Financial Planning & Analysis: Not Just for CPAs

Shane GagnonShane Gagnon, Clarity’s Director of Operations in Vancouver, recently had a hunch that he decided to dig into. His hunch was that Canadian employers seem to have a tendency to hire CPAs over non-designated professionals (MBAs, CFA’s, undergraduate finance/business degree holders) within their Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) functions. This is in contrast to American companies where MBAs, and the like, seem more prevalent.

He recently pulled a random sampling of FP&A job descriptions from Indeed.com and 80% of them required CPAs. Are we missing out on great talent for our finance teams because we’re so focused on the CPA designation?

How many CPA/Accountants make up Amazon’s FP&A team? 22%

How about Telus (only 229 km’s away from each other)? A whopping 82%

But there’s more:

  • Telus has a CPA rotational program internally, they develop their people into CPAs, which helps explain why the number is so high
  • Loblaws has a CPA program too and their FP&A team composition is 83% CPA/accounting
  • Hudson’s Bay Company has no CPA program and as a landmark Canadian institution that is now an American company, they are quite interesting; their FP&A team is split between Canada and the USA. Only 10% of their American FP&A team has a CPA/Accounting background; in Canada it’s 91%
  • lululemon has shown some real willingness to hire outside the traditional background for their FP+A team (possibly due to years of non-Canadian leadership) and their team is still approximately 65% CPA

What is the role of Financial Planning and Analysis and is it crucial that we focus our recruitment efforts mainly on CPAs? Evolved FP&A requires business partnering to optimize decision making and drive results. Yes, there are cyclical, routine elements that are required of the job (budgeting, forecasting, etc) but the true power of the function is unleashing analytical people with quantitative skills (who also have an in depth understanding of finance) into the business to support the execution of operational agendas. Shane points out “there is nothing in that mandate that jumps out at me saying ‘this is why we should exclusively look at CPAs’”.

Mona Kennedy is the VP, Finance at Indigo and she has also noticed an incongruity with how we hire in FP&A, and what the actual role of the function demands. Traditionally, FP&A people have been “focused on budgeting and forecasting, variance analysis, and commentary, they’re not thinking about ‘how do I add value to the business’? What are the drivers and how do we help leaders make the right decisions?” Mona recognized that CEO/COOs without finance backgrounds are not always able to ask for evolved FP&A as they don’t necessarily know what the function can really do. It’s incumbent on finance itself to reinvent the function and demonstrate real value to the business.

“People in the business generally don’t want to hear from finance because they’re always coming around asking “Why are you over budget? Why are you under budget?” so reinventing our FP&A function was about freeing ourselves to automate and streamline the reporting aspect that was normally just expected of us and building real bridges with the business, showing them how we can truly add value to them and that, in large part, demanded us to open ourselves to hiring a different type of profile.”

Mona has found huge success hiring people who have come from MBA and M.Sc backgrounds, one of her favorite hires came from Sales. “Having a background in sales meant they had a real appreciation for the drivers of how a company actually makes money. That mindset has not only helped the business partners we serve but the rest of our team as well. When I am hiring for FP&A I look for business acumen above all else, an appreciation of EBITDA and what drives it. That is a skill set that you find everywhere, not just in CPAs.”

This embrace of moving FP&A to something more than it has historically been was echoed in a conversation Shane had with Oliver Piekaar, VP, Finance at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (NYSE: RBA, $3.66B Market Cap): “People look at the CFO and those that work under them as people that just create the financial statements that have to be submitted for compliance reasons. At a certain point though you realize that if you’re going to drive value for your organization you have to become more analytical storytellers who embrace data more than traditional CPAs that, by training, seek out certainty. You need great inputs of course, but you need to free yourself to be more curious and more aligned to the business to drive impactful results.”

To their credit though, Oliver points out that “CPAs have a desire for precision which can be  really valuable in FP&A. You are trained to trust but verify, and you have the ability to track the impact of events across all the financial statements. That is not always present in people coming from a non-CPA background which I take into consideration when hiring.”

Shane’s conclusion: “Certainly I’m not going to say MBAs are better and we should hire them instead of CPAs into FP&A teams, but I am going to say that we are doing ourselves a disservice in not giving serious consideration to building out our finance teams with non-CPA profiles. The CPA designation, across Canada, has a well deserved reputation for its quality. As a recruiter and a designated HR professional I can say that I have confidence in the quality imbued in a CPA charterholder in Canada. However, I do question our reliance on it as an indicator for quality in the FP&A space. Should we not be opening our eyes, and desk spaces, to those candidates with high level business acumen, analytical skills, and strong interpersonal abilities regardless of designation (if any)?”

