Strategy & Operations » Leadership & Management » Attracting talent in finance – Are CFOs doing enough?

Attracting talent in finance - Are CFOs doing enough?

In a fiercely competitive job market, CFOs are having to think laterally, leaving no stone unturned in their quest to secure the best candidates for their teams, but are the finance leaders doing enough? 

As the battle for dynamic talent in finance heats up, CFOs worldwide are stepping up to secure the best talent without compromising.

From tapping into the power of LinkedIn, leveraging strategic partnerships with universities, and  revising remote working policies to attract talent, CFOs are becoming more hands-on in their approach.

But should CFOs take a more active role in recruiting their teams?

One CFO, Diana Saadeh-Jajeh, who leads the finance, accounting and real estate teams of a Fortune 500 global gaming retailer, says CFOs need to spend more time recruiting their teams.

For Saadeh-Jajeh, spending at least 15 minutes with a candidate to create a relationship early on is crucial.

“I don’t think [CFOs] are spending enough time recruiting or cultivating the team that they have,” says Saadeh-Jajeh.

Though Saadeh-Jajeh would not always make the final decision on a hire, she says meeting candidates at the final stages of the hiring process proved beneficial.

“I intend to get to know that person before they even start in the organisation. Because I want that relationship,” says Saadeh-Jajeh adding that this opens the door for communication, transparency and connection.

“It’s also because I want to look for potential leaders in the organisation. So, while they may be coming in as a manager or director, this might be the future VP of this organisation,” says Saadeh-Jajeh.

She added the aim was also to assess the candidate’s potential.

“Part of my assessment looks at whether this person will be limited by the role I’m hiring them for. Are they going to come in, master that role, take on more responsibilities and maybe get promoted to the next leader? And that’s what I’m looking for. I’m hiring for tomorrow, not today,” adds Saadeh-Jajeh.

For Milk & More’s CFO Billie O’Connor spending time with candidates earlier on in the recruitment process is crucial. Meanwhile, Hugo Boss’ senior VP of group finance and tax, Katharina Herzog believes the onboarding process is vital.

These finance leaders are innovating in recruiting, attracting and retaining talent in a market where the talent supply is fewer than the demand.

The World Economic Forum lists the skills gap as one of the most significant risks for organisations, while the US Bank reported that finance leaders named talent shortages among the top business risks along with the pace of technology and digital disruption.

The scarcity of skilled workers is still a pressing concern, meaning finance leaders are prioritising employee retention. Given the low unemployment rate at the moment, the need for a well-defined recruitment strategy to entice and retain top talent is even more pronounced.

Talent strategy is company strategy

Fran Maxwell who is the global lead, people advisory and organisational change at Protiviti, states in the Chief Executive that fusing talent and business strategies is the new game plan for success.

Ultima Business Solutions’ CFO Tamsin Ashmore supports Maxwell’s sentiments explaining that how CFOs recruit, support and develop talent is fundamental to a company’s sustainability as “it speaks to your bottom line”.

Ashmore explains that the head of talent and acquisition across the organisation sits in her team for this reason.

“Being part of the talent process ensures that I am driving the business to be accelerating for growth,” says Ashmore.

Nurturing young talent for greater employee retention

Investing in young talent has been cited as a critical talent retention strategy as it helps create a positive and supportive workplace culture that values and invests in its employees.

By acting as a steppingstone for first jobbers and providing opportunities for young employees to grow and develop their skills, organisations can demonstrate that they are committed to their employee’s professional development and career advancement.

This can lead to greater job satisfaction, increased loyalty, and significantly high retention rates, says Rouven Bergmann, CFO at Dassault Systèmes.

“We encourage building a lifelong career in the company. We work with universities, and have just increased our internship program by 20% capacity, says Bergmann, adding that most interns within the organisation are offered an employment contract at the end of their internship.

“The majority will accept it. We also have our own sales and software development academies where we train people, so we make a lot of investments,” Bergmann adds.

In-house recruitment: a winning strategy

The CFO’s role is no stranger to evolution, having transformed over the years from being solely focused on financial reporting and accounting functions to becoming a strategic business partner to the CEO and Board of Directors.

Yet the rising cost of employee compensation and benefits have made it increasingly important for CFOs to be involved in recruitment. CFOs who have taken this approach stand by the strategy and believe that doing so can bring a data-driven and process-oriented approach to managing the company’s workforce, which can improve operational efficiencies and control costs.

Both Ashmore and Saadeh-Jajeh believe recruiting talent in-house has proven to be cost-effective and also means individuals who lived and breathed the organisation’s culture were at the helm, spearheading the search for talent.

Navigating a low talent supply in a high demand market

Due to the global talent landscape, CFOs are finding it challenging to navigate a market where there is high demand for talent but a low supply of qualified candidates.

This intense competition for top talent makes it difficult for CFOs to find the right candidates to fill key roles, and CFOs must be innovative in how they approach recruiting for their teams.

But Saadeh-Jajeh tells The CFO that post-pandemic, remote working has allowed the organisation to be “a little bit flexible” and secure talent from other states in the US.

“In the past, we used to only look at the local  market; we would rarely look at anyone outside of Dallas, because we wanted that person to be here physically well. Now I’m opening it up to any talent that fits the criteria that could be sitting anywhere in the US,” says Saadeh-Jajeh explaining that this somewhat mitigated the talent shortage.

The talent landscape has forced CFOs to be more creative and innovative in their recruitment and retention strategies. Many CFOs are leveraging technology and partnerships to attract candidates, while some finance leaders, such as Saadeh-Jajeh, believe they should be more active in recruiting and cultivating their teams.

Additionally, many CFOs, including Bergmann are investing in young talent as a critical strategy for employee retention. By offering opportunities for young employees to grow and develop their skills, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to their employees’ professional development and career advancement, leading to greater job satisfaction, increased loyalty, and higher retention rates.

Though their approaches and strategies differ, all finance leaders agree that being part of the talent process is critical to driving business growth. And by implementing innovative and practical recruitment and retention strategies, they can attract and retain top talent in a truly sustainable way.

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