While I can’t predict when interest rates will rise or which technology is going to make the biggest impact on mobile banking in the near future, I can assure you that a global hiring uptick is placing pressure on financial organizations to recruit—and retain—top talent, especially those with specialized skillsets.
While economic conditions vary by country, many companies around the world that had suspended new growth initiatives and projects in past years are now starting them up again. As a result, businesses have stepped up hiring efforts, creating new roles to capitalize on growth initiatives as well as adding support for over-stretched teams. These companies are hiring strategically, looking at current and future needs, and bringing in professionals who can add value immediately as well as long-term.
As you settle into the new year with—hopefully—a bigger staffing budget, it’s a good time to take stock of your team and consider whether you need to bring in new talent to achieve your objectives.
If you do decide to hire, there is only one problem. Many senior managers are operating under the misconception that an employment market that is still recovering overall should translate into easy candidate recruitment and only modest pay increases. The truth is something else entirely. More than two-thirds of U.S. executives, 68 percent, polled in a recent Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey cited at least some difficulty finding applicants with the requisite skills, up five points from a survey last year.
According to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guides—which feature salary ranges for more than 375 positions in corporate and public accounting, finance, banking and financial services worldwide—employment markets continue to improve, while demand for specialist occupations far outweighs supply, resulting in talent shortages in niche areas. As a result, salaries for in-demand positions are rising.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) unemployment figures support this trend. The BLS reported in late 2014 that the overall unemployment rate in the United States for specialized finance roles is much lower than the overall rate of 5.6 percent, with the financial sector coming in at 3.5 percent and banking and related activities at just 2.6 percent.
The result is increased competition among firms for the best people. Some key factors impacting this competitive hiring environment include:
- New jobs being created to support business growth.
- Vacated positions being filled more rapidly.
- Once-lean departments expanding to relieve the burden on current staff and maintain the morale and productivity of the entire team.
- Regulatory-compliance mandates calling for new skillsets.
- The gradual but steady wave of baby-boomer retirements creating vacancies.
In addition to full-time hiring, businesses are bringing in skilled interim and project professionals, who frequently possess subject-matter expertise not available internally. Contingent workers are being brought on at all experience levels and can supplement a company’s core team quickly and for as long as needed. Employers also frequently work with recruiters to find specialized talent for interim assignments as a way to evaluate potential hires.
Our company is seeing similar trends outside the United States, although growth has been less robust. According to the Robert Half 2015 U.K. Salary Guide, demand for skilled accounting and finance staff has intensified, with most finance directors indicating that competition for skilled finance professionals has increased, particularly as specialist occupations outpace generalist jobs. Challenges identifying and recruiting finance professionals continue, with the majority (92 percent) of surveyed executives citing skills shortages. According to survey respondents, specific areas where demand outweighs supply include:
- business/financial analysis,
- general accounting,
- financial management/control.
The report also reveals talent shortages emerging in areas such as:
- accounting and auditing,
- financial analysis,
- business systems.
auditors and risk analysts. In addition, asset-management firms need senior-level talent to help steer portfolio companies. And hedge-fund firms seek trade-support and middle-office professionals to handle increased business activity. These organizations also need individuals with expertise in accounting and finance for fund accounting, taxation, and investment and valuation analysis.
In the haste to hire new talent, it can be easy to overlook the stars currently playing on your team. But considering the high cost of replacing a key employee—or worse, making a bad hire—it’s critical to nurture the talent you already have in-house. The Robert Half 2015 U.K. Salary Guide reports 90 percent of surveyed finance directors are concerned about losing top financial performers. A recent Robert Half webinar on how to retain employees revealed these tips for keeping current employees happy:
- Offer competitive salaries: Insufficient pay is the number one reason employees leave.
- Know what matters most: A Glassdoor survey said the top five considerations job seekers take into account are:
- Salary and compensation,
- Career-growth opportunities,
- Work-life balance,
- Company culture and values.
- Track employee sentiment: Don’t wait until annual reviews or exit interviews to ask for feedback.
- Focus on career development: Provide career paths, offer growth opportunities and promote from within when possible.
- Recognize great work: A “thank you” for a job well done fosters positive feelings among the team and aids in retention.
Another reason to keep employees engaged? A study of more than 1,600 companies in 46 countries, conducted by global-management consultancy Hay Group, found that more than one-third of the global workforce feels disengaged. Lacking motivation, these workers were more likely to look for another job, dragging down company performance in the process.