The FP&A professional of the future combines the technical skill set of a business analyst (extract, manipulate, and package data) with the nuanced skills of a financial analyst (analyze the data and tell the story) and packages it with the business acumen of a more operational person in the company. Finding, or developing, those skills in people is very challenging which is why we can not afford to discount a large swath of the population when we are making our hiring decisions.

As we endeavour to build more great Canadian companies, FP&A can, and will, play a key role in ensuring their growth and success but we will hinder that growth if we can not satisfy the demand for talented people and we compound that challenge when we close ourselves off to people that don’t look exactly like what we have historically hired into the finance function.

What do you think? Leave us a comment below or contact Shane directly. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to be alerted to new job opportunities, salary guides, research and insights to keep you at the top of your game

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.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


Finance Desk

Why Every Tech Startup Needs a Finance Team

Finance Desk

You have a great tech product or service and have been operating with minimal staff up to this point. But suddenly, things start to take off. You begin to realize that certain aspects of the business now command more of your attention and there is a noticeable lack of financial expertise on your team.

This is where hiring finance professionals is crucial. We’ve gathered some helpful information on what a top finance team can offer and what the most important steps are in building one.

What role does a  finance team have in a tech startup?

Finance teams take care of a variety of tasks to keep a startup running efficiently, including:

  • Payroll – ensuring employees get paid

  • Financing – fundraising processes/dealing with investors

  • Credit control – ensuring clients pay their bills

  • Cash management – overseeing accounts payable and receivable

  • Strategic planning – identifying the opportunities, risks, and associated costs of the business plan/model

  • Forecasting and budgeting – determining when the business could run out of funding

  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) – tracking and analyzing financial data

  • Equity and employee stock options – understanding what’s involved in equity and stocks

In addition to these traditional tasks, the role of finance teams is evolving. In a tech startup, they might also assist in areas such as optimizing cloud costs and conducting pricing analyses for new and existing products.

Why do tech startups need a finance team?

Aside from the  day-to-day tasks  a finance team performs, finance professionals  also bring with them specific talents that are crucial in the success of a startup.

A  CEO may understand the inner workings of the company and have a  handle on most financial aspects, but a finance team can help to tell the company’s overall story by laying out the details on paper. Data can be analyzed to create a big picture outlining the past, present, and future of the company or product. This is essential for ensuring the CEO’s decision making is well-informed.

A finance team will also be able to provide highly detailed financial reports which can aid in accurate analysis and comparisons from quarter to quarter. This can provide  answers to questions that may arise such as how much revenue can be expected in the first year or how much should be spent on marketing. This detailed data will also be important when reporting to current investors or working to bring new investors on board.

When do tech startups need to hire a finance team?

While there is no hard and fast rule on this, the short answer is as soon as possible. Many tech startups operate on a jack-of-all-trades basis with a few employees wearing many hats. This may work for a while, but as the business grows and the finance function becomes  imperative, a team of experts will be required to ensure the company’s growth and success.

To balance cash conservation while having an expert available, it’s a good idea to start small. . Hiring contract or part-time finance professionals can help get the ball rolling; they will be able to fine-tune any systems or processes that the company has already been using before a permanent team is necessary. As soon as the budget allows, tech startups should begin hiring full-time, permanent finance team members who can take the reins and steer the company in the right financial direction.

What should tech startups look for in a finance team?

The nature of startups tends to be intimate and familial with a small group of people going through various stages of growth together, making it important to find finance team members who will fit well within the already established culture.

Finance team members should also bring some specific qualities to the table, such as:

  • A professional accounting designation

  • The ability to originate and close deals (fundraising)

  • Expertise in building process and structure

  • Attributes that make them a trusted advisor (act as a partner)

  • Other skills/talents beyond finance (marketing knowledge, etc.)

  • Knowledge of the tech industry

  • The ability to see the big picture

Where can tech startups find top finance talent?

Whether a tech startup is in the beginning stages of its financial journey looking for contract or part-time finance staff or seeking a permanent finance team to lead the way, Clarity Recruitment can find top finance candidates to fit any startup culture.

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 find your next perfect hire.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


Soccer Team Huddle

Look to FIFA for Ways to Build a Stronger Finance and Accounting Team

Soccer Team Huddle
GGGOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL! The FIFA World Cup is underway, and whether you’re a soccer fan or not, it’s hard to deny the excitement brought on by watching a match. The way players interact with one another, the common goal they’re trying to reach, and the energy of the fans are all major reasons why the sport is enjoyed by billions of people around the world.

Although finance and accounting work isn’t something the public is watching intently like a professional soccer match, there are several lessons from the sports world that can be learned and applied to the building of a strong, confident, and winning finance and accounting team.

It’s About the Whole Team, Not Just the Star Players

Successful soccer teams are built on the understanding that, while there may be more popular or more highly skilled team members, it’s important to focus on how the team works as a whole. Working with the strengths of each player helps determine where on the field they should be and what position will best suit them.

