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Canadian CFO insights

How finance leaders can win the race for talent and skills

Colleagues sitting on the steps

Top concerns for the chief financial officers we interviewed for this report were challenges related to people and talent. They’re clearly feeling the impacts of the great resignation as key employees, particularly those focused on financial planning and analysis, are leaving and hiring new people to replace them becomes harder. 

Some are also struggling to figure out the best ways to build high-performing teams in a hybrid working environment.

Even so, the recent CFO survey conducted by PwC and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants found many Canadian finance leaders have a favourable view of remote working: 65% agreed to at least some extent that it has had a positive impact.

As they assess what the changing world of work means for them, some interviewees are realizing they need better tools to facilitate collaboration in a hybrid environment. Others are struggling with cultural issues. It’s harder to onboard and mentor new employees in a remote environment, one CFO told us, while another cited gaps between those who have recently joined the organization and more seasoned employees. Many new employees, they said, are particularly eager to see a faster pace of change and embrace opportunities to grow.


To what extent do you agree or disagree that remote working has had a positive impact on the finance function’s effectiveness?


Strongly agree
%
Slightly agree
%
Neither agree nor disagree
%
Slightly disagree
%
Strongly disagree
%

Source: PwC/ACCA 2021 CFO survey, Canadian results

Meeting employees’ diverse needs

And amid a fierce race for talent, many interviewees are carefully considering employees’ diverse expectations around when and where they work. They want to make sure they take the right approach to a hybrid workplace so they can both attract and retain the people they need. 

For some interviewees, the response has been to decide that they can’t meet everyone’s needs. “Senior management and finance are very focused and have realized there are some very different views of what that will look like,” said one CFO, referring to questions about the future of work. For them, that means committing to an identity as an employer and recruiting employees around that.

For CFOs looking at their own approach, it’s important to look at what employees want. Our recent survey of Canadian office workers gave a strong indication of what employees expect: only 35% cited being mostly or always in the office as the ideal work scenario.

Group of students standing

Only 35% of employees cited being mostly or always in the office as the ideal work scenario.

Reimagining the finance team

Many CFOs are also responding to these workforce challenges by taking a fresh look at their teams, what they do and how they do it. But as finance roles evolve to focus more on using digital tools to provide insights and analysis to the business, CFOs are also finding they have skill gaps to fill.

One approach is to hire new people who already have key skills, but that’s not the only way to address the gaps. Some interviewees told us they’re emphasizing the mindsets needed to develop key skills, with one noting they look for curiosity and another offering a colourful description of their approach to hiring: “I’d rather hire a lazy person than a hardworking person. A lazy person gets creative to minimize the work.”  Other CFOs will have a different perspective on this, but the key point here is that finance teams need to think differently in order to meet the challenges they’re facing.

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Key takeaways for CFOs

Number 1

For some interviewees, these challenges around their people have led them to look at alternative solutions, like increased outsourcing or automation. These are important elements of the finance transformation journey, but it’s also important to consider other factors in retaining and attracting people, such as your finance function’s culture.

Our recent studies have found workplace culture is a critical differentiator in the race for talent. Employees feel increasingly disconnected in a world of remote working and burned out from the new demands placed on them. We can see this in our CFO survey results showing mental health to be the top concern for Canadian respondents.

Number 2

For those moving towards a hybrid workplace, consider the collaboration tools needed to make the work environment more seamless for your teams. And as you balance requirements to be in the office with your employees’ preferences, identify the purposes being physically present will serve and how you may need to reconfigure your space to facilitate those goals. 

Number 3

More than anything, employees want to feel listened to and see a willingness to act on their feedback on issues like the evolving world of work and the incentives and benefits they need.

The broader transformation journey is part of this. Not only can transformation initiatives free up capacity to relieve some of the pressures, but using it as an opportunity to better define your purpose can motivate your employees. And as employees look for more purpose in their own work, offering them opportunities to upgrade their skills as part of the shift to a more insights-driven role benefits them and increases the finance function’s relevance to the organization as a whole.

 

Contact us

Adam Boutros

Adam Boutros

National Assurance Markets Lead, Future of Finance Leader, Partner, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 905 815 6432

Marino Fremis

Marino Fremis

Partner, Finance Transformation, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 815 5196

Samir Bishara

Samir Bishara

National Finance Transformation Consulting Leader, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 814 5730

Lee-Anne Kovacs

Lee-Anne Kovacs

Partner, Technology, Media, Telecom & Consumer Markets, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 687 9206 | C: +1 416 918 8753

Kyle Snyder, CPA, CA

Kyle Snyder, CPA, CA

Partner, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 687 8300

Stephen Atherton

Stephen Atherton

Partner, SAP Consulting, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 613 782 2984

Philip Hagel

Philip Hagel

Partner, Energy, Utilities & Mining, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 687 8131 | C: +1 416 737 1200

Manisha Chen

Manisha Chen

Assurance Director, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 905 418 3440

Laura Wood

Laura Wood

Partner, Government and Public Sector ERP transformation, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 687 8153

Benoit Auger

Benoit Auger

Partner and Finance Transformation Leader for Quebec, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 514 205 5021

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