Different industries and businesses will have had their unique challenges and will have been impacted differently by Covid-19. Everything from changes to product demand and stretched supply chains through to a complete loss of custom. In order to survive and indeed succeed, business leaders have had to go beyond cost saving strategies and look at how they can quickly and fundamentally transform their systems, processes and people. For finance leaders this has meant gearing transformation towards process restructuring for efficiency gains, streamlining processes for cost effectiveness, and the accurate, timely reporting of revenues and cost base. Finance transformation jobs in demand So, as CFOs re-set priorities amidst ongoing economic uncertainty in 2021 – what roles, expertise and skills do employers need and want from finance transformation professionals this year? 1. Revenue recognition & reconciliation Never has the accurate and timely reporting of revenues and costs been so important for the CFO. The accurate interpretation of financial data is essential for providing the foresight needed to inform strategic decision-making in these unprecedented times. As such, the record to report (R2R) accounting process which provides strategic, financial and operational feedback on the performance of an organisation, to inform senior management, is under much scrutiny. We are seeing that the implementation of reconciliation tools such as Blackline is becoming increasingly commonplace, particularly within FTSE 100 businesses. As many of you will be familiar with, Blackline automates and standardises the reconciliation process to produce high-quality and accurate financial statements. It drives accuracy in the financial close by providing accountants with a streamlined method to verify the correctness and appropriateness of their balance sheets - providing CFOs with increased confidence and control. Blackline fast became one of the most frequently implemented financial tools in 2020 and shows no sign of slowing down this year. Professionals with reconciliation tool implementation experience such as Blackline will be highly sought after in 2021. 2. Enterprise performance management In addition to the bottom line, finance leaders need to know exactly what is going on within their organisation in order to guide strategic decision-making. Understanding where and what is bringing in the most revenue is paramount for effective resource allocation and investments in technology and talent. As such, the improvement of performance reporting is an on-going focus for finance leaders as they seek to accelerate and help C-Suite decision-making. Finance transformation specialists with analytical and business partnering skills along with experience of Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) / Management Information (MI) reporting tools such as Power BI, Onestream, Anaplan will be in high demand this year. 3. Corporate transactions The second half of last year saw a lot of corporate activity within the mergers and acquisitions space which has shaped the landscape for 2021. Many companies that were lucky enough to become cash rich were able to get company deals at a good price. As a result, we have seen an increase in finance transformation activity and an increase in demand for corporate finance and integration M&A professionals. Specifically, Transition Managers with integration of acquisitions experience to effectively integrate processes, systems and people into the buyer company. 4. Process optimisation & cost reduction Organisations are increasingly looking at efficiency and process optimisation to a much greater extent - rather than relying on large technological ERP transformations. Businesses are now seeking efficiency gains which are driven by LEAN processes and Agile delivery mechanisms, rather than huge system change. Where organisations are already underway with an ERP project implementation, the goals have now shifted to not just being a technical change solution but also to finding efficiencies through the ERP implementation itself. As such, finance transformation professionals that can work process efficiency goals into existing transformation programmes will remain a priority this year. Unsurprisingly, cost challenges brought about by the impact of Covid-19 have resulted in another shift of focus, not only to improve process efficiency - but also to reduce costs. We have seen transformation in finance go back to earlier days when ‘transformation’ was coined to mean cost improvement activity and the optimisation of processes, rather than the big-ticket ERP implementations that we have seen in recent years. The whole area of finance transformation seems to have taken a step back – CFO’s are now asking, ‘how do we reduce the cost of operations and take the cost out of finance to self-fund the transformation we need?’ As a result, we may well see an increase in businesses engaging specialist recruitment consultancies such as ourselves to provide project teams through Statement of Work (SoW) delivery models, rather than the costly Big4. 