This can easily be applied to the finance and accounting world. Having a diverse team that offers a variety of strengths is an asset, and being able to leverage these different strengths to complete various tasks and reach certain goals will serve the company much better than simply focusing on one or two people who are considered stronger team members.

When everyone is given an equal opportunity to shine, it creates a more supportive, team-like atmosphere.
 

On the pitch, putting all of the effort into training and developing one or two star players could backfire if they all of a sudden are injured or are unable to play. Coaches are then left with a team that perhaps hasn’t been given the same attention as the star players, and the result could likely be a team that simply doesn’t know how to work together well.

This is a scenario that could very easily occur in any finance and accounting team that hasn’t been fully developed. If one or two finance and accounting team members are considered more important and have had the majority of development opportunities, should they choose to leave or have to take time off for personal reasons, the rest of the team might not have the tools necessary to pick up the slack.

Focusing on all team members equally, and taking advantage of their diverse needs and skills, ensures you have a more flexible team that can work as one, even if one or two members are missing or aren’t performing their best.

Read: Hungry for more sports examples? Check out “How to Build a Finance Dream Team” for some comparisons between an NHL hockey team and a finance and accounting team.

Practice Makes Perfect

This well-known phrase speaks to all kinds of teams, and can benefit soccer teams and finance teams alike. Individual team members need to practice their skills to ensure they’re sharp, but it’s also important for teams to practice working together. Building communication skills, expanding knowledge of programs and processes, and learning how to deal with both losses and wins are just some of the things teams must learn to do together.

Practice requires discipline. Just as soccer players must commit to a training regimen, finance and accounting team members must be willing to do what it takes to reach the team’s goals. That could mean carrying out certain tasks over and over until the results are where they need to be, or working to establish processes and procedures that will increase efficiency, for example.

Adaptability is also an important aspect of practicing. A soccer team might practice certain strategies consistently and know them perfectly off of the pitch, but once they’re really in the game, what happens when the strategies don’t work as planned? In the finance world, when a team thinks it’s solidified a process or timeline, and then something goes awry, it means everyone needs to go back to step one and identify a new plan of attack.

Read: “5 Factors That Separate Great Teams From Good Ones” to learn what else you can do to make your team shine.

Everyone Needs to be Accountable

Pointing fingers when facing a loss doesn’t help to solve anything, whether you’re a soccer team or a group of finance and accounting professionals. Instead, banding together and coming up with solutions to problems will help the team move forward and hopefully succeed the next time around.

When everyone on a team accepts that they are all equally responsible for the team’s successes and failures, it means that when one team member falters, their teammates will be there to help them back up. Members of successful teams rely on each other, and also understand that they must be willing to reciprocate the respect and support offered by their teammates.

Part of feeling accountable to a team is being committed to the overall goal or vision. Soccer teams want to win games and go on to win entire championships. Finance and accounting teams want to work effectively and efficiently, meet deadlines, and reach targets that have been set out for them.

Read: “Tips from Toronto Recruiters – Being a Team Player” for more insight on what characteristics help members contribute best to teams.

Communication Drives Success

Out on the pitch, soccer players need to know what their teammates are doing. No one can read minds, so communicating clearly is important when working towards a shared goal. Having open communication lines and learning how best to communicate with one another allows for mutual understanding and prevents any surprises that could cost a team their win.

In a finance and accounting office, communication is essential to ensuring mistakes are avoided and that everyone is doing their part to reach the team’s goals. Members of successful finance and accounting teams understand that following up with others is part of good communication practices rather than a micro-management issue, and that keeping each other informed is crucial to keeping projects on track.

Key Takeaways

  • Each team member has something to bring to the table.
  • Avoid focusing on one or two team members only, at the detriment of others.
  • Team members should be willing to fill in for one another.
  • Take advantage of each team member’s unique skills.
  • Teams need to practice constantly to be their best and learn from mistakes.
  • An adaptable team uses what they learn from losses to earn future wins.
  • Everyone on a team must be held accountable for successes and failures.
  • Commitment to a common goal helps team members feel accountable.
  • Communication is important in avoiding mistakes and knowing what to do next.
  • Successful teams strive to communicate as much as possible.
  • Team members must learn how best to communicate with one another.

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.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


Diversity Group

How to Build a Better Finance Team Using Diversity

Diversity Group
The recent Pride Month celebrations got us thinking about diversity and its important role in any finance and accounting team. In the workplace, bringing together employees with different backgrounds like LGBTQ and/or various cultures, perspectives, experiences, and skills helps create a more dynamic, flexible, and adaptable team that will have a range of tools and qualities to solve any problem.

