How a good spend management platform helps you retain talent

By Christian Müller
With a talent shortage in accountancy and finance, a good spend management platform helps you attract and retain top talent, writes Moss' Christian Müller

By now, almost every business has been confronted with the realities of the global skills shortage, with three in four (75%) companies reporting that they can't get the talent they need – a 16-year high. In the UK, this figure is even higher, with 78% of companies struggling to hire the right people, three percentage points more than the global average.

The recruitment and retention of talent have been a thorn in the sides of organisations the world over for the last few years, as a year of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions caused many workers to reevaluate their positions, handing in their notices in search of greener pastures. Those pastures included better flexible and remote working policies, more generous benefits and an overall focus on work-life balance and employee wellbeing.

Indeed, as employee priorities have shifted, it has become clear that generating interest from potential candidates is about more than just the brand. In today's labour market, a positive end-to-end experience is no longer a 'nice to have' for employees or even a priority but a non-negotiable.

Whilst employees have seemingly gained the upper hand, research from Deloitte reveals that CFOs at the largest British companies are already braced for a recession and are moving towards more defensive balance sheet strategies, making hiring even more of a challenge.

Towards the end of last year, ManpowerGroup reported that accounting and finance were among the top seven most challenging roles to fill. So, what more can businesses do to bring professionals on board and, crucially, keep them? 

Introducing automation, digital taxation, transaction visibility and invoice management not only creates huge benefits for businesses but frees up finance and accounting staff to do what they do best. With spend management platforms, businesses can make themselves more attractive to finance and account candidates by empowering them with new digital tools.

Understanding the skills shortage and its impact on accounting

The finance and accounting industry relies heavily on skilled workers and, as such, has been hit hard by the need for more available talent. In fact, according to UK Finance, almost a third (30%) of financial services workers say they need more digital and technological skills.

Several factors have contributed to the skills gap across the sector, from macro trends like digital transformation to demographic changes and shifting mindsets towards careers. Unfortunately, the outlook for the next few years looks gloomier still, as many predict the gap will widen further as we see the effects of a declining birthrate and increasing numbers of senior executives taking early retirement. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, more than 700,000 over-50s have left the workforce since the pandemic hit, taking careers' worth of skills and experience.

Complicating matters further are the rising digital expectations of customers. New-age clients demand new-age tools and techniques, and as client requests shift towards a more digitalised accountancy service, many firms need help to keep pace with their tech-savvy SME customers. As a result, finance leaders are feeling the strain to plug an already widening skills gap amongst teams, not just with the tools required to attract a new crop of business but to ensure they have the right staff with the right skills to complement these tools and operate them to their fullest potential.

Returning to hiring and recruiting digitally literate candidates is a feat that has yet to be achieved. According to new research from Deloitte, despite CFOs reporting an easing of recruitment difficulties, almost a third say their businesses experienced severe or significant recruitment difficulties or labour shortages. With this in mind, it will be critical to empower existing teams with the tools they need to adapt to a changing workplace.

With the advent of digital payments, the demand for AI-based accounting software has increased. As a result, a plethora of new, easy-to-use solutions have entered the market, using emerging technologies – AI included. These tools are set to change the face of accounting operations through automation, delivering efficiencies, reducing errors and optimising workflows. According to our research, more than half (57%) of accounting professionals predict that accountancy will become automated within the next few years.

Technology can benefit firms struggling to secure more dynamic skill sets. But from a hiring perspective, it can also aid in making themselves more attractive to the pool of skilled workers by simply making their work lives more manageable. One such technology is the spend management platform.

The rise of spend management platforms

Spurred by the rapid change in business payments, spend management platforms are becoming increasingly popular for businesses of all shapes and sizes – particularly in the context of rising costs and drying market liquidity.

These platforms seek to digitise and automate finance processes (like receipt tracking and expense reporting) that have traditionally been handled manually by finance teams. There is significant potential to automate and simplify spending processes between a business' accounting platform and bank. In essence, there is a massive opportunity for efficiency gains that can give companies valuable time to focus on their core business needs. For employees, this means the ability to spend time on more meaningful, analytical and value-add tasks that lead to greater job satisfaction in the long run.

Whilst 32% of finance professionals report that their greatest issue with spend management is data accuracy, there has been significant interest in implementing a solution that works reliably to solve major pain points for finance teams. For instance, through a smart spend management platform, issuing corporate cards to employees has always been challenging and more secure. Virtual cards can be created in seconds for any employee who is expected to have a business expense. These cards may be customised for limit, purpose, expiry, and vendor. At any time, a finance team can see who is spending how much and for what purpose – both at the individual card level and the company level.

This means that getting cards in the hands of employees is easier without loss of control or visibility, which, for many employees, is a highly revered perk. According to a survey from Divvy, a spend management solution in the US, 25% more employees agreed with the phrase "my company empowers its employees" after being issued a company card.

In a new era of modern, innovative spend management solutions, all spend processes – from invoicing to reimbursements to card issuance – can be brought into one platform. And by mixing the right tech with the right talent, companies can ensure they have the best processes in place whilst ensuring they remain attractive to the skilled pool of workers and retain those they already have.

About the author

Christian Müller

Christian Müller is Chief Financial Officer at Moss, a technology-driven platform for holistic spend management. Moss’ mission is to take the pain out of spend management by digitising SMBs’ financial workflows. Christian has more than 10 years’ experience as a finance professional, working across CFO roles and investment banking, M&A and global capital markets financing.

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