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Finance & Operations: mid-year update

 

Market Trends

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for accounting and finance is predicted to rise 10% through 2026 (faster than the average growth for all occupations). This candidate-driven market makes hiring more difficult and candidates hesitate to commit when they have several competitive offers on the table. A theme we are seeing in the talent market is that there is a desire among candidates to obtain a more strategic role. As a result, we have found that roles with titles like “Strategic Finance” and “Business Operations” are more appealing to top talent. Now more than ever, finance and operations professionals are asking for a seat at the table where they have an impact in the overall strategic direction of the company. 

Many of the candidates we work with have a Big 4 public accounting, investment banking, or management consulting background. Those with a Big 4 background are often looking for a broader role across both accounting and finance. We have seen that if these candidates are able to build credibility within their current company initially in an accounting role, then they may have an easier time transferring to broader finance responsibilities with a more strategic impact. Candidates who are currently in an accounting role trying to find a broader finance role at another company, may have a harder time when competing against candidates alreadying coming from an investment banking or FP&A background. 

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Overall we have seen that companies who advertise their position as “Head of Accounting & Finance” (or Director, Manager, etc. level) will have an easier time attracting top candidates with a Big 4 background. Companies who advertise their position as Head of Finance & Operations will have an easier time attracting top talent with an investment banking background. This is sometimes harder to do as a startup is later stage and certain reporting structures have already been established, but if you can set this precedent early and make the functions more broad, then you may have happier candidates with stronger retention who are fully challenged.

As far as industries that are trending in 2019, the establishment of new marketplace businesses which have high transaction volumes or are more operationally intensive will demand more finance roles. Additionally, improved accounting systems and tools are altering what it means to work in accounting and finance, particularly because many of these tools allow for automation of certain aspects of the role. This creates room for professionals to focus their efforts on other more strategic finance decisions.

Hiring Trends

Over the past few years, we have seen a definite shift in flexibility and benefits to attract top talent. The option to work remote was once considered an attractive incentive, but is now considered the norm, particularly in the Bay Area. Companies are now offering benefits like “unlimited vacation” and the ability to live out of state to appeal to top candidates.

We have noticed that many companies are moving their more junior back-office finance members and customer support to other states (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, etc.) or other countries, while keeping their most senior leaders in the Bay Area HQ office.

Separately, a question among many SF Bay Area startups is: “How can we attract millennial or Gen Y employees?” What we’ve found is that many millennial candidates are no longer satisfied with just crunching numbers or data entry. For companies to attract these candidates, they need to ensure their job descriptions convey the impact this role will have on the organization entirely. 

2020 Forecast

We predict that the Enterprise AI industry will continue to grow. There are a multitude of AI-powered platforms and applications emerging at this time, which will assist companies in making data-driven decisions without the risk of human error. Candidates can get ahead of the curve by learning how to be savvy with technology systems, and understanding how to implement and scale them within a company.

The sharing economy is also predicted to continue to grow as ownership of assets is becoming less common. Shared homes (Airbnb, Sonder, etc.), shared cars (Getaround, ZipCar, etc,), shared equipment, and other areas will remain on the rise.

The strongest candidates for 2020 will be those with a mix of large company and startup experience who can bring best practice to growing organizations. Being the first finance hire in a startup, or seeing a startup through an IPO is also hugely valuable to any finance career. Top candidates will also be excellent communicators who are able to effectively translate numbers into advice for the business.

 

Need finance & operations hiring assistance? Contact Julia Noellert by emailing her at julia.noellert@robertwalters.co.

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