Specialist charity finance recruitment

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Robbie Anderson is Manager of the Charity Finance recruitment team at Altum Consulting. Here, we learn more about this specialist division and the value they’re bringing to clients across the charity sector.

Why did Altum Consulting decide to create a charity finance recruitment team?

Before I joined the company, Altum Consulting already had ambitious growth plans. Given their philanthropic interests, particularly with the creation of the Altum Foundation[1] , it made sense to explore a charity finance recruitment specialism to complement their commerce finance division. When I met with co-founders David and Ed to explore the possibility of me joining, we discussed the idea at length and they asked for my views on how best to create the team.

How has the charity finance team evolved?

We’ve grown quicker than expected after we exceeded our goals last year. For the first couple of months, it was just me, then we hired someone I had previously worked with. It was great to have someone else on the team who specialised in the charity sector, so we could share our knowledge and expertise in delivering for our clients.

More recently we hired two additional recruitment consultants to expand the team, one of whom specialises in interim roles.

What advantages are there in using a specialist charity finance recruitment team as opposed to a more general agency?

The main advantage is our network. Between us, our team has 12 years’ experience recruiting for finance roles in the charity sector. Other recruiters may not have access to that pool of talent, and while everyone has access to social media and job website advertising, most of our placements are made through people we already know or their connections.

Finance roles are complex and require a good level of understanding to fill successfully. Many of the other agencies recruiting into the charity sector lack this specialist knowledge, particularly at a senior level.

The other advantage as a bespoke service provider is that we can adapt very quickly to changes in the market. We have far fewer processes and bureaucracy to wade through, which leaves us more time to help our clients.

We are also a member of the Charity Finance Group, which gives us access to finance professionals in the sector. These events and our own, such as the talk we hosted about ‘creating an inclusive workplace’ with Thomas Pocklington Trust and working with Leonard Cheshire Disability and Action on Hearing Loss, offer our clients an opportunity to meet ‘passive’ finance candidates as well as learning more about industry trends - we’re not just filling jobs here.  

We really do care and I think that makes a difference. Through our Altum Foundation, we have built long-standing relationships with three charities: Street Child, Resurgo Trust and Evelina London Children's Hospital. We focus on giving the next generation the opportunity to fulfil their potential - in line with our purpose as recruitment consultants.

What trends in the charity sector might impact recruitment in the near future?

A lot of charities we work with are spending more money on internal recruitment teams to manage costs, and in the current economic climate, you can understand why. However, finance is a very candidate short market, there are many jobs available for qualified accountants, so they have a lot of options. There will be a continued need for specialist charity finance recruitment consultants to manage that trend.

Over the past five years, many industries have observed an increasing demand for more commercially focused candidates in certain roles, and the charity sector is no exception. Sourcing candidates who are comfortable liaising with teams across the business as well as being strong technically can pose a challenge for some firms.

How does Altum Consulting stand out among its competitors?

Our Charity Finance recruitment team is very relationship-driven, and you’ll see evidence of that in the testimonials our clients have given us on LinkedIn. We rely on our reputation - it’s a small world in the charity sector.

Our people are bright and experienced - we understand our clients’ needs and have the skills and tools to help meet them. 

Most importantly, we care. We are honest in our approach and consultative in the solutions we provide. If a mandate is unrealistic, I will advise the consultant to adjust the scope. If I’m struggling to fill a role, I will update my client promptly so we can discuss our options. We value constant communication throughout the hiring process.

Where have you seen the most success, and why do you think that is?

Word of mouth has been a key source of our success in our team. When a client has trusted us to work on their roles, we’ve shown them the level of service we can offer and they’ve come back, either directly themselves or through a referral to someone else.

What lies in store for the charity finance recruitment team moving into 2020?

We’re planning continued growth, particularly as we expand to support charities in the housing association market. We’ll need good people to join the team as we pursue that growth, and as we host more events in future.

Find out more about the Altum Foundation here