Financial Job Market Opportunities

The War for Financial Talent

It’s 2013. What is keeping CFOs awake at night?

What are CFOs thinking about as we enter a new year and head into a period of recovery? Not surprisingly, they are thinking about how to strategically structure their companies to succeed in the short and long term. They’re also thinking about the risks and obstacles their companies may encounter on their way to achieving their strategic objectives.

Financial executives also tell us they are concerned about the ramifications of their understaffed finance and accounting departments, such as controls being overlooked and weakened compliance structures. Even before the economy took a nosedive, there were serious shortages of chartered accountants and CPAs. At many companies, corporate accounting and internal audit were having great difficulty retaining employees because of intense competition for experienced accountants, auditors, and finance professionals in the finance job market. Even a loyal employee, when offered a financial job opportunity with a large salary increase, generous bonus and incentive income, a signing bonus, and an improved work-life balance, will find it hard to turn down. That was the scenario before the recession. There were many empty desks in finance and accounting departments due to supply and demand. Of course, the demand problem was triggered by SOX and other compliance and regulatory requirements. Heading into the recession, companies reduced head count across the board and instituted a hiring freeze, and finance and accounting departments were again (or still) faced with skeleton crews.

Demand for the accountants and finance executives is going to pick up.

Now that a recovery appears to be underway the demand for the accountants and finance executives is going to pick up. Some executives we have spoken to are under the impression that hiring will not be as difficult because there will be an abundance of people available due to all of the layoffs. That may be the case in some sectors and in some disciplines, but not so much in accounting and finance. We’re certain there will be competition for financial talent, especially accountants–CPAs, CAs, CMAs, auditors–because the demand never significantly dropped off. Many of our clients took advantage of the economic downturn to upgrade their talent, strengthen their bench and reshape their teams for the future. Our advice to our clients is not to wait until business conditions improve. They should try to get ahead of the curve, if they can, and start to plan and recruit now.

Develop plans now to retain your key financial executives.

Here is something else that CFOs can lose sleep over: Although it looks like the economy is no longer on life support, with that comes the risk that companies could start to lose their top performers. It would be prudent for CFOs as well as CEOs and Chief Human Resources officers to develop plans now to retain their key people. History tells us that well before the economy turns the corner towards recovery, top performers start to look at other opportunities. We are being contacted by more and more employed financial executives who want us to “keep them in mind” when new opportunities develop. The war for financial talent is not over and it’s going to heat up.

And if you're ready to start your next executive search, find out how our experienced consultants at GAAP Executive Search can help you recruit top-performing financial executives.