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Recruiting in Finance: Balancing Industry-Specific Experience & Transferable Skills

Senior Manager, Finance & Accounting
Senior Manager, Finance & Accounting
​Dan directs our Accountancy & Finance team specialising within the interim & contract market. With over a decade of experience, Dan has built up an enviable network with clients from SME businesses through to international FTSE-listed companies across a range of industries predominantly based in London.Typical interim roles include CFOs & FDs, Financial Controllers & Managers, Commercial Heads & Senior and/or Management/Group Accountants (Including part & non-qualified levels).

UK recruitment agencies continuously seek top talent in the ever-evolving financial services landscape. The finance industry recruitment process often involves identifying the right people with the right qualifications and skill sets, ensuring a seamless fit within an organisation’s finance team. One of the key questions often asked by both recruiters and hiring managers is:

‘How important is industry-specific experience when recruiting finance professionals?’

In today’s candidate-driven market, it is becoming increasingly important for hiring managers to look beyond industry-specific experience and focus on transferable skills. With the rise of social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, employers can now easily showcase their open roles and connect with potential candidates. However, years of experience in a particular industry may only sometimes be the decisive factor when selecting the right candidate.


Understanding the Value of Transferable Skills in Financial Recruitment

Transferable skills are significant in securing a new position, especially when the market is flooded with great talent seeking new opportunities. The current Gen-Z workforce is more likely than previous generations to change sectors during their professional careers, so transferable skills have become increasingly important.

The attributes that employers value can be grouped into two sets of skills: soft and technical.

Soft skills that hiring managers look for include:

  1. Interpersonal skills
  2. Excellent communication
  3. A positive, engaging attitude
  4. A display of confidence and intelligence

Technical skills that can be gained in various sectors might include:

Hard skills
  1. IT and technology-focused experience
  2. Management experience
  3. Analytical ability
  4. Proven problem-solving skills
  5. Commercial acumen
  6. Established networks

Navigating the Complexities of Recruiting in Finance

Recruiting in finance can be challenging, as the industry is ever-evolving and requires professionals with a unique blend of skills, qualifications, and experience. Industry-specific experience and transferable skills both significantly determine a candidate’s suitability for a position. However, there are additional factors to consider when recruiting finance professionals to ensure the right candidate is hired.

  • Identifying the required skill set: It’s essential to understand the specific skills required for each open role. This may include financial analysis, regulatory compliance, risk management, or financial planning expertise. By identifying these skills upfront, recruiters can streamline the hiring process and quickly identify candidates who meet the job requirements.
  • Using multiple channels for sourcing candidates: Besides traditional methods, such as recruitment agencies and job boards, recruiters should explore alternative channels for sourcing candidates, such as networking events, social media platforms, and industry-specific forums. This can help widen the talent pool and increase the chances of finding the perfect candidate.
  • Emphasising cultural fit: While technical skills and experience are essential, it’s also crucial to find candidates who fit the organisation’s culture. This may involve assessing a candidate’s work style, values, and personality traits to determine if they are compatible with the existing team and company culture.
  • Offering competitive compensation packages: To attract the best talent in the finance industry, organisations must offer competitive compensation packages, including a competitive and transparent salary, benefits, and opportunities for professional development. This can help ensure that top talent is attracted to the organisation and retained for the long term.

The Importance of Industry-Specific Experience in Finance

While transferable skills are undoubtedly valuable in the recruitment process, there will always be a place for industry-specific experience in the finance sector. This approach can be particularly beneficial for specific roles that require a deep understanding of the industry’s nuances, regulations, and best practices.

  • Niche roles: Some finance roles, such as mergers and acquisitions specialists or investment analysts, require a deep understanding of the industry and its unique challenges. In such cases, industry-specific experience can help ensure the candidate has the necessary background and expertise to excel in the role.
  • Regulatory compliance: The finance industry is heavily regulated, and professionals working in compliance or risk management need a thorough understanding of the applicable laws and regulations. Industry-specific experience can help identify candidates with the required knowledge and experience to navigate the complex regulatory environment.
  • Time-sensitive projects: When working on time-sensitive projects or filling temporary roles, hiring a candidate with industry-specific experience may be advantageous. These candidates can quickly adapt to the role and require minimal training or onboarding, ensuring the project stays on track and within budget.
  • Long-term growth and development: While candidates with transferable skills can bring fresh perspectives and ideas, hiring professionals with industry-specific experience can contribute to the long-term growth and development of the finance team. These professionals can share their expertise and best practices, helping the team stay ahead in the finance landscape.

What are the Benefits of Embracing New Talent from Different Industries?

While it’s true that someone with previous experience in a sector may hit the ground running and transition smoothly, understanding the role of finance in that industry, and welcoming someone from outside the industry can offer unique advantages.

New ideas and innovative methods from other sectors can have a longer-term impact than someone merely swapping like-for-like roles. Candidates facing new challenges and changing industries are often more eager to make an impression and develop their skills in a new direction.

As a candidate looking to move to a finance role in a different sector, it’s crucial to tailor your CV to demonstrate how your strengths would translate into another industry. This may involve highlighting your qualifications from CIMA and ACCA or your experience in relevant roles such as chief financial officers or insolvency experts.

The Role of Financial Recruitment Agencies in Identifying the Best Candidate

Financial recruitment agencies are crucial in connecting organisations with the right professionals. These agencies manage the entire recruitment process, from drafting job descriptions and posting vacancies to identifying suitable candidates for temporary or permanent roles. They can also help facilitate a stress-free hiring process by ensuring the right candidate is selected, irrespective of their industry background.

The Bottom Line

In today’s competitive financial services market in the UK, organisations must look beyond industry-specific experience when recruiting accountants, auditors, and other finance professionals. Instead, they should focus on the value of transferable skills and the potential for new talent to make a difference. Understanding the value of both aspects ensures that employers select the best candidate for their finance team and stay ahead in the ever-changing finance industry landscape.

Finance Recruitment

Your Partner in Financial Recruitment

If you’re looking to build a strong, diverse, and adaptable finance team, we can help. The Consultancy Group can connect you with top talent with the right blend of industry experience and transferable skills.

Contact us today to discuss your hiring needs, and let us help you find the perfect fit for your organisation.

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