5. Centralisation of finance The need for cost reduction is also driving the need to simplify organisational layers through the centralisation of the finance function. Due to depressed market conditions, there has been a levelling of the job market and pay packages for Accounts Payable (AP) and Accounts Reconciliation (AR) professionals around the globe. As such, many organisations are considering centralisation of their shared service models, favouring on-shore in the UK, or near-shore in Europe - rather than off-shore in India. Subsequently, we are likely to see more Global Process Ownership (GPO) roles this year. These leaders will be tasked with centralising and owning these processes end-to-end across all international business units and developing Hubs / Centres of Excellence. 6. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) The ERP leaders and CIOs that we speak to all concur, that in this new era of work, ERP implementations will need to have objectives and milestones which align to greater process efficiency gains. Sponsors of existing programmes are being far more selective in their approach to recruiting key transformation expertise, only bringing external resource when absolutely needed and only if an internal resource cannot be found. While we will continue to see a lot of ERP activity in the SAP S4 Hana arena, due to thousands of licenses that have already been purchased, it is more likely we will see a widespread focus on the other aforementioned areas - process optimisation, cost reduction and centralisation. Whilst we will see some large ERP implementations this year, it is unlikely that we will see an extensive amount of new £50m-£100m ERP programmes that will need to be resourced in 2021 - but rather we will see investment in operating model restructure and organisational re-design. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is also continuing to increase market share as key ERP players. Microsoft are of course, pushing to have all their products and services into a single platform and from a compatibility perspective, integrating Dynamics 365 into an existing technology estate, makes sense for many businesses. Target Operating Model (TOM) No matter the industry sector, or size of organisation, increased remote working and changing consumer habits have forced most businesses to pivot and rethink their strategy and operating model. Often, survival has meant a rapid transformation of people, processes and systems to ensure business continuity and to operate effectively in the ‘new norm’. This means, that in most cases and across most sectors, a change in business strategy is required -and most likely a change in Target Operating Model (TOM) with associated Organisational Design and Development (OD&D) to deliver that strategy. It is clear that the need for organisations to define and deliver new operating models and re-design how their services are delivered for lower cost and / or greater effectiveness will be of great importance this year. For finance transformation this often means the centralisation of the finance function to operate more efficiently at a lower cost. As such, we are seeing an increased demand for finance transformation professionals with Target Operating Model (TOM), Organisational Design & Development (OD&D) and Change Management skillsets. Top finance transformation jobs 2021 Here’s our list of the top finance transformation jobs we foresee for 2021: Target Operating Model (TOM) Design LeadersGlobal Process Owners (GPO)Transition Project Managers, SSCFP&A Managers and Process ImprovementEnterprise Performance Management (EPM) System ExpertsCorporate Finance, M&A ExpertsProject Managers of Acquisitions / Integrations How can we help? If you are job searching in these difficult times, and potentially interviewing from home, there are lots of things we can help you with to prepare. We have plenty of career advice guides we can share with you. Everything from CV tips, to developing your personal online brand and video interviewing advice. If you would like any of our career advice guides, or want to discuss any of our current interim or permanent senior finance opportunities with a recruiting expert please do not hesitate to get in touch.
22 Jan 2021
Covid-19, economic challenges, Brexit and technological acceleration all continue to disrupt the business landscape this year. Businesses must continue to remain adaptable to market / pandemic conditions and ‘pivot’ organisational structures to accommodate disruptive technology change – all whilst being highly responsive to demanding customers with continuously evolving consumer habits.What is more, the unprecedented speed with which organisations have had to react to the Covid-19 pandemic, and its ensuing challenges, has triggered the acceleration of digital transformation projects and compounded the need for senior professionals who can facilitate transformative change, alongside the complexities of a remote working environment. As such, we have seen organisations continue to review and adapt transformation programmes and projects, that were already underway pre-Covid-19, prioritising the move away from legacy systems and into the cloud, whilst increasingly building in Agile delivery mechanisms.Overall budgets allocated to group-wide transformation have diminished, therefore Programme Directors have felt the pressure to produce several different plans to the board on how they can deliver programmes with smaller budgets. This has resulted in increased competition between programmes causing delays in approvals and increasing time to hire. Unsurprisingly, organisations