Pride originated as a protest, a chance for the LGBTQ community to have a voice when society was otherwise silencing them. As society became more accepting, the LGBTQ community members finally had the chance to show their talents and skills. The Pride movement began to expand into cheerful, supportive parades, events, and celebrations that are an inspiring reminder that when you encourage diversity, and truly embrace it, powerful things can happen. However, for diversity to truly work for a team, it helps to have the following ingredients.

Buy-in from the Top

Leadership support for diversity is integral to making it work. A recent study found that, many times, those in senior positions feel that they’re doing enough to successfully implement diversity; but this is often not as true as they may think. According to the results of the study, there is “a strong correlation between perceptions of inclusivity and overall leadership effectiveness”, which means leaders who are not seen as championing diversity often don’t leave the best impression with employees.

Leaders who aren’t open enough about inclusivity, who don’t challenge themselves and their teams enough when it comes to creating a diverse workplace, could ultimately be seen as failing in their roles. Continually looking for opportunities to add diversity to a team, and following through on implementing changes based on those opportunities creates a more positive workplace and a happier, stronger team.

Other research has shown that while employers say they feel inclusivity is important to a business overall, the fact is that around 53% of LGBTQ workers are not open about who they are because they aren’t confident that they’ll be treated the same as other employees when there are no actual anti-discrimination policies in place. Ultimately, this can affect a company’s bottom line.

According to a UCLA study, 92% of companies surveyed that had anti-discrimination policies say that those policies have a positive impact on annual sales, as well as lead to better recruitment and retention of top talent. Companies that don’t support LGBTQ inclusion could see a hit to their sales, considering the global LGBTQ consumer market is approximately $3.7 trillion, not to mention the market value of the community’s supporters.

The potential for happier employees, increased revenue, and a more positive work environment are important reasons why those in leadership positions should step up and take notice of opportunities for diversity and inclusion practices.

Pro Tip: “How to Retain Top Accounting and Finance Talent” for more insight on what keeps employees engaged.

Broad Application

A survey published in the Harvard Business Review found a correlation between companies that implemented diversity and company revenue.

Companies which hired more diverse talent had happier and more productive employees. This also had driven greater innovation in the teams and increased the profits, compared to the companies which were less diverse.

The survey found that “the more dimensions of diversity were represented, the stronger the relationship was (between diversity, performance, and profit)”, which indicates that while including some diversity initiatives is great, companies can benefit far more by including the broadest spectrum of diversity possible in their team.

Ways to do this include things like hiring strategies that remove bias, training programs for cultural sensitivity, communication techniques that allow open dialogue about cultural differences, and HR initiatives such as inclusive benefits for same-sex partners. Broad application of diversity initiatives should include aspects such as race, gender, age, sexual preference, education, and industry background.

“Fundamentally inclusion is about productivity. It’s about getting the most out of your workforce, it’s about letting your employees be themselves … which ultimately will improve their profitability and shareholder’s value,” said Suki Sandhu, the founder of INvolve, an organisation championing diversity inclusion in businesses in his interview with The Guardian.

Working with a trusted recruiter can help find candidates with different backgrounds, attributes, and skill sets that perfectly meet a company’s needs. Hiring diverse candidates will only benefit the team if an employer also has inclusion policies in place that will allow people with different backgrounds and experiences to feel comfortable and be able to express themselves fully.

Read: “5 Things to Think About Before You Hire a Finance Recruiter” for tips on how to find the right recruiter for your needs.

Consistency

Talking about wanting to be more diverse is just the first step in making it happen. If real action hasn’t been taken, the feeling of inclusion hasn’t been achieved. Once diversity initiatives have been identified and planned, leaders should take steps each day to follow through on the intention of those initiatives.

It’s not enough to simply implement something one year and then walk away feeling like that’s all that will ever be needed. Diversity and inclusion should not be a side project or simple discussion, it must become ingrained in the company culture in order for it to really make a difference and allow people to feel comfortable, open, and heard.

The world is ever-changing, and staying on top of movements and social shifts can give a company the competitive advantage when it comes to its diversity and how its commitment to inclusivity is perceived.

Read: “What 11 CEOs Have Learned About Championing Diversity” to learn more about what it takes to make diversity a real focus in an organization.

Employee Input

A diversity plan or strategy that is shared with everyone in the company can help get the ball rolling. Meetings can focus on what ideas are on the table so far, and can be a great opportunity to get input from all team members to ensure that everyone has a say and that they feel well represented.

When gathering team members to discuss diversity initiatives, try to channel some of the electric energy that is highlighted every year during the Pride Week celebrations to help them get excited about making strides when it comes to creating a more inclusive environment, a more open communication channel, and a more supportive team.

