Followers of 1-1 Recruitment’s LinkedIn and Twitter feeds will have seen some of our financial roles advertised in the past, but those with a particular interest in this market should take note as we continue to dig deeper into the finance and accounting functions across Hampshire, including Winchester, Basingstoke and the South.
Stephen Wincott, who is spearheading our continued expansion into this market, has 12 years of recruitment experience, mainly in the qualified accountancy and finance market, and in the last few years has consolidated his broad experience within the vertical sector, from transactional roles to financial control and financial board-level assignments.
Uncertain markets see finance step up
We are increasingly being asked to source exceptional individuals within the senior qualified space. In this market, Stephen’s experience, which includes running his own business for seven years, has proven valuable, because of the need to qualitatively assess finance professionals’ commercial expertise.
Whilst junior transactional roles keep hiring teams busy because that particular candidate market is highly competitive, at the senior end of the market, we’re seeing patterns that are repeated across many business functions. Specifically, finance roles are increasingly business-partnering roles that must take an active part in leading business activity and be clearly aligned to the commercial decision-making “engine room” of a business.
For these roles, commercial experience, change management and proven successes in business transformation are a significant bonus. This has been accompanied by a noticeable increase in the importance of cultural fit, and a rise in the visibility of all financial roles.
There are fewer truly “back-office” roles, and when functions move forward to the front lines, the interview process changes a little. There is more emphasis on understanding what makes people tick, the way they respond to challenges, to change, and how comfortable they are with ambiguity. Personality starts to go a long way.
Post-Brexit, the big concern is going to be a shortage of individuals who are equally blessed with hard and soft skills. SMEs have the advantage that they can be agile, and as such we’re seeing a rise in companies seeking finance experts who can match that; they need to believe in a business, help it to map its growth plan, and should feel they have a stake in its future.
Of course there will always be room for specialists, but we’re seeing a significant demand for finance candidates who have relevant sector experience and the ability to manage people, combined with the ability to “mix it” with the Board, get under the skin of a business and understand everything from its own supply chain to purchasing and the sales ledger. We’re seeing more entrepreneurial financial people, and although this must be mitigated by an inclination to manage risk, we’ve never seen such demand for strong communication and relationship-building skills, nor an ability to collaborate with other functions; this is usually expected of finance teams as a whole.
Strong finance teams challenge. They drive. They are ambassadors. They have a voice, and they know how to use it. They are not the accounting function of old. They are instrumental in driving businesses by partnering with commercial functions to ensure that – to put it very simply – they are enabling business rather than auditing and administering it.
Not long ago, we had a “wildcard” entry accepted for a finance role despite not ticking all the boxes in comparison to the other candidates (all of them good). We had always liked this individual for the role; he had experience of business transformation and was able to switch focus from the “nitty-gritty” to the strategic. Above all, he wanted an opportunity to repeat his own successes in business transformation. It was the strong commercial experience within our financial recruitment team that allowed us to identify this candidate as a strong contender.
This is why we work just as hard to know our candidates and to understand what drives them, as we do to interrogate a client brief. By knowing the market and the trends, we aim to consult as well as recruit.
Finance has stepped out of the back office and stands shoulder to shoulder with commercial teams, not just reacting to business, but helping to drive it. It’s an exciting time to be working in this market.
To learn more about our finance roles and coverage, speak to Stephen Wincott on 01256 336100.