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Regional Insight - Scotland

October 2013


The financial services sector in Scotland seeks accountants with systems knowledge and communication skills as well as risk and governance expertise.

The past five years have been challenging for the Scottish financial services sector, which has responded to the banking crisis by cutting costs and investing in projects to meet its ever-increasing regulatory obligations. Over the last six months, confidence has returned to the sector, however, and it is starting to plan for growth once again. As a result, employers are recruiting both permanent and temporary staff.

Financial services organisations of all sizes are hiring financial accountants and management accountants who can focus on costs and communicate effectively with others. Candidates who have between five and six years’ post-qualification experience, strong technical accounting skills, a financial services background and commercial nous are especially sought after. In addition, the implementation of the Capital Requirements Directive IV capital adequacy reforms in January 2014, along with other regulatory developments, is stimulating demand for finance professionals with a governance and risk background and project experience. As a result, employers are competing to secure the services of the limited pool of suitable candidates. Fortunately the shortage is, to some extent, alleviated by the supply of individuals who are prepared to commute to Edinburgh from London on a weekly basis.

The most frequently advertised roles are for senior business analyst and business partner positions. Candidates who apply for these posts will be expected to have sound knowledge of systems such as Oracle and SAP as well as the ability to communicate with people from non-financial backgrounds. Wages are starting to shift upwards after staying static over the last few years. Employers continue to prize newly qualified accountants for their flexibility and willingness to learn and these candidates may enjoy pay and benefits packages of up to £42,000.

Flexibility of costs remains an issue within the financial services sector so some employers are trying to hire finance professionals on an interim basis initially. If they impress in their roles, these candidates will often be retained on a permanent basis once their contract expires.

As the economic outlook improves, many professionals in financial services who originally came from commerce and industry are being tempted to return to that sector. This, in turn, will create more openings within financial services. At a senior level there are still limited openings as employers continue to make more expensive staff redundant. When finance director positions do need to be filled, they often prefer to promote internally, if the skill set exists.

Hiring into permanent positions within financial services in Scotland is set to remain steady for the rest of this year and into next year. There will be continued demand for contract and interim workers, however, especially on projects that are behind schedule.

To find out more about opportunities in financial services in Scotland, contact Garrett O’Gorman on 0131 226 2280