Finance teams hit by skills gap and heavy workloads, report finds

In a survey of more than 1,000 finance professionals, including CFOs, finance directors and managers, 27% cited skills shortages as the ‘biggest new challenge’ they face this year

Skills shortages and excessive workloads are increasingly “weighing on the minds” of finance professionals amid the pandemic, according to new research conducted by business solutions and software provider The Access Group.  

Its survey of more than 1,000 finance professionals, including CFOs, finance directors and managers, found that 27% cited skills shortages as the “biggest new challenge” they face in their role this year. A further 24% cited increasing workloads.  

Around three-quarters of respondents named Covid-19 as their biggest disrupter for last year, with many fearing it will “only compound existing problems” in 2021.   

Other professionals raised concerns that Brexit would make it more difficult to recruit and retain international staff, while others said they “simply didn’t have enough time for training”.

Rob Binns, CFO at The Access Group, said: “Skills shortages and heavy workloads are nothing new but we’re now seeing the issue through the lens of Covid-19. 

“The respondents highlighted staff being on furlough, redundancies and needing time off to isolate, which all relate to the pandemic, as well as having to do more to make up the financial shortfall from last year. All of this is an incredibly difficult balancing act for finance teams.”

Nonetheless, the report found that many firms seem “determined” to make “permanent and positive changes” regarding these issues. Some 64% said they expect their company to invest in new technology in 2021, with 24% moving to cloud-based accounting software and 23% to payments software.

Binns added: “This is an important step in alleviating skills shortages and heavy workloads, since it means time-pressed teams can automate transactional tasks and deploy their resources more strategically.

“It should also help to address some of the other pain points our respondents raised, including cash flow and changing legislation, by streamlining processes such as payments. As the year progresses, we hope finance teams are able to resolve their pain points, to ease their workloads and allow them to focus on important strategic tasks.”

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