55 (150) 2022


The key role of the manager in developing finance experts

By Karolina Lis, director at Hays Poland
Header karolina lis hays poland

One of the key factors influencing the immediate career decisions of finance experts – whether to change jobs or pursue further development with their current employer – is the strength of the relationship with their immediate supervisor. Managers who actively develop talent and visibly support career progression are an invaluable resource in the attraction and retention strategy.

The saying goes that people don’t leave an organisation – they leave a boss, and this is often reflected in reality. However, the potential supervisor is equally important in the recruitment process. This is particularly true in the context of financiers, who often demonstrate a need for development, knowledge growth, and new professional experiences. Add this up, and the line manager – the face of an employer in the recruitment process and the first call for development opportunities – becomes a key factor in motivating finance experts to join an organisation, and consequently whether they stay or leave.

Growth, satisfaction – and the line manager in between

Workers developing a career in the field of accountancy and finance are usually prudent in their decision to leave an employer. Following a detailed analysis of available career opportunities, all elements of the job offers and the potential employer’s value proposition are subjected to thorough scrutiny. The most important factors in attraction include financial offering, interesting projects and challenges, flexible work environment, job security, and – importantly – career development opportunities. If we switch to retention, our research discussed in Salary Guide 2022 reveals that among finance experts the relationship with a direct supervisor is the sixth most frequently cited reasons for considering a job change.

If we combine the spheres of attraction and retention to consider the underlying equation behind professional development opportunities, the common denominator is the direct manager. For finance experts, professional development means the possibility of expanding the scope of their responsibility, such as expanding into a region-spanning role, and increasing autonomy in the accomplishment of day-to-day operations. Progression also includes project management related to the implementation of improvements, such as a new reporting or accounting system, or process automation tools. Development in finance is also synonymous with learning new systems and tools to evolve the daily functions of a finance department or whole organisation.

The bottom line is that development needs communicated by experts in finance are specific and apply to clearly defined areas – substantive skills that financial experts should be able to learn from their line manager. However, when this is not possible, the supervisor should have the provision for creating opportunities for development in an area of interest that aligns with organisational objectives.

An eye for talent and an ear for feedback

The line manager, as the person who sees the work and assesses the skills of team members, is best positioned to know what a person is interested in, their strengths, and the areas for development. This knowledge is the keystone to building a strong, diverse and motivated team that achieves success.

A strong finance manager will identify talent within their teams, tune in to the potential of their people, and create opportunities for them to use their skills to make a visible impact on business outcomes. In this supportive environment, experts feel valued, motivated and encouraged to go above and beyond – creating a feedback loop for the foundation of a solid professional relationship.

Creating a comfortable space to communicate personal growth objectives is essential for all employees – and developmental discussions should occur regularly. Time passes very quickly, taking into consideration the high volume of tasks in the finance department, so monthly or quarterly meetings make it possible to review the results of work, achievements and needs of both managers and professionals. Even if the organisation does not have a standardised system of career progression one-on-ones, the manager that implements them will be rewarded with loyalty and honesty. Personal engagement is noticed and highly valued by employees – in our conversations with experts we always hear words of appreciation for committed managers who have a process for development and value people’s feedback.

Developing a learning mindset

It is worth saying again that accountancy and finance are highly substantive areas, emphasising the importance for finance experts to continually broaden and update their knowledge. Leaders with a commitment to self-development are noticed and perceived as true mentors. Those who demonstrate a proactive attitude and constantly take steps to acquire new skills not only set a good example, but are also evaluated higher by their teams in feedback surveys.

The idea of mentorship applies to manager-led training courses or workshops – in addition to those the HR department proposes. Supplementing the organisational training with areas identified by the employees themselves creates a bespoke development programme for the individual, and a personalised work experience provides a significant boost to job satisfaction.

The impact of the supervisor's ‘personal brand’ on team members is also an interesting topic. The perception of being a trusted expert gives anyone a boost of positive energy and motivation – in the case of leaders its impact is reflected on the team, too. A committed direct supervisor, who identifies with the company's values and exudes professional satisfaction will transmit this to their team, giving employees less reason to contemplate changing jobs.

Key players in attraction and retention

In summary, finance managers who provide their team with development opportunities, offer them additional training and give them the chance to take on new challenges, contribute to reducing the turnover rate in finance teams and increasing employee satisfaction. Alongside the HR department, they play a key role in the challenge of talent retention.

Identifying the involvement of finance managers in the recruitment and retention strategy is extremely important in the current labour market. Mid-to-senior level candidates who are considering a career change now have a wealth of opportunities in interesting financial positions. The fierce competition between organisations searching for specialists in finance and accountancy has led to an imbalance between supply and demand.

Employers that want to take a conscious approach to talent management are preparing line managers – people who in many cases not specialists in soft HR – to conduct recruitment processes or evaluation interviews with their employees. Others build a partnership with consulting agencies and collaborative training initiatives. Whichever route you take, the investment is worth the time and attention – they are investments in your key players – your people.


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