Finance & accountancy recruitment: Home Counties summer report

David Leithead 25.08.2016

The Summer slow down...hasn't happened!

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Overall summary of Home Counties recruitment

August has traditionally been a slow month for finance and accountancy recruitment across much of the UK. However, this year there has been a noticeable change. Both job and candidate volumes are up, and time to hire significantly shortened compared to this time last year. We attribute this to a feel good factor caused by the lack of negative impact many expected Brexit to cause.

hat may appear at first glance to be counterintuitive,  or even a double negative, and it may need a new freakenomics book to fully explain why Brexit has not thus far had the expected impact on hiring, but our numbers clearly show that this summer is a busy one for finance and accountancy recruitment. 

When it comes to summer reading, our latest white paper 7 Career Steps: ACA Newly Qualified to CFO has been well received. With exam results just around the corner, many of our ACA candidates say they head into September, Q4, and 2016 with a sense of purpose, and desire to move on to exciting new challenges. 


Finance director recruitment

The volume of senior finance positions was up in August, but as always, the true indication of the health of this market is candidate volume. Few senior professionals actively “look” for a job unless forced to do so. A 12% increase shows that senior level recruitment continues to be challenged, although there are finally signs of recovery. 

Senior professionals are advised to keep their network open during times of employment, and are encouraged to plan six months ahead wherever possible. When unexpected unemployment does occur, building a network among MDs as apposed to FDs is likely to provide a greater return of opportunities, as peers are unlikely to willingly pass on job opportunities. MDs could be an untapped area of your network's potential.   



Financial controller recruitment

The role of a financial controller is highly valued and those with a confident and outgoing personality are in high demand. In an age when finance directors are required to be increasingly commercial, the financial controller role provides a much needed safety net. We have seen an increase for financial controller positions, most notably for financial controllers with strong IFRS experience. 

Demand for financial controllers is relatively small. Of all the job categories, these candidates tend to move less frequently and so both candidate and job availability are notably lower than other categories at this level. 

Financial controllers, or aspiring financial controllers, are advised to develop their interpersonal skills. To really stand out, hone your networking and presentation skills. The technical experience on your CV will get you in the door but it is your personality that will get you the job.



FP&A recruitment

FP&A growth has remained flat for some time now. An emerging trend is for FP&A to be partially off shored, with more traditional FP&A roles becoming increasingly classed as commercial finance. Technology and big data are also changing the nature of the FP&A function.  

It is crucial that FP&A professionals gain commercial exposure. Putting the numbers together can be done by a wide variety of people and systems, and is under threat from process outsourcing. Giving a true reflection of what drives the numbers is a harder task, and in here lies the values of a strong FP&A Manager. In interviews, be prepared to explain how your analysis directly impacted better business decisions (examples will almost always be required). 



Sales & marketing finance recruitmetn

Increasingly sat outside of finance, these functions have remained robust, as recruitment spend is more easily justified for roles close to sales. Job volume is up year on year, and this remains one of the fastest growth areas of finance. True commercial candidates remain hard to find, especially those with a strong academic background, who are more likely to have gone down a reporting path. 

Our advice to sales and marketing finance professionals is to be clear on your career aims. While this is a growth area, it can be difficult to move into more traditional FD roles, without gaining technical and transactional experience. If you stay in commercial too long, you may become stuck.  



Tax & treasury recruitment

Our specialist tax and treasury recruitment teams have experienced a slow start to the summer, with very few candidates coming onto the market, and only a small growth in jobs. The good news is that the permanent market is reasonably buoyant, with interim and contract taking a small hit.

For those candidates looking to move out of practice and into commerce and industry, this is a very good time to start your search. There are a fair number of roles, and due to the candidate shortage there are opportunities to obtain good salaries and to progress quickly.

Internal audit recruitment

Our internal audit recruitment teams have experienced a steady, if not booming, market. In London, there is a reasonable balance between candidate and job supply. But in the regions, there is a real lack of high quality candidates, which has led to many businesses spreading their net further and recruiting non-UK and EU nationals into roles, due to the lack of  local availability. The FTSE 100 businesses based outside of London are in need of Big 4 trained ACAs, who are prepared to shun the lights of London and take advantage of the faster career progression on offer across the rest of the UK.

Advice to candidates: don't just consider London!

David Leithead's picture
Chief Operations Officer UK


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