will continue to look at organisational restructuring this year - to further drive process efficiencies and cost savings - rather than invest in large multi-million-pound technological ERP transformations. Who’s hiring permanent & interim transformation professionals? The majority of employers actively recruiting senior transformation professionals remain within the Financial Services, Pharmaceutical, Healthcare and Technology sectors. Well capitalized, forward looking businesses that are fortuitously placed to see the current instability as an opportunity to invest, grow and seize market share will continue to invest in transformation expertise this year. We have recently been working with several PE-backed organisations who have been through deals/integrations and require investment in Change Managers to create synergies across functional areas as well as lead on organisational restructuring. On the whole, we have seen recruitment within the Retail sector limited to those with specialist Organisational Design and Development expertise - a result of drastic strategy and operating model change. However, those in better financial positions are seeking to bolster their digital capability and are pushing forward with their digital / omni-channel transformation. Transformation skills in demand Commercial Technology Organisations are increasingly investing in commercial and customer experience related programmes to ensure they retain but also attract new customers this year and beyond. As such, we’ve seen demand for Portfolio and Project Managers who have worked across commercial technology such as ERP, online web applications, webinar platforms and CRM/marketing tools such as Salesforce. Cloud The focus for many organisations this year will be on the delivery of IT portfolios of work, projects including the migration of on-premises systems to the cloud. As we have transitioned to remote working, skills in cloud-based services such as AWS, Google Cloud and Azure, have and will continue to be of critical importance. The use of cloud systems looks set to remain prevalent even if we move back towards more of an office based working environment. Transformation professionals that have the skills to project manage the seamless deployment of cloud-based services will be required to ensure business continuity and productivity. In fact, moving to the cloud is what constitutes ‘digital transformation’ for the majority of organisations, rather than trends such as machine learning or perhaps crypto. According to independent analyst Ben Evans, “Only a quarter of large enterprise workflows have moved from the cloud at all so far – the rest are still ‘on prem’ in old systems and indeed mainframes…this really, is what I think digital transformation means.” Agile There is no question, that transformation initiatives will continue to be digitally focused this year however, project delivery is set to change to follow Agile, rather than the more traditional Waterfall methodologies. As a result, employers will seek candidates with experience delivering projects according to Agile methodologies and will no doubt appoint roles such as Scrum Masters, Agile Business Analysts, Agile Project Managers and Product Owners. Agile is an incredibly collaborative methodology, so employers will specifically be on the lookout for candidates who can; articulately talk through the lifecycle of a sprint or release, describe the pitfalls and challenges of the methodology as well as demonstrate empathy and appreciation of other roles within the team. Top 10 transformation jobs 2021 Here’s our list of the top ten senior transformation jobs, in demand, for 2021:Business Analysts (System implementation/cloud migration, Agile methodology)Project Manager (System implementation/cloud migration, Agile methodology)Programme Managers IT Portfolio Managers Programme Directors / Heads of Transformation Change Managers (System implementation)PMO Managers (Agile & Waterfall)Customer Journey (CX) Programme Managers / Project ManagersScrum MastersProduct Owners Candidate Expectations When it comes to considering new opportunities, candidate expectations have shifted significantly over the last year. Candidates now expect employers to offer remote and flexible working practices - as standard. LinkedIn saw a 60% rise in users searching specifically for remote working opportunities between March and May 2020. Subsequently, employers don’t shortlist against a specific location but will now consider candidates from a wider pool of talent, from across the country. Candidates’ appetites to work on either a contract, fixed term or permanent basis have also changed. Ongoing economic uncertainly now means more professionals are open to opportunities of any kind, often opting for the role with the most longevity and best job security. How can we help? If you are job searching in these difficult times, and potentially interviewing from home, there are lots of things we can help you with to prepare. We have plenty of career advice guides we can share with you. Everything from CV tips, to developing your personal online brand and video interviewing advice. If you would like any of our career advice guides, or want to discuss any of our current interim or permanent senior finance opportunities with a recruiting expert please do not hesitate to get in touch.
