Survey of 400 Finance Leaders Indicates Mixed Outlook for the Talent Pipeline
The finance profession has faced a well-documented accountant shortage1 since 2021, and 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. The report by Emburse, the global leader in spend optimization, reveals the talent strategies of 400 finance leaders in a complicated labor market that is seeing both shortages and layoffs. Findings include:
Large enterprises face most severe finance talent shortage
One in four finance leaders overall say talent was their top challenge last year, but the number rises to one in three for those in large organizations (over 1,000 employees). This group is also less optimistic that the situation will improve through 2023 - only 65% expect things to improve, compared to 74% overall. Respondents who work in large companies are also much more likely to say they plan to change employers this year: 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: 32% report that accounting is the hardest role to hire for.
FP&A talent market 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: those in FP&A are most likely to say they are considering quitting their job this year (53% compared to 48% across all roles).
Wage inflation still 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 finance leaders' biggest market challenge is high inflation (35%), 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 seeing their employees leave 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% vs average of 44%), employee well-being (also 46% vs 44%) andworkplace conflicts (42% vs 38%). Industry also plays a role: finance leaders in retail report their top retention challenge is losing employees faster than they can be replaced, whereas the financial services sector reports its top issue is losing top talent to retirement.
Technology reshaping finance teams
Ninety-eight percent of finance departments have made changes to their organizational structure 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: it's the most-automated function and the one most expected to see further automation in 2023. When it comes to new technology, finance leaders are most likely to invest in improving data systems and processes (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 these talent constraints and investment in data, when asked what actions they're taking to prepare for a recession, finance leaders overwhelmingly cite an intent to manage their spend more carefully, rather than simply cut headcount. Almost half (48%) say they will reduce budget or improve budget accountability, while 44% will increase spend visibility and analysis. 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," said Adriana Carpenter, CFO of Emburse. "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."
Finance Trends: How Finance Leaders Can Thrive During a Recession in 2023 examines the talent, market and process challenges faced by finance leaders in an uncertain economy - and their strategies for overcoming them, as well as recommendations from Emburse's experts. To view the report, click here.
Emburse is the global leader in spend optimization. Our expense, travel management, purchasing and accounts payable, and payments solutions are trusted by more than 12 million business professionals, including CFOs, finance teams, and travelers. More than 18,000 organizations in 120 countries, including FORTUNE 100 corporations, high-growth startups, public sector agencies, and nonprofits, count on our intelligent automation, sophisticated analytics, and unmatched spend control to streamline processes, increase spend visibility, enhance compliance, and deliver positive financial outcomes.
Our mission is to humanize work by eliminating manual, time-consuming tasks, so our customers and their teams can focus on what matters most in their personal and professional lives.
For more information on Emburse, visit emburse.com, or follow our social channels at @Emburse.
The Finance Leader Report is based on a survey of 400 finance leaders conducted in December 2022 by Emburse and Momentive. In the survey, small businesses are classified as those with fewer than 500 employees; mid-sized businesses are classified as those with 501-1000 employees, and large enterprises as having more than 1,000 employees.
1 The continued CPA and accountant shortage in 2023
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