“How’s the Accountancy and Finance Job Market ???”​ – It’s OK.

 In Accountancy, Blog

This year has felt like unpredictable dystopia at times before swinging to almost ‘business as usual’ normality at others – it seems the quirky and unsettling rollercoaster ride of 2020 is set to continue through Q4. 

We have had unprecedented levels of contact from finance professionals and hiring managers seeking advice and guidance about the job market between May and September and we are keen to share a brief summary of the market as we are seeing it. Here are some of the trends we have been / are experiencing;

A Snapshot Update on the Accountancy and Finance Job Market in H2 2020. 

Job volumes generally are down year to year vs 2019 (but they have been steadily rising since June)…

‘Mid-market’ roles – broadly in the £30,000 – £50,000 salary range – have bounced back faster [Management Accountant / Company Accountant / Financial Accountant / Finance Manager levels]. Whilst not back to the volume of Jan / Feb, when the market was the busiest in a decade, they are recovering to a degree of normality.

More senior assignments (Finance Director, Head of Finance, Financial Controller in the £60,000 – £100,000 range] remain less available and although rising the job market here is recovering more gently. 

Business are moving more slllloooowwwwwlllllyyyyy….. 

Unfortunately, recruitment processes are moving more slowly from job spec to offer (around 30% more slowly based on our Y2Y analysis). There are a bunch of factors but the key impacts are;

1)     Uncertainty – around markets / lockdowns / trading forecasts leading to slower decision making. Clients in some areas are becoming more trigger shy when it comes to signing off new hires / replacements.

2)     Line managers being physically unable to conduct interviews – due to isolating / quarantine / site access etc.

3)     Candidate availability – many people are very stretched currently in their role and so interview availability is difficult to coordinate.

There are still MAJOR skill gaps and competition for strong candidates remains high. 

Conversely to lots of thinking there are some roles that remain very tough to fill. The appetite for some people to move (particularly in the ‘passive jobseeker market’) has dipped. Some are taking the stance of staying in their current role until 2021 – riding the storm with a ‘better the devil I know’ approach. 

For example, those making the first step from practice to industry and those in particular niches such as Tax, Cost Accounting, practice roles in general and highly technical roles – many in this demographic are leaning toward ‘staying put’.

Selection is challenging. 

Application volumes generally are up YoY but the breadth of applications is extremely varied. Recruiters / hiring managers must adapt by having very clear and focused selection processes that are compassionate but also time / labour efficient. The ‘sifting process’ can be very ineffective in markets like this one where CVs can sometimes come ‘flying in from all angles’. This is something we saw in 2009, post recession.

Salaries are down. 

On both interim and permanent markets we are seeing salaries broadly between 5 and 10% lower than we would have expected in Q4 2019 / early Q1 2020.  

Budgets are tight and some businesses seem set to ‘take advantage’ of what is perceived as a shift in the supply / demand dynamic. For the record it is worth being cautious here, because the value you save with a low ball offer now will soon be eroded when the market firms back up…

Counter offers are up. Businesses are responding to notices with unusually inflated counter offers. We are hearing of frequent knee jerk counter-offers being made at point of resignation. Year to date anecdotally we have seen all of our placements (thankfully!) reject counter offers but we are hearing of some very bizarre promises being made to tempt people to stay.

There are some really interesting divides. Certain sectors / businesses are on the front foot and while few are ‘completely unscathed’ some are taking a hugely proactive approach. 

As a business we are seeing a more than reasonable volume of exclusive roles – and a particular spike in roles considered ‘highly confidential’. Some businesses are forecasting a quicker recovery and are pushing ahead in bullish fashion with large finance projects / team enhancement and growth.

In summary – the market is recovering, salaries are lighter than they were in some cases, selection is longwinded and tough, pace of recruitment cycles has slowed, finding the right candidate might not be ‘easier’ than it was before the chaos. 

We hope you are successfully navigating through the strange waters of 2020 and the business is performing well. If we can assist with your recruitment needs in finance at any stage we would welcome the chance to speak.

We have built a reputation for absolute honestly and expertise and for handling finance roles that may prove ‘tricky to fill’ or those requiring a high degree of sensitivity / confidentiality.

01246 541 927 / info@thearg.co.uk

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