For close to 2 years, the talent shortage has been haunting companies of all kinds. A 2022 ManpowerGroup survey found that 75% of global companies reported talent shortages and hiring difficulties.
Another extensive study by management consulting firm Korn Ferry found that if the talent shortage is not addressed, there could be a global talent deficit of 85 million workers by 2030, equalling $85.2 trillion lost in potential revenue.
And many people say this could be an underestimate, as the study was done in 2018, before the talent shortage shot up dramatically over the past few years.
Out of all of the categories of talent shortages, Korn Ferry found that finance and IT are expected to be hit the hardest. The combination of the fast growth of data and technology along with the increasingly complicated skills needed for these jobs, will make it extremely difficult to fill all the growing number of positions.
How can companies address their current need for finance professionals and get ahead of the competition that is only supposed to get more difficult?
Companies may need to start looking outside of the box in terms of hiring, and look to one group of potential employees in particular: Those with strong tech skills.
How can strong tech skills help solve the finance talent shortage?
1) Technology is the future of finance
If it wasn’t clear until now, the past few years have shown that finance teams need to update their technological processes in order to be efficient. The combination of remote work due to the pandemic and the subsequent talent shortage, greatly accelerated the need for automation and technology in everything finance related.
More and more finance job descriptions are including technology (beyond the usual Excel experience) as a priority for candidates. Therefore, strong tech skills are no longer just a nice bonus to have as a job candidate, rather it’s just as important as the financial experience and skills that management expects of a finance employee.
These types of tech skills come in all sorts of categories. Obviously, advanced Excel skills are extremely important, but things such as quantitative analysis, financial market forecasting techniques, SQL, and experience with different types of FP&A software are all things to look out for that will come in handy in different finance roles.
2) Skilled technical workers are more abundant than finance ones
While there is a shortage of skilled tech workers as well, it doesn’t compare to the problem of skilled finance workers. In addition, finance professionals aren’t only expected to have financial skills, they are also expected to have experience… and the more the better.
Therefore, from a simple numbers game, it will be easier to find people with technical skills who also have a small amount of finance experience, in comparison to the ideal candidate with 5+ years of experience and strong technical skills that is getting more and more difficult to find.
3) Shows a lot about the candidate
Technical skills aren’t easy to learn and technology transforms quickly as well. Considering that, a candidate who shows up with strong, relevant tech skills and also shows a desire to learn and develop those skills, very well might be a keeper in the finance department.
The saying “good attitude can be faked, but skills cannot” is very relevant in this case. In the day and age of hiring for future output due to one of the strongest employee markets in history, many companies are taking risks on new hirees with a good attitude or potential, simply due to having no other options.
Candidates who come with good technical skills and basic financial knowledge are already showing that the skills aspect is there- something that can’t be faked.
In the vast majority of cases these types of candidates are eager to learn and gain experience in the finance section as well. As long as there is an experienced finance expert and good leader on the team ready to teach, there is a good chance for a seamless transition and long term value.
Tech skills are in increased demand across the board
Data from technology-focused career site Dice released Aug. 23 shows an increase in tech-related jobs even for “non-tech core business models,” such as manufacturing, retail and hospitality, to go along with financial services. Tech-related job postings grew by 89% year-over-year from May 2021 to May 2022, per the report, despite a seasonal drop between this May and June due to market slowdowns.
This is especially true in finance, as more and more companies are turning to financial automation and technology to both help keep them up to date with the droves of data and make up for the lack of fitting candidates.
Although technology greatly advances FP&A processes, it will never replace skilled, driven, and experienced human analysis and presentation. Rather, these two aspects need to work together in order to produce optimal results.
Even with the recent slow down in hirings, especially among technology companies, the amount of open finance positions is only expected to grow. Although it’s tempting to pause hirings until the market evens out, it might not be the best idea to discontinue hirings for estended periods of time, as this will allow the competition to get ahead.
Instead, experts suggest short hiring pauses in order to understand the future direction of the company, and then get back to fighting for that talent. Those that wait too long, will find themselves getting even farther behind the competition as both finance talent and tech talent will be scooped up by competitors.