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The future role of ESG and flexible HR strategies in finance

06/02/2024 – CFOs and HR managers will once again face major challenges in recruiting specialists in 2024. This is due to the ongoing demand for finance professionals surpassing the available supply. To counteract this, the recruitment process requires a new approach. Flexibility plays a key role for future-proofing finance departments of all sizes. Alexander Görtz, Managing Consultant Finance at the international recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, explains which trends are already contributing to a robust recruitment and retention policy in the finance sector.

Finance controlled by real-time data  

The development of automated financial processes requires a wide range of skills in the finance sector. Here, Görtz emphasizes the importance of analytical skills: “Finance professionals must not only ensure and monitor financial automation but also have in-depth knowledge of financial processes and be able to see the big picture.”

Decision-making based on real-time data is crucial for companies to be able to act proactively in a rapidly changing environment. This requires an adapted way of working in finance. Görtz adds: “The ability to provide relevant information quickly and accurately and to communicate it clearly is becoming increasingly important for effective management.”

ESG controllers are in demand 

In Germany, the demand for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) experts is growing, which is due to stricter ESG reporting requirements for companies. From 2024, large, capital market-oriented companies will have to prepare sustainability reports following the EU's Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). This regulation will be extended to all large companies in 2025 and to capital market-oriented small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 2026. This will increase the number of companies in the EU subject to reporting requirements from around 11,600 to around 49,000, excluding micro-enterprises.

Reporting obligations include not only a detailed analysis of significant opportunities and risks but also the collection of data along the value chain. The criterion of “double materiality” plays a central role: companies must report on the material impact of their activities on people and the environment as well as on how sustainability aspects affect the company financially.

These changes are making ESG an increasingly important part of the remit of CFOs and elevating its importance within the entire corporate organisation.

“Sustainability is an area that appeals to many experts”, explains Görtz. “The role of the ESG controller, who is responsible for ESG reporting, offers the opportunity to turn a passion for sustainability into practical work. In this role, you analyse a wide range of company data that goes beyond pure financial data.”

For finance professionals, the role of an ESG controller can be an exciting professional challenge. “As an ESG controller, you have a wide range of responsibilities, which makes the position particularly attractive. For example, you focus on data relating to carbon emissions or ED&I (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) as well as suppliers and sustainability. You also set up and carry out data analyses independently”, explains Görtz.

Focus on technical, personal and digital skills in finance departments

While candidates with Big 4 experience are still in demand, Görtz advises looking beyond the CV: “CFOs and HR managers should plan for the long term and build a team that is professionally, personally and digitally equipped for the future. They should think about what the finance team should look like in five years, what provisions need to be made and who needs to be hired to achieve this.” Setting up an ESG department that deals with sustainability reporting is becoming increasingly important, as ESG is not only a regulatory requirement, but also a decisive factor for the future of finance. According to Görtz, incorporating ESG into corporate strategy is increasingly becoming an integral part of the finance team. 

The Robert Walters Salary Survey also shows that, in addition to regulatory requirements, CSR issues are also important to applicants when selecting a suitable employer. Companies that focus on ESG at an early stage and are active in this area can thus become more attractive to applicants and hold their own against the competition in the long term.

Are you looking for an ESG expert to strengthen your team?

Contact Alexander Görtz or upload your job offer today.

Are you looking for a new job in controlling?

Take a look at our current vacancies for controllers.




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Find out more by contacting one of our specialist recruitment consultants

Alexander Görtz

Managing Consultant Finance | Düsseldorf
Phone:  +49 211 30 180 046

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