Finance exodus: How the great resignation is coming for finance teams
Benjamin Romberg

Published on December 13, 2021


You’ve almost certainly already heard about the Great Resignation: masses of employees in all industries voluntarily resigning from their jobs. For reasons ranging from career dissatisfaction and burnout, to lack of growth opportunities and work-life balance, the finance sector is no exception to this trend.

We conducted a survey with market research institute YouGov amongst small and medium-sized finance teams in the UK, Germany, and France. What we found was enlightening, and it validated several prior assumptions we had about finance professionals and how they play a fundamental role in the talent war that is spreading across industries.

Download the full report for free. As a short preview, let’s dive into our 5 key takeaways from the survey.

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1. 40% of finance professionals plan to leave their jobs

40% of survey respondents are either considering leaving their current jobs or already have concrete plans to do so. Out of those, nearly half plan to leave in the next year. An even more startling revelation: a whopping 56% of younger professionals (under 35 years old) have plans to leave their jobs.

The main reasons for this? Employees feel burned out or frustrated in their jobs. Our report shows that finance teams spend too much time on low-value tasks, and often feel unfulfilled in their work. It’s no wonder then that companies struggle to retain talent, when the priorities between employer and employee are so misaligned.

This should sound alarm bells for CFOs and business leaders. You're already facing major challenges in today’s competitive hiring environment and can’t afford to lose their staff in droves.

2. Too few finance professionals spend most of their time on meaningful work

Even if the workload is manageable, many finance workers admit they still don’t feel fulfilled by their work. Only one third of respondents said that most of their work is fulfilling, while 26% spend less than half of their time on meaningful work.

We also saw clear differences in sentiment among younger respondents, yet again. In the UK, nearly half (45%) of workers under 35 say they spend less than half of their time on fulfilling work. In Germany and France, this number is 25% - still higher than the overall average, but lower than the UK.

One key reason why work may not feel fulfilling is a lack of connection with company growth. The truth is, there will always be some tasks, processes, and problems that take time away from more valuable or meaningful work. But if modern businesses want to attract top talent and keep employees satisfied for longer, they can start by better communicating how every role uniquely affects and contributes to the growth of the company.

3. Only 40% feel that most of their time adds value

It’s natural for employees to want to feel that their work matters and helps the overall company succeed. Millennials, predicted to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, are known for placing great importance on having purpose or creating real impact in their professional careers.

Yet today, many finance professionals don’t feel that their work contributes to growth. Only 40% of respondents said they spend most of their time on tasks that add a clear value for the company, and around 20% spend less than half of their time on such tasks.

Employees, especially those of the millennial and gen z generations, often derive a sense of identity from their work. Feeling detached from the company’s growth and success can be a compelling reason to quit. For these younger professionals, it’s evident that finding the right job and staying happy in the role is a type of soul searching process.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that these employees are more vulnerable to feeling more disconnected from the success of their companies, if the work they perform isn’t focused or impactful.

4. Finance teams need more time for teambuilding and professional development

Digitization and process automation help finance teams save time on manual tasks. But if given more time, how would finance professionals prefer to use it?

When prompted with this question, finance workers highlighted team development, learning & networking, and working as a strategic business partner:

This should be a clear indicator to companies that finance teams want to learn and develop their skills on the job, just like any other department. It’s also proof that the widespread lack of automation in companies is holding many teams back from having enough time to focus on valuable career development.

Automating tedious business processes is therefore a smart strategy to empower employees to set and reach their professional goals, while helping the company grow faster with a motivated and loyal workforce.

5. Young professionals want more strategic input

When it comes to career growth opportunities, young professionals in particular wish they had more opportunity to work as a strategic business partner.

This highlights an important point: that employees are no longer satisfied as a pure service provider within a business. They want to influence decision making and add value to their companies.

It also reveals a trend that young professionals feel further removed from decision making processes. This could be attributed to the fact that young workers have less experience and likely more to learn. But if the goal is to identify ways to keep finance professionals motivated and in their roles for longer, there is clear evidence that employees want to contribute more in a strategic capacity.

As recruitment becomes even more competitive in the brewing talent war, attracting and retaining top talent will become one of the biggest challenges for rapid business growth. To avoid losing young finance professionals early and often, companies should bring these teams in closer to supporting the broader company strategy.

Learn more about the coming finance exodus

We hope you found these five takeaways useful, and perhaps even actionable. As finance professionals become increasingly confident about what they’re looking for in their careers, it’s important for businesses to adapt to the evolving demands of the industry workforce.

Discover more insights in the full report:

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