The growing need for immediacy in senior finance recruitment

Veruca Salt

Robert Baker candidate, news & events, blog...

The recession is over. Activity in the City, that had all but ground to a halt, is now buoyant. IPOs are no longer a rarity and there is plenty of action on the mergers and acquisitions front as businesses regain their confidence and start thinking about investment rather than survival.

Growth is now the order of the day and in these circumstances one would expect strong demand for senior finance personnel. Certainly the strong demand is there but, having been around for a number of these business cycles, it’s already apparent that this time around there’s a difference.

Alongside the solid growth in business activity we have also seen an influx of new reporting and accounting standards. As businesses scramble to meet strict timetables for compliance with a new layer of red tape they need to on-board the expertise to do so. Their need for senior finance staff and CFOs is often too urgent for them to embark upon the lengthy search for permanent staff (let alone having to wait for someone to serve out their notice period) to fulfil the roles they require. The result is that there has been a surge in demand for interim staff.


Who wants to wait?

In addition to the particular circumstances of needing to work within a new regulatory environment we shouldn’t be too surprised by the shift towards strong growth in the interim recruitment market. Businesses can’t be divorced from the cultural context in which they operate. We live in a society where instant gratification is the order of the day.  Patience used to be seen as a virtue, now it’s almost a vice. “All good things come to those who wait” – went the old adage. It’s now well and truly an anachronism.  Wait and you’re more likely to be disappointed, especially if someone has got to the prize first. As a culture, pursuit of instant gratification has made us perpetually impatient and this mind-set governs all aspects of our lives. Retailers now offer same-day delivery services. Our smart phones run a plethora of apps that eliminate waiting; for cabs, dinner reservations even dating!  The demand for instant results from businesses seeking expertise to address their need for senior finance staff if therefore entirely consistent with the world in which we now live. We as recruitment specialists need to respond to and embrace the change. Here at Cedar we have developed a dynamic network of dedicated career interims that can be ‘parachuted’ into an organisation at speed.


It takes two to tango

How come we can supply such top talent at short notice? The answer lies in the last recession when many senior finance professionals were forced to forego the stability of permanent employment to take shorter-term roles as contractors. On leaving the comfort and security of their former employment many discovered to their surprise and relief that life as an interim finance professional had much to speak for it. As well as attractive remuneration and the flexibility, life as an interim provides a whole host of potential benefits: better tax arrangements, an improved work life balance, flexible working, the opportunity to experience different work cultures and business and to meet new people.

On the demand side of the coin, the last recession taught UK businesses how to be leaner and work with reduced head counts as they strove to cut costs and achieve the necessary savings to keep their heads above water. Now, though the recession is over, the same businesses have grown used to working with lean teams and with an improvement in their financial position are more comfortable paying more for interims in the short term rather than increase the overall headcount committing to an additional resource on a permanent basis.

Many business leaders are also prepared to pay a premium for short-term career interims in recognition of their value as immediately available experts in their field who can add immediate strategic value to the business. The best career interims are highly prized for their ability to pass on valuable skills to the existing team, develop and institute new process and generally leave behind a lasting legacy.


Flex –Appeal

Many senior finance people and CFOs have therefore taken a good look in the mirror and asked themselves “what am I truly excellent at?” They have ‘unbundled’ their skills and offered their expertise in roles that suit their individual talents or interests.  As a result, there has been a sharp increase in the numbers of people choosing to work as interim contractors. According to a survey by SJD Accountancy the percentage of financial services contractors earning £750 per day or more has almost doubled in the past year to more than one in 10 as demand has strengthened and skills shortages have become more prevalent,. ( If pay is the yardstick to judge by then not only have the numbers of senior finance staff available to the interim market increased but their quality has improved markedly. In this respect the market has matured significantly.


Cedar is particularly well-placed to service the needs of clients seeking the very best interim senior finance personnel. For more information about this service please contact Robert Baker, Director - Finance, on 0203 002 8050 or