Rachel Walsh - Manager Industry and Commerce Finance
Rachel is the manager of the Industry and Commerce Finance team with Cpl, she has over 20 years of recruitment experience and excellent knowledge of the industry finance sector. Rachel specialises in recruiting qualified accountants ranging from financial accountants, finance managers, financial controllers, finance directors, and CFO’s across a number of different sectors in the Industry sector, including SME’s, Plc’s, financial services and multinationals.
Accounting and Finance sector assessment
Salaries and benefits for Accountants are staying consistent. There has been a slight uplift