​Finatal Market Update: “Cautious Optimism” in PE Portfolio Recruitment July 20th, 2020 Paul Blant By Paul Blant

Finatal are proud to announce that revenues for Q3 2020 were “just"19% down on the previous quarter. “Considering the uncertainty and disruption of the last few months, we were exceptionally happy with our performance, and this result is a testament to the proactive approach and drive of our consultants,” says Paul Blant, Managing Director.

The business’s CFO search practice has seen strong levels of demand. “Though clearly fewer new deals are happening at the moment, we have supported a good percentage of those with hiring pre-deal,” he says. There has also been a demand for switching out portfolio CFOs who were like “rabbits caught in the headlights” with those better equipped to handle the circumstances.

At the same time, he has seen strong candidates reaching out with time horizons stretched or equity underwater in their current roles. “There is a really strong pool of talent for good quality businesses,” he says.

Finatal’s Interim division has remained resilient, seeing an increase in Pan-European mandates, with Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland being hotbeds of activity. Jack Lane, Associate Partner of Interim Management, says that the shift to remote-working has given his team the opportunity to hone their operational capabilities and “deepen the business’s presence in Europe.”

Overall the Interim team has seen a considerable demand for turnaround professionals as well as FP&A resources. Mark Sattin, Director, notes that while the market remains volatile, he has seen an increase in interviews resulting in placements. “Some clients’ confidence has taken a hit, and they’re in a bit of a wait-and-see mindset – but their hiring needs are still there.”

Within the Permanent team there has been a good number of growth & scale-up businesses forging ahead with hires, particularly in technology and energy sectors. Nick Hague, Associate Director, says he is seeing green shoots in the market, even while uncertainty remains.“It’s been difficult to forecast too far ahead, but we see it as positive that June was a very active month and July continues to be as well.”

Various clients have made the switch from cash flow and liquidity focused roles to more forward-thinking value creation roles, while becoming increasingly open to meet strong candidates without a hiring remit. “There is a lot more positivity out there when you scratch the surface, with many firms also having a fair amount of dry powder ready to invest when the right opportunities arise,” he says.

Chris Benstead, Associate Director, has seen an increased interest for data professionals, with several private equity portfolio businesses looking to pull the trigger on new roles soon.“Many have used this time where deal activity is slower to identify where they can optimise data to impact business stability and facilitate growth,” he says.  Venture Capital and start-up businesses have been actively taking advantage of the increased candidate pool currently available within core finance roles.While the recruitment market has been fluctuating, it is overall improving. “It’s been up and down week on week, with a particularly big resurgence when lock down was initially eased.”

Clients are becoming more accustomed to video interviewing, conducting more thorough interview processes and leaning on Finatal’s market knowledge to make more confident hiring choices. “As clients are unable to meet candidates face to face, they are relying on us and our knowledge of the candidates a lot more to provide steer on who they should be hiring,” Mark says. “Our role as advisors has become more important.”

Candidates who haven’t visited the office and met their prospective employer are also relying on Finatal’s consultants to provide the colour and feedback on the office culture. “It’s an unusual situation for candidates to start a job without physically being in the office or having met anyone, so many of them are really pressing us to get a sense of what a business is like culturally. They trust us to find the right fit for them,” he says.

Finatal is also beginning an internal recruitment drive for consultants as the market improves. “We have seen an increase in both the quality and quantity of client development work by our team,” says Paul, “and we are always looking for exceptional consultants with the commitment to go the extra mile.”

“We feel we are well-positioned with our focus on CFOs and senior finance professionals in PE-backed businesses to take advantage of some of the changes and investment that will come out of the current situation.”

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