- CFOs and other financial decision-makers pointed to staffing, hiring and employee retention as the main challenges they’re facing when looking to grow their business, a study of 500 U.S. senior finance executives released Aug. 9 found. The study was conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Chicago-based finance and accounting talent marketplace Paro.
- Thirty-nine percent of CFOs and financial executives overall cited staffing struggles as their main growth hurdle, according to the study, with many looking toward “fractional” or part-time financial and accounting talent to plug the gaps as the hunt for skilled employees becomes more challenging.
- Seventy-nine percent of respondents stated they were open to increasing headcount at their organizations to help mitigate growth challenges, while 56% claimed they were “very open.” However, only about 16% of companies are currently moving to bump up headcount, the study found.
The gap between those companies willing to expand headcount and those currently executing on increasing it is partially due to the fact that businesses are struggling to find “a justifiable and cost-effective way of hiring expert talent,” Matt Kamhi, VP of experience for Paro said in an interview.
“We have really a big gap between companies and executives saying that there's a need to grow, to protect themselves against competitive threats, versus how companies are really allocating a lot of their resources today,” Kamhi said.
Most CFOs are still highlighting investment in the finance and accounting sector as essential — 93% of financial decision-makers agreed investing in these areas is critical for sustaining growth, the study found. CFOs are also facing challenges when it comes to padding out their financial staff, however, with factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on working norms further restricting the talent pool, Kamhi said.
CFOs are therefore examining flexible staffing as a way to fill out their finance or accounting teams, with 53% stating this was an “effective strategy” to protect their companies against marketplace threats, per the study. A further 69% stated their company currently taps fractional resources inside of their accounting and finance teams, while 36% noted these teams were fully made up of fractional or part-time resources.
Companies also pointed to both digital transformation and macroeconomic factors such as inflation as key barriers that could hamper growth.
Forty-three percent of companies with approximately $1 million to $10 million in annual revenue and lower financial maturity cited responding to market challenges such as inflation as a top barrier to growth, narrowly edging out the 42% of such firms which highlighted staffing as the main challenge, the study found.
Companies with more resources or more established financial teams are more likely to focus on digital transformation, however. The study found 47% percent of firms with between $51 million to $100 million in annual revenue, stated digital transformation was a top challenge when it came to fostering future growth. Forty-one percent of companies in that category also pointed to a lack of strategic advisories at their firms as a growth barrier.