How contract hires can save your finance team’s sanity


Most finance functions have been operating with lean or reduced headcount since the 2008 financial crisis. At the start of the covid-19 pandemic, the majority of Finance Directors were still operating lean functions or were even one or two heads down. 

Factor in the extra pressures due to the pandemic and it’s no surprise that demand for specialist finance contractors has remained consistent. 

Rob McKay, director of interim recruitment at SRM takes a look at why organisations are using contractors to bolster lean teams and how to ensure you hire the best finance contract professionals:  

Recognise the extra workload finance teams are facing

Finance holds the keys to the business and in a crisis, everyone needs to know where the cash is sitting. When we factor in extra demands for advice on government financial assistance to concerns about business stability and fluctuating demand, organisations have never required so much support from their accountants and finance specialists.

Understand the extra stress finance teams are facing 

On top of an increased workload, Adele Stickland, wellness in the workplace and resilience consultant says that morale in 2020 is low, for two key reasons:

◻️ People are tired of the pandemic and eager to get back to normal

◻️ Chaos of the pandemic has created an abnormal level of fatigue

As a result, many finance professionals are facing burn out. Action is needed to prevent resignations that may further destabilise the team. 

Work out where the pressure is internally

Next, understand exactly where the pressure is, why it’s there and what do you need to do to relieve it.

What’s the real reason you’re hiring?

Once you’ve figured out where the problems lie, it’s imperative to discuss the key reason you are hiring. What’s the one core job that needs to be done? This usually revolves around fixing a problem. The clearer you can be the more successful the hire. 

Use temps wisely to take the stress away from your permanent team 

Right now, organisations are hiring temporary finance staff to take on traditional accounting roles rather than forward-thinking commercial positions – management accountants, financial accountants and financial controllers are in particular demand.

This is a good strategy. It gives incumbent teams more interesting, future-focused work and at the same time alleviates stress as a good temp is a safe pair of hands to cover core accounting work.

Consider the cost of leaving finance teams to struggle as the pandemic evolves. Ensure workloads are still achievable and clear goals are in place to support the most important work. If they’re not, hire quickly or risk losing good people.

Rob McKay, Director of Interim Recruitment at SRM

It’s a myth that the economic outlook is dampening demand for finance professionals

Hospitality and retail are struggling and it goes without saying that these are testing times. However, most business closures and large scale redundancies are due to systemic business problems pre covid. 

Whilst there are more available candidates – we have heard of some organisations receiving hundreds of applications – it’s a myth that there are lots of people with the right skills for your temp role.

A specialist finance temp recruiter will know the talent pool of career temps well, the skill sets available and will have the ability to send you five good people to consider – saving you and the team time.

Interview within 24 hours of receiving your shortlist

In any market, good people and good finance temps are hard to come by – there’s a high turnover and you can’t assume there will be 15 strong people waiting for your role. 

So if you need a temp move quickly. An efficient interview process is critical. Aim to get all the interviews done in one session, there’s nothing more frustrating than losing out to a competitor with a more effective hiring process. If you wait, your shortlisted candidates won’t be around in a week’s time. 

Extending the contract – don’t lose out

As soon as you realise you may need to extend the contract talk to your temp. If you don’t discuss where the project is moving or leave it until a week before the contract ends, the temp will already be interviewing or have another role in place. Be open and honest on timeframes. In return, your temp will be honest about interviewing for roles.

Get in touch if you’re looking to hire contractors

If you need help to source the best career contractors in finance and accountancy get in touch with me, Rob McKay, director of interim recruitment today on +44 (0) 20 3637 7808 or connect with me on Linkedin.