Key Takeaways

  • Ensure leaders champion the diversity initiatives and lead by example.
  • A leader’s effectiveness is strongly linked to fostering inclusivity.
  • Include as many dimensions of diversity in the workplace as possible.
  • Diversity can improve employee performance and increase the innovation.
  • A more inclusive environment can positively affect a company’s bottom line.
  • Work with a trusted recruiter to help find diverse talent.
  • Diversity initiatives require real action to make a difference.
  • Rather than treat diversity like a project, consider it part of company culture.
  • It’s important to stay up-to-date on the changing aspects of diversity.
  • Getting employee input on diversity lets them feel heard and respected.
  • Inclusivity means employees feel comfortable expressing who they are.

 

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.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


How to improve employee loyalty.

How to Build Employee Loyalty

How to improve employee loyalty.
For the most part, the days when an employee would spend 30 years with a company are long gone. Today’s millennial workforce, for example, do not hesitate to change roles if they are unhappy and an opportunity presents itself. What can an organization do to increase employee loyalty and keep their top performers on board?

Why Loyalty Matters
When people feel fulfilled in their role they’re more productive. This fulfillment is fueled, in large part, by a feeling that an organization values them and their work. This, in turn, is more likely to encourage them to stay with an organization, allowing a firm to grow its future leaders and invest in its talent. Constantly replacing top performers is a costly endeavor. Turnover impacts team morale, the departing employee takes their knowledge with them, and the financial cost to recruit and train someone new can equal a full year’s salary. Overall, it makes sense for an organization to build employee loyalty.

Autonomy
According to this article from the Harvard Business Review, “Autonomy may be the single most important element for creating engagement in a company.” Specifically, employee loyalty and engagement are increased by giving employees a sense of control. Balance this with accountability, and you have a winning combination for employee productivity

Confidence in Leadership
Employee loyalty increases when people have confidence in their leaders. Ensure that management communicates regularly with their direct reports and connects decisions to larger organizational objectives.

Individual Attention
Loyalty is greatly improved when employees receive individual attention designed to further their career goals and skill set. A strong mentoring program can be a great way, therefore, to keep your best talent. In fact, the relationship with a manager is a number one predictor of whether or not an individual will stay in the role, so make sure your managers regularly schedule one-on-one’s and that they are trained to inspire and share their expertise with their employees.

Fairness and Dispute Resolution
Managers must respond to concerns immediately with fairness. There should be a formal dispute resolution mechanism in place which is followed consistently. This fosters a sense of mutual respect, and makes employees more likely to accept the outcome of the resolution process.

Education and Equipment
One of the most common sources of employee frustration is the feeling that there is a lack of training or proper equipment to get a job done well. Make sure that employees feel supported, that adequate training measures are in place, and that they have the proper equipment or software to excel in their role. Employees who feel adequately supported by their company are much more likely to remain with an organization.

Paths to Promotion
If an employee understands the path to promotion they are more likely to stay on board. Allow employees to gain cross-functional experience. The more they understand the business, and all its moving parts, the more invested they will feel.

Tailor Benefits
A one-size-fits-all approach to benefits and compensation, isn’t always the most effective way to build employee loyalty. Individualize your benefits as best as you can to suit an employee’s personal drivers. While one person may value increased flexibility, another may be more financially driven. One option is to create choice within your benefits package. For example, employees can be offered a fitness stipend to spend as they wish.

Read: To learn more about how companies are using progressive strategies, including customizing benefits, to increase employee loyalty and retention, read “How to Retain Top Finance and Accounting Talent.

Key Takeaways
The more loyal your employees are, the more likely they are to stay and grow with your organization. Invest in your managers and ensure that they are trained to inspire and share their expertise. Make sure that employees understand the path to promotion and how their work connects to the larger picture. Balance autonomy with accountability and customize benefits to reflect an individual’s specific needs. Have a fair dispute resolution in place and provide your team with the education and equipment they need to do their job well. 

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.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


How to hire Generation Z from Toronto recruiters

Tips from Toronto Recruiters: Generation Z

How to hire Generation Z from Toronto recruiters
Everybody is talking about how to attract, land and retain top millennial talent (Generation Y). There is, however, a new generation on the horizon and they differ in key ways from their predecessors.

Here’s what you need to know to get ready to hire Generation Z.

Who are generation Z?
While there are no precise dates associated with this generation, researchers typically use the mid-1990s to 2010 to define their age. Five years from now, they’ll represent 20% of the workforce. 

Some general trends regarding Generation Z:

  • Grew up during an economic downturn 
  • More risk adverse than Generation Y 
  • Value stability and routine more than Generation Y
  • Want a flexible workplace 
  • Need to see greater meaning in what they do – feel that they are making a difference
  • Even more technologically savvy than Generation Y
  • Share close relationships with their parents 
  • Value diversity 
  • Socially conscious generation

Tips for Recruiting Generation Z

A) Making a Difference
This group wants to feel like they are making a difference. Speak to any organizational policies and values that address issues in the larger community. You don’t have to be a non-profit to appeal to this generation, but it’s helpful if you’re an organization that strives to make a difference in your community.

