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FDs fail to lure top finance talent

As many as one-third of finance directors don’t have a recruitment strategy
in place for the finance function, despite 37% saying that their department is
barely able to meet its current demand for skilled professionals, according to
The Finance Talent Challenge: How leading CFOs are taking charge.

The findings of the research prompted Marcus Boyle, head of finance
consulting at Deloitte, to say that finance has temporarily taken its eye off
the talent ball. “Demand for high performers in finance is outstripping supply
and few companies are doing what it takes to lure top talent,” he said.

Top of the list of roles that FDs are failing to fill and plan for are
financial planning and analysis (FP&A) professional. “If finance is going to
help the business make the right strategic choices, it can’t be done without
data to back up the recommendations,” says Boyle. “The FP&A individuals are
typically where future finance leaders will be found, but these are among the
hardest people to find.”

According to Deloitte, FDs can only successfully meet the talent challenge by
proactively and deliberately committing finance to creating value; developing a
new breed of finance leaders; branding finance as a career launcher and taking
ownership of the development of value-creating finance people. Only then will
finance departments pull themselves out of the crisis.

Andrew Bonfield, CFO of Bristol-Myers Squib, has built a finance development
framework, which sets out the competencies required in different areas of
finance. “We discovered technical gaps in individuals, as well as large
skill-set gaps in the organisation. The finance organisation was focused very
much on delivering the numbers, not on how they delivered them.”

One way to energise an ailing finance team is to bring in new talent from
other companies and even other industries. “It’s very important to bring in new
people, because it brings new thinking and ideas,” says Graham Bartlett, ex-CFO
of E.ON UK. “I want people from other industries, where it is more likely that
they will have looked at different approaches.”

FDs may have no choice; more than two-thirds (37%) of the 636 respondents to
the survey said that they were “barely able” to meet its demand for finance
professionals with this only expected to drop slightly, to 28%, in three to five
years’ time.

Career development is also key, with FDs pursuing several approaches to
attract and develop top talent. Helen Weir, group FD at Lloyds TSB, says: “We
think through their career development, so they have the breadth of experience
in different roles, which then enables them to take on a more senior role within
the finance area.”

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