In Yorkshire, employers are competing fiercely to secure the best newly qualified accountants as hiring activity climbs to pre-recession levels.
Demand for newly qualified accountants in Yorkshire is at its highest level since the global economic crisis hit in 2008. Hiring has soared due to larger businesses reporting greater profits and bolstering their headcount by investing in new positions. The financial services sector is recruiting most, but roles are also coming up in professional services and manufacturing. There is a candidate shortage as a result and employers are competing fiercely to secure the best talent.
Most opportunities are for newly qualified accountants up to mid-manager grade. Due to their technical expertise in accounting standards, newly qualified ACAs are particularly sought after to fill financial controller roles in small companies and group finance manager positions. Indeed, it is not unusual for candidates at this level to have four or five offers to choose from.
At Hays, we have also seen a surge in demand for commercial accountants and business partners in Yorkshire, with CIMA-qualified candidates often preferred for these positions due their industry experience. Employers see commercial accountants and business partners as integral to business growth and expect them to liaise between the finance and sales teams. By analysing costs, margins and pricing, they can help to drive businesses forward. At present, there is a shortage of professionals to fill these business-support roles, however, so employers may need to be more flexible about considering candidates with qualifications other than CIMA in future.
The Big 4 and top 20 accountancy firms are actively recruiting into their compliance, tax, treasury and other advisory service lines. But they face stiff competition from employers within commerce and industry to secure the best candidates. The public sector is also recruiting, with the NHS and charities making the most appointments.
Unsurprisingly, hiring is greatest in the large urban centres of Leeds, Bradford and York. Employers in Bradford are trying to attract newly qualified accountants from Leeds by offering inflated salaries to compensate for the extra travel. Most roles that arise are permanent positions because professionals want the security that they offer. As a result, good interim candidates at newly qualified level can often command a premium. Employers do look for interims to cover maternity leave, projects and seasonal highs in workload.
Salaries are higher than they were 12 months ago because there is a candidate shortage and employers are competing to secure the best talent. A newly qualified accountant in Yorkshire can expect a starting salary of at least £35,000, often with a bonus on top. This compares with salaries of between £30,000 and £32,000 two years ago. Employers are using counter-offers to retain their best staff, so organisations need to put forward a strong package with attractive benefits and good opportunities for career progression if they want to secure the highest-calibre candidates.
Demand for newly qualified accountants should continue to grow during 2014, leading to an even greater candidate shortage and higher salaries. This may prompt employers to address succession planning and invest more in training graduates.