John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker LLC
Based on comments at the recent ASA and AICPA/ABV conferences, business valuation seems to be back. Practitioners are busy enough to think about hiring. What used to be a simple talent shortage has taken on greater nuance.
The recession has left a residue of uncertainty throughout the business world, and BV hasn’t escaped. That uncertainty is one of the key elements in the talent shortage is beginning to develop as BV heats back up. Here’s what we’re seeing.
Candidates are more cautious about career moves. Time was when you made a job change, options were more plentiful if things didn’t work out. Options are less plentiful, so BV professionals will choose to not make a move rather than make a move that could be a mistake. Concern for being “last hired, first fired” is leading to greater focus on reasons for hiring (e.g., replacement v. expansion) and the sustainability of the pipeline.
Houses and spouses. BV is still a small enough world that in many cities the universe of potential candidates is similarly small, requiring practices to confront hiring from outside the market. Even though a candidate may not be “under water” on a mortgage, selling a home can become an insurmountable obstacle. Spouses with active careers are also cautious about career moves. That caution can translate to “let’s just stay where we are.”
Employers have raised the bar. Caution is also driving the hiring decisions that BV practices are making. Understandably, they want to get the most bang for the buck. Applying higher standards to a smaller universe of candidates, though, contributes to the shortage.
Practice leaders who want to attract the quality talent required for growth will need to adjust their approach in the face of these circumstances. Those who are successful will:
Be flexible in making sure that compensation and benefits are competitive, and that hiring criteria are appropriately calibrated.
Be patient about how long it may take to attract and hire the candidate(s) they want, while adjusting hiring processes and procedures to minimize delay and maximize a positive outcome.
Be creative in adopting a “grow your own” philosophy. Better long-term results can be achieved by shifting the hiring focus to lower levels in the practice hierarchy, where candidates are more plentiful and less expensive.
As the BV profession nears the half-century mark, it faces an entirely new set of challenges to meeting its need for talent.