Virtual talent management is the future – CFOs & COOs Forum 2021

The move to virtual was in many ways welcomed by finance and accounting professionals, said panelists at sessions of the Private Equity International CFOs & COOs Forum on Wednesday.

Many think that virtual operations will be a feature of the post-pandemic world, and if it is, one benefit could be talent management.

At Private Equity International‘s CFOs & COOs Forum Wednesday, one speaker noted that the pandemic and remote working had allowed his firm to broaden the search for talent away from the major financial centers.

The move to remote has also improved buy-in from younger hires, drawing them more into meetings and making them feel more a part of the conversation. They also tend to be in favor of a more flexible work environment, which should also make it possible – even desirable in some instances – to hire outside of expensive, major financial centers, panelists said.

Other speakers noted that many LP meetings, fundraising events, due diligence processes and other processes would continue to be virtual, with exceptions. Several speakers noted that clients are now asking for in-person meetings, and that while offsite networking has some cost-savings advantages, a hybrid of the two will likely appear in the coming months.

Panelists said they were searching for technology that would make it possible to integrate those meetings where people were showing up in person as well as online. One mentioned Owl cameras as a good option, as they can be used on multiple platforms.

But all in, the virtual experience appears to have been a positive one for many in the CFO community. For one speaker, it was a necessity. “I think there’s going to be a step back in productivity” when people return to the office, the panelist said. “I haven’t worked this hard in 25 years of my career. There’s no way we could have gotten through the last 15 months with the added commute.”

The coming months will require further transition to a new hybrid model of work for many, with potentially major changes for many firms’ operational models as a result.

The key to success, one panel concluded, was to achieve buy-in for major change from senior partners, rather than address troubles resulting from new processes as they arise. One of the panelists noted that he held a quarterly meeting with the top principals focusing on the broad direction of firm growth.

The sessions were held under Chatham House rules.