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The time is right to invest in finance talent!

24/08/16

What is the market like? Probably the most asked question when talking with candidates at all levels.

Supply is definitely outstripping demand, in my opinion, thanks to a lack of opportunities to make that genuine ‘step up’. Careers are becoming stagnant with internal opportunities being downgraded and external roles few and far between. Many clients remain nervous about the uncertainty in the current economic climate however change is good and can be a real benefit to a business or team. 

Accountants, on the whole, are a naturally cautious and diligent lot who often rein in colleagues with a greater appetite for risk by using logic and reasoning. An awareness and understanding of financial control is definitely a core skill set for any accountant but businesses also need to consider the risk of being left behind if they do not invest in someone who is skilled in commercial business planning, long term strategy and innovation. I am certainly not suggesting that Finance Directors are lacking these skills everywhere but being open to adopting new methods and innovation can help align their roles with the views of other board members.

There is no doubt that business leaders across the UK are watching their competitors and, from the outside, most appear to be playing it safe. Watching, waiting…who is going to make that move, who is entering new markets, who is dropping prices and who is making cuts? Well I think Laura Trott’s performance in the Omnium can be a valuable lesson for business leaders. For those who didn’t watch the Olympic cycling event, one of the races is a 100 lap battle of strategy and nerve. I must admit it baffled me to start with, however the more I watched the more I was engrossed. It is a cat and mouse game at speeds up to 50mph and Laura dominated the field by knowing when to stay back and track her competition and when charge past them. 

Well the time is definitely now when it comes to hiring externally to complement your existing strategy or to help redesign it. With the lack of opportunities over the past year, many companies have been happy to maintain the status quo in relation to their finance leadership. Whilst there is great value in tenure, likeability and loyalty, in terms of uncertainty these skills may not be right to lead the charge forward from a finance perspective. Incumbent finance leaders may be incredibly respected, capable in the current role and hardworking but in terms of change innovation and the ability to adapt quickly are essential. 

A client recently said to me that “it is a huge financial investment to change at the top”, I completely agree and said “don’t underestimate the time and effort in addition to this”. An investment in time, energy and money makes great things happen. The Team GB medal haul was outstanding, many of the athletes performed at optimal levels when it counted and those who failed to win will no doubt come back hungrier than ever (where physically possible). They train almost every day, they sacrifice so much and they only get one shot to be an Olympic medallist every four years. Could they do it without the funding UK Sport provide – I very much doubt it. To be able to train, dedicate and focus solely upon being the best is almost impossible without investment. It is evident that the Team GB athletes have adopted a winning mentality - no excuses.              

Well in recruitment, the triumvirate of excuses is over (hopefully) and the passive candidates are becoming more active...

• Brexit vote - concluded
• Political uncertainty - concluded
• Late nights watching Rio/ Summer holiday season - concluded (almost)

The Thames Valley is home to a number of outstanding finance professionals with leadership experience from blue chip PLCs to owner managed businesses and SMEs. The region is also very attractive to a wider candidate pool; in a recent survey across our six regional offices, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire were both voted in the top five counties to reside within the UK (out of 48). The region benefits from a variety of businesses, affordable housing, good transport links (both nationally and internationally) and excellent local amenities.  As candidates are looking to ramp up the search across the nation, the potential return on investment could be immense, just ask one of the 67 medallists from Rio!

Still unconvinced? Would you have ever imagined a prime minister dressed as an 80’s computer game classic would emerge from a giant green tunnel in front of millions in one of the world’s most televised events in 2016 – times are certainly changing!
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