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Regional Outlook: South Coast of England
October 2013

As the economy slowly returns to health, there is more demand for the skills and expertise of accounting and senior finance professionals on the South Coast of England.

Commerce and industry

Heightened business confidence is driving hiring of finance professionals within commerce and industry on the South Coast of England. Demand for permanent staff has increased steadily since March while the past couple of months have also seen greater activity in the temporary market. Opportunities are especially abundant within the financial services, manufacturing and retail sectors.

At present, the SME sector is particularly dynamic and there are finance jobs available at every level from entry positions through to senior hires. Blue-chip organisations have also taken on more finance professionals over the past year to work on new projects and replace staff members who have left. Employers that previously made redundancies are now looking to provide additional support to their finance teams. So there is considerable demand for assistant management accountants as well as newly qualified and part-qualified staff in general.

At a more senior level, employers seek professionals with strong commercial and business-partnering skills to take on finance director roles. Candidates for these appointments will be expected to demonstrate how they can help to take the business forward. Financial planning and analysis skills are prized and there is demand for individuals who have previous experience of managing mergers and acquisitions.

Salaries have largely stayed stable this year with many candidates choosing to move sideways into larger organisations with a view to benefitting from better opportunities in future. Senior finance professionals are often rewarded with performance-related bonuses, however. It is still comparatively rare for employers to make counteroffers to retain staff, although this practice is likely to increase as more jobs come onto the market, leading to a shortage of candidates.

Payroll experts are sought after due to the Real Time Information Initiative, which requires employers to submit their payroll data online to HM Revenue & Customs, and the rollout of pension auto enrolment. As a result, payroll managers can often command above inflation pay rises when they move jobs.

The market for finance professionals within commerce and industry on the South Coast is set to gain further momentum over the course of this year and into 2014.


As commerce and industry swings back into life, this is stimulating demand for finance professionals within practice on the South Coast. Accountancy firms’ new business pipelines are improving and they need high-calibre individuals to take on additional work. Part-qualified candidates who are at an advanced stage in their studies and recently qualified candidates are particularly sought after. If a strong individual comes onto the market, firms will often try to make space for them even if they have not advertised a specific vacancy.

Some well-publicised mergers have recently taken place among the profession’s mid-tier firms, but the full effect of the accompanying restructuring has yet to be felt. Where candidates from merged practices are seeking out new roles, they often favour a move into commerce and industry. They believe good opportunities exist in that sector and may be wary of joining a firm that could later merge with another practice. Nevertheless, those firms that are able to attract the right people from newly merged practices can benefit from hiring talented individuals who might have otherwise stayed put.

Public sector

The NHS is recruiting finance staff in relatively high numbers following its reorganisation in April. A number of new roles have been created and there is still work to be done to wind up the legacy bodies. Another driver for hiring is the fact that the new clinical commissioning groups often prefer to manage finance in-house rather than outsource it to the clinical support units.

When recruiting, the NHS bodies often look for ‘business partners’ who can work on bids and tenders. This is especially the case for the hospital acute trusts, which are under pressure to manage their money efficiently. So there are good opportunities to move into the NHS for candidates with service experience gained in the private sector.

Within local government, the larger councils are spending again after a few years of cost cutting and this is driving hiring in the sector. Recruitment within the education, housing and not-for-profit sectors is fairly flat and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.


At present, commerce and industry and the NHS present the most opportunities for finance professionals working on the South Coast. There are also some interesting openings in practice and local government. Salaries are static across all sectors but candidates are willing to move for different experience or a better work-life balance.