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Regional Outlook - Home Counties

January 2014

Employers in the Home Counties are already vying for the best finance talent so candidates will benefit when competition gets even fiercer

Overview

The Home Counties are enjoying a surge in recruitment and a large number of finance jobs were created in 2013. Newly qualified accountants are in particular demand, both within industry and practice.

Commerce and industry

Better economic conditions and increased merger and acquisition activity are driving job creation for finance professionals in commerce and industry. While there is more demand across the board, the financial services, property and service companies are hiring in the greatest numbers. Finance directors are expanding the headcount in their teams to support their businesses in a period of growth.

As confidence improves and more jobs are listed, strong candidates are securing interviews with several employers. Newly qualified accountants and those with up to two years’ post-qualification experience who are looking to make their first move into practice from industry are in greatest demand. These candidates are sought after for business partner, finance manager, financial controller and system accountant roles. With these positions, employers look for first-time passes, good academics and an ACA or CIMA qualification. At a senior level, there are more openings for finance directors since employers are investing in hiring the right managers to help their businesses expand.

Candidates are now more willing to switch employers than they have been for several years. The range of opportunities that exist also means that multiple offers and counter offers are becoming more prevalent. At Hays, we believe that holding on to talent is going to be a key challenge for businesses in the improving economic climate. Also, some employers need to speed up their recruitment processes if they want to beat their competitors to the best people.

Strong demand exists for temporary and interim finance staff within commerce and industry. As a result, some employers are struggling to fill finance manager and financial controller positions quickly.

In general, salaries have stayed static over the last 12 months and candidates have typically secured rises of between 3% and 5% when moving jobs. If the economic recovery continues to pick up pace in 2014, however, we could see greater upward movement in pay.

Practice

Candidates hold the cards in the public practice market at present since accountancy firms are competing to secure the best talent. The Big Four firms have embarked on massive recruitment drives and this has sparked movement throughout the profession. Hiring is taking place across all service lines although audit and tax are especially busy. Not only are firms in the Home Counties having to vie with one another to get the best staff, they are also losing candidates to well paid roles in London. At Hays, we believe that employers in practice need to sell the benefits of their firm and location during the interview process.

It is likely that 2014 will bring a candidate shortage for newly qualified and part-qualified roles due to firms cutting back on hiring trainees during the downturn. This is particularly likely to affect the audit specialism.

Public sector

The public sector employs large numbers of finance professionals in the Home Counties, particularly in big cities such as Brighton, Oxford and Reading. The reorganisation of the National Health Service has sparked demand for qualified and unqualified staff on both a temporary and a permanent basis. They have been hired to help set up new bodies and close down legacy ones. This need for skilled finance professionals is likely to continue throughout 2014.

Summary

As the outlook for 2014 seems very positive for employers in the Home Counties, the best finance candidates will find they have their pick of roles regardless of the sector they work in.


To find out more about opportunities in the Home Counties, visit our website or contact Dan Rogers on 01865 727071.