Top FP&A trends of 2021

by Joe Opaleski
Copywriter & Editor at Charles Aris Executive Search

2021 was the year that organizations either rebounded from the pandemic or had to rethink their strategy in order to survive. From supply chain delays to widespread resignations, the corporate climate changed dramatically. 

The Finance & Accounting industry is no exception, and to wrap up this unique year our F&A practice leaders, Jim Etling and Ryan Morgan, shared their latest insights on the space:

FP&A professionals in short supply:

“The market is hot,” Morgan explained. In 2021, the Charles Aris F&A recruiting practice saw a demand for Financial Planning and Analysis professionals that outpaced anything they’ve experienced in 10-15 years. 

According to them, organizations have been drafting these professionals to help revive their business, or to plan for a future that’s been made uncertain by the pandemic and its ongoing effect on the supply chain, labor supply and economy. As a result, not as many of these individuals are in the job market.

The rise of private equity is another contributor. According to Etling, private equity backed organizations are increasingly in need of top FP&A talent to aid Chief Financial Officers and revive business.

Private equity on the rise:

A 2020 report from Deloitte Insights predicts that private equity assets under management will grow to $5.8 trillion by 2025, and that’s in addition to the massive rise Etling has seen during his time in the recruiting world.

In his experience, this trend has been partly responsible in sharpening demand for FP&A talent, because private equity backed organizations have a personal stake in growing their resiliency after the pandemic exposed financial weaknesses in 2020.

“(These organizations) woke up one day and 85% of their business was gone overnight,” Etling said. “. . . almost every one of our private equity clients promised themselves they would never be caught short like that again.” 

One of the top skills these organizations are searching for to build this resiliency is the ability to use and interpret data. Keeping with the trend, this expertise is in high demand but short supply.

“I (currently) recruit professionals that go outside of what has been the norm for FP&A,” Morgan explained. “Being able to take datasets and incorporate them into meaningful, actionable financial strategy for the business is a big theme today.”

The bottom line:

Both Morgan and Etling agree the biggest takeaway from 2021 is that if an organization is looking to hire FP&A talent, it must act fast. Candidates are not sticking around, and the hiring market is competitive. 

“If you see a candidate you like, regardless of how many people you’ve met, move quick and move strong to try and attract that individual,” Morgan advises.