B) Alignment
Generation Z wants alignment between their values and any role they apply for. This makes company culture particularly important when connecting with potential candidates.  Take the time to learn about your applicants and their values during the interview process.

C) Career Trajectory
Like millennials, Generation Z wants to understand the path to advancement. They value mentoring and constructive feedback. Firms that offer opportunities for personal and professional growth stand out to Generation Z.

Pro Tip: Connect the responsibilities of the role to the larger picture of the organization. This helps your candidates see the importance of what they’ll be doing on a daily basis.

D) Streamlined Hiring Process
Generation Z grew up with information at their fingertips and like millennials they are not patient with a slow hiring process. Take too long to interview them and they’ll likely move on to the next opportunity.

E) Transparency
Be honest about what the job looks like. Generation Z values transparency and honesty. Like Generation Y they are loyal to an individual, not a company, so make sure that managers build genuine relationships with their direct reports.

F) Compensation
Because many of them witnessed firsthand the impact of an economic downturn on their parents and grandparents, compensation is particularly important to Generation Z. Make sure that salary and benefits are in line with market expectations when making an offer. 

Read: “How to Make an Effective Offer of Employment” to learn how to land the candidates that could be difference makers for your organization.

G) Communication
Face-to-face communication is important to Generation Z, so schedule regular one-to-one meetings. In addition, they have a preference for working in small groups, so the quality of any team they join should be emphasized during the recruiting process.

Resource: Read this article to learn how to make your one-to-ones with employees more productive.

H) Respect
Soon there will be 4 generations in the workforce – baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z. Firms that foster a culture of respect and diversity are most likely to attract and retain top talent. Consider this quote from McKinsey and Company, “More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns.”  

Read: For tips on managing a multigenerational finance team read, “How to Manage a Multigenerational Finance Team (and Not Go Totally Insane).”

Key Takeaways
Over the next 5 years more Generation Z candidates will be joining the workforce. Like their Generation Y counterparts they value mentoring, clear communication about their career path and opportunities for personal and professional growth. They crave stability and transparency in the workplace. They want to learn and are willing to work hard. Organizations that create a culture of respect will reap the benefits of a generation that brings with them innovation, creativity and a desire to collaborate.

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.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


Companies who don’t listen to employee feedback risk a disengaged workforce.

Why Companies Need to Listen to Employee Feedback

Companies who don’t listen to employee feedback risk a disengaged workforce.
Sometimes the truth hurts. In this case, ignoring employee feedback carries risks to employee engagement and the bottom line. In fact, if you want to attract, land and retain quality staff, a mutual exchange of constructive feedback is imperative. Here’s why companies need to listen to their employees, even if they don’t like what they’re hearing.

The Study
From January to June 2017 Leadership IQ surveyed over 27,000 executives, managers and employees. They asked several questions:

  • Did employees feel that the company openly shared the challenges it was facing?
  • Were managers open to suggestions for improvements?
  • Did leadership and the organization take constructive action based on employee feedback? 
  • Did the employee feel comfortable recommending the organization as a great place to work?

Some interesting correlations were observed that made it evident that organizations ignore employee feedback at their own peril.

Sharing Challenges
The study made it abundantly clear that transparency was critical in securing employee engagement. Fifteen percent of the employees surveyed felt that their organization openly shared challenges. Those same employees were 10 times more likely to recommend their employer than those who felt that their companies were not as open.

Leadership Matters
A leader who encourages suggestions for improvement can make a difference to employee engagement. One quarter of those surveyed felt that their leader was open to constructive feedback.  According to Leadership IQ, “they’re [also] about 12 times more likely to recommend [their company] as a great employer.”

Interesting note: Middle managers and executives were much more likely than others to feel that their leaders were responsive to feedback. The younger workforce were not as likely to feel this way. This poses a potential challenge to retaining a millennial workforce who value mentoring and the ability to voice their ideas.

Read: To learn more about what millennials need in a finance or accounting job, read, “Why Millennials Quit Their Accounting or Finance Job.”

Acting on Feedback
Three quarters of the employees surveyed said that, “good suggestions or valid complaints from employees never led to important changes,” and they were highly unlikely (only 4%) to recommend their employer to others. 

In comparison, 75% of the 25% of people who felt that their organization took action would encourage others to work there.

Interesting note: Those who worked for smaller organizations felt that suggestions from staff were more frequently incorporated into organizational change than those who worked for larger companies.