Why organisations hire finance temps – the summary

◽️ Take the pressure off permanent employees 
◽️ Finance temps can hit the ground running and focus on a task or project
◽️ To access specialist skills needed to complete a project quickly
◽️ Fix a problem 
◽️ Cover traditional accounting work so the team can focus on more engaging work
◽️ When permanent headcount restrictions are in place
◽️ Maternity cover 
◽️ Long term sickness cover

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Jim Smith joins SRM’s Welwyn finance recruitment team

We’re delighted to welcome specialist temporary finance recruiter, Jim Smith, to our Welwyn team. Jim tells us about his career, why he joined SRM and how he helps clients and candidates.

Jim Smith, our new specialist temporary finance recruiter covering the Northern Home Counties

“I’ve worked in finance recruitment for 15 years, working at Michael Page and most recently at Investigo where I focused on temporary and contract qualified finance recruitment for almost ten years. Having worked for two big recruitment firms, which I loved, the pull for me was the greater autonomy on offer with a smaller boutique business like SRM and the opportunity to grow a business.

When I spoke to SRM’s founders, Andrew Setchell, Stewart Robertson and Rory MacSween I knew we had the same philosophy. We’ve all been around long enough to know what we like and dislike about the industry. I found them upfront, honest and direct and that matched the way I’ve worked through my career. 

My partner, Liz has worked at SRM since the start of the year so I had inside knowledge it would be a good fit for me!  

Increasing the scope of my role

I’ve tripled my patch as it were. There are no restrictions to geographic boundaries or roles I can cover so the opportunity is bigger than anything I’ve experienced before, which is massively exciting.

As you grow in your career you no longer need the KPIs and closer management styles that are essential in your early days, so part of the appeal was the opportunity to set my own targets and work in a more flexible and adult environment.

A down to earth approach to specialist finance recruitment

SRM’s founders are investing in me and giving me free rein to build the business – that’s really why I decided to make the leap. The approach is refreshing and no-nonsense, basically do a good job and go home.

My focus on temporary qualified finance

My focus at SRM will be on temporary qualified finance recruitment across the Northern Home Counties. 

My clients say I’m a straightforward, attentive and consultative recruiter and my candidates appreciate my personal approach. I would describe myself as a down to earth person who treats others with respect.

“To my mind, Jim is the very essence of what a recruiter needs to be in the current climate. Friendly and on the ball from the outset, and once he has a role in mind for you, is helpful and thorough right through until the conclusion.”

John McInnes, Experienced QBE Accountant

I like to be able to look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and conduct myself in the right way. I’ve kept that approach from my early days recruiting for the big four accounting firms to today, where I’m working with commercial firms hiring newly qualified accountants to Finance Directors. 

I’m a well-rounded specialist finance recruiter hiring across all disciplines within Finance, from newly qualified accountants, Finance Managers, FP&A Managers, Financial Controllers to Finance Directors. It’s allowed me to build a strong network across a wide variety of industries – from SMEs to blue chips. 

Looking forward to connecting with new clients and candidates:

I’m a single Dad to a bright little boy who keeps me constantly on my toes, I love Man United and am currently attempting to learn to play Golf. I’m from a forces background and have lived all over the world. I was actually educated in Canada and went to nine different schools before I was 12 so I thrive going into new situations and meeting new people. I think that’s why I genuinely love recruitment and people.

I’m looking forward to working with new clients and candidates and as my partner Liz and I will be working together in the same office I’m looking forward to that too – I’m not phased by it at all!

“I have built a trusted working relationship with Jim and sincerely thank him for securing my latest role. I have found him to be a great person to deal with and confide in and we have built up a great rapport.

I would not hesitate in recommending Jim’s services to anyone seeking to develop their career.”

Charles Hancock
Senior Finance Manager, Welcome Break

Get in touch:

I’m really excited about where the finance recruitment market is going so if you’re looking to hire the very best talent in finance and accounting please do get in touch with me today. Or connect with me on LinkedIn. We actively headhunt the best specialist finance talent, rather than rely on the same set of candidates from a database.”

Read more:

Find out more about working for SRM Recruitment

Read Andrew Pal’s career story and why he made the move to SRM