It has been a while since we provided a market update, 18 months, in fact. Since then, we’ve been busy riding the growth wave of the marketplace. We have also been expanding and training our internal team and doing our best to keep up with the unprecedented hiring demands of our clients. Now that the winds of change are beginning to blow, we want to share our observations with you.
Here are 5 real-time trends we are seeing in Austin and the Bay Area:
1. Things are changing daily
As recruiters, we are on the front lines of the job market. Our entire day consists of speaking with leaders and job seekers. We are learning which companies are growing, or conversely which are freezing headcount or preparing for layoffs. So far in 2022, we have received more job opportunities, particularly permanent openings, that are stretching our capacity. The conversation with our clients continues to be about finding and attracting talent in an unbalanced market. Indeed, even to us, this feels inconsistent with the stock market plunge and correction unfolding within venture capital portfolios.
However, this month we are starting to see some of our clients reconsider their plans. We have had a few put searches on hold, or end consultants early. They either have concerns about fundraising, or they are simply taking a more conservative approach. But one becomes two, and two becomes four. Having experienced 2008 firsthand, we know that what starts off as a whisper can become a roar overnight. Therefore, we are listening to our clients to understand what they are thinking about 2022. Our proactive stance ensures we can be the best partner and be prepared for whatever comes.
2. CFO’S are re-sharpening their pencils
“A – B – R” = “Always be Reforecasting”
Savvy CFOs are taking a good, hard look at their 2022 annual operating plans, and assessing what cuts or adjustments need to make to address a potential downturn in their business.
“Measure twice and cut once” is the mantra of experienced CFOs who have seen a downturn or two in their tenure as leaders. The phrase “death by a thousand cuts” is familiar and no one wants to put their teams and companies through it.
The role of the CFO is increasingly dynamic. The rapid shift from “hire at any cost and focus on your benefits along with other retention or attraction levers” is being replaced by “shore up the balance sheet and find ways to drive revenue and reduce costs” to weather the storm. The last two years have been challenging for all leaders. CFOs, in particular, are wearing multiple hats and are often considered to be bellwethers for their teams. Balancing the technical aspects of managing the business, while managing the emotions and expectations of their employees start to illustrate how multi-faceted and challenging the CFO role has become.
3. Talent is still scarce
While we are seeing the same layoffs and corrections you read about in the news, the pent-up demand for talent will take time to unravel. A CFO said to me last week,
“It doesn’t matter if I have 10 reqs approved, I’ll be lucky to fill 5 of them.”
With unemployment at 3.6% and holding, there are just not enough qualified and experienced finance and accounting professionals to go around. As noted earlier we have seen a few companies put their searches or projects on hold, but on a weekly basis, we are initiating more new searches and projects than we are closing.
If you are considering whether it’s a good time to look for a new job, our data says it is. We still have over 180 open permanent roles and consulting projects. We expect this to change during the course of the year as the full effects of the correction become known. But at this time many of our clients are viewing a potential hiring climate change with relief, in hopes of finally having slightly less competition to get their critical roles and projects filled.
4. Flexibility and remote work are table stakes
While the topic might feel stale to many (us, too!), if you are hiring it’s important to know that “recruit from anywhere” is still relevant. Currently, 71% of our permanent searches seek candidates who can come into the local office on a hybrid basis, while 29% of our permanent searches are open to fully remote candidates. In consulting, 96% of our projects are open to fully remote candidates. Finding the best short-term talent, regardless of location, for project roles takes the prize.
Notably, we do not have a single client requiring candidates to come into the office more than 3 days a week. It remains a candidate-driven market and providing as much flexibility as possible will help you win the talent war. If your company remains hesitant on this initiative, educating the rest of the executive team on the benefits can help bridge any knowledge gaps.
5. Investments in FP&A are on the rise
As CFO’s reprioritize where to invest, current and new openings in financial planning and analysis are taking center stage. As we’ve seen with more automation and use of technology, analytical and business partnering skills are as critical as ever – not surprisingly, even more so in times of uncertainty. Based on our recent conversations with many CFOs, they are bullish on investing in FP&A resources as well as technology. Any anticipated finance and accounting department cuts or hiring freezes are not likely to be in FP&A.
At BVOH, we’ve seen this firsthand as FP&A roles have occupied a disproportionately large percentage of the new searches we’ve initiated since the beginning of April. For all finance and accounting professionals, continuing to develop and fine-tune your analytical, business acumen, presentation, and “story-telling” skills will continue to position you well in the current and future landscape.
We remain optimistic about the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin finance and accounting job market. We are grateful to work with well-funded and successful companies with experienced leadership to guide them through an uncertain time. For now, the demand for finance and accounting talent far exceeds the supply of qualified candidates. But, as noted in #1 above, this can change quickly and when it does, we will be ready with advice and support for our relationships.
If you’d like to learn more about the market or are unsure about how to navigate a job search or hiring needs during this evolving landscape, please contact us today. We are here to listen and help.
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