CFOs in Belgium are once again open to a new job, after remarkably fewer top financial executives made the switch last year, as a result of the corona pandemic.
In the second quarter of 2021, there were so far 173 published vacancies for the role of CFO or finance director, compared to 151 in the same quarter last year*.
This is also the highest number since the start of the pandemic. Incidentally, some of the vacancies at this level are filled without being advertised.
We have noticed that in the last two to three months the market has started to move again," says Özlem Simsek, Managing Director at executive search specialist Robert Walters. "We are talking about professionals who are looking for a new challenge themselves as well as organisations who want to recruit a new CFO.
Earlier this year, Robert Walters compared the level of CFO’s job moves in 2020 with the year before, based on publicly available data. It revealed that the number of CFOs remaining in their positions was about three quarters higher last year than in 2019.
According to Özlem Simsek, thanks to the corona crisis, CFOs and other c-level management felt extra responsible for the organisation. They wanted to fight together with the team to steer the organisation through the crisis and were therefore less willing to move. At the same time, several CFOs had proved to be risk-averse over the past year. This group may have felt the urge to take on something new but waited until the storm had largely died down.
Now that the pandemic seems to be on its way out, both groups are open for a new challenge. Özlem: "We are not quite there yet, but with the finish line in sight, CFOs are already looking around. Because before you have a new job, it can take several months.”
Financial risk and financial modelling important skills for CFO
It is not only CFOs themselves who are open to a new job. With the end of the pandemic in sight, organisations are also increasingly looking for a new top financial executive. According to Özlem, a different type of CFO may be sought now that organisation can focus more on growth and expansion and less on cost-cutting. "Then you go from a cost-driven CFO to a business-driven CFO."
Important skills needed for this include financial modelling and financial risk. These enable CFOs and their team to put various future scenarios on paper, taking all kinds of variables into account. Doing so, new opportunities can be immediately exploited while major risks are avoided.
According to Özlem, recruitment is also a quality that is gaining ground among CFOs. "Due to ongoing digitalisation, CFOs increasingly need to gather around them data analysts and data-savvy controllers who can also function as business partners. It is important to attract the right people for this."
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