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Mismanaging workloads and losing top performers are key concerns for CFOs in 2016

58% of UK finance leaders report losing top talent to competitors as a result of higher remuneration in past year

New research from leading recruitment specialist, Robert Half UK shows that managing the workloads of their employees (39%) will be one of the greatest internal pressures facing UK finance leaders in 2016. Retaining top talent (38%) – in particular those with niche, specialised skills – and delivering efficiencies and growth targets (36%) follow closely behind as key concerns for CFOs and FDs as they enter into 2016.

The regulatory environment continues to create day-to-day challenges, including finding and retaining professionals with the right skills to cope with the extra workload. Nearly six-in-10 (58%) CFOs and FDs claim to have lost a good employee to another company, specifically to those offering higher remuneration. To further add to the pressure, more than a quarter (26%) of finance leaders believe sourcing and recruiting skilled financial talent will be one of the concerns in the year ahead.

The employees in greatest demand will be those who can add value through business partnering and provide strategic insight for the business, not just fiscal controls. Salaries for those in specialised roles are set to increase by up to 4% and hard-to-source senior and specialist professionals can expect a steady climb in remuneration prospects.

Other CFO challenges include managing audit risk and compliance initiatives (26%), financial reporting (17%) and accounting processes (11%).

Across the UK, London-based CFOs and FDs are most concerned with delivering efficiencies and growth (53%) while those in the North and South West and Wales will feel the most pressure to retain finance employees (45% and 38% respectively). Scottish finance leaders will struggle the most to source skilled financial talent (38%) and those based in the Midlands will be most concerned with managing the workloads of their employees (43%).

CFOs and FDs were asked: ‘In general, what is the greatest pressure facing your accounting and finance function?’ Their responses*:

UK London SW / Wales Midlands North Scotland
Managing workloads 39% 48% 35% 43% 33% 35%
Retaining finance employees 38% 43% 38% 35% 45% 28%
Delivering efficiencies and growth 36% 53% 38% 35% 28% 28%
Audit, risk and compliance initiatives 26% 20% 18% 35% 33% 25%
Sourcing / recruiting skilled financial talent 26% 28% 20% 20% 23% 38%
Financial reporting 17% 20% 18% 15% 20% 10%
Accounting processes 11% 13% 5% 10% 18% 10%
None of the above 5% 3% 10% n/a 8% 5%

*Multiple responses permitted.

Phil Sheridan, Managing Director, Robert Half UK said: “Increased legislative compliance requirements combined with growth goals is feeding the demand for talented, highly skilled professionals. However, with the growing war for talent, retaining professionals with the right skills to cope with the extra workload will prove challenging and will add to the day-to-day pressures that CFOs and FDs face.

“Companies will do well to consider hiring interim professionals to help ease the pressure on their finance teams. This will also minimise the risk of top talent leaving, as will proactively benchmarking salaries. Employees, especially those with specialist skills, are in ever greater demand and are commanding highly competitive salaries. Firms that proactively address these issues and develop a long-term strategy are best positioned for future success.”