Sometimes chickens come home to roost.
The coronavirus pandemic made it evident to some finance teams that a lack of investment in cloud technology to improve dated technology and inefficient processes would leave them struggling to keep up.
The movement towards remote working has been like a boulder rolling down a hill that nobody can stop.
Finance teams could (just about) make do with old school Excel spreadsheets and basic desktop-bound accounting software in an office.
But at home and without the cloud, it’s virtually impossible to get the up-to-date financial data required for sound decision making.
Digitalization and cloud accounting software have become top requirements.
If you’re in the CFO role, you want your finance team to work effectively, whether inside or outside of the office, with easy-to-use cloud software that can do the clever stuff needed to compete.
The cloud has changed the game when it comes to recruitment.
Instead of looking at finance professionals trained in routine and repetitive financial tasks, you’re now looking at people with in-demand skills and ideas to bring your business into the future.
Getting in new talent is a two-way street.
You need people who can make the best of today’s technology to join your business. But equally, you need to show your culture suits tech-savvy job candidates and people willing to work out of the box.
Here’s what we cover in this article:
Finance team skills gaps
According to a survey Sage conducted of 500 senior finance leaders in small and mid-sized UK firms, digitalization is their leading goal for the coming two years—the direct path to ensure your business has better data governance, forecasting capabilities, and customer experience.
“In most finance teams, analytical skills, data modelling, and business modelling are becoming the highest priorities,” says Susan Cummings, CFO of DCSL GuideSmiths, a UK-based software developer.
Finance teams need digital skills to deliver more value-driven activities, including continuous close and automated, seamless production of critical metrics and financial analytics.
“But finding those skills is becoming more and more of a struggle,” she adds.
More than half of the survey respondents (52%) said their inability to hire financial professionals with the right skills would be the biggest obstacle to digital transformation.
Analytics and digital literacy skills are most sought but are hard to retrain in, especially as your team may well be dependent on Excel and not used to using analytics and automation in their workflow.
That’s not to say retraining is impossible.
Having accountants and financial professionals open to learning today’s new technologies is like gold dust, so it’s well worth exploring the possibilities of training up your existing staff.
Watch out for the people interested in learning new skills and developing themselves within the business.
How using cloud technology can attract finance graduates
Nearly half (48%) of respondents believe that investing in advanced cloud-based finance systems will give them an edge in the talent marketplace. This stat suggests that if you want to attract the right people, you’d be wise to upgrade your technology beforehand.
If you want to hire top-quality graduates, you’ll need the latest generation of financial tools to play with.
Jonathan Howell, Group CFO of Sage, says: “High-quality financial professionals don’t want to be spending time manually cutting and aggregating data.
“They want to do work that is tied to strategic insight and decision making.”
If your business is cloud-enabled, you can offer finance graduates the opportunity to be strategic, as well as train them to adapt to today’s modern financial environment.
Howell says: “The cloud-based culture becomes self-fulfilling, accelerating the growth of those capabilities across the team.
“Real talent will migrate towards organizations where they can use these skills. As soon as you show them the automation and cloud enhancements of your accounting capabilities, they will move rapidly in your direction.”
If you are comfortable using remote working with your finance team, you may find getting people with the right skills easier than hiring somebody local.
Because of the cloud, it doesn’t matter where anybody on your team works if they have the skill set you require and you are comfortable with them working virtually
Steps your business can take to start your cloud journey
You may not have intentions to be the next Google, but there are some things you can do to make a move to cloud technology.
And remember, doing so will help you attract the cream of the crop when it comes to sourcing tech talent.
1. Identify your goals
It’s not worth investing in cloud software unless you have a solid understanding of why you need it and what it’s supposed to do.
Make your goals as granular as possible—if you’re looking to automate your financial processes, what processes are they going to be, and how much time will it save?
The more tangible the targets are, the more buy-in you can get from the rest of the company.
Having measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) would be ideal.
2. Audit your existing infrastructure and use an iterative process
It would be best if you understand which of your processes are working well before making changes.
Implementing cloud software is best done on an iterative process, so a good audit will help you determine how and what you transfer when the time comes.
An audit will help you prioritize your cloud initiatives based on the amount of value they offer your business.
3. Communicate with your employees
Before you get buy-in externally from new finance talent, you need to let your finance team and the wider organization know what the cloud will do for them.
You need to communicate throughout the whole process.
Be honest and positive about achievements. If there’s going to be disruption, let people know.
Equally, if the cloud is making a real positive difference and you have evidence of success, shout about it from the rooftops.
4. Get the right support
Your strength will be in finance, not necessarily the ins and outs of a technology digital transformation project.
Work with senior management, IT teams and other departments to get what you need, and consider getting external support to ensure you’re successful in the long term.
How to showcase your firm and cloud ways of working with finance graduates
If you’ve implemented cloud software, or even if you’re still in the process of doing so, promote your plans wherever your think good talent will be.
- Your website and marketing: Via your marketing channels, showcase how you use cloud and new technologies. You could have the relevant info in career pages, job ads and recruiting campaigns to attract young people to your company.
- Employer branding: Work with your marketing and HR teams to sharpen your employer brand and messaging. Identify which aspects of your technology usage makes your business unique. Showcase your commitment to tech at popular job fairs and on essential graduate websites.
- Social media and review sites: Take ownership of your company profile on public channels such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Millions of talented young people consult these sites every day to assess potential employers.
Final thoughts on cloud technology and attracting new talent
The cloud offers connectivity and computing power, allowing the finance function to keep track of market trends and support decision-making with real-time data and analytics.
You’re supporting a new generation of talent by removing the need to conduct boring and repetitive manual tasks and allowing them to use advanced analytics tools to make their jobs both more exciting and worthwhile.
Create a virtuous circle.
Success with cloud technology can get buy-in from senior leaders, supporting more significant investments in new technology, along with new hires, training and talent.
And ultimately a business that thrives both now and in the future.
This content in its original form was paid for by Sage and produced in partnership with Longitude, a Financial Times company.