Tips for Retaining Staff
It’s a very competitive marketplace for attracting and retaining top talent. Progressive companies are listening to employee feedback and offering a company culture that acknowledges the need for work/life balance. If you want to retain staff:

  • Build flexibility into company culture
  • Adopt an individualized approach to benefits
  • Maintain a diverse workforce - According to McKinsey, “More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns.”  
  • Create resource groups where like-minded individuals can meet and brainstorm ideas
  • Develop mentoring programs that help people grow their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses
  • Clearly lay out an individual’s path to career progression
  • Establish in-house training programs and offer funding for individuals to pursue professional development

Key Takeaways
There are risks for an organization that ignores employee feedback. It’s clear, for example, that employees who feel heard are much more likely to recommend their employer to others. As it’s incredibly competitive to attract and retain top talent in the current marketplace, it’s imperative that companies listen and take action on suggestions and complaints made by its workforce.

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.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


A woman becomes a leadership superhero.

How to Improve Your Leadership Skills

A woman becomes a leadership superhero.
Leadership isn’t about being a Director of Finance or CFO.  You could be a leader even if you don’t have a position of authority. In fact, a true leader is someone that people would follow regardless of title. It’s about understanding when to take the lead from the front, and when to climb into the trenches. It’s about influencing from a place of service and respect. Want to become a better leader? Here are some ways to do so.

Take Yourself Out of the Equation
To lead effectively you need to focus on building success in others. Whether you’re mentoring, introducing a new policy, or revisiting goals, your ego must be taken out of the equation.

Communicate the Vision and Set Goals
Clearly communicate your vision and connect it to the larger mission of the organization. Then collaboratively set goals with each individual on your team. They can be a valuable source of strategic input.

Read: “How to Set Goals as a Finance Manager (and Help Your Team Achieve Them)” to learn how supportive autonomy can lead to team success.

Refine Your Skills
Know your strengths and leverage them. Similarly, know the gaps in your skill set and seek to mitigate them through additional professional development, or hiring people with complementary abilities.

Overcome Setbacks
There is no such thing as perfect. Setbacks, and how you respond to them, define your career success. Own your mistakes and if a team member missteps, support them and debrief on how to do better next time. 

Be Consistent
Predictable is not boring, especially when it comes to the behavior of a leader. Teams need to understand that if they do action A, you’ll likely respond with behavior B.  This evenness on the part of a leader creates a feeling of safety for teams to take risks and innovate. After all, you want a team who shares their ideas and understands that leadership comes from everyone.

Model Behaviors
Model the behaviors that you want to see in your team. They’ll be looking to you to set the tone for what’s appropriate.

Always Follow Through
Mean what you say. It will help establish trust when you follow through. Most importantly, don’t overpromise and under deliver. It’s great to motivate a team, but be realistic in setting expectations.

Understand Individual Drivers
If you take the time to get to know your team members as individuals, you’ll learn what motivates them. This will help you position information to get maximum buy-in and to elevate a team member’s performance if need be.

Communication Is Key
The heart of successful leadership lies in strong communication skills. Whether it’s active listening, collaboration, or giving feedback, how well you communicate will, in large part, dictate the success of your team.

Read this article to brush up on your active listening skills.

Key Takeaways
Whether you’re actually in a position of authority, or simply taking the lead on a project or initiative, there are ways to improve your leadership skills. Communicate your vision clearly and explain how it can facilitate success in others. Set goals collaboratively and remember that your team or coworkers can be valuable sources of strategic insight. Model the behaviors that you wish to see in your team and always follow through if possible. Take the time to understand people’s individual drivers. It will help you motivate them. And above all else, recognize the importance of effective communication. It’s the foundation of truly exceptional leadership.

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.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


A woman becomes a leadership superhero.

How to Improve Your Leadership Skills

A woman becomes a leadership superhero.
Leadership isn’t about being a Director of Finance or CFO.  You could be a leader even if you don’t have a position of authority. In fact, a true leader is someone that people would follow regardless of title. It’s about understanding when to take the lead from the front, and when to climb into the trenches. It’s about influencing from a place of service and respect. Want to become a better leader? Here are some ways to do so.

Take Yourself Out of the Equation
To lead effectively you need to focus on building success in others. Whether you’re mentoring, introducing a new policy, or revisiting goals, your ego must be taken out of the equation.

Communicate the Vision and Set Goals
Clearly communicate your vision and connect it to the larger mission of the organization. Then collaboratively set goals with each individual on your team. They can be a valuable source of strategic input.

Read: “How to Set Goals as a Finance Manager (and Help Your Team Achieve Them)” to learn how supportive autonomy can lead to team success.

Refine Your Skills
Know your strengths and leverage them. Similarly, know the gaps in your skill set and seek to mitigate them through additional professional development, or hiring people with complementary abilities.

Overcome Setbacks
There is no such thing as perfect. Setbacks, and how you respond to them, define your career success. Own your mistakes and if a team member missteps, support them and debrief on how to do better next time. 

