Article by Ulrike Steiner


HR trends in finance: what matters in 2023

The search for skilled staff and the battle for highly qualified talent will be the biggest challenges in finance in 2022. Plus: The new world of work has now also arrived in the CFO organisation. Are you responsible for recruiting in your company? In this article, we will show you what is important when recruiting in the finance sector.


Trends in Finance: New Work & Rising Demand

At the end of 2021, we at Schulmeister conducted a flash survey together with the Austrian Controller Institute. The focus was on the topics of New Work and the shortage of skilled workers from the perspective of CFOs and their employees. A total of over 800 specialists and managers took part in the survey.

Good news first: The demand for personnel in the CFO area is also increasing in the longer term. Companies want to invest more in personnel, but are encountering a labour market situation where the search for skilled personnel and the increasing struggle for highly qualified talent are major challenges. This also significantly increases the competitive pressure between companies. And: It is to be expected that the shortage of skilled workers in the finance sector will become even more acute in the future. Hiring suitable employees is particularly difficult in controlling, for example.

Overall, the results clearly show that the finance sector will have to develop further in the coming years, but at the same time remain flexible due to the shortage of skilled workers.

"Finance organisations expect continuous changes in their processes, tools, methods, roles and competences. A positive result of the study is that most of the companies surveyed now have transparent corporate governance. The young generation assesses the individual New Work criteria in their companies most positively. Probably also because this generation is particularly representative of New Work and the awareness of it is more pronounced.

Rita Niedermayr, Managing Director of the Austrian Controller Institute, comments.

But how do recruiters and HR departments manage to attract the urgently needed candidates in this tense situation? From our daily practical experience at Schulmeister, we can derive five key success factors for recruiting in the financial sector.


Tips for better recruiting in the financial sector

Tip No. 1: Flexibility in the recruitment process

Companies that remain flexible in the recruiting process and adapt to the conditions of the candidate market are always a step ahead of their competitors. In practice, this flexibility could look something like this:

You want to fill a full-time position, but all candidates are only interested in part-time positions? Perhaps the position can be split between two candidates. Or: You are desperately looking for a controller with at least five years of professional experience? Why not also consider exciting applications from people who have two years less experience but otherwise meet all the requirements exactly?

"For example, if a company is looking for an accountant with five years of experience, but the salary level for this position ends at € 3,500.00 gross, then in all likelihood no suitable candidates will be found. A realistic assessment of the market and the willingness to adapt to the circumstances will therefore make the process much easier.

Ulrike Steiner, Managing Partner of Schulmeister Linz

Tip No. 2: Flexible financial organisation

Innovation and flexibility are more important in a working culture than rigid rules and enforced workflows - many companies had to learn this during the Corona pandemic at the latest.

A flexible finance organisation can be evaluated as a central success factor. This is characterised by a new form of internal division of labour, agile working methods and adaptive human resources. Other components: Professional recruiting, modern job profiles, continuous competence development and the corresponding mindset of the management.

The good news is that there are many indications that companies are already in the process of renewing their work culture: In the study cited at the beginning, 89% of respondents reported a lenient approach to mistakes and 71% rated the transfer of knowledge between teams positively. 62% noted even more transparent corporate governance after the pandemic.

However, agile methods still do not play a role in many CFO areas (44%), which indicates potential for improvement.

Tip No. 3: Rely on interim management

Being open to new working models also means, for example, bridging personnel bottlenecks with interim managers and buying in capacities externally. Although the use of interim managers is still significantly underrepresented in Austria compared to other countries, experience shows that the financial sector in particular benefits greatly from working with interim managers.

Example: During the Corona pandemic, many tax firms only managed to compensate for their staff shortages by using interim staff.

Are you interested in interim management? In this article we show you why companies should rely on interim managers.

Tip No. 4: Enable use of the latest technologies

The degree of digitalisation of a company is a decisive factor in whether it appears attractive to applicants. Clearly, those who were used to fully digitalised processes in their old accounting job, for example, will be reluctant to return to filing and collecting receipts. As our study shows, 75% of respondents say they can use the latest technologies - a success factor in finance that should not be underestimated.

Tip no. 5: Understand what really motivates candidates

Does the famous fruit basket still appear in the benefits section of your job advertisement? That only makes highly qualified professionals from the financial sector smile... Our study provides detailed information on what really motivates candidates to perceive a company as an attractive employer:

  • Flexible working time models: While the possibility to work from home is already taken for granted, the prospect of a 4-day week acts as a great motivator in the application process. In terms of an optimal work-life balance, candidates therefore also want flexibility in holiday arrangements, for example the possibility to take 6 weeks of holiday at a time in order to go on a long-dreamed-of long-distance trip. [GU1] 
  • Corporate social responsibility: In times of climate crisis, candidates look closely at whether and how a company deals with its responsibility. This is currently evident, for example, in the trend towards sustainability reporting, which plays a role especially in the area of controlling.

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