Last month when Garrett Macdonald, Vice President of three+one®, presented at the New York GFOA Annual Conference, he asked a large sample of Public Officials the following question: “How long have you served in your current position”. The responses were surprising to the audience.
The largest group of responders were those who have served 15 to 20 years in such positions, at 30%, while the second largest group of 26% were those who have served between 1 to 5 years.
The findings tell us that a very significant group of public finance professionals are relatively new to their position, while a smaller middle group will be tasked – and taxed – with both continued mentorship of the younger professionals and replacing the veterans who make up the biggest group.
As I blogged last year, over 50% of those who serve as financial officials today are over the age of 55. With this being the case, the need to build bench strength for future leadership in one’s finance office is essential in order to carry on consistency and institutional knowledge.
What can one do to prepare for a smooth transition to those whom we serve in a financial leadership position?
1) It is never too early to start building bench strength within your team. Provide a pathway of learning, essential tools, and institutional knowledge as new talent comes into your office.
2) Allow new talent to share and adopt new ideas and technology in your office as you all prepare for the future. Keep in mind that a majority of today’s taxpayers use technology to communicate and pay their bills. It is imperative to understand the future of how financial transactions will be conducted. It will be far different in the future than how they are done today.
3) Have your new talent develop a relationship with your financial providers. Consistency of relationship and expectations provide a pathway for a smooth transition.
4) Never stop teaching, and allow your staff to pursue continuing education, including direct links to Higher Ed institutions and certificate programs.
5) Plan on developing and purchasing greater technology. Individuals entering the finance world are extremely tech savvy and will expect to have the resources to perform their jobs. They will tend to be extremely productive with the right technology and software packages.
The chasm between those public officers with many years of experience and those that are new to the positions needs to be recognized. With the proper training and resources, the pathway to continued success will occur both now and in the future.