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It’s Never Been a Better Time to be an Accountant

Why are Accountants not applying for jobs within practice?

For a number of years now there has been a severe shortage of experienced qualified accountants applying for jobs with accountancy firms (much bemoaned by us) and as a specialist practice recruiter, we accept that it is a highly competitive and often difficult market.  That said, a competitive market is a good thing, it keeps us on our toes, motivates us to be a little better and to define ourselves as an ethical recruitment agency that puts positive client and candidate outcomes at the forefront of our business model.

In January 2020, the world was becoming aware of Covid-19 and in March the UK went into lockdown, and most of our clients put recruitment on hold.  However, as the months passed it became clear that accountancy firms remained in high demand and the recruitment began to ramp up, especially at the ACA and ACCA qualified level.

The accountancy practices for whom we recruit have been extremely busy during the pandemic, with additional enquires brought about by the pandemic, dealing with furlough and business changes, and the need to recruit high calibre employees is paramount once again.

We then found ourselves faced with a problem.  The candidates that we seek for our clients; qualified audit, tax and accounts professionals, seemed to be nervous about looking for a new role, choosing to sit tight in their current role because of the uncertainty that the pandemic instilled in us all.  This reluctance to change jobs at a difficult time is quite understandable when no one really knew how things would pan out.

Don’t get me wrong, we have successfully placed some great candidates with our clients over the past year and have kept our head above the rather turbulent water.  However, the much hoped for increase in relevant applications and positive responses to our networking and resourcing efforts as restrictions have eased, has not come to fruition.  We are only seeing a fraction of the applications that we were getting pre pandemic, which is a little worrying, and it is frustrating that we do not have the volume of CVs to send to our clients.  That said, we have found a good number of outstanding candidates for roles where clients have not waited to see who else is available, adopting the “strike while the iron is hot” attitude given the shortage of available talent.

Where are we now regarding finance recruitment?

It seems that people are still anxious about making the move, which seems a little odd to us because the demand for these talented accountants and auditors is extremely high at present and career progressing opportunities with excellent firms are abundant, especially within audit.  Along with the prevalence of available positions for qualified accountants and auditors, we feel that job security within practice is currently extremely high, and this is a good time to make that all important move.

These certainly have been strange days, with much of that which we took for granted becoming skewed and altered in some way.  Expressions like ‘agile working’ and the acronym ‘WFH’ are now common parlance with companies and employees reconsidering what the working day entails.  Things have certainly changed and we all need to adapt to an every changing world.

How can accountancy practices attract new blood?

We are delighted to see how many practices have increased the trainee intake into their firms with many adopting the modern apprenticeship route, which is an excellent way for school leavers and graduates to enter the profession and train up to be the next generation of newly qualified chartered accountants.  Overall, the job market is buoyant at present and the need for training the next generation is imperative. The BBC recently reported a “Record rise in workers on payrolls in May” which is great news for the country as a whole, however there are huge skill shortages in many sectors.  This has been an issue for a good few years now and there needs to be a focus on training and a concerted effort to ensure that the next generation are skilled up, ready, willing and able to take on well-paid, long-term roles.

Within financial recruitment we are acutely aware of this skills shortage, with the volume of open vacancies increasing but not enough part and fully qualified people with the ‘right experience’ to fill the roles.  Maybe it is time for employers to consider looking in other directions for talent with similar, transferable skills and train into the roles rather than continuing to fight for the few people who match the specifications exactly.  For us specifically, recruiting predominantly for accountancy firms, this could mean clients considering good accounts people from industry rather than insisting upon previous practice experience.

So, what is the point of this blog from an accountancy recruitment perspective?

My dominant motivation here is to say to potential candidates within our sector, that this is a good time to be looking for a new job within accountancy practices and please do apply.  For a qualified or part qualified practice accountant or auditor with extensive experience, you would likely receive multiple offers from our clients and any role that you were offered would be well paid, give a good work/life balance and be secure.

Our clients need you and they are bending over backwards to attract the right talent for their teams, so why not put a tentative toe in the water and see what is out there.  A change is as good as a rest, as they say.

Your thoughts and feedback is always appreciated, so don’t be shy, leave a comment below.

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