By Steve Saah, Executive Director of Finance and Accounting Permanent Placement, Robert Half Research for Robert Half’s Demand for Skilled Talent report shows that leaders of finance and accounting teams have an ambitious list of strategic priorities in focus for 2024, including data and analytics initiatives, finance technology upgrades, and artificial intelligence (AI) implementation. For many organizations, these priorities are designed to drive competitive advantage and help support business growth. In fact, 67% of finance and accounting managers in the U.S. surveyed for the Demand for Skilled Talent report said that company growth was a key factor influencing their hiring decisions. However, meeting staffing goals for strategic priorities and other business needs could be an arduous exercise in the current labor market. A strong majority (87%) of hiring managers for finance and accounting teams said that they are having a hard time locating skilled talent available for hire. This post highlights some of the hiring challenges managers are trying to navigate as they work to keep their top priorities for finance and accounting on track this year. We’ll also look at a few strategies to help you overcome these roadblocks so you can build highly skilled teams. First, let’s get a better understanding of what types of positions are in high demand.
Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) underscores why employers of finance and accounting talent are having a tough time hiring the professionals they need for their teams this year. Unemployment rates for many types of finance and accounting roles are trending well below the national average of 3.9% that the BLS reported for April. Here are just a few examples: Financial managers: 2.0% Accountants and auditors: 1.9% Finance and investment analysts: 1.5% Compliance officers: 1.1% Robert Half also learned through our survey of hiring managers for the Demand for Skilled Talent report that locating skilled professionals for jobs in the following areas is particularly difficult: Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) — Nearly half (46%) of respondents said it is tough to find skilled talent for FP&A roles, which involve budgeting, forecasting and analyzing financial trends to help support strategic decision-making. Accounts payable, accounts receivable and bookkeeping — These financial operations directly impact a company’s cash flow and financial integrity — and 43% of managers told us that positions on these teams are hard to staff. Financial reporting — Well over a third (37%) of managers said it’s challenging to find skilled professionals for these jobs, which involve preparing and interpreting financial statements to help the business meet compliance demands and make informed decisions. Many organizations are actively hiring for their teams because they want to address skill gaps and deepen their bench strength. Thirty-four percent of managers said the lack of requisite skills among current employees is influencing their hiring decisions. However, at the same time, 47% of hiring managers for finance and accounting teams said their greatest hiring challenge in this labor market is the lack of applicants with the required skills. The evolving nature of finance roles, with a greater emphasis on analytics and strategic input, means that traditional skill sets are no longer sufficient. Top professionals with in-demand skills and experience know they have options in the current job market, too — and that is contributing to managers’ hiring challenges. According to research for the Demand for Skilled Talent report, 44% of hiring managers for finance and accounting teams are currently recruiting talent to address employee turnover. Get more insight into in-demand finance and accounting roles and hiring trends for 2024.
The first step toward improving your ability to attract and hire the talent you need for your finance and accounting organization is to understand what today’s professionals want from a job — and an employer. Many in-demand professionals today seek positions that go beyond number-crunching and allow them to use strategic thinking, engage in problem-solving and leverage advanced technologies like generative AI. Leaders must consider these expectations as they work to create roles that top candidates are likely to find attractive and fulfilling. Taking the following steps can also help.
Investing in the latest finance technologies isn’t just about improving efficiency but also attracting and retaining skilled talent. As noted above, today’s finance professionals want to work at companies that stay on the leading edge of technology. Implementing advanced financial management systems, AI and data analytics tools can make their work more engaging and intellectually satisfying. Alongside technological tools, ongoing training and professional development are vital. These initiatives should focus on both technical finance skills and soft skills like leadership, communication and strategic thinking — abilities that will help your employees adapt to the rapid pace of change that is a hallmark of today’s business environment.
To attract top talent, companies must offer competitive compensation packages, of course. However, 55% of finance and accounting managers surveyed by Robert Half said they are worried about meeting candidates’ salary expectations. Keep in mind that compensation is about more than salary. Benefits and perks like professional development allowances, opportunities for advancement, and robust health and wellness programs can help differentiate your company. Flexible work arrangements and hybrid roles are also a draw for many candidates. Our workplace research shows that 40% of today’s workers are interested in a fully remote position, while 33% would like a hybrid position. Only 18% of professionals said they would prefer to have a job that has them working in the office full time. Our research also indicates that not providing flexible work options can undermine a company’s efforts to attract the best workers. Nearly half (48%) of employers surveyed said they lost out on hiring a top candidate because their organization did not offer enough flexible work options. The takeaway: If you want to hire and retain the best talent in today’s competitive labor market, you need to understand the priorities of potential recruits — and your existing workers — and adapt your offerings to meet those expectations. To make sure you’re offering finance and accounting salaries that are in line with your local market and industry, consult Robert Half’s latest Salary Guide.
Building and continually evolving your organizational culture can also help your business become a talent magnet. An inclusive work environment that promotes transparency, recognition and open communication can improve employee satisfaction and retention. It also contributes to developing a strong employer brand that can help you attract top candidates. So, consider prioritizing and amplifying efforts to create a positive workplace culture where feedback is encouraged, achievements are celebrated, and every team member feels recognized and valued.
In a competitive labor market, strategic recruitment goes beyond staffing open positions. Aim to proactively identify the skills that your business will likely need in the future, such as expertise in data analytics and strategic forecasting. Engaging with potential candidates through finance networking events, professional associations and social media platforms can help you build a talent pipeline that aligns with those future needs. Offering internships and graduate training programs can also be an excellent way to attract high-potential talent early and bring them into your business before they can even be wooed by your competitors. And finally, when you do find a standout hire for your finance and accounting team, move fast to make an offer. Nearly half (48%) of the managers we surveyed for the Demand for Skilled Talent report said their greatest hiring challenge this year is hiring quickly enough to land the best talent. Don’t let this potential hiring hurdle, which you can control, prevent you from recruiting the skilled talent your organization needs to succeed this year — and beyond.
Managers can keep their strategic priorities for finance and accounting on track this year by working with the specialized recruiters at Robert Half. We have the industry’s largest network of skilled finance and accounting professionals, and we can help you find the talent you need to keep your projects moving forward. We can also introduce you to the benefits of using a scalable talent model, which can give you access to highly skilled talent for every project whenever and for as long as you need the support. Contact us today to learn more.  Follow Steve Saah on LinkedIn.