Emburse Shares Talent Strategies of 400 Finance Leaders

According to a new report from Emburse, new research suggests that large enterprises are experiencing the most churn, finance professionals are turning to other fields and employers are implementing automation to deal with current market challenges. Emburse’s report revealed the talent strategies of 400 finance leaders in a complicated labor market that is seeing both shortages and layoffs.

Findings from the report include:

Large enterprises face the most severe finance talent shortage: One in four finance leaders overall said talent was their top challenge last year, but the number rose to one in three for those in large organizations (more than 1,000 employees). Only 65% of such respondents expect things to improve through 2023 compared to 74% overall. Respondents who work in large companies were also much more likely to say they plan to change employers this year, while 65% said they are considering quitting their job, compared to 48% across all company sizes. More specifically, large organizations also have the hardest time recruiting accountants and 32% reported that accounting is the hardest role to hire for.

FP&A talent market may be the next to face shortages: Small (under 500 employees) and mid-sized (500-1,000 employees) companies, in contrast to large enterprises, indicate that financial planning and analysis roles are the toughest to fill, and the situation could get worse, as those in FP&A were most likely to say they are considering quitting their job this year (53% compared to 48% across all roles).

Wage inflation is still a top concern: The top two hiring challenges faced by companies of all sizes are providing competitive benefits (cited by 44%) and keeping new hire salaries on a par with existing employees (41%). Nevertheless, increasing salaries is the top strategy leaders have deployed to attract and retain talent. Coupled with the fact that 35% of finance leaders’ biggest market challenge is high inflation, it’s clear why they’re concerned about wage levels.

Losing talent to roles outside finance: The top retention challenge, faced by 48% of finance leaders, is employees leaving the finance profession. Mid-sized companies face this most keenly (51%) and are also more likely than large and small businesses to face other talent management challenges, such as remote worker productivity (46% versus average of 44%), employee well-being (also 46% versus 44%) and workplace conflicts (42% versus 38%). Industry also plays a role, as finance leaders in retail reported their top retention challenge is losing employees faster than they can be replaced, whereas the financial services sector reported its top issue is losing top talent to retirement.

Technology is reshaping finance teams: Ninety-eight percent of finance departments have made changes to their organizational structures in the past year, and the top reason for doing so (42%) is that technology has changed roles or processes. Much of this change centers around financial reporting, as it’s the most-automated function and the one most expected to experience further automation in 2023. When it comes to new technology, finance leaders are most likely to invest in improving data systems and processes, as 40% plan to do so, increasing the need for finance professionals with analytical skills and likely addressing burnout issues in FP&A departments.

Preparing for a recession by managing spend, not cutting headcount: Reflecting talent constraints and investment in data, when asked what actions they’re taking to prepare for a recession, finance leaders overwhelmingly cited an intent to manage their spend more carefully rather than simply cutting headcount. Almost half said they will reduce budgets or improve budget accountability, while 44% will increase spend visibility and analysis, and 43% are planning for higher interest payments.

“Finance departments and roles have been transformed by the workplace shifts of the past few years and, for many leaders, navigating this change is the most perplexing part of their job, especially when it leads to turnover,” Adriana Carpenter, CFO of Emburse, said. “In addition to being financially rewarding, people need to feel that their jobs add value and challenge them, in order to want to stay in the profession long-term. Given that we’re still seeing a lingering shortage of finance professionals, this suggests that people aren’t job-hopping, but they’re genuinely disillusioned with their profession. It’s up to finance team leaders to motivate their team members to stay – give them the tools to do their jobs effectively, take away mundane and repetitive ‘busy work’ and empower them to work on projects that can have a meaningful impact and deliver job satisfaction.”

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