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3 Things to Consider When Hiring and Developing Analytic Talent

The whole idea of 'analytics' has changed in finance, and far more of it is now required

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-business-charts-data-analysis-marketing-report-educational-research-concepts-project-management-financial-growth-turnover-image42844914Companies are bigger than they ever have been. In 1990, in nominal dollar terms, the 500th company in the US Fortune 500 had $543 million in revenue. In 2014, the 500th company had $5 billion in revenue.

In nominal dollar terms, the threshold for being “big” has gone up by nearly 10 times and even adjusting for inflation, it has gone up nearly five times. And not only that, companies are more complex and provide a starkly different work environment for their employees than they did even 10 years ago.

When it comes to finance teams the changing nature of work affects more than the way the function needs to think about managing the firm’s funds. It’s also having a major effect on the skills that finance professionals need, especially the number that need the ability to analyze ever larger amounts of data, and provide recommendations to colleagues, sometimes many levels more senior than them.

Three Things to Consider

This need for analytic talent will only increase as the nature of finance work continues to evolve from standard, rules-based work to more ad hoc, judgment-based work. Companies that are hiring and developing finance teams with these analytic skills should take into account three important considerations.

  1. Change the way you define analytic talent: Traditionally, “analytic competencies” in Finance referred to data gathering and preparation, statistical analysis, and modeling.

    As demand for data analysis from Finance grows, finance executives are expanding the list of analytic skills they need, such as people who can perform analyses, use new analytic technology solutions, collaborate with other functions, communicate analysis clearly by telling a holistic story with the numbers.

  2. Create perfect teams, not the perfect employee: Unfortunately, all the analytic skills now required in finance are rarely held by any one individual. In fact, CEB analysis shows that only 1% of finance staff at large Fortune 500 organizations demonstrate all of the core analytic competencies.

    Many finance managers harbor unrealistic expectations about their competency models and role descriptions for individuals, and think that they will lead them to the perfect individual. They will find more success by building well-rounded teams. Focus on identifying individuals’ core strengths and aligning them with the right parts of the analytics process.

    Hiring tips:

    • Look for alternative backgrounds to round out analysis functions, such as individuals with engineering, science, and start-up backgrounds.

    • Ask candidates to solve multiple problems quickly to see if they have behaviors that reinforce an analytic process when approaching conflict.

  3. Incorporate social media into the recruiting plan: In order to win what is a constant battle for finance analytic talent, companies must make better use of social media, particularly LinkedIn. Most finance functions do not have a formal strategy for using LinkedIn but those that depend on LinkedIn for recruiting see better quality candidates and lower recruiting costs.

    Recruiting tips:

    • Improve the branding of your finance department by establishing standards for employee LinkedIn profiles.

    • Ask team members to regularly send messages to their networks about job opportunities and to post interesting content to ensure a frequent inflow of quality candidates.

 

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