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Avoiding Senior finance recruitment pitfalls: Insights from FSN’s research

Embarking on a journey to better understand the hurdles faced by senior finance professionals when hiring new talent, FSNTalent conducted a survey in January 2024 involving more than 260 global companies. The findings shed light on some key pain points that often go unaddressed. One of the most startling findings is that only 52% of hirers say that there is a good fit between candidates put forward by recruitment agencies and the job specification.

There are several reasons why there is a mismatch why candidates fall short of the mark. Responsibility for the gap in expectations can often be traced to several sources.

Lack of understanding - bridging the gap.

Senior finance roles increasingly complex and diverse.  The talents of finance professionals have to straddle many domains, from statutory responsibilities and good governance to strategist and trusted board advisor.

This misalignment between the expectations of finance professionals and the candidates presented by recruiters underscores the importance of having recruitment teams with a fluent in the intricate language of finance. With 85% of organizations echoing the sentiment, it's clear: to find the perfect fit, recruiters must first speak the language of finance.

Recruiters who understand the demanding workload of the modern finance function, can conduct a more nuanced evaluation, ensuring that shortlisted applicants not only possess the required qualifications but also align with the trajectory of the business its objectives and unique culture. 

85% of organisations in our research stressed the importance of recruiters taking the time to understand the business they are recruiting for.

Getting the spec right - crafting the blueprint.

Quite often, it's the business itself that doesn't get the job spec right.  What finance regards as the vital qualities and qualifications of the role, may not be aligned with the views of the rest of the board of management.  Internal tensions between senior stakeholders as to what is required can often be quite pronounced and unless all of the relevant stakeholders have visibility of the job spec at the beginning of the process and an opportunity to comment then the recruitment process may result in disappointment.

Of course, the flipside, is a set of requirements that is unrealistic and which no modern finance leader could satisfy.  This is where knowledgeable finance-led input from experienced recruiters is vital to crafting a balanced and achievable candidate specification.

83% of CFOs would like their recruiters to have an accounting/finance qualification and background.

Unrealistic timescales - patience pays dividends.

Finding a good match between the business and candidates takes time. In the fast-paced world of finance, time is a precious commodity. Yet, haste can lead to costly missteps. Rushing to automate or relying on cookie-cutter approaches spells doom for senior finance appointments. True success lies in the art of patience—taking the time to understand, to meet, to match. With senior roles, there are no shortcuts. That's why we place so much emphasis on knowing the requirements on both sides and getting to meet candidates before putting them forward.  The unseemly rush to automation and using artificial intelligence to match key attributes on both sides or slavishly following a checklist approach without taking account of the deeply nuanced requirements of the business and candidates inevitably leads to failure.

With senior finance appointments, there can be no shortcuts. Clarity around the job spec and brief is the essential starting point with all of the stakeholders bought in. It can be hard to steer the finance function when there are gaps in its leadership, but businesses that resist the temptation to make a hasty appointment fare far better in the long term.  As the adage goes, "less haste, more speed"—this is our mantra for navigating the turbulent waters of finance hiring with integrity and precision.

We invite readers looking for new roles and those looking to fill vacancies within their own finance function to reach out to us using the following forms.

Employers form here.  Job seekers form here.

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