When reviewing resumes and interviewing finance candidates, what qualities do you look for? Do you want someone who is good with numbers? Someone whose background fits the open role’s responsibilities? That may have been good enough several years ago, but it’s not today.
Many factors go into recruiting finance talent. What sets great, long-term employees apart from those who fizzle out after six months? To improve the likelihood of making the right hire, seek out these traits of exceptional finance professionals.
Balance Risk Appropriately
Financial activities can be volatile; there are inherent levels of risk when working with money. However, the ability to understand and balance risk is different from refraining from taking any risk at all. Skilled finance professionals know when to take calculated risks that could generate payoffs and when to play it safe. For a CFO, that might mean considering where to place a company’s assets. For a budget analyst, risk plays into setting the right expectations to hopefully grow financially through the right opportunities. No matter the role, balancing risk is a critical skill in finance.
See the Big Picture
In an Accenture survey, 77% of finance leaders believe the function must be proactive and connected to the wider business ecosystem. Bright employees understand how their activities contribute to the high-level strategy of the company and impact organizational goals. For example, if a Board of Directors wants to increase profits by 20% within five years, what does that mean for a finance professional? How can they help change revenue and expenses? Perhaps an accountant can discover unnecessary costs on the books. A tax specialist can identify new tax breaks. A billing manager may be able to get clients to pay on time more often. Each person in finance operates at their highest level when they seek opportunities that impact the company’s big picture.
Tech-savvy finance professionals are needed now more than ever. Those who leverage data and analytics can spot trends that help improve forecasts. The ability to utilize the cloud, mobile applications, IoT, cybersecurity best practices, and automation helps further. Accenture’s survey discovered that 60-80% of backward-looking accounting activity can be automated. Technology can help a business learn from the past, but only with the right effort. Finance professionals don’t need hard tech skills, but they do need to know how technology can boost and protect a company’s financial position.
Communicate with Non-Finance Departments
It’s telling that 2/3 of CFOs believe that finance should empower other functions. This can only be accomplished when finance professionals communicate clearly with others. After all, this is the function that controls the flow of money that others rely on. Whether it’s a finance administrator, an auditor, or a bookkeeper, they should be able to present to executives or contribute to earnings reports for investors and other stakeholders as necessary. That may be easier for some advisory based financial positions, but anyone can be thrust into a position where they have to talk finance with others inside and outside the company.
Financial activities are some of the most regulated in the country, and for good reason. One error can cause far-reaching operational issues while eroding a brand’s image. Finance professionals must understand and keep up with the laws that affect their company, the industry they operate within, the product or service offered, and more. For this reason, organizational skills and high attention-to-detail are traits to look for. Whether these skills ensure that important forms are filed on time or stop financial mistakes in their tracks, they are crucial to have on your team.
Exhibit Leadership Skills
It may seem obvious that outstanding CFOs and other finance executives need leadership traits, but these skills are needed throughout the function. Even rookie talent should have some leadership potential. While they won’t be expected to lead team meetings or make big decisions, young talent should still be empowered to set examples for those they work with. Great finance professionals are those who take initiative and think proactively regardless of their seniority. Recruiting for leadership traits boosts retention because that’s how to secure the professionals most likely to work their way up in your organization.
Adapt to the Situation
The finance profession can feel like a solitary one at times, especially when an employee is buried in spreadsheets. But, other times, the profession requires a high degree of teamwork. Adaptability is likewise important in problem-solving. A flexible professional doesn’t have their entire day or week derailed by an issue; they persevere and change to meet the challenge. Finally, finance professionals with the ability to adapt make coaching and training much easier. Many studies prove that millennials especially value career development. Those seeking growth, regardless of their age, are often the most adaptable individuals compared with those set in their past ways.
Recruiting Finance Talent
To put it simply, who would you trust with your wallet? Recruiting finance talent is equivalent to asking a friend to hold onto your valuables while you go for a jog. Just like you wouldn’t ask someone who is prone to losing things to hold onto your credit card and keys, you wouldn’t ask a careless worker to update your company’s balance sheet. As you seek out the strongest finance professionals for your team, make sure they have the right traits that will set your business up for success.
Ready to recruit the best finance professionals in a number of specialties? We know just where to find them.