Our latest Audit Industry Update is part of our constant commitment to add value and keep professionals updated. We have complied this interview with specialists in our Practice team, to provide insights to both candidates and employers.
What has surprised you in the past quarter in the Audit recruitment market, both from a positive and negative perspective?
Actually there have been few surprises. We have not seen any ground-breaking changes in activity compared with the third quarter in the last three years. As far as the general situation is concerned, we are still seeing the effects of the consolidation in the market, which has been going on for more than eighteen months, a product of the economic downturn. On top of this, the raising of the audit exemption threshold from £7.5 million to £8.5 million also means there are fewer organisations needing to be audited, so practices are looking to build out other parts of the business. Thus, one of the impacts we have seen is that a lot of talented individuals are moving from audit to other disciplines within practices, such as tax or risk.
Obviously the market gets rather sluggish in the summer months with a longer lag time between first and second interviews, simply because many decision makers are away from their desks. However, on top of this seasonal factor we have found that accounting practices are currently much more likely to hold out for the top candidates. With the audit market shrinking and becoming more competitive, winning business depends on having really high calibre individuals on the team.
What roles are you looking to fill now, where is the demand, and how do you see that developing?
We have recruited a lot of people who are looking to finish their qualifications. This means that there are always roles open across the board in practices at the just-qualified through junior to mid-management level in the range of £45-70K, because people tend to move on just after qualifying, often leaving to go and work in commerce and industry.
Which qualifications are boosting the value and career options of auditing professionals?
The vast majority prefer ACA to ACCA because it is more widely recognised and it has to be completed within a fixed period of time. But the skill set that managers are looking for has definitely changed compared with the situation before the recession. Soft skills such as communications, and the ability to network and win new business are becoming highly prized assets. At interviews, partners want to be convinced that a candidate will be able to attend a function and persuade companies to put business their way.
What is your outlook for the coming quarter and the rest of 2013 for auditing?
Very positive. The job flow is good. There is plenty of talent out there. The economy seems to be picking up so the most talented individuals will be more inclined to make a move rather than hold on to their current position. Applications to the Big Four are up in auditing are up 114% on the last quarter, and there are many open roles that need to be filled. With the medium-sized and smaller practices under some pressure, we see movement up to the Big Four as a major growth area.
A lot of candidates get their ACAs in September so may be thinking about changing jobs. In addition, many candidates delay actively seeking a new role until after bonuses have been announced.
At the same time, we anticipate that a lot of people will be looking to move out of auditing and into other areas such as risk and compliance, especially in the Big Four.
What is happening in the contracting area? Are employers looking for contracting roles for specific roles?
The contracting market always gets busy towards the end of the year as companies struggle to get the books in order by the end of the year.