Job location no longer on top of the wish list for finance professionals

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The 2021 Robert Walters Salary Survey reveals that the demand for financial talent will remain high, particularly for business-critical roles in controlling and treasury, as they play an important role in the organisation’s future.

Els Van Der Veken, Director at Robert Walters, shares her expectations about the labour market for accounting & finance professionals in 2021.



The impact of Covid-19 on finance professionals

Els: “Because of the first lockdown, there was some uncertainty and recruitment procedures slowed down. Face-to-face interviews could not take place, but organisations switched quite easily to video interviews and remote onboarding processes were implemented. As a result, we saw an increase in the number of recruitments in the months following the first lockdown.  

Unfortunately, a lot of people in different roles and sectors lost their job in the past few months. Many organisations believe that this means there are more qualified finance professionals available on the market. But that’s not entirely the case; majority did not feel very comfortable of changing jobs because of the risk in this uncertain period. Those who did consider a job switch, were very critical when looking at new opportunities.”

Job location no longer on top of the wish list

“In times like this, it’s difficult to predict what will happen. But I strongly believe that recruitment in finance will go up again. The pressure on finance departments is high, as they play a crucial role in an organisation. Especially now, as businesses must take important strategic decisions that define their future.

Video interviews will remain, as still a lot of people are working from home. And we see a big change here compared to a few years ago, when employers were sometimes reluctant to offer home working. This new way of working will continue in the future. As a result, the job location will no longer be on top of the wish list for professionals if home working is allowed. And this good news for employers as well, as it broadens their talent pool.

Finance roles in highest demand

Organisations who need to hire talent for their finance team will mainly be looking for business-critical professionals in business control, treasury and credit control.

This type of finance specialists will make the difference for an organisation, to better emerge from this crisis.

Honest and transparent communication is key

Overall, there might be more candidates available on the market now, but the highly qualified finance specialists are still scarce. “For organisations who struggle to attract the right talent, it’s important to be honest:  give your applicants an insight into the future of the organisation, how you will adapt to the new way of working and the growth opportunities you have to offer. A quick and efficient recruitment process is recommended, and shows stability, which only enhances the candidate’s confidence.”

To retain talent, it is important to invest in training and development of the people you work with. It’s a way to keep them engaged and motivated. “Although it may not be the top priority for organisations at this time, I advise to pay attention to the mental health of your employees, especially when working remotely.”

Finally, it is important to closely monitor homeworkers’ performances the same way as before. "When a remote employee is underperforming, it is important as a manager to communicate as honestly and transparently as possible. Turning a blind eye to underperformance under the guise of 'they're having a hard time as it is' can lead to a significant reduction in employee engagement and commitment because indirectly, you make them feel that their contribution is of less importance."

Salary increases in 2021?

2020 has been a tough year for many professionals and organisations. The 2021 Robert Walters Salary Survey reveals that only 34% of finance professionals expect to receive a salary increase. “For 2021, we do not expect salaries will rise, except maybe for top talent in business-critical roles. Instead, organisations will rather focus on other benefits they can offer, such as more training opportunities, flexible hours, mental health programmes or allowances to support efficient home working.”

Find out more?

Request access to our 2021 Salary Survey to benchmark salaries and to find out more about trends on the Belgium job market. 

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