By John Wakeford
Flexibility really is the key for firms based in the regions wanting to attract top finance talent.
Experienced Chief Financial Officers have found themselves in increasing demand over the past decade. The modern finance leader has a broad and complex role spanning strategic insight and operational responsibilities.
Changes to the regulatory environment and a highly challenging economic climate have ensured their prized technical and analytical qualities are an invaluable and irresistible addition to the boardroom.
The CFO market is therefore hugely competitive and salaries are constantly rising – with double digit wage inflation. Talented CFOs often have a number of options for their next move and as a result it can be hard to lure the best to the regions.
It can be, then, extremely frustrating for a headhunter working on an executive search assignment to put forward a strong shortlist of candidates for a CFO position, only to find the client is unrealistic about the offer they are prepared to make.
Every board is looking for diversity today but many executive teams don’t truly understand that, in order to achieve it, something has to give.
If a business wants to attract the right candidate they need to make an attractive offer, which often means demonstrating flexibility in terms of the remuneration package, working arrangements, and being prepared to consider finance executives from other sectors.
If a candidate is based in London, for example, and your business is located in Leeds, Manchester or Birmingham they may not want to relocate their family – often the case when they have school aged children.
It is understandable that a finance executive will be reluctant to move their family north for a position which they may have for three or four years before potentially moving on again.
But if you allow the exec to work from home part of the week, and either commute on other days or arrange local accommodation, you could be removing the one obstacle which would prevent them from joining your board.
It may be some years away but with HS2, journey times from London to Birmingham will be down to under 50 minutes and London to Manchester under 70 minutes. It should be much easier to attract South-East based execs commuting to work for firms based in the regions.
Until then, boards in the regions will need to understand the ball is firmly in the court of the talented finance leader they are trying to attract and respond accordingly.