How to find the best accountants, finance and tax professionals in today’s job market

Hiring manager conducting an interview with an accountant, finance or tax professional.

As UK job vacancies surged past one million in a new record, the KPMG and REC, UK Permanent Placements Index* signalled a rapid and accelerated rise in permanent staff appointments across the UK. Furthermore, the rate of growth was the steepest seen since data collection began nearly 24 years ago.

So how is this affecting the accounting, finance and tax jobs market? We talked to CEO and Co-founder of SRM Recruitment, Andrew Setchell, about how you can secure the best accounting, finance and tax talent for your team amidst growing demand for candidates. 

1. Be realistic 

The good news is that it’s definitely possible to find and hire good people right now but hiring managers need to acknowledge that their shortlist will be a lot shorter. Rather than five to six people to consider, be prepared for three to four and sometimes there may be just one to take to a final interview. That is the reality.

2. Be ready to pay more for your chosen finance candidates

Most finance and tax professionals were treated well during the pandemic and it’s not as easy to get them to consider a move, there are fewer push factors. As a result, supply has reduced, with demand rising and we are seeing salaries going up.

When candidates used to say “I’m looking for an uplift of 10%” there would be a conversation and a negotiation. Now hiring managers are saying “It’s fine, I understand”. Attitudes are changing and we’d advise you to be prepared to widen your salary range, rather than risk delays waiting for sign-off on budgets further down the line.

3. Your flexible work approach must go on the job specification 

The first question candidates used to ask when being approached about a new role was “What’s the package?”. Now it’s “What’s the working pattern for this role?”. To get the widest pool of candidates, you should specify your flexible working policy on the job specification.

Clients with no flexibility to offer will find it harder to recruit but it’s by no means impossible. Whilst the debate is still ongoing regarding where the home/office balance will finally settle, we can tell you that finance professionals definitely want some sort of flexibility. 

As an example, HSBC’s work from home Friday policy would have been unheard of a couple of years ago but these sorts of policies are becoming the norm. Some will go back to the office full time but it will be at least two years before we see a bigger shift.

Five days in the office is very much considered “traditional” but if that is the way your company runs, it’s not necessarily a problem. Just be aware that your shortlist will be a bit shorter. We’re here to help clients negotiate this job market and find the right people for your business. 

“Attitudes are changing and we’d advise you to be prepared to widen your salary range, rather than risk delays waiting for sign off on budgets further down the line.”

Andrew Setchell, CEO, SRM Recruitment

4. Speed up the interview process to secure accounting, finance and tax professionals

The interview process needs to be quick in this market. Once you’ve got CVs you need to get the hiring process finished within two weeks. We agree – it’s tempting to “just see someone else.” But after 30 years in finance recruitment, we can tell you there are no ‘magic unicorn’ candidates out there. What we do see time and again is businesses missing out on outstanding people who would have quickly transformed their finance or tax team.

5. Use an experienced finance and tax recruiter with a proper network

In candidate-driven markets, real recruitment comes into play. You need to talk to someone who has the connections to find the people who aren’t necessarily looking. Not only that, your recruiter needs the skills to clearly promote how your role fits with the candidate’s career. That comes from experience. Everyone at SRM really knows their market. 

6. Consider try before you buy

If your permanent hiring process is dragging, you should consider using a PAYE temp. This gives you the best chance to assess fit with your team. We have an established book of contract professionals ready and “on the bench” if you’re wanting greater flexibility.  

7. Be prepared for candidates turning down your role 

This is becoming more common in the accounting, finance and tax jobs market at the moment. Personally though, we’ve seen very few candidates turn down roles because their current company has counter offered a higher salary. An experienced recruiter knows how to vet their candidates properly and there should be no surprises. 

In short, move your hiring process along, be clear about your flexible working policy and be ready to broaden your salary range.

*The KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs is compiled by IHS Markit from responses to questionnaires sent to a panel of around 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies.

