As geopolitical tensions rise, digital disruption advances and the energy transition accelerates, finance and accounting functions are assuming more pivotal roles across commodities value chains. Research by HC Group has found significant demand for business-critical roles, from accountancy to financial planning and analysis (FP&A).
- More than 70% of leading commodities organisations searched for new finance and accountancy talent in 2023 – according to HC Group research.
- Extended planning and analysis (P&A) – where financial planning is integrated and automated across entire organisations – is reshaping how businesses view finance teams.
- Many businesses are elevating traditional finance functions to more strategic positions to help respond to uncertainty.
In recent years, high interest rates have squeezed finance for commodities traders. Regionalisation expenses due to rising trade tensions, and the commitment of lenders to align investments with low emissions, have added additional costs – and risks. Volatility has increased the size and frequency of energy margin calls – worth up to $1.5 trillion, according to McKinsey. These are all reasons why bringing financial functions from the back office to the boardroom has become increasingly business-critical.
Finance roles in demand
Together, such pressures have contributed to a significant increase in demand for a range of finance functions. HC Group recently analysed the hiring trends of 25 leading organisations across the commodities value chain during Q2 and Q3, using data points including LinkedIn job boards and our own mandates. We found that 71% had searched for people to join their finance and accounting teams. Individuals with accounting backgrounds were most sought-after, with tax and FP&A experience also highly prized.
Organisations are placing substantial value on individuals with time at prestigious accounting firms on their CVs - specifically the Big Four, seen as giving staff strong technical accounting grounding – a trend discussed in the Corporate Functions section of our Q3 2023 Market Review.
Businesses are also targeting accountants and controllers who know what good looks like from a trading perspective. Increasingly, organisations are looking to hire people to be business partners in complex transactions, rather than providing secondary support.
The concept of xP&A – where financial planning is integrated and automated across entire organisations - is also gaining traction as organizations seek broader impacts beyond mere financial metrics. Collaborating across departments to achieve overarching goals has become pivotal to many firms.
Increasingly, organisations are also looking for financial functions to align with diverse ideas and cultures to foster organizational strength, meaning interpersonal skills are also highly sought after.
Elevating finance functions
As a result of this elevation of finance and accounting, many organisations are not just hiring – but reconfiguring. Across the commodities value chain, organisations are reshaping to reflect the increasingly central role of finance.
Roles in this area are being elevated to strategic and often operational positions within businesses, within the context of commercial marketing or trading operations. Jobs seen traditionally as being custodian and stewardship functions are fast evolving to incorporate strategic decision making.
In response, finance and accounting teams are having to establish a clear and common understandings of company purpose and to be adept in outlining how companies delivers value: upwards to senior management and board-level; outwards to investors, policymakers and regulators; and downwards through organisations.
Across the commodities value chain, financialisation is a key trend that is reshaping trading. Combined with the elevation of finance roles, the legacy of the current global context is likely to make its mark on players for years to come.