Evolution and Talent Retention in the Finance and Accounting Industry

Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 25 May 2022

Jeff Thomson

CMA, CSCA, President & CEO, IMA

The Great Resignation has arrived, and it is not going away anytime soon. Employees are quitting in historic numbers, and the trend appears to be continuing. Employees were faced with considerable uncertainty and horrific events throughout the pandemic, which led many professionals into a state of introspection.

Employees evaluated their own values, as well as the types of connections they had with their employers and how they were regarded throughout the pandemic. They eventually determined that they needed more. While there are several causes for the increase in resignation rates, the most prominent ones are job insecurity, workplace culture, and flexibility. Among all of this, the most important point is that the pandemic served as a wake-up call to may employees.

So what can companies do to motivate their employees to stay as well as to encourage people to apply for their job openings? To find out the answers to these questions, DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Jeff Thomson, CMA, CSCA, President & CEO, IMA to share his insights on the topic. 

Lack Of Talent Retention Within Financial Institutions

A Qualtrics study saw a significant drop in the intention to stay in an organization in the Asia Pacific and Japan region from 74 per cent in 2021 to 66 per cent in 2022 and, 51 per cent indicated that they plan to leave their jobs due to the lack of growth opportunities. With this in mind, companies need to create environments where employees feel appreciated, work in a diverse and inclusive environment, and where they have an opportunity to grow with the organization.

In 2021, IMA and CalCPA completed a global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) study that surveyed accounting and finance professionals. The study found that up to almost half of underrepresented groups are leaving their organizations and 18 per cent are leaving the profession entirely due to a lack of equity and inclusion. So, it is getting harder to keep finance professionals not because of the work, but because of the culture that exists in their organizations and in the profession.

Post COVID-19: Talent Recruitment Difficulties 

The pandemic brought about a new world of work that organizations need to embrace to move forward successfully. Many finance teams were able to do their jobs just as effectively from home as they would in the office. Therefore, any organization that is recruiting talent with the mindset that they will be in the office five days a week and provide zero flexibility in employee situations, will find it very difficult to find any talent, let alone any good talent.

“We are also in the midst of one of the largest talent migrations ever, so it is proving difficult to find individuals for every open position at every organization,” says Jeff Thomson, CMA, CSCA, President & CEO, IMA.

Organizations are also dealing with the struggle to find qualified talent for open jobs that have the right knowledge, skills, and abilities for positions. Finding individuals with certifications that display their specific expertise can make the hiring and retention process much smoother. Businesses need to keep this in mind when posting career opportunities and determine what incentives they can offer to attract talent to their organizations and what qualifications they are looking for.

Post COVID-19: Recruiting & Retaining The Future Generation

With the increase in remote working, talent is no longer restricted to the area where they live to look for work and organizations have a global talent pool to search from to fill positions. In Singapore, the latest report from the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), found that 52 per cent of respondents felt that flexible work arrangements should be the new normal for workplaces in the country, including 73 per cent of the women respondents. 

So, organizations need to differentiate themselves and innovate to make their position more appealing than the hundreds of others each job applicant is looking at on a daily basis. This could include pay incentives, workplace flexibility, or extra time off, among others. This will help to not only get new talent in the door but keep them in the organization once they have arrived.

Post COVID-19: Business Strategy And Workforce Planning 

“If an organization did not have a plan for a potential pandemic pre-COVID, they better have one now in the event that something like this ever happens again,” advises Jeff Thomson, CMA, CSCA, President & CEO, IMA.

Organizations must have a plan for any type of crisis that may arise that disrupts the course of daily business. This includes investments in their growth and investments in technology and supplies that can help them do their job. Additionally, organizations need to have plans in place for long-term success including staff succession and business continuity. This plays into the business strategy and ensures that your employees have what they need to succeed and in turn, help you succeed.