Hiring managers lose out as demand for accountants grows steeply

Andrew Setchell on the shift in the accountancy and finance jobs market post covid and how you can beat the competition for the best candidates.

The number of people placed into permanent jobs in London and the South East climbed at a considerable rate in April. We’ve seen that at SRM and that’s backed up by the Recruitment & Employment Federation’s (REC’s) latest Jobs Report in association with KPMG.

The accountancy jobs market is improving at the fastest rates we’ve ever seen and hiring managers just aren’t aware that they’ll struggle to fill roles if they don’t act now.

Let me give you an example of what happened last week when a well known UK listed property company tried to hire a management accountant. I hasten to add, we didn’t manage this recruitment process for them!

The company shortlisted five people and brought three back for a second interview. Two candidates were offered the role but neither accepted. With a £10k salary uplift on offer you’d have thought this was a great move for the two shortlisted candidates. The salary was around £55k and the shortlisted candidates were newly qualified accountants on about £45k.

The first candidate had the offer matched by their current employer and stayed put. From a recruiter perspective, that’s poor practice, one for not checking the candidate’s underlying motivation for leaving and second for not having the conversation about what they’d do if their FD matched the new salary.

The other candidate had three offers to choose from. That’s harder to counter but it shows there’s been a huge shift in the accountancy and finance jobs market. What seems to have happened during Covid is that many hiring managers have forgotten about people’s worth and are getting complacent.

Andrew Setchell, CEO at SRM Recruitment

The REC Jobs Report shows that the pace of hiring has accelerated significantly since March 2021 and is the joint quickest rise in 23 years of data collection.

Andrew Setchell, CEO, and
Co-founder, SRM Recruitment

So what can you do to ensure you don’t get caught out by the shift in the accountancy and finance jobs market?

1. Be aware you’re just one of the offers the candidate is considering

The first step is to be aware that you’re just one of three offers your favourite candidate is considering – most likely they’ll have six roles to choose from. The assumption is you’re the only one hiring. Whilst that was the case 12 months ago, it’s certainly not now.

2. Make sure you review salaries

It’s now imperative to do regular salary reviews and be up to speed on market conditions. Workforce planning and updating your employee offer is essential.

3. Expedite your accountancy and finance hiring process

Good people are getting multiple offers so candidates are getting pickier. Give yourself the best chance by expediting the process. Reduce your shortlist so you get to the finish line faster. Remember, you only need one person for the role so a strong shortlist of three will give you the best chance to hire.

4. Sell the non-financial benefits to motivate ambitious candidates

Be very clear about why you want to hire your chosen candidate and what they bring to the business. Tell them explicitly how they will develop their commercial experience, for example, that their value will rise and they will improve their CV by x per cent.

5. Use a quality, boutique recruiter

An experienced recruiter partnering directly with you will give you the best chance in this market, saving time and money. It’s worth being aware that the large recruitment firms all made large-scale redundancies during the pandemic and are now hiring recent graduates to make up for the shortfall.

At SRM we’ve actually deepened our bench strength during Covid. You will work directly with a talented recruiter with at least 10 years of specialist experience in finance and accountancy.

If more people are open to moving won’t there be more candidates to choose from?

In short, no. As more jobs come to market it’s worth bearing in mind that the supply of candidates actually hasn’t changed from 6-12 months ago. We saw an example of this recently at NBCUniversal. The candidates who lost their jobs during Covid already found new jobs between September 2020 – Jan 2021 and the rest have been looked after and retained.

Pressure on finance teams has been growing for some time

Bench strength has been missing from finance teams going right back to the financial crisis in 2008 – the pandemic has only added to the pressure. Businesses have realised you need good people to do cash flow and complete accurate forecasting. If that’s happened in your business you’re not alone – it’s happening elsewhere.

The highest demand is at the £45-70k level and organisations will struggle to fill roles. There’s a war for talent on the horizon so we are advising our clients not to wait to hire strong finance and accounting candidates.

Get In Touch

If you need help to hire finance and accounting professionals or simply want hiring advice, get in touch with me, Andrew Setchell today on +44 7495 483425, email andrewsetchell@srmrecruitment.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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