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Strategies to combat the talent shortage in treasury and finance departments

“Nearly 60% of treasury and finance professionals agree that their organizations face a talent shortage within their functions”, according to the 2023 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Compensation Report. Respondents cited the competitive job market (70%) and the increasing importance of attaining work-life balance as key reasons for this shortage.

In addition, the latest AFP Compensation Report shows that treasury and finance professionals saw an increase in their base salaries in 2022. “Given the competitive job market, the increase in base salaries across all tiers of the treasury and finance profession is encouraging,” said Jim Kaitz, President & CEO of AFP.

The 2023 AFP Compensation Survey was conducted in February 2023 and received responses from 1,408 treasury and finance professionals with diverse corporate profiles across the four major census regions of the US. 

In pursuit of AFP’s goal to advance and support its members’ careers, this certifying body in treasury and finance is committed to delivering relevant and accurate information and resources. To that end, the 2023 AFP Compensation Survey aims to provide useful and timely information and analysis to help treasury and finance professionals prudently manage their careers and to serve as an effective and valuable resource in benchmarking compensation costs for these practitioners.

Factors behind talent scarcity in treasury and finance

The “Great Resignation” phenomenon spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic led to considerable staff attrition across industries. Employees resigned from their jobs wanting better compensation and benefits and adequate work-life balance.

This is corroborated by the 2023 AFP Compensation Survey results, which show that, “Post-pandemic, employees are making health and well-being a priority, including seeking out flexibility and work-life balance – in addition to better pay and career growth opportunities – when evaluating their employment opportunities.”

The enormous employee churn in the job market, triggered by the increasing importance being accorded to wellbeing protocols and compensation growth, has resulted in staff recruiting and retention difficulties, including considerable scarcity of treasury and finance personnel across industries.

Among the factors that have caused the treasury and finance talent crunch is a tight job market. “Over 70 percent of respondents blame the talent shortage at their organizations on the competitive job market”, the AFP survey explains.

    Reasons for Talent Shortage Within Treasury and Finance

Source: 2023 AFP Compensation Report

The survey further reveals that “47% indicate the talent pool is lacking the necessary skills, and 32 percent believe a lack of upward mobility opportunities” is causing a dearth of suitable employees within treasury and finance.

Furthermore, over a quarter (28%) of those surveyed reported that job burnout and the need for a healthy work-life balance was a significant factor that contributed to the talent crunch in treasury and finance functions. Meanwhile, 27% indicated “Dissatisfaction with compensation and benefits being offered at their organizations” as a key reason for the scarcity of treasury and finance talent.

Combatting the talent shortage: effective strategies for treasury and finance departments

As per the latest AFP Compensation Survey, “Approximately two-thirds of respondents believe that if organizations were to offer competitive compensation and benefits, they would be able to curb a talent shortage.”

    Suggested Strategies to Curb Talent Shortage in Treasury and Finance

Source: 2023 AFP Compensation Report

Almost half (47%) of the respondents believe that recognizing and rewarding staff and ensuring that they maintain a sound work-life balance can help increase employee engagement and prevent personnel from leaving, thereby serving as an effective strategy for curbing talent shortages and mitigating difficulties in filing vacant roles.

Providing opportunities for upward mobility, offering a flexible work environment and providing upskilling/learning opportunities (each cited by at least 40 percent of survey respondents) are other steps that treasury and finance practitioners suggest employers adopt to alleviate workforce shortage challenges.

Of the organizations that are not currently experiencing a talent scarcity, the primary reason mentioned by 50% of the respondents to avoid a talent crunch is enabling or allowing flexible work arrangements (remote and hybrid work model).

“Offering competitive compensation and benefits ranks a close second (47 percent of respondents)”, followed by investing in upskilling/learning opportunities and recruiting skilled talent (reported by 26% and 25% of those polled, respectively), which feature as the other major factors that played an important role in preventing a talent scarcity from occurring in their companies.

In conclusion, “Organizations seeking to attract and retain top talent must continue to listen and respond to the professional needs of their employees”, advises Kaitz. Besides offering attractive compensation and benefits and a healthy work-life balance, it is also important to pay attention to treasury and finance professionals’ potential for career advancement.

The primary criterion for career growth is increased job responsibility, as indicated by 81% of the 35th annual AFP Compensation Report respondents. This suggests that organizational growth, which leads to greater job responsibility being given to employees, can be helpful.

CFOs and treasurers who prioritize ongoing investment in digitalization and technology, people and team development, employee wellbeing, and empowering staff to deliver strategic and tactical support to the business will find their finance and treasury teams far more likely to thrive, building a competitive advantage in attracting, hiring, growing and retaining talent with the right skills.

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