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Accounting & Finance Market Update Q1, 2019
The Accounting and Finance market, as we expected, continued to grow and there were few companies that didn’t make an additional hire in this sector this year.
Industry & Commerce
While hiring continued across all traditional sectors including FMCG, Pharma etc., we saw a significant increase in indigenous growing tech firms that were hiring because of the impact they had made on global markets. Private Equity Investment continued to increase in 2018 and shows no sign of slowing down in 2019. This PE investment has added to a growth in C-level roles. Expansion has also been rapid across the private health care sector and hiring will continue here in 2019. This optimism was also reflected in our research with 79 percent of the accounting professionals who were surveyed being optimistic about the near future of the Irish economy.
Recently qualified accountants and those with 2–5 years’ experience are still generally sought after in the market and the best of them have their pick of the offers to choose from. However, companies offering competitive fringe benefits, such as flexible working hours/conditions and wellness programmes, are winning the best of the talent. We have also found that people are no longer prepared to wait during long recruitment processes, so companies that can streamline the recruitment process and make it as seamless as possible are attracting the best hires.
Salaries continued to rise in 2018 and we believe this will carry over into 2019, but it has yet to be seen whether this will continue with the same intensity. Bonuses are now the norm and companies are giving more and more competitive fringe benefits to retain their staff alongside generous bonuses and salaries.
Accounting Practice Tax & Advisory
Another year of strong performance from Accountancy Practices across Ireland was experienced in 2018. Uncertainty caused by global political issues has created opportunity within our leading firms. We’ve seen one of the ‘Big 5’ make a significant commitment to their future by investing in a new premises which, at a time of uncertainty, is a sign of that there is a lot of business to be done.
One major stumbling block that has been envisaged by firms is full employment. This has recently added to the issues around the time it takes to recruit, rejected offers and staff turnover. A common discussion point over the past year has been the need for introduction of retention programmes. The assurance sector is the most stretched division, with candidates having a lot of options both inside and outside this core discipline.
From our survey findings career progression, or lack of it, is also high on the agenda as a prmary causation for job mobility. Over the past year we have noticed an abundance of occasions where a candidate has received an upgrade in title from a competing firm, only to have that salary and title matched by their current firm when they handed in their notice. This has been done regularly outside of traditional “promotion” periods.
Firms from outside the Big 5 have seen how the difficulties they face in hiring top talent has affected them, as the larger firms continue to hire from outside their traditional base. Within the last 6 months, we have seen and overseen a number of mergers within these firms. This has satisfied their hiring needs in terms of the increase in employee numbers and the overall turnover of departing partners.
Financial Services Accounting
The financial services accountancy market has seen an increase in demand for finance professionals throughout 2018, with a strong balance between contract and permanent positions.
There has been a consistent demand for newly qualified accountants and qualified accountants with c. 3–5 years PQE. These more experienced candidates have benefited from a significant increase in job opportunities; for example, the finance business partner, financial planning and
analysis, and financial control type roles. Management opportunities for those with salaries of €75k+ remain slow; however, there is some activity, noticeably within the international banking and insurance sectors.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]From our research, 62 per cent of accounting professionals are choosing flexible working as the main factor that engages them personally, apart from their salary[/pullquote]
It is evident that with the uncertainty over Brexit, financial services houses are increasing their compliance and regulatory requirements within banking, insurance, and funds. This has led to an increase in demand for experienced candidates qualified in IFRS and Solvency II and regulatory reporting. Candidates with strong experience in commercial analysis, forecasting and financial modelling are also in high demand. We have also seen a trend whereby a number of clients have seconded their permanent staff onto Brexit projects and are now hiring contractors to backfill their roles.
This candidate-driven market comes with its own challenges, which many companies are now facing, and will continue to face as they compete for top talent across all levels of the market. Candidates who are actively on the market are almost certain to be interviewing with a number of other companies, which shows just how candidate-driven the current market is. Our research shows that 66 per cent of accounting professionals feel positive about their career prospects in 2019.
As a result of these multiple opportunities and the benefits on offer, flexibility is the main requirement that candidates are seeking. This comes in the form of working from home 1 or 2 days a week, and flexibility in their start and/or finishing times, which is beneficial to working parents. From our research, 62 per cent of accounting professionals are choosing flexible working as the main factor that engages them personally, apart from their salary. Other benefits generally include healthcare, pensions, performance-related bonuses, and in some instances, a sign-on bonus. (This relates more to senior level professionals.)
The Part-Qualified Market
There is a big gap in terms of demand and supply at this level. Companies are offering strong study packages n an effort to retain staff. Accounts payable and receivable associates are now highly sought after and salaries have risen for people with experience in these areas. We have found that people are seeking the roles close to home and are not prepared to travel too far.
The Temporary & Contract Market
The temporary and contract market was busy in 2018, and this is expected to continue into 2019. Due to the number of permanent roles on the market, it has proven challenging to attract people into these roles. To combat this, we have seen our clients offer generous completion bonuses to dissuade people from leaving contract roles by making them more appealing. Clients have also had to pay higher-than-anticipated salaries to get people engaged in temporary roles. As the number of permanent roles continues to rise, companies will have to think of giving temporary and contract staff the benefits that permanent staff are receiving.
In summary, his year has been a very strong year for the accounting and finance sector with staff feeling positive about their career prospects in 2019, with 66% of those who took part in the survey voting this way. There are a number of areas that need to be adjusted but general confidence is definitely visible within the industry and we look forward to seeing what will occur in 2019.
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