The corporate talent pool is running dry, with more than a third of organisations struggling to find skilled employees, according to research by accountancy firm Deloitte.
A worldwide survey of senior financial executives, conducted by Deloitte in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit, revealed that the "crisis" is affecting entire organisations.
In particular, financial services firms are finding there is a large gulf between their future requirements and available candidates. This could be a problem for Birmingham, which has a growing concentration of financial services businesses.
Deloitte's research found that efforts to attract, retain and develop high performers is not a chief priority and that, in fact, only a third of chief financial officers (CFOs) have a recruitment strategy for finance at all.
In addition, more than a third of CFOs believe the finance department is barely able to meet its current demand for skilled professionals.
Andy Mewis, director in the Midlands human capital practice at Deloitte in Birmingham, said: "The accounting troubles in 2002 marked the sector and resulting regulations upped, if not doubled, CFO accountabilities.
"Organisations' relentless pursuit of ambitious objectives has led finance to temporarily take its eye off the 'talent ball', the impact of which is now paying out. Demand for high performers in finance is outstripping supply and few companies are doing what it takes to lure top talent."
Although 43 per cent of CFOs say they have career development programmes to harness and further the skills of high performers, a lack of career development tops the list of reasons talented people leave finance functions.
Mr Mewis said: "Organisations must focus on what employees care about most; stretching capabilities, providing roles that engage their heads and hearts, as well as helping them to achieve their professional goals. CFOs must personally own the challenge of developing people at all levels. Some CFOs take an active interest, others simply delegate it. You can guess which has the better talent in finance. Real programmes must be created to take finance people all the way through their career."
Another stumbling block is the lack of opportunities.
Strong CFOs need deep technical finance skills and strong business knowledge which is often gained from working in other departments. Yet according to those CFOs surveyed, 38 per cent of finance departments are reluctant to release individuals to other company areas.
CFOs also recognise the need to tap the graduate talent pool.
Thirty-five per cent believe graduates do not see the finance function as a career launcher, presenting some bigger challenges about boosting finance's appeal as a profession of choice.
However, Deloitte says it has not encountered any difficulties in employing new talented staff - the Birmingham office recently took on 56 new graduates, 25 of which studied at local universities.
Mr Mewis added: "Talent management was once a 'good to do', today it is a 'vital need'.