The first six months of 2016 saw an unpredictable market for both jobseekers and employers within accounting & finance. This was mainly due to external economic and political factors, both locally and internationally, causing firms across financial services to monitor their recruitment plans more closely.
There was a sustained level of hiring activity at the newly-qualified to five years’ PQE level, with preference still being shown to chartered accountants coming from ‘Big 4’ firms. We witnessed however, a more relaxed attitude by employers to hire straight from practice, with a willingness to consider either financial services or industry experience in an increasingly candidate short market.
We witnessed increased recruitment activity with Corporate Service providers which has resulted in higher recruitment of part-qualified and qualified accountants across this sector.
Ongoing regulatory demands from the Central Bank translated to high levels of staffing requirements within regulatory reporting, and we witnessed a closer alignment between financial and regulatory reporting with many clients requesting strong experience in Solvency II, COREP and FINREP, and we anticipate this trend to continue. From a recruitment perspective this has allowed candidates with this specific experience to demand a premium when entering the job market.
Counter-offers have resulted in an even greater competitive market with companies finding it increasingly challenging to replace key personnel. As a result there have been substantial salary increases, as well as newly created roles/promotions, given within organisations in order to improve staff retention rates.
Permanent employment contracts have accounted for the majority of job offers in 2016 to date, with fixed term and temporary contracts being reserved to cover specific projects or leavers. This is a significant change from the previous two years where fixed term and temporary contracts were offered to circumvent headcount restrictions and assess candidates performance prior to securing permanent employment.
'Big 4' accountants continued to be the most highly sought after candidates within the commercial sector. While there is a preference for those with post qualified industry experience, the high levels of demand in the market for professionals with this skillset means that employers are moving more quickly to make hires, especially for those with niche skillsets such as commercial finance or cost accounting experience.
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