CFO Melissa Stevens says money and skills are scarce when hiring new finance talent


FNB Commercial Banking CFO Melissa Stevens unpacks some of the challenges she’s facing when it comes to the recruitment and development of her finance team.

Finance executives face increasing challenges when it comes to building high-performing teams that can last in their organisations and outlast challenges in their industries. Two of the most pressing factors are the lack of available talent, and the cost of the talent that is available, says FNB Commercial Banking CFO Melissa Stevens. “Finding relevant skills suited to the role is a challenge,” she explains.

Melissa adds that building these skills is equally challenging. “Finance team members grapple with capacity, and at times are not able to fully engage in development or training initiatives. This is even more true when the sessions take place virtually, where team members might be more distracted and be able to respond to work demands while listening to the content of the session.”

As a result, she says, they are not able to be fully immersed in the learning experience. “Learning and development is seen as an event that happens in a certain context, for example, a classroom setting, and not an ongoing investment in skill sets. Individuals don’t seek out on-the-job growth and learning experiences proactively enough daily.”

It is important to understand the importance of this training, she explains, and the desired takeaways should be brought back, entrenched and demonstrated at work.

Melissa also encourages more in-person training.

“Ongoing discussions and reminders – especially to those that have worked longer in their roles and need to invest and refresh their skills – are essential for your team’s development.”

Set clear expectations

At the same time, Melissa and other finance team leaders also have to ensure new candidates have job satisfaction, which can be even more challenging when remuneration expectations are out of step.

“The fast-moving pace of remuneration is difficult to keep up with,” Melissa says. She explains that candidates’ perceptions of the value of their experience and skills, and the recruitment benchmarks are misaligned, causing recruitment to fall over at the offer stage.

To help address this, she suggests that, instead of using generic job specs when advertising a new role, recruiting line managers need to invest more time upfront to refine the specs of the role that’s being advertised and how to draw in the appropriate applicants from the right markets.

“Have conversations around remuneration and related expectations earlier on, especially if it is apparent that something is a key consideration or requirement for the candidate,” she says.

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