Recruitment Agencies Bullish On Accountancy Jobs

11 Sep 2017 | 12.08 pm

Recruitment Agencies Bullish On Accountancy Jobs

Average Salary of €56,800 for newly qualified accountants

11 Sep 2017 | 12.08 pm

Recruitment agencies who place accountancy candidates are bullish about the current jobs market, writes Emily Styles

 

An accountancy career has a reputation for high remuneration and long-term dependability. The average salary package for a newly qualified accountant is currently €56,800, according to Chartered Accountants Ireland, and the average rises to €106,500 for experienced CAI members in the Leinster region.

The sector’s fate is influenced by the ebbs and flows of the wider economy, where Brexit, job market dynamics and employee expectations have been making an impact. Ronan Hill, operations director in Morgan McKinley, says that the outcome of the Brexit vote and the US presidential election last year delayed some hiring decisions.

As 2017 progresses, Hill observes that organisations are realising the necessity for additional headcount. “A steady flow of experienced transactional candidates and newly qualified accountants has freshened the market,” adds Hill. “However, there has been a shortage of talent in specific areas such as commercially focused finance professionals and qualified accountants with European languages.”

Competitive Packages

In Abrivia, managing director Donal O’Brien is seeing continued strong demand for Big 4 trained and qualified accountants. “Candidates who are recently qualified, with up to four years’ post-qualified experience and at salary levels of €50k to €70k are in particularly high demand by multinationals, public companies and SMEs,” he says. “Candidates are benefiting from competitive remuneration packages and have a range of desirable opportunities to choose from. These include group accounting, internal audit, financial planning and analysis, and commercial finance roles.”

In the public practice sphere, O’Brien says that there is an increase in demand from the Top 20 firms to hire into all major practice service lines. “There continues to be a talent shortage in public practice,” O’Brien maintains. “We have witnessed an increase of ex-practice staff returning to their roots and former employers from industry. Firms continue to source talent from multiple locations including UAE, South Africa, Australia and the Caymans.”

Employers are also investing in people engagement projects, reviewing policies including parental leave, paternity leave and flexible working hours. “At the forefront was the announcement by Deloitte in the US offering up to 16 weeks ‘Care Leave’, as the competition for talent is ever increasing.”

David Bloch, managing director of recruitment agency Brightwater, points out that demand is strong for advisory and consulting professionals, particularly in management consulting, finance transformation and risk consulting. “We’ve seen an increase in opportunities for recently qualified accountants looking to gain more exposure to larger audit engagements with multinational clients,” says Bloch.

Study Leave

He adds that in a candidate-driven market, organisations need to bring their A game to the recruitment process. “Almost every company we have surveyed is now providing support and two days study leave per exam for part-qualified candidates, as well as reviewing salaries of candidates upon successful completion of their exams. The best candidates are seeing multiple offers and their decisions are being weighted heavily by the level of support that organisations are going to offer in relation to their ongoing study and career development.”

CPL research suggests that employers who are hiring recently qualified accountants are no longer only focusing exclusively on Big 4 candidates, but also hiring accountants from top 10 accountancy practices. CPL also found that the main criteria taking on qualified and part-qualified accountants these days are a strong track record, cultural fit, adaptability and willingness to learn.

Some corporates are reaching out to Big 4 staffers to source specialist consultants for large change projects, according to Aimee Kelly of Executive Connections. “Our clients continue to seek candidates with transformational planning and implementation skills,” says Kelly. However, they are hard to prise way, such is the growth of Big 4 consultancy teams.

Niche Expertise

Pain points for Executive Connections clients have included attracting employees with niche experience. “For specialist roles requiring Solvency II expertise in the insurance sector, experienced candidates willing to move companies are in short supply,” she adds. “Experienced tax professionals at all levels are also in high demand.”

While accounting and finance roles is predominantly a permanent employment market, recruitment agency Robert Walters notes that fixed term and temporary contracts are increasingly being utilised for maternity cover and project-based roles.

The agency says that across commerce and industry, companies are continuing to seek financial accountants, financial analysts and internal auditors. As a result of candidate shortages, hiring managers in the commercial sector are required to be more flexible when seeking to hire, often considering professionals from a financial services background.

Sigmar Recruitment’s take on the accountancy job market is bullish, as over the past year there has been a large increase in the number of permanent positions available. Sigmar suggests that the impact of Brexit has convinced some practices to hire professionals in an advisory capacity as they grow their business. Small and medium-sized accountancy firms have also been hiring at a fast pace, although Sigmar warns that these practices will struggle to retain staff due to sectoral competition.

Shared Services

Where candidates move between practices, the most common trend is still from smaller to larger firms. However, Donal O’Brien of Abrivia says people sometimes move the other way to seek a better work-life balance. “Smaller practice firms continue to make technology investment, bringing processes such as audit closer to those in the larger firms,” he adds.

Shared Services Centres are continuing to grow nationwide and remain a key employer for finance professionals across Ireland, according to Morgan McKinley’s Jay Davitt. “Big 4 trained accountants remain in high demand. Experienced professionals with language skills remain in short supply, especially for shared centres seeking German, Dutch or Nordic languages skills. Transactional positions such as accounts payable and accounts receivable remain consistently in demand, while job titles such as systems accountant, ERP specialist and IT internal auditors are becoming more common than in previous years.”

 

Photo: Oliver Holt, chairman of Chartered Accountants Leinster Society, with Louise O’Leary of The Panel 

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