Top 10 finance recruitment trends for 2011

Whether you're a CFO looking to hire staff or a finance professional seeking a new job, these are the top 10 recruitment trends for 2011 that you need to know about.

1. Go and work overseas. More companies are relocating or merging parts of their finance functions. "As a result, we're increasingly seeing newly-created head-office and group finance roles appearing," says Tim Vye, divisional director at Reed Finance, which specialises in qualified, senior and executive-level financial recruitment. "This means that more companies need candidates who possess global finance and management skills as well as a willingness to work from international locations." With business becoming more global, finance professionals who are looking to reach senior posts in blue-chips may find they are asked to work overseas for spells to gain broader experience. "It may be necessary to be flexible at short notice to fill international posts when working in a global economy," says Vye.

2. Choose your career path. "Within accountancy, there is beginning to be a split in skill-sets," says Vye. "Accountants can either go down the highly technical route or can choose a role that's business facing and highly commercial." So which will you opt for? It seems there are more specialist roles -- such as the need for top-grade financial controllers - and fewer generalists. Deciding which to take is partly a question of preference and partly of aptitude. As far as reaching senior posts, such as CFO, either route can succeed, says Vye.

3. Take a post in senior management. If you're already a CFO, perhaps you've got your eyes on the CEO's chair. During the recession, finance professionals have often moved up their organisations leaving room for promotions further down the ladder. It's a trend which looks set to continue. Vye says: "With many CFOs moving up to board level as they become ever-more important to CEOs and managing directors, this will create opportunities for ambitious mid-level finance professionals to move into more senior management positions. Businesses will be looking for candidates with leadership potential." The finance pros who will be moving up in 2011 will be those with a good strategic brain and the ability to talk strategy at the highest levels of their organisations.

4. Hire a newly qualified accountant. There is expected to be strong demand for newly qualified accountants in 2011, partly as a result of more senior staff moving upwards. But there is also a strong demand for some skill-sets. These include regulatory compliance, financial reporting, credit risk and operational risk. Companies are looking for new recruits who can demonstrate top-level skills in these and other areas. The demand for such skills is plainly stronger in the private than the public sector. Other skills likely to be in demand in 2011 include IFRS, Solvency II, Basel III, SAP and system accountants with strong IT skills generally.

5. Add bottom-line value. "There is well-documented evidence that finance professionals are becoming ever-more important to their CEOs and managing directors," says Vye. "So companies look for candidates who can clearly add value to the bottom-line by demonstrating strong commercial acumen. We expect this trend to continue during 2011 with finance professionals wielding more influence in organisations as a result." The finance pros who score here will be those that have more commercial understanding of the market-places in which their company operates. They will have strong analytical and predictive skills -- they will be able to spot things going wrong before they happen rather than merely explaining why they happened afterwards. They will be the kind of finance pros who spend as much time reading about their market and its business problems and prospects as accountancy technical journals. In short, they will be CFOs who can look beyond the numbers and take the broader view.