22 Jan 2021
Businesses have been transformed one way or another by the disruption of Covid-19 and senior finance professionals will have had varying challenges and priorities to contend with over the last year, depending on the industry sector they operate in. But what is clear from our conversations with CFOs and FD’s across the board, is that they’ve had to reimagine financial plans and processes to steady operations in the near term (that many would argue remained unquestioned or unchanged prior to the Covid-19 crisis) and guide decision making for the future. Senior finance jobs in demand So, as finance teams re-set priorities amidst ongoing economic uncertainty in 2021 – what roles, expertise and skills do employers need and want from senior finance professionals this year? 1. Financial Modelling, and Financial Planning & Analysis Finance leaders continue to engage in scenario modelling and are building flexibility into their planning and forecasting cycles. Planning and review cycles at the peak of the pandemic in 2020 were sped up out of necessity and for many finance functions that pace has now become habit. Finance teams continue to shift toward quarterly (or more often, if needed) planning and review cycles. We have seen this imperative translated to increased demand for finance professionals with Financial Modelling, FP&A, Business Partnering, Financial Analysis and Reporting expertise. Financial modelling along with the accurate analysis and interpretation of business-wide internal, and macroeconomic external data, is essential for providing the foresight needed to inform strategic decision-making in these unprecedented times. As such, the improvement of performance reporting is an on-going focus for finance leaders as they seek to accelerate and help C-Suite decision-making. To this end, we have heard more talk of finance teams using ‘data rooms’. These cloud-based data analytics systems sit on an ERP and provide self-serve tools, for the analysis of internal and external data, to help inform strategic decision-making. As such, senior finance professionals with analytical and business partnering skills will remain in high demand throughout 2021. 1 2. Cost control & business case analysis Cashflow is of course vital for any organisation to be able to sustain itself however, where businesses have seen a significant decline in revenues cash isn’t just king - it’s critical for survival. Actions to preserve cash have included making redundancies, taking advantage of Government schemes, placing staff on furlough, introducing temporary hiring freezes, salary reductions and cuts on discretionary spending. As such, cashflow modelling, minimising old debt and cash preservation will remain priorities for finance teams as the world around us continues to evolve in 2021. Although cashflow modelling is still very much a key focus for many, others that have experienced growth throughout the pandemic (online retailers for example) have had to be careful not to overtrade or make bad investment decisions that may only result in short-term gains. As such, senior finance professionals with expertise in cost control, business case modelling and banking stakeholder management will continue to be highly sought after this year. 3. Digital transformation & process improvement There has been an increase in discussions within our senior finance network of project work being driven by the need and desire to adopt intelligent automation. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has become increasingly prevalent in the Finance Transformation space as an effective way of optimising repetitive processes and enhancing finance functions by unlocking true ‘human value'. For example, using ‘bots’ on a finance system for invoice matching. As such, there will be less demand for transactional BAU finance roles and more for system implementation roles, project-based roles and business partners who can make the finance department more efficient and effective in the year ahead. Top 5 accountancy & finance jobs 2021 Here’s our list of the top five, in demand, senior accountancy and finance jobs for 2021:1. Financial Controller 2. FP&A Manager 3. Financial Modeller/Analyst 4. Management Accountant 5. Finance Business Partner Who’s hiring permanent & interim finance professionals? Unsurprisingly, hiring intentions across all sectors are far more muted this year with the number of applications to every role advertised significantly on the rise. A result brought about by more candidates on the market and the removal of geographical/logistical limitations due to increased remote working. However, businesses that did well and experienced growth last year, such as online retailers and consulting firms, are continuing to hire permanent finance professionals in preparation for yet more growth. Employers are increasingly having to make hiring decisions and onboard talent 100% remotely. As such, they've been much more risk adverse and focused on securing outstanding references - although overall time to hire has actually reduced. We are now seeing the end-to-end recruitment process taking over a week less than it did in the first half of 2020 when the first impacts of the pandemic were felt. Additionally, interims already on assignment are increasingly being pulled into project work which often leads to contract extension - a trend likely to continue this year. Candidate expectations The exceptional senior finance candidates we speak to expect their safety, wellbeing and work-life balance to be taken seriously by prospective employers. Some candidates are not happy with how their employers have handled the Covid-19 crisis and don’t feel they’ve been supported in the right way. As such, many will only consider new roles where employers can offer job security and demonstrate that have been able to keep staff morale, engagement and productivity high in a remote working environment. Candidates are keen to understand how sensitive a prospective employer has been to their workforce throughout the pandemic and what the ‘getting back to the office’ message is. They expect flexible working, excellent virtual communication technology and good communication practices from senior leadership. We expect more movement in 2021 as senior finance professionals, who were biding their time throughout the initial uncertainty of the pandemic, once again look for new permanent opportunities to progress their careers. How can we help? If you are job searching in these difficult times, and potentially interviewing from home, there are lots of things we can help you with to prepare. We have plenty of career advice guides we can share with you. Everything from CV tips, to developing your personal online brand and video interviewing advice. If you would like any of our career advice guides, or want to discuss any of our current interim or permanent senior finance opportunities with a recruiting expert please do not hesitate to get in touch.
