Editorial & Advertiser Disclosure Global Banking And Finance Review is an independent publisher which offers News, information, Analysis, Opinion, Press Releases, Reviews, Research reports covering various economies, industries, products, services and companies. The content available on globalbankingandfinance.com is sourced by a mixture of different methods which is not limited to content produced and supplied by various staff writers, journalists, freelancers, individuals, organizations, companies, PR agencies Sponsored Posts etc. The information available on this website is purely for educational and informational purposes only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any of the information provided at globalbankingandfinance.com with respect to your individual or personal circumstances. Please seek professional advice from a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. Globalbankingandfinance.com also links to various third party websites and we cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of the information provided by third party websites. Links from various articles on our site to third party websites are a mixture of non-sponsored links and sponsored links. Only a very small fraction of the links which point to external websites are affiliate links. Some of the links which you may click on our website may link to various products and services from our partners who may compensate us if you buy a service or product or fill a form or install an app. This will not incur additional cost to you. A very few articles on our website are sponsored posts or paid advertorials. These are marked as sponsored posts at the bottom of each post. For avoidance of any doubts and to make it easier for you to differentiate sponsored or non-sponsored articles or links, you may consider all articles on our site or all links to external websites as sponsored . Please note that some of the services or products which we talk about carry a high level of risk and may not be suitable for everyone. These may be complex services or products and we request the readers to consider this purely from an educational standpoint. The information provided on this website is general in nature. Global Banking & Finance Review expressly disclaims any liability without any limitation which may arise directly or indirectly from the use of such information.

HOW CAN CFOS STOP THE EXODUS OF YOUNG TALENT?

By Thack Brown

Many of the CFOs I meet are worried and disheartened about the exodus of young millennials from the profession – and for good reason. These talented young professionals have both the skills and the desire to spearhead finance’s needed evolution from looking at yesterday to planning for tomorrow. This outflow of talent is a lose/lose situation. Those leaving lose the opportunity to advance in a profession that holds great promise, and corporations lose both the talent and the costly investment they have made in hiring them.

Thack Brown
Thack Brown

It’s nothing new for early-career finance talent to abandon the profession. I speak from personal experience.My career began with 18 to 20 months of management training, rotating through international assignments throughout a Fortune 500 company.It was fun and exciting. Then we newcomers settled into our actual roles: tedious transactional accounting work. Within a year, only about 10 of us were left from the original 36 who started. Most migrated out of finance to other professions.

The young people I meet today are highly motivated; they want to have an impact. But they are stuck with correcting accounting problems and data gathering instead of learning the skills they’ll need to solve future problems. The churn rate is 15 to 20%.

Capitalizing on youthful enthusiasm

The reality is that we can eliminate that wasted, useless work through automation: business networks for procurement, machine learning, software that supports financial close, and so on. At SAP, we have seen exactly that as we have shifted that talent to doing things that can help the business change –working on new billing structures and more complex contracts, for instance.

Here’s an example. When I was the SAP CFO in Latin America several years ago, we had a number of young professionals under the age of 30, and wanted to keep them engaged. We made transparent the difference between management reports and statutory reporting, and had them work on analyzing how decisions that helped the management books could actually have negative effects on statutory results and cash flow. The results were incredible: tens of millions of dollars in cash flow improvement, favorable tax impacts, and balance sheet cleanups. I was so impressed: they did this on their own time, working crazy long hours and making personal sacrifices. And they were so incredibly proud that they could show business leaders how the finance team was adding value.

Rethinking our own paradigm

But I think CFOs are starting to better understand the frustration of young people in the field, whose expectations are dashed as they are sentenced to years of mind-numbing work before being given a chance to make a meaningful contribution.At a recent meeting, I heard CFOs expressing the importance of changing their own mindset if they are going to stop the hemorrhaging of talent. They are beginning to understand the need to abandon the “rite of induction” mentality, that the way you learn is through painful, mind-numbing account reconciliation work –and whoever can take the most pain for the longest time survives.Creating opportunities for young professionals has to start early.

And we need take another look at how we educate them. It’s essential to ensure that finance professsional is develop a firm grasp of the cornerstones of the profession –accounting rules, balance sheets, cash flows, and P&L – while helping them focus their skills where they are most needed in an increasingly complex business environment.