Flexibility is a must when recruiting Controllers


There is a continued shortage of good controllers. Particularly business controllers, financial controllers and good senior accountants with three to eight years' work experience are in need. Majority of these jobs are located in Flanders, followed by Brussels.

In order to attract the best Controllers on the market, flexibility is key. Interviews on a Friday evening are no longer an exception. Here are our top tips to recruit Controllers for your team.


The domino effect

The demand for controllers these days is often linked to takeovers and planned mergers and we clearly see a domino effect: when many employees switch jobs, shortages appear. These are filled in by other professionals, who also need to be replaced in their role. There is a lot of circulation among young financials in particular: they want opportunities to grow with a new employer and are often tempted by a salary increase.

Communication skills are important

Organisations urgently need financials with excellent communication skills. As many administrative tasks are automated, the department’s focus shifts to identifying growth scenarios and process improvement. As a business controller, you need to be able to act as a sparring partner for the management team. To succeed, you need to be assertive and stand your ground.

This makes financials who have worked as consultants via outplacement agencies an attractive recruitment option. They are used to having to 'sell' themselves for a new assignment and can pitch their ideas well. When it comes to terms of employment, outplacement agencies focus mainly on development and less on salary. This offers opportunities, especially for SME's, because they often simply cannot offer the salary level large organisations can suggest.

Accountants from the Big 4 are also in a strong position. Whereas previously they mainly switched to financial control, they now regularly move on to a position as business controller. The transition from accountancy to business control is huge. Although these accountants do not yet have any forecasting experience, they are communicatively strong and self-reliant. They are suitable for a transition to business control, provided they receive the right training and support.

Candidates can be demanding

So-called 'high potentials', with three to eight years of work experience, want to know immediately what steps they can take with a new employer. They also don’t hesitate to ask about the possibilities of following an MBA for example, at the expense of the new employer obviously. Furthermore, finance professionals increasingly have the desire to work flexible hours to have a better work/life balance.

In today’s market, finance professionals have many options: it is not uncommon for candidates to have two or three different offers on the table. This enables them to be critical and high-demanding towards their future employer. Particularly salary, growth and training opportunities are important factors in their choice. 

Meeting candidates’ expectations

To attract good communicatively skilled finance professionals, organisations will have to meet their applicants’ expectations. They will need to adjust their job requirements and offer a rewarding salary package to attract the best talent. In the current market, it is difficult to attract controllers with 7-15 years of experience with a salary below 75k EUR. This means that small organisations often cannot compete with the offers made by large organisations, who usually offer a salary package with plenty extra-legal benefits and training & development opportunities.  

If an applicant has already started a training course, majority of organisations agree however to take over the cost. If they want to start a new training course, organisations usually agree to do so after being in the company for one year.

Interviews after office hours

What else can organisations do to hire the right financial talent? They should, above all, plan the recruitment process intelligently. Whereas two years ago a recruitment process took about six weeks, nowadays everything should be covered in two weeks’ time or you risk losing the candidate. We advise organisations to prepare everything after the first interview in such a way that an offer can be made right after the second interview. Another tip is to be flexible when planning job interviews. Candidates often have a few interviews a week, which is difficult for those who need to combine this with their current job. The chances of getting a job interview are much higher if you offer to schedule the interview outside office hours. A job interview on Friday evening at 6 o'clock is really no exception these days.

Find out more?   

Looking to recruit Controllers for your team? Upload your controller vacancy today or contact one of our offices.

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