The demand for skilled leaders in finance has only intensified further since the pandemic. Businesses are seeking more diverse opportunities and require talent with the knowledge and insight of digital transformation. Being capable of integrating remote workers has become a top priority for senior recruitment leaders.
The concept of today’s finance leader has shifted considerably with the rising focus on customers, the increase in digital, investor and regulatory measures. The pandemic has accelerated the need for top talent that can enhance and support businesses through difficult times. Candidates with diverse skills, particularly in digital and transformation are critical right now. For most businesses, future success will be dependent on a business ability to coordinate with remote workers.
The market is highly competitive for leading talent in the finance industry. Recruitment leaders have experienced a rise in urgency to find diverse talent in mid and senior-level roles within financial services. The pandemic has accelerated new trends, particularly around DEI and moving towards a more flexible working environment. While we experienced numerous challenges during 2020, the sector has gradually rebounded with strength and continues to be progressing further throughout 2021.
On the whole, financial services businesses have adapted quickly to remote work through the pandemic. Finance leaders have learned the best methods of managing a remote workforce and the importance of engagement and focus with their colleagues. The main challenge for the future will be integrating flexible working into a business for the long term. Now employees have experienced the benefits of working remotely, many wish to continue working like this and have higher expectations, in terms of hybrid and flexible working options. Employers that fail to offer flexible options will likely lose their employees to other businesses that prioritise these offerings to their workforce.
The rise of digital and transformation skills
There is an increasing demand for senior finance leaders with expertise in digital and transformation projects. Because of the pandemic, finance leaders are under further pressure to respond quickly and navigate their business towards more stability and resilience. Before the pandemic, many experienced a significant change in the finance sector due to digitisation. Traditional banks were pushed by emerging fintech to quickly transform their structure, services and their rate of innovation. Some have been effective in moving towards a more digitally-focused organisation, but others have struggled due to a lack of investment will potentially find it challenging to progress in the face of other more competitive and agile businesses.
More technology businesses are inevitably likely to enter the financial market. Fintech innovation will also continue to expand in the coming years. There is a growing activity with payments and open banking where traditional businesses invest heavily into these areas to maintain pace with emerging companies.
As we move into a post COVID world, the job market for senior leaders looks to be very strong. The demand for executive leaders was relatively high in 2020, but many businesses were cautious. The barrier in face-to-face contact and high levels of uncertainty about the future put many positions on pause. In 2021, the market began to clear and led to a significant rise in hiring. The delays experienced in 2020, combined with a strong economy, have resulted in a very prosperous job market.
The flexibility to work remotely has enabled candidates to consider more opportunities, resulting in a talent-driven market. The traditional idea of relocating to a business headquarters and travelling long distances has been replaced with a new era of home base work and travel when required.
When discussing the market with consultants, the industry has become very competitive and has shifted towards a predominantly candidate-driven market. Many businesses that traditionally focus on financial services have expanded into other financial technology, such as payment systems and cryptocurrency due to the surge of investment and advancement in these markets.
The challenges over the past year have placed even more focus on the position of the chief financial officer. The pandemic requires companies to have a dedicated and skilled leader at the CFO level capable of managing the challenges that emerged from the pandemic. It tested businesses in whether they had the necessary processes to accurately measure and have systems that generate insights into management and operations.