Technical Accountants in High Demand
Accountants with a higher level of understanding of reporting standards and technical issues are in increasing demand, according to recruitment consultancy Badenoch & Clark.
Peter Howarth, operations director for Accounting & Finance at the firm, said audit managers are finding themselves in demand for senior reporting roles as employers ditch a ‘like for like’ recruitment strategy in favour of higher technical knowledge.
He said businesses were being much more cost conscious and focussed on getting accountants to have wider commercial exposure.
“This is particularly the case in PLCs and larger businesses as they seek to become more robust in their reporting,” Howarth said. “The classic accounting roles, in financial accounting and management accounting, yes they exist but they're so minimal now. The majority of requirements from businesses are really in the financial business, partnering, and commercial arena.”
Howarth explained that the nature of accounting roles had changed significantly.
“Businesses are trying to get genuine value out and commercial benefit from the investment in their finance professionals. We are finding a lot of our clients want to get people who are very highly technically skilled and increasingly we’re seeing accountants coming straight from practice to fill technical, group accounting or statutory reporting roles.”
He explained that was because there are some big reporting changes in the pipeline, particularly in 2014/15 around IFRS.
“Some customers are looking forward and thinking about how they can get some of the technical knowledge in-house to deal with those changes. They can get it in-house now or pay a lot to get it externally later,” he said.
Talking to AccountingWEB about the wider recruiting trends in the profession, Howarth added that there were positive signs on the back of recent economic news, but this was tempered by caution.
“What we are seeing in the finance recruitment field are some positive signs and indicators on the back of the ONS forecasts on employment and other economic indicators. But really this is very much coloured by caution because of what has happened over the last four or five years.
“So while everyone is overall more positive about the economic indicators, there's still a note of caution in the finance community.”
Other trends from the firm’s ‘talent spotlight’ research include higher demand in the high-tech manufacturing arenas, in line with the economy, and a shift in the demand profile from being historically fully qualified accountants to people coming up who may be part-qualified.
“They're looking for people they can pay a little less to in terms of salary, and also someone they can develop,” he explained. “Lean manufacturing experience has become increasingly valuable as manufacturers target senior and part qualified accountants as part of their growth strategies.”
In addition, over the last 12 months Howarth said there had been a significant shift in the way businesses appoint new recruits.
Job postings in the temporary market have declined by 30% year-on-year, and there's been a comparable increase in the number of fixed-term contract vacancies.
Howarth explained that there was a practical cost implication for opting for less flexible fixed-term contracts. However the primary reason was that many businesses are still confused by agency worker regulations.
“A lot of clients are feeling the burden of the extra administration around temporary workers,” Howarth said.
What are your observations about the accounting recruitment market in recent months?
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