Jobs in accountancy are ever-increasing across the UK, with firms currently having to use contractors or outsourcing to meet their needs
Accountancy has been busy over the first quarter of 2018 with firms looking to add to their headcount across audit, advisory and tax. Vacancies are popping up across the UK with a continued focus on building regional centres in locations like Birmingham, Reading and Bristol.
As ever, a significant number of the roles exist at newly qualified level as candidates consider their options both internally and externally. The job market across the UK remains appealing for professionally trained candidates who have choice across the commercial sector, financial services, and other industries. The increase in advisory and project work has also meant that employees have the opportunity to diversify their skills base.
Audit partners and HR directors who are planning their headcount for the forthcoming season expect it to be a challenge and, indeed, recruitment can be a headache.
Competition for business remains fierce and firms have absolutely no problem in winning audits, but at times they remain understaffed within the field
NEWLY QUALIFIED CANDIDATES IN NEED
Newly qualified accounting professionals in both tax and audit are very much in demand, and this year accounting firms seem to be looking six months ahead with regards to recruitment.
This is to counterbalance the number of newly qualified accountants moving onto greener pastures, once exam results have been received and passed.
Typically conditional offers are issued after a successful interview, and this will be based on successful completion of impending exams or time being signed off.
OUTSOURCING ON THE RISE
Outsourcing also continues to grow, with a notable increase in the number of jobs registered during Q1.
This indicates that traditionally these roles were completed in house, but now with growing players in this sector this is being completed externally by an accountancy firm, which means there is a spike in the number of these roles and the skillset becoming desirable.
SOFTWARE EXPERTISE IN DEMAND
On the software side, the continuing rise in popularity of cloud computing tools means that those who are highly skilled, or ‘certified’, in any areas of this software will find themselves in demand.
In particular, knowledge of Xero, Quickbooks and Sage Business Cloud will put any General Practice candidates at an advantage.
TRADITIONAL LABOUR POOLS UNDER THREAT
Another problem that the industry in general is struggling with this year is the possible tightening of non-EU workers securing roles which offer sponsorship in UK firms. In past years there are certain areas of the country which have struggled to attract staff, and this gap has been filled by non-EU nationals.
The reason for this is explained perfectly by Joanna Hunt and Sam Koppel from Lewis Silkin in an article written in Accountancy Age in April this year:
“Under the current system for Tier 2 General, there is an annual cap of 20,700 Restricted CoS’s (Certificate of Sponsorship) available for employers to sponsor non-EEA skilled workers. This annual cap is divided unequally amongst the months of the year. The issue is that since December 2017, the number of CoS requests has greatly exceeded the number of available CoS’s”
Big Four recruitment over the next quarter is likely to continue to rise as hiring managers will finalise their staffing numbers for 2018 and 2019, with a headcount needed to build both regional and London teams. One challenge for this group of clients could be the on-boarding of candidates requiring sponsorship.
As with other candidate short markets, the industry will continue to make use of professional contractors who are able to supplement existing client facing teams.
We expect the need for outsourcing and accounting professionals to continue throughout 2018. Technical skills coupled with IT expertise will be especially marketable.
Working culture and benefits remain important for job seekers at all levels, and so an area that businesses must be ahead of the curve with. The most popular benefits include flexible working and the ability to work from home, or the option to be able to purchase extra holiday.