18 Jan 2021
UK labour market transformed 2020 was a year like no other. Every business had to adapt and evolve their operating model to survive and grow in the ‘new norm’. The UK labour market was transformed by the disruption of Covid-19, while some sectors grew as a result of changing consumer habits, many others faced declining revenues, heavy job losses and widening skills gaps. The December 2020 report from the Office of National Statistics paints a gloomy picture. It shows that from February to December 2020, the number of payroll employees fell by 819,000 - although the larger falls were seen at the start of the coronavirus pandemic - and the period of August through to October saw redundancies reach record highs.Unsurprisingly, the Bank of England November 2020 Monetary Policy report highlights, that redundancies in 2020 were predominantly in sectors that were hit hardest by lockdown including hospitality, retail, travel, leisure, automotive and aviation. New hope for 2021 Although we start 2021, with a newly agreed Brexit deal which governs bilateral trade worth more than £650bn and we have the hope brought by new Covid-19 vaccines, it remains clear that we still have huge economic challenges ahead, with a long road to recovery. The ongoing impacts of Covid-19, particularly the recent increase in infection numbers and subsequent national lockdown, making sense of Brexit and the upcoming IR35 tax reforms (for the private sector) all present challenges for UK business. This uncertainly doesn’t make for very pleasant, uplifting New Year reading! However, unlike any other economic downturn or crisis, it is important to remember that this pandemic has forced innovation, business wide transformation and prompted organisations to adopt new ways of working - all of which may have positive long-term effects.There are also areas where employers have ongoing or even increased demand for specific skills and expertise - especially when it comes to driving their digital transformation agenda and ensuring their organisational structure is fit for purpose in this new era of work. We are also working with a (significant) minority of organisations that see the current volatility as an opportunity to invest, grow and seize market share. Well capitalized, forward looking organisations are pressing hard on the accelerator and we remain optimistic about the prospects for new opportunities in 2021.Find out if your skills are in demand in 2021, check back here soon to read our specialism market updates and top senior roles in demand this year. Our first specialism update, ready to read now is for Senior Finance. IR35 impacts to contractor market 2020 saw Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay announce that IR35 tax reforms to the private sector would be deferred to 6th April 2021. The decision was announced among a £330bn financial package to protect the UK economy from the coronavirus outbreak and helped to alleviate one aspect of uncertainty for a large proportion of UK contractors.Although this was supposed to give private sector businesses crucial extra time to review and refine their interim hiring strategies - organisations needed to prioritise cashflow preservation, business continuity and their survival last year.As such, what we saw was an immediate shift to many organisations dramatically reducing Interim / Contractor resources and hiring flexible labour on an inside IR35 basis only. Indeed, many businesses made the decision to institute a blanket ban of personal service companies (PSCs) rather than contend with the perceived risk of potential financial liability for tax, should contractors later be deemed in scope of IR35. We started to see that these blanket ban, risk-averse reactions to IR35 were depriving some companies of their competitive edge and ultimately, their ability to attract the best interim talent. We saw other companies take a more measured response, engaging with third parties to apply IR35 determinations for each role, such that they could continue to benefit from the breadth of the interim labour market. That said, as Covid-19 continued to put increasing pressure on the cost-base for many businesses last year, we saw a swing from the use of LTD contractors to umbrella companies, fixed-term contracts and Statement of Work consulting delivery to resource transformation programmes and projects.So now, with the clock ticking to April 6th 2021, we are likely to see a revival of day rate contract roles as businesses continue to review and amend their processes to ensure business-critical projects stay properly resourced in 2021. As such, we anticipate much more of a balance this year between permanent, fixed-term contract and both inside and outside IR35 contract roles as the level of understanding of how to apply the IR35 rules in a compliant, yet pragmatic manner increases. Contact us to learn how our solutions for individual IR35 determinations and Managed Solutions can help deliver a compliant and cost-effective answer to flexible labour demands in 2021. Brexit hinders access to flexible labour market The UK now implements a points-based immigration system, similar to the one already in effect in Australia. Under the new rules, the vast majority of foreign nationals trying to work, live and study in Britain will have to apply and pay for an online visa. For many, these new