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What should you look for when recruiting Finance Candidates?

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

It is said that recruiting Finance Professionals is a numbers game. High numbers of people in work and the low number of those within the sector looking for work makes the odds of finding the right Finance talent all the harder. So what can Employers do to improve the odds?

Research conducted by the CFO Alliance in 2016 found that 70% of Chief Financial Officers rank human capital as one of their biggest concerns, with a staggering 30% stating that if they were given $1 million, they would invest it in recruiting and retaining top Finance talent.

Having the right skills, experience and professional qualifications may be a given, but so too are a number of other characteristics that are key to making a successful hire. Here, based on almost 20 years of recruiting top talent for many of Oxford’s leading Employers, are the top five skills that from our experience make the best Finance Candidates.

1. Honesty and integrity

Nobody wants dishonest people on the team, but when it comes to Finance, integrity is absolutely vital. Your concern shouldn’t just be about ‘fingers in the till’. You also need to avoid someone who may manipulate or sugarcoat the numbers to make the accounts look healthier, to appease the Board or to cover up someone’s error.

Financial security is fundamental to any organisation, and massaging the figures – even if well-intentioned – is an absolute no-no. The integrity of your organisation is at stake, and any dishonesty just stores up even bigger trouble down the line. You need Finance people you can trust.

2. Analysis

Over the last 12 months, there has been a greater focus on Candidates with strong analytical skills across the Finance profession, with the Association of Professional Staffing Companies proclaiming that these are “one of the most in-demand skill sets.” It is a trend that is set to continue as more organisations seek to gain a greater understanding of the business, the market it operates and in determining their strategies for growth.

The ability to analyse figures is a key part of most Finance roles. Candidates need to be able to gather information, study it, and make sense of it. Crucially, this doesn’t just apply to the numbers in the spreadsheets; analytical skills applied more widely can be hugely beneficial to an organisation.

Understanding the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’ could save you money, and could ultimately make the difference between success and failure. Being able to apply such analytical skills to other parts of the company can deliver even greater benefits.

3. Curiosity

According to an article by Forbes magazine, Employers are increasingly placing curiosity at the top of the skills they most admire in potential new employees. However, a similar article published by Fast Company magazine took this a step further.

It suggested that curiosity “carries a lot of punch and is an excellent indicator of a whole range of other qualities you want to hire into your company: Empathy, creativity, innovation, the ability to learn quickly.”

If Candidates are curious as well as analytical, their skills can be of extra value. Look for Candidates who want to understand the workings of the organisation as a whole - beyond the Finance function - and who want to learn about the sector or the region you operate in.

This doesn’t mean they’ll neglect or be distracted from their role – it’s more likely that they’ll be taking in the bigger picture and thus doing their job more efficiently. At the same time, Candidates who demonstrate the intellectual curiosity to embrace professional development and enhance their knowledge, are likely to be especially valuable to your organisation in the longer term.

4. Communication

A Candidate who can analyse and understand the data is all very well, but if they can’t explain this information to others, then that’s a problem. Information only has value if it can be understood and acted upon.

A good Finance Candidate needs to be able to translate this information and present it to the rest of the organisation in a way that makes sense to non-finance people. It’s an attribute that is easy to overlook in the recruitment process, but it’s a very important one.

5. Technology

Technology has transformed the way finances are handled in recent years, aiding the analysis and presentation of figures, and much more besides.

Finance departments are often at the forefront of tech in an organisation, but this digital revolution will only deliver benefits if the skills are in place to make it work, so Finance Professionals need to be tech-savvy, and willing to embrace and run with the latest digital innovations.

You could argue that these qualities apply to all roles, and across all departments, but we believe they’re especially relevant for those in Finance. If you need help finding your next Finance Professional, please visit our specialist Finance Division or contact us to see how we can help.

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