Get In Touch

To discuss your hiring strategy or to get more insights on the recruitment market in your industry please give me, Andrew Setchell, a call on +44 7495 483425, email andrewsetchell@srmrecruitment.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Read the most recent KPMG and REC UK Report on Jobs

Jim Smith joins SRM’s Welwyn finance recruitment team

We’re delighted to welcome specialist temporary finance recruiter, Jim Smith, to our Welwyn team. Jim tells us about his career, why he joined SRM and how he helps clients and candidates.

Jim Smith, our new specialist temporary finance recruiter covering the Northern Home Counties

“I’ve worked in finance recruitment for 15 years, working at Michael Page and most recently at Investigo where I focused on temporary and contract qualified finance recruitment for almost ten years. Having worked for two big recruitment firms, which I loved, the pull for me was the greater autonomy on offer with a smaller boutique business like SRM and the opportunity to grow a business.

When I spoke to SRM’s founders, Andrew Setchell, Stewart Robertson and Rory MacSween I knew we had the same philosophy. We’ve all been around long enough to know what we like and dislike about the industry. I found them upfront, honest and direct and that matched the way I’ve worked through my career. 

My partner, Liz has worked at SRM since the start of the year so I had inside knowledge it would be a good fit for me!  

Increasing the scope of my role

I’ve tripled my patch as it were. There are no restrictions to geographic boundaries or roles I can cover so the opportunity is bigger than anything I’ve experienced before, which is massively exciting.

As you grow in your career you no longer need the KPIs and closer management styles that are essential in your early days, so part of the appeal was the opportunity to set my own targets and work in a more flexible and adult environment.

A down to earth approach to specialist finance recruitment

SRM’s founders are investing in me and giving me free rein to build the business – that’s really why I decided to make the leap. The approach is refreshing and no-nonsense, basically do a good job and go home.

My focus on temporary qualified finance

My focus at SRM will be on temporary qualified finance recruitment across the Northern Home Counties. 

My clients say I’m a straightforward, attentive and consultative recruiter and my candidates appreciate my personal approach. I would describe myself as a down to earth person who treats others with respect.

“To my mind, Jim is the very essence of what a recruiter needs to be in the current climate. Friendly and on the ball from the outset, and once he has a role in mind for you, is helpful and thorough right through until the conclusion.”

John McInnes, Experienced QBE Accountant

I like to be able to look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and conduct myself in the right way. I’ve kept that approach from my early days recruiting for the big four accounting firms to today, where I’m working with commercial firms hiring newly qualified accountants to Finance Directors. 

I’m a well-rounded specialist finance recruiter hiring across all disciplines within Finance, from newly qualified accountants, Finance Managers, FP&A Managers, Financial Controllers to Finance Directors. It’s allowed me to build a strong network across a wide variety of industries – from SMEs to blue chips. 

Looking forward to connecting with new clients and candidates:

I’m a single Dad to a bright little boy who keeps me constantly on my toes, I love Man United and am currently attempting to learn to play Golf. I’m from a forces background and have lived all over the world. I was actually educated in Canada and went to nine different schools before I was 12 so I thrive going into new situations and meeting new people. I think that’s why I genuinely love recruitment and people.

I’m looking forward to working with new clients and candidates and as my partner Liz and I will be working together in the same office I’m looking forward to that too – I’m not phased by it at all!

“I have built a trusted working relationship with Jim and sincerely thank him for securing my latest role. I have found him to be a great person to deal with and confide in and we have built up a great rapport.

I would not hesitate in recommending Jim’s services to anyone seeking to develop their career.”

Charles Hancock
Senior Finance Manager, Welcome Break

Get in touch:

I’m really excited about where the finance recruitment market is going so if you’re looking to hire the very best talent in finance and accounting please do get in touch with me today. Or connect with me on LinkedIn. We actively headhunt the best specialist finance talent, rather than rely on the same set of candidates from a database.”

Read more:

Find out more about working for SRM Recruitment

Read Andrew Pal’s career story and why he made the move to SRM