Skills gap for future finance leaders, says Deloitte

CFOs are increasingly concerned about the recruitment and development of key staff in their finance organisations as the skills they need are under-developed, according to research by Deloitte.

The firm's Global Finance Talent Survey of over 300 CFOs and other executives in finance departments in large companies around the world found that 39% believe they are either 'barely able' or 'unable' to meet the demand for the talent required to run their organisations. A third (33%) forecast the same problem in three years' time.

Financial planning and analysis, cited by 38% of finance executives, heads the list of areas where it is difficult to identify qualified, high-potential talent, followed by internal control and audit (31%) and tax (28%).

The survey also found that finance leaders are concerned about identifying their future replacement within their organisations, with many suggesting that the leadership pipeline is poor. Only 40% of finance leaders reported finding highly skilled finance leaders internally in the last three years, with the problem particularly acute in Asia and Europe.

A third of those polled (34%) say that talent management is now their top concern in their overall finance strategy. Of the remainder, almost all describe talent as 'somewhat important' to their finance strategy. Deloitte's research suggests part of the reason for this is the switch from seeing finance as a 'scorekeeper's role' to seeing finance as a partner in developing and executing business strategy.

Kay Forsythe, partner in Deloitte's finance transformation team, said: 'Finance organisations haven't historically hired talent or built themselves to meet this demand for partnering with other areas of the company to drive growth. Consequently, there is a significant talent gap developing, which CFOs are now trying to address.'

Deloitte's finding suggests that while the majority of finance executives (72%) state that they have a strategy in place to recruit and develop the talent they need, in many cases this is not properly aligned with future needs. While CFOs list the ability to communicate effectively with senior management as the number one requirement for career progression, the ability to learn and use this skill is ranked only fifth in terms of availability in finance organisations.

Finance executives list the top three barriers to successful recruitment as the belief that there are insufficient opportunities for development and career advancement; that potential strong recruits continue to be lured by managerial or non-finance positions instead; and the fact that compensation and benefits are not competitive.

Deloitte says that finance executives need to address these misconceptions urgently, as an outdated view of the finance function is another problem in recruiting and retaining talent. However, the survey findings show that CFOs are paying little attention to this, ranking the marketing of a career in finance eighth out of nine components for their talent strategy.

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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