UK: Finance Business Partners Needed: Results Of Deloitte’s 2013 Global Finance Talent Survey

Last Updated: 27 July 2013
Article by Kay Forsythe

Deloitte's 2013 Global Finance Talent Survey  - which polled 312 chief financial officers (CFOs) and other executives in finance - has found that the pipeline of future finance leaders is running dry inside large companies, and CFOs are increasingly concerned about their ability to recruit, retain and develop talent in their finance organisations. The key findings are as follows:

1 - Finance, we have a brand problem
Our survey found that the top challenge in attracting talent is the lure of managerial or non-finance positions. Prospective recruits may see finance as scorekeepers rather than strategists, fuelling their move into non-finance roles and CFOs and other leaders should consider pursuing a targeted, organised brand-building strategy designed to get the word out about the shift to strategy in finance.

2 - The most important talent is the toughest to recruit
Finance leaders report that it is easy to find talent in areas such as procurement, treasury, and accounting. Meanwhile, finance planning and analysis skills are very difficult to recruit for, and many of those positions remain unfilled. Leading practices are showing a commitment to aggressively implementing programs that deliver a superior employee value proposition, positioning the finance organisation as a career destination. 

3 - Finance leaders are on the hunt for new and different skills
Businesses continue to ask finance for more decision support and business partnering capabilities from their finance peers. Meanwhile, however, the results of our survey show little improvement in the finance function's ability to support strategic planning or to provide strategic partnering capabilities. Just under half of respondents say their organisations are prepared to provide the experiences their people need to cultivate the required capabilities. As organisational strategies shift, so should talent strategies to meet demand.

4 - Finance leaders aren't providing the experiences their people need most
Acquiring the right talent for the future is only half the battle – leaders should have a plan for developing and retaining talent to help ensure that their acquisition efforts pay off well into the future. What does it take for finance talent to develop in their careers and become tomorrow's leaders? They should have experience communicating with senior executives, board members, and executives. They should have hands-on experience partnering with or working in business units. They should participate in strategic planning and lead special projects. And more. 

5 - The leadership pipeline needs replenishing
Where do today's finance leaders look for tomorrow's leaders? The answer says much about the state of finance talent today. The top source of future finance leaders is external – fewer than half of respondents indicated that they find finance leaders from internal talent. Plus, most CFOs have not identified a successor. Finance leaders can begin taking a number of actions today to shore up their approach to developing tomorrow's leaders. 

  • Training: While there is no replacement for real-world partnering experience, training has a role to play, too. Given the rising importance of partnering, training updates focused on this issue can help.
  • Practical experience: Finance leaders should also seek opportunities to offer lateral opportunities in the organisation to provide valuable experiences in partnering as well as alternative delivery models such as outsourcing and shared services.
  • Mentoring: Many organisations have mentoring programs in place but don't fully exploit them. Focus your mentoring agenda on providing unique developmental experiences where future leaders can witness and practice critical skills, and make sure senior leaders are on board. It can be as simple as bringing a junior colleague to a meeting, using it as a laboratory for exploring a specific skill such as good communication. 

Seize the opportunity
After years of working to have a voice in setting the strategy for their organisations, finance leaders are finally being welcomed into the fold by their counterparts in the business. Many of these business leaders received a reality check by way of the global economic crisis, when the need for deeper financial insights became apparent. So today, business leaders are inviting finance leaders to the table for their strategic insights and ability to contribute to smarter decision making.

Finance leaders who are focused on evolving their talent strategy along with the needs of the business are likely to find themselves – and their finance organisations – right where they need to be.

Download your copy of Deloitte's 2013 Global Finance Talent Survey.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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