Financial services companies draw on non-traditional skills to address growing war for talent

There has been a significant shift in how financial services companies recruit staff for accountancy roles. Leaders are more open to non-traditional skill-sets according to Robert Half UK

  • Nearly eight-in-10 (79%) financial services business leaders say recruitment of non-traditional skill-sets into accountancy roles has been a success
  • Commercial acumen is viewed as most important attribute for non-traditional candidates

London, 8 April 2015 – Growth in demand for accounting skills in the financial services sector, coupled with the current skills shortage, is prompting a significant shift in how financial services companies recruit staff for accountancy roles, according to analysis from specialist recruiter Robert Half Financial Services. The change in approach is vital as the vast majority of financial services executives (97%) report that they face challenges when sourcing skilled professionals.

This growth in demand is forcing companies to adopt more flexible recruitment strategies.  More than a quarter (26%) of executives surveyed by Robert Half said that they would ‘definitely’ hire someone with financial services experience from another department into finance (i.e. non-accountant into an accounting role).

A further 48% of executives said they would hire a candidate with non-traditional skills into the finance team if they had ‘the right commercial acumen’, reflecting the need for commercial acumen as businesses recover, rather than just a focus on ‘bean counting’ and cost-cutting. The right product knowledge is also important - 17% of executives said they would consider a candidate if they had this - and 9% said they would possibly take on a non-traditional candidate if they had experience and competency.

Those who have taken the plunge already find it a successful strategy.  Nearly eight-in-10 (79%) financial services executives report that the transition of non-traditional skills into their team has been either ‘somewhat’ or ‘highly’ successful.

The research is revealed following the publication of the Robert Half Salary Guide, which found that financial services hiring has gained strong momentum and greater market fluidity as employees start looking for new roles following the recession. 

Financial services executives were asked: ‘How successful has the transition of non-traditional skill sets been for your team?

Highly successful


Somewhat successful


Somewhat unsuccessful


Highly unsuccessful


Don’t know



Neil Owen, Director, Robert Half Financial Services said: "The vast majority of financial services organisations have reported increased difficulties when sourcing the right candidates for roles in the finance team, so it’s interesting to note that as many as eight in 10 also feel that professionals with non-traditional skills have been successful in their department. This is due to financial services companies having to look at flexible skills sets due to the ‘war for talent’ in sourcing skilled professionals."

"We anticipate that this need for flexibility will continue to mount as the financial services industry struggles to fill specialised, niche roles. Contract and interim managers are proving to be successful solutions for firms and as a result, senior executives are already leveraging these professionals while they assess longer-term volume levels. Some financial services companies are also considering bringing in finance professionals from other sectors, such as technology and telecommunications, because of the requirement to understand big data and data analytics."


Notes to editors

1The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 100 Chief Financial Officers and Chief Operations Officers at UK financial services firms.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at and