed decisions about each area of the organisation.
These professionals have the ability to translate finance and operations, influence key day-to-day decisions and help with developing the strategies of the business.
There has also been a growing demand for Management Accountants, who play a key role in communicating numbers and providing insights on budgets, as well as performing KPI analyses and variance analyses. These valuable professionals understand how the business is tracking against budgets and targets, making it easier to identify the areas where improvements can be made.
These roles all go hand-in-hand and communicate with one another to support business outcomes. The Commercial Analyst and the Management Accountant work together to support the Finance Business Partner through insight, analysis and data-crunching. The Finance Business Partner then presents this information to the leadership team, providing them with the tools they need to help the organisation grow and achieve.
Understanding and Combatting the Talent Shortage
As this shift in focus has been relatively recent, the industry is facing a growing shortage of candidates who know how to communicate their data. Most people are good at one thing or the other – they can develop reports and interpret data but can’t liaise well with stakeholders, or vice-versa. Right now, the market needs people who can succeed in both the technical side and the communication side of things, and this shortage presents a challenge for employers.
To find such people, it’s important to know what to look for. While previous experience is key, potential should always be the top priority – especially when the talent pool is in short supply. Consider opening your hiring policies to candidates outside of your specific industry; regardless of their background, if they have the communication and analytical skills you need, as well as the right commercial knowledge, this will make them more valuable in the long run as they can be trained for your industry. Look to candidates like this – with transferrable skills – to broaden the talent pool.
Another suggestion is to stay open to overseas candidates. Commercial Analyst, Business Analyst and Commercial Manager roles are very common in other parts of the developed world and the markets overseas are also much bigger, so there’s a greater chance of finding that perfect fit for your company.
Getting the Attention of Candidates
Since these higher-level candidates are more difficult to come by, employers need to stand out in order to compete for talent. A lot of today’s Accounting and Finance candidates are looking for career progression and flexibility – whether that’s in their hours or where they work. Then there’s the old favourite: the salary. SMEs may naturally struggle to offer the same salary and career progression as bigger businesses, but they can stand out by offering perks, creating a positive company culture and making hiring decisions quickly. If you like a candidate, move them through the hiring process speedily – this will help keep them engaged, show that you are keen to invest in their career and help you secure talent before they are snapped up by competitors.
You can stand out from the crowd by embracing technology in the same way that candidates are doing. Instead of sending an email, which may be slow, get in contact with your chosen candidates as soon as possible – and consider using video conferencing to really get to know remote or overseas applicants.
Accounting job outlooks are improving for candidates, but this has also created a shortage for many businesses. We can tackle this by acting quickly and working with new technology while opening our search criteria to candidates outside of the traditional scope.
For Accounting and Finance recruitment that puts your business first, reach out to me any time.