Buoyant accountancy & finance market driving high demand for candidates

Buoyant Accountancy & Finance Market Driving High Demand For Candidates

We are currently seeing high demand for accountancy and finance candidates from both commerce and practice firms, across all levels and roles types throughout the region. Most accountancy firms are finding hiring the best candidates extremely competitive, with firms of all sizes looking to secure the best talent. The markets are moving very fast; this is being accelerated by the speed of recruitment processes, which have been shortened somewhat with the adoption of video interviewing, meaning candidates do not need to plan time off for interviews as they once did. The volume of candidates interested in looking for a new role has also increased over the past few months.

Pent up demand driving new hires

As the majority of firms froze their recruitment in 2020, there are many backlogged roles now to be filled which have come to market and 18 months of pent-up demand driving the increased hiring activity.  Those companies which have good cash reserves and are very busy with work, are seeing this as an opportunity to capitalise on a buoyant market and increase their headcount. Accountancy firms are also winning more work, meaning they require more headcount to deliver their services. More generally, firms are also now in a more stable position to add headcount and integrate people into their team effectively than they were in 2020.

Hiring activity across the board

There are of course some business sectors which are still struggling to recover from COVID and are not yet in a position to grow or hire staff. However, for those sectors where there is growth occurring, we are witnessing demand for new hires across all levels from SMEs up to large corporates.  Those at the Director level are particularly sought-after as many businesses now require a different approach to their business operations and strategy due to COVID or new market conditions.

Accountancy firms of all sizes are also currently recruiting, whether that be from the Big 4 or down to smaller one or two partner firms. Smaller firms were quick off the mark to start their hiring, however, many of the large firms are now implementing big recruitment projects across their offices. Despite the initial flurry of more junior level roles being hired for, we are currently seeing an uptick in the number of senior level vacancies coming to market.

Skill sets in demand

With businesses finding it difficult to forecast based on current trends or on last year’s performance, those candidates with modelling, FP&A and Management Accounts experience are currently in high demand. We are also experiencing increasing demand for those with skills sets which support business strategy.  

As always, within Practice the main demand is for auditors at either part-qualified or newly qualified level, with all the regional and large accountancy firms currently looking to add headcount to their audit teams. Over the past few months, we have seen an increase in the number of personal and corporate tax roles coming to market, as firms have been more able to effectively sell their value-add services.

Candidate confidence is increasing

With many people having sat tight in their roles throughout the instability of the pandemic, candidate confidence is now increasing and we are seeing a lot more professionals registering to find a new job. Many have felt their progression has stalled over this time, with promotions and salary rises both on hold. Candidate priorities are also shifting too since COVID and many have been encouraged to start their job search by the proposition of returning to the office and wanting a change of scenery or not wanting to commute anymore - many are wanting the ability to work from home or have more flexibility in their new role. 

Companies are trying to attract the best talent by offering increased flexibility, including things such as complete remote working. With competition for candidates increasing, we have seen a number of companies offering heavily increased salaries in an attempt to secure the best candidates from their competitors.

However, for those candidates wanting to move roles, it’s vital that their desire for a new job is driven by more than just working patterns and salary increase – culture and team fit, career development and responsibilities of the role are all just as important to ensure client and candidate expectations are aligned and a long-term fit is achieved, not just a short-term fix.

Cautious but optimistic outlook

For the immediate future, the market is likely to remain very active, with hiring activity strong across both commerce and practice firms. Longer-term, we are cautiously optimistic as the market learns to adapt to new circumstances not seen before. How the pandemic plays out and any future lockdowns or restrictions will be a big factor affecting the market, which is much harder to predict.

Some businesses which are continuing to struggle may of course have to make headcount reductions, forcing candidates onto the market. However, a number of firms have also realised that they are struggling now as a result of not investing in new or replacing existing headcount throughout last year, which is likely to mean any future market disruptions will see a different response to recruitment. Firms will still want to ensure they have the best talent in their teams so they can continue to operate effectively and efficiently through the good times and any not so good ones.

Posted by: Rutherford Briant