Market update 2019: Finance & Operations

As recruiters of senior talent (Director/Head of/VP level) across the finance and operations space, we continue to see a high amount of recruitment market activity, particularly for candidates with a foundational background in management consulting, investment banking, or public accounting coupled with high-growth operating experience.

In 2018 we saw a trend towards hiring finance and business operations leaders earlier in a startup’s lifecycle. For example, a Head of Finance is now more commonly hired in the 20-50 headcount range (instead of 50-100) and a Head of Business Operations is now more commonly hired in the 50-100 headcount range (instead of 100+). Head of/VP Finance remains the most common first finance hire, with the second finance hire usually ranging from Accounting Manager to Controller level depending on the needs of the company as they scale and transition outsourced accounting in-house.

Because of the demand in both finance and business operations, it remains challenging to hire top talent. Candidates are usually juggling multiple offers from start-ups, and often also have offers from later stage companies where cash compensation is very high. The best way that we’ve overcome these challenges on our team is to give candidates a fantastic interview experience, meaning you provide concise and clear feedback, move them forward in the process quickly, and deliver a swift and strong offer with an exploding deadline.

Slow hiring processes continue to be the surest way to lose top candidates and exploding offers remain the best way to compete against potential future offers. If you give a deadline that’s too long, candidates can accelerate other processes and you will likely come up against offers where you can’t compete. Of course you want candidates to choose your company because they feel it’s the right company for them, but this should be evident before offer stage and therefore you do not have much to gain by allowing an extended period of time for candidates to decide post-offer.

Compensation expectations and subsequently market rates are on the rise and we’ve seen at least a 20% increase on base salaries alone in the past two years. In a candidate-driven market the reality remains that if you don’t pay the premium for top talent, someone else will, thus candidates can continue to command high salaries.

Overall having the strong partnerships that we have with our clients has been more valuable than ever. We can advise on the best hiring practices and we see what these look like at scale across many companies. Naturally a lot of the best candidates are well paid and happy in their current roles (passive candidates), but having built relationships over years really does make the difference in convincing top candidates to speak with startups that may not yet have much brand recognition.

We predict that the hiring market will remain very active and very competitive in 2019. We look forward to continue helping and partnering with startups as they make key leadership hires.

To discuss the current market, or get help with your hiring, please reach out to:

Frederic Tehard, Vice President

Dir: +1 424 204 8726