Be Consistent
Predictable is not boring, especially when it comes to the behavior of a leader. Teams need to understand that if they do action A, you’ll likely respond with behavior B.  This evenness on the part of a leader creates a feeling of safety for teams to take risks and innovate. After all, you want a team who shares their ideas and understands that leadership comes from everyone.

Model Behaviors
Model the behaviors that you want to see in your team. They’ll be looking to you to set the tone for what’s appropriate.

Always Follow Through
Mean what you say. It will help establish trust when you follow through. Most importantly, don’t overpromise and under deliver. It’s great to motivate a team, but be realistic in setting expectations.

Understand Individual Drivers
If you take the time to get to know your team members as individuals, you’ll learn what motivates them. This will help you position information to get maximum buy-in and to elevate a team member’s performance if need be.

Communication Is Key
The heart of successful leadership lies in strong communication skills. Whether it’s active listening, collaboration, or giving feedback, how well you communicate will, in large part, dictate the success of your team.

Read this article to brush up on your active listening skills.

Key Takeaways
Whether you’re actually in a position of authority, or simply taking the lead on a project or initiative, there are ways to improve your leadership skills. Communicate your vision clearly and explain how it can facilitate success in others. Set goals collaboratively and remember that your team or coworkers can be valuable sources of strategic insight. Model the behaviors that you wish to see in your team and always follow through if possible. Take the time to understand people’s individual drivers. It will help you motivate them. And above all else, recognize the importance of effective communication. It’s the foundation of truly exceptional leadership.

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.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


A finance manager helps his team by setting achievable goals.

How to Set Goals as a Finance Manager (and Help Your Team Achieve Them)

A finance manager helps his team by setting achievable goals.
Not everyone can score goals like Sidney Crosby or Wayne Gretzky, but if your finance team doesn’t meet expectations, the impact is widespread. That’s why it’s so important as a finance manager to set achievable goals that include accountability and recognition. Here are tips for helping your team meet their objectives.

Supportive Autonomy
The term “supportive autonomy” was coined by Linda Hill, co-author of the book Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader. Hill explains that managers need to balance their own involvement, with allowing employees a certain degree of autonomy in the goal setting process. 

For finance managers, this can be like juggling pineapples while walking a tight rope (we went with a challenging fruit image for full effect). 

The key to success lies in setting S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound) goals and connecting them to the bigger organizational picture.

Specific
Goals must be clearly and concisely stated. As much as we may want someone who can function well in ambiguity, goals that are imprecise are ineffective in generating motivation. After all, how do you know how close you are to success if the finish line is unclear? 

Measurable
Break the goal into steps, each of which is measurable, or keep the goal in its entirety. Regardless, attach specific metrics (numerical or financial for example) to the achievement of the goal.

Achievable
The individual must have the resources necessary to meet their objectives including constraints of time, environment and the skills of fellow team members.

Realistic
Team members must feel that goals are realistic, and that they have the ability to meet them.

Time-Bound
Create accountability by establishing a specific timeline for goal completion. Consider breaking the goal down into parts to make it feel more achievable. Attach timelines for each step of the process.

Other Goal Setting Tips

  • Connect employee goals to the larger organizational picture. Employees who don’t understand the role that they’re playing in achieving company objectives often become disengaged. Linda Hill says, “Achieving goals is often about making trade-offs…[people] need to understand the bigger picture to make those trade-offs when things go wrong.”
  • Set goals collaboratively to increase buy-in. Ask employees to think about the organization’s vision and mission and draft goals connected to their position. Review the goals.
  • Once goals are in place have the employee brainstorm a plan to achieve them. Offer feedback on the plan.
  • Be a sounding board – Develop trust with your team members so that if things go wrong they can approach you. Giving and receiving feedback is a necessary part of achieving goals.
  • Personal goals – Take into account the whole person. Is there a personal goal you can integrate into their job such as developing confidence, or reducing fear of failure?
  • Conduct regular one-on-one’s to ensure that the employee is on track 
  • Debrief – For whatever reason, sometimes goals are not met. Make sure to debrief so that similar mistakes aren’t made again. Ask yourself how you may have contributed to the lack of success.
  • It can be tempting to allow high performers to be completely autonomous in this process, but it’s important to collaboratively set goals and provide supportive autonomy to your top talent as well.

ReadHow to Give Feedback” for specific tips on offering constructive advice that will build team confidence and productivity. 

Key Takeaways
Helping your team achieve their goals can feel like you’re walking a tightrope. But establishing “supportive autonomy” can be incredibly effective in getting your team to deliver. Build goals collaboratively. Make sure that they are specific, measurable and realistic. Create accountability by tying them to a timeline. Connect goals to the larger organizational picture so that employees understand the importance of what they do. Establish regular one-on-one meetings to give and receive feedback and make sure to offer the same level of support to your high performers. 

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.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.