Hiring in Finance Amid Turbulent Economic Conditions.

 In Accountancy, Featured, Uncategorised

In January we wrote an overview of the job market in finance – and it was pretty bullish!! The qualified market had been consistently busy through 2019 and Q1 started in exactly the same vein.  

Then the COVID meteorite came smashing through town…

The landscape changed abruptly – the live job market was immediately impacted in finance and many recruiters will have found themselves swiftly wiping their job boards in unprecedented fashion. However! – whilst April and May were largely very tough for most in this sector, June and into week 1 of July will have given many far higher optimism about H2 2020.

Positions have ‘come back to life’, start dates that were paused are now back firmly in diaries and new positions are crossing our desks.

But the economy looks to be in a fragile state and most would agree that the rest of 2020 is likely to be pretty turbulent… in terms of job volumes and potentially candidate ‘appetite to move’.

Whilst we’re still definitely glass half full in our outlook, we are expecting it to create some unusual and largely uncharted conditions for those looking to hire and perversely may create potentially unexpected, challenging conditions for hiring managers. 

The headline redundancy figures particularly in retail, hospitality, travel and aviation will make a grim read. There will be a wave of new ‘jobseekers’ hitting the market. Some hiring managers will expect there to be “loads of good people out there needing a new job”….

Some will be proven right but this may not necessarily translate to ‘easier’ recruitment conditions or search processes for MDs, FDs and FCs looking to bring talent into their finance functions.

“Why Not – of course it will?!”………….

1) Some qualified (and part qualified) finance professionals may be less inclined to consider a move than perhaps this time last year. The market conditions may feel unsettling and they may opt for a ‘better the devil I know’ approach. Prising them out may prove very difficult.

2) Businesses might be experiencing tighter cash than normal – while this may mean redundancies it can often lead directors to wrap their arms and legs around their senior finance team to ensure they have trusted advisors to manage their cash and steer them through the choppier waters. Again, this may shield potential candidates from your hiring process.

3) Your sector might have been hit harder than others which may create a potential barrier to attraction that wasn’t there previously. Candidates may look at certain sectors with more uncertainty and caution.

4) If you are in a potentially remote location then this is likely more of a negative than it was in 2019… working from home has caused many to reflect on the grind of their daily commute. We are already seeing a trend of job-seekers seeking roles closer to home rather than wanting an hour+ drive or a mask-covered public transport journey.

Don’t get me wrong, some hugely talented finance professionals will sadly find themselves redundant in the coming weeks and months and this is beginning to happen as furlough schemes are pulled back. This creates opportunity for hiring businesses and there will be pools of great talent in the candidate market to potentially access.

However, as above, there are factors which will potentially be counteracting & which may make competition for great people higher than some of the employment figures might suggest.

So what can you be considering if you have a vacancy in finance?

  • Don’t low ball the salary. If the market has some ‘desperate’ job seekers then some businesses will take the choice to take advantage of their position. They’ll cite that it’s a ‘supply and demand’ commercially decision – and pay someone 10% less than they were on. It is something that can give short term gain for longer term pain.  

Whilst the savvy might look to get a great deal on their next car the challenge here is that when the market recovers the car will likely unlock its handbrake and drive off in 6 months when someone is willing to pay a fair salary. Paying someone less than they should be on erodes loyalty, creates resentment and is more often than not a false economy in the medium term. 

It’s not just about attracting finance people – it’ s retaining them that you should also give major thought to.

  • Tell the truth about the situation. If cash is tight then tell them at interview. If the new system you were installing now cant be afforded and its back to the old one and its creaking at the seams then be candid. 

If you sugar coat your situation then in week one the successful candidate might give you a wry smile and say ‘you didn’t tell me it was this bad!’ …. They might equally say ‘this isn’t what I signed up for you can stick it up your jumper’ before gathering their pot plant and storming home.

  • Hire fast and decisively. Often if the job market is deemed to be softer employers can unwittingly fall into the trap of procrastinating. I’m not saying rush but you should look to map the recruitment process out and stick to your own interview and decision time-frames wherever possible — this above everything most maximises your chances of getting the right person in an efficient and cost effective manner.
  • Whatever you do don’t go to market before you have the position signed off and fully ‘specced’. It will drive people crazy if you interview them then decide to put the role on hold until the market firms up. It is a sure fire way to erode you brand reputation when a market is as turbulent as this. 
  • Don’t run with your old story….. this is an extension of point 2 but it is easy to talk the same game as you did previously… we are growing, we are a £50m turnover group, we are acquisitive, we have recently won a major new customer… if that’s all still as true as it was then great sing about it but if you have no appetite to ambition to make acquisitions for the foreseeable or if this year will be a £40m number then don’t set the expectation.. give context but be frank and clear about the now.

If you would be keen to discuss the market in more detail, we would be keen to speak directly and in complete confidence at any stage.

info@thearg.co.uk // 01246 541 927 

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