The CFO’s Role in Closing the Talent Gap

According to a Deloitte global finance talent survey, the emerging talent gap is among the most pressing risks that finance teams face.  In fact, after Deloitte surveyed 312 CFOs and other executives in finance departments, “39% of finance executives said they were either ‘barely able’ or ‘unable’ to meet the demand for talent to run their organization.”  So how can an organization, particularly its finance leaders, play a role in closing the talent gap?

Some Stats

Here are some interesting stats presented in the Deloitte survey:

  • 92% of respondents said that talent management was important
  • 72% indicated that they had a talent strategy
  • 40% said they were not optimistic about their ability to meet talent demands in the future, in spite of broadening their recruitment strategies
  • 54% felt that their organization hired the right talent and developed the organization’s future leaders
  • 41% felt that their talent strategy actively marketed finance as an attractive career option

Skill Improvement
Research with C suite leaders indicates that many feel that their teams lack the competencies to provide reliable financial data. But what strategies might be used to improve technical skill and get people excited about it?

  • Identify competencies that could benefit your organization
  • Create a program to encourage developing those competencies
  • Challenge your team to get better
  • Incentivize them

For example, CFO.com relates a story about an organization called Granite Communications, which has created a skill enhancement initiative called “The Excel Program.”  Employees willingly educate themselves on how to use Microsoft’s Excel, Power Pivot and SQL Server tools.  CFO Richard Wurman says the company has allocated money to reward team members for enhancing their skills, which has gotten people “excited and motivated.”  What was the impetus for the program?  A small group of Microsoft Power users in the finance department decided to promote to other departments the “benefits of Power Pivot and SQL Server as business intelligence tools.”  The program has resulted in some specific, positive benefits, including the discovery of a $1 million gap in underreported revenue in Granite’s favour.

Big Data
Companies can collect and draw correlations from vast amounts of unstructured data. This can cause a challenge for accounting and finance professionals who lack the analytics training to interpret it.  Solutions?

  • Accept and understand the role that big data plays in the finance function
  • Make sure accountants have the training to deal with the revolution that big data has created in their field – training in statistics and decision science
  • Learn from peers who actually work in the field of data analytics and who incorporate it into more traditional finance and accounting functions
  • Use predictive analytics to help accurately forecast and plan for possible challenges
  • Consider incorporating prescriptive analytics, which are customized optimization tools that can offer the best course of action based on a set of circumstances

Create a Talent Strategy
When respondents were asked to describe their talent strategy in the Deloitte survey, it was apparent that there were wide ranging expectations about what constituted an effective approach.  Apparently, “a finance focused talent strategy often serve as a catchall term that can mask serious inadequacies.”  An effective strategy, for example, doesn’t merely gather the finance team’s input in talent planning, but involves a more comprehensive end-to-end strategy.  Here’s how a progressive CFO could help lead the charge in talent strategy creation:

  • Effective talent strategies are comprehensive and include plans for acquiring, developing and retaining talent
  • Hiring analytical minds that can create prescriptive analytics tools is a challenge with a 50-60% gap between supply and demand predicted by 2018 (McKinsey, 2012)
  • The CFO is in a unique position to take on “executive sponsorship of advanced analytics initiatives” (CFO.com)
  • The CFO can create buy-in, “Getting people to trust in the algorithm instead of their own experience and knowledge, takes education, communication and visible leadership.” (CFO.com)
  • The organization must be seen as a career path for people with advanced analytics training
  • Working strategically with HR, CFO’s should design the leadership team of tomorrow, and build processes that reward top performers and transition low performers
  • Set specific goals – 3 bullet points within the performance management process is a good place to start

Key Takeaways
CFO’s are integral to closing the talent gap.  CFO’s who work strategically with HR to develop a talent strategy will help to land and retain its firm’s future leaders.  Executive leadership is necessary to recognize the importance of big data and its role in the finance function of today and the future.  CFO’s who step in and create processes that help to manage the gap between the organization’s top and low performers will also realize gains in employee productivity.  Fundamentally, a progressive CFO understands that the talent gap is one of the most pressing risks that finance teams face, and they take active steps to ready their workforce for growth.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

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