Your Best Resource for Finance Talent? The People You Already Have

Your Best Resource for Finance Talent? The People You Already Have

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Winning the War for Finance Talent: Game Plan for the Digital Age

You need finance talent with more than traditional skills but you must first attract it, then develop it. Here's how.

As the role of finance teams evolve, there’s an increased need for people with a new set of skills. Leading organizations are looking for problem solvers who know how to leverage data, understand the connections between various business lines and propose strategic solutions that help the company grow.

It’s a tall order, but fortunately, you don’t need to build a whole new team from scratch to meet these demands. Instead, leading finance organizations are finding increased success by cultivating their next generation of finance talent in house.

The insider’s edge

There are many reasons to develop the finance staff you already have. At the most basic, the cost of hiring new employees can exceed their initial compensation. An oft-cited study by the Society for Human Resource Management reveals that, on average, recruiting and training a new employee costs between six and nine months of the employees’ salary.

Professional development in finance and elsewhere can also boost your organization’s employee retention rates. Consider that 87 percent of millennials rate "professional or career growth and development opportunities" as important to them in a job, according to a recent Gallup survey.

Beyond these benefits, there’s an even more compelling reason that your current finance employees are the best bet for your organization’s future: They already intimately understand your business. The importance of this knowledge can’t be underestimated — in this digital era, finance teams are far more than number crunchers.

“By 2020, we will see finance teams much more as integrators of information, process owners and sophisticated managers of third-party relationships,” says David Fincher, a lead partner with consulting and accounting firm EY, in a recent whitepaper on the changing function of finance. In addition to their own roles, finance employees need to understand products, services and processes across the organization. For new hires that can be a steep learning curve; your current finance team already holds much of this knowledge.

Building your finance bench

Developing the next generation of finance talent won’t happen overnight. Instead it requires a cultural shift that prioritizes the employees you have and commits to helping them grow and shine. Here’s how to get started:

  • First, identify your organizational needs: As your organization moves toward a more modern finance model, you’ll likely uncover skills gaps such as a need for data analysis or predictive analytics. You might also discover a demand for finance employees knowledgeable about other areas of the business, from sales and marketing to human resources and client service. Examine the evolving role of your finance team and focus your development efforts with your current staff on these areas.
  • Look in unexpected places: Assess your team members and look for the ways they outperform in areas related to finance and beyond. For example, Oracle’s Global Business Finance Senior Vice President Ivgen Guner recalled in a recent white paper how she singled out a new college graduate who “demonstrated a flair for meeting challenges and motivating others.” Professional development and mentoring from colleagues helped the young women advance to a vice president role, where her analysis and collaborative soft skills are highly valued. Guner also sits on a talent review board to get a broader view of potential stars, and pays special attention to employees who seem to anticipate problems and then devise smart business decisions.
  • Offer cross-functional training opportunities: In addition to core function related training, leading organizations offer their finance staff a chance to learn more about the other aspects of their company. Oracle embeds finance employees into other business units and offers talented employees rotating assignments that further build their skills, Guner noted in a presentation at the 2016 Association of Finance Professionals conference. Such opportunities help finance employees gain a deeper understanding of the organization and set them up to provide true strategic insights. In addition, the presence of a trained financial professional also benefits the business units they visit.
  • Formalize the development process: Professional development shouldn’t be left up to individual managers or business units to spearhead. If you want to consistently cultivate the best finance employees, then you need formalize — and actively promote — your organization’s development program. Oracle Global Business, for example, developed a finance training and development program called LEAP, which stands for leadership, excellence, automation and business partnering. The established program regularly offers finance talent to provide strategic guidance to the company’s other lines of business.

Develop the potential that already exists with your organization and you’ll ensure your company is prepared for the future.

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