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Accounting job prospects on the up

21st Oct 2015
Editor AccountingWEB
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The outlook for recruitment in accounting is looking positive. AccountingWEB caught up with Randstad’s MD Tara Ricks to find out why it’s a good time to be an accountant and to discuss current recruitment trends.

Thanks to an improving UK economy, the biggest trend in accounting recruitment is the sheer demand to fill vacancies. "There are never going to be enough accountants in the UK to satisfy demand," Ricks enthused.

Tara Ricks said the roles which are specifically of interest to large business clients are around tax, audit, forensic accounting, and also anything that is attributing itself to the regulatory world is really in vogue. “As an industry that’s going through an enormous amount of change, and the analytic skills that are implicit with the accountancy qualification are hugely in demand”. Ricks said.

Ricks continued her ebullience concerning accountants’ job opportunities by zeroing in on a growing sector for accountants. “Whether they want to stay in practice; or go into industry; there’s a big demand in financial services right now,” Ricks said. Financial services are specifically seeking accountants because they will be able to approach business with an analytical bent.

The Robert Half 2016 Salary guide concurred with Ricks’ assessment on financial services companies’ appetite for recruiting accounting professionals. In the accounting and finance overview of the report it said that financial services are seeking accounting professionals with “more business acumen and extra commercially focused skills beyond the ability to ‘process the numbers’”.

Ricks was also quick to say that for a newly qualified accountant the world is their oyster. Ricks’ assessment for those pursuing a career in accounting aligns with the findings from the Robert Half 2016 salary guide which reported that starting salaries for professional occupations will grow by 3% over the next 12 months.

The starting salary increases for finance and accounting roles, the survey goes on to report, finance and accounting roles in the financial services sector are outpacing finance and accounting within commerce and industry at 2.7% (compared to 2.3%).

From her experience, Ricks has seen a steep increase in salaries. “Anyone we are replacing now is achieving a salary increase of a minimum up to 15%”.

When it comes to gender, Ricks notes that there might be some disparity in some SME industry, but broadly speaking gender pay in accountancy is equitable. From anecdotal evidence, Ricks still believes that the profession is male dominated, but compared to five years ago, she believes that there’s been a marked shift in diversification.

Ricks spoke about how EY’s recent shake up to their recruitment policy has made entering the Big Four more inclusive. EY recently has said that they will no longer use grades as the main criteria for recruiting employees. “So many of our clients have the time pull and they seek a demarcation to aide in their recruitment process, and a demarcation is academic excellence,” Ricks said. “So, if you take that out of the picture, it creates a very different challenge.”

Ricks understands EY’s rationale. Randstad has adopted this tactic in recruiting because they wanted to fish in a larger pool.

The positive future of accounting recruitment Ricks described differs from the fear of automation generated from a BBC report which described accountants’ chances of surviving a robo-apocalypses being pretty slim. Ricks compared this scaremongering to the strain the recruitment sector experienced eight years ago when the internet was said to dent recruiters. However, Ricks advises accountants to not cower to this challenge, but instead use it as an opportunity. “The bright minded accountant who is analytical and not transactional that’s a real opportunity.”

With the career paths for accountants broadening, accountants’ job prospects are looking optimistic.


Replies (1)

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By Jim100
21st Oct 2015 15:09

Yeh right

Having checked for jobs on some websites,  I see many employers decreasing the salary range knowing that there are still many accountants looking for work.    

I supposed if you have Niche skills then there will always be a demand

I think supply will always exceed demand at the lower end of the market whatever the surveys say which tend to be biased.

Thanks (1)