visa requirements are now a pre-requisite for working in the UK. There are extra checks and implications that employers need to be on top of; and risks if they are not. There are fines and criminal sanctions if business employ people unlawfully. This increased level of bureaucracy and the subsequent compliance implications for UK employers is likely to hinder and slow access to the flexible labour market across Europe. As such, ‘visa ready’ candidates will have a competitive advantage as employers won’t need to go through all the extra checks. Under the immigration system, points are awarded for a job offer at the appropriate skill level, knowledge of English and being paid a minimum salary. Skilled worker visas will be awarded to those who gain enough points.Applicants will have to reach a mandatory threshold of 50 points before they are considered for immigration to the UK. Mandatory criteria from the Home Office says migrants will need to have a job offer in the UK from a licensed sponsor (20 points), the job must be at or above the “minimum skill level” (20 points), and the person applying must be able to speak English “to an acceptable standard”, (10 points).There are, however, special rules for individuals who are already working in the UK. If they’ve been a resident here for 5 years or more, they will be granted ‘Settled Status’. If they’ve been in continuous residence for a shorter time period they will be awarded ‘Pre-Settled Status’. However, even if an individual has the existing right to work in the UK under one of these statuses, they must still apply to stay lawfully employed. If you are an employer or candidate and unsure if or how these changes affect you, please contact us. We are happy to help and point you to the right resources.
11 Jan 2021
Just as many of us had started to return to the office, a second lockdown now looms. The prospect of living and working from home - all of the time - is not a pleasant thought to have to come to terms with once again.As such, it is so important that we look after our mental and physical wellbeing and ensure that we continue to instill healthily remote working habits in these difficult times. Creating a dedicated, comfortable remote workspace is one of the most important things we can do to stay productive and healthily. So, if you haven’t taken all of the steps needed to create a home working environment that works for you and you’re still putting up with desk set-up, furniture or equipment bugbears - now is the time to rectify these issues. Your employer might also be moving towards more flexible, remote working post Covid-19, so it really is worth taking the time to re-think your setup and make it suitable for the longer term.For example, if you managed to work ok from your sofa last time it might now be worth considering the benefits of a separate workspace or zone (if possible) where you can work without distractions. Not only will this benefit your levels of focus and productivity, but importantly for your mental health, it helps separate your day-to-day life from your work. Likewise, it is important that you have comfortable furniture and an ergonomic set up. A good desk set-up You might assume everyone automatically sits ‘correctly’. But it turns out sitting is a bit of an art and doing it wrong can affect all different parts of your body. Poor posture can cause repetitive strain injury (RSI), headaches or aches and pains elsewhere. The NHS outlines the following factors as essential in how to sit at your desk correctly: Adjust your chairThe best chairs for working are adjustable, so that you can move the height allowing you to use your keyboard properly. This is with your wrists and forearms straight and parallel with the floor. Your elbows sit rest by the side of your body, with a 90-degree angle at the elbow joint.Support your backYou should also be able to adjust your chair so that it supports your lower back. You can do this by changing the back position and tilt options. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips.Have your screen at eye levelIf a screen is too high or low, you’ll be bending your neck all day. Instead, your screen should be directly in front of you (roughly an arm’s length away). If you use a laptop, you can place it on a laptop stand and use a separate keyboard to achieve this.Have the keyboard straight in front of youWhen typing, you want the keyboard to be right in front of you, making sure your arms are still bent in an L-shape with your elbows at your side. You can leave a gap of around 4-6 inches at the front of your desk to rest your wrists when you’re not typing. Some people use wrist rests for extra comfort.Rest your feet on the floorYour feet should be flat on the floor. Some people also use a footrest if that feels comfortable. You shouldn’t cross your legs. If you have difficulties in doing any of this speak to you employer, they may be able to help with practical solutions. After all, an uncomfortable, poorly thought out workspace can affect your productivity. Finally, here is a really helpful guide to creating a healthy and productive workspace. It shares key facts and statistics about working from home, the technological and cultural challenges faced by remote workers as well as practical tips and advice to manage health and maintain work-life balance whilst working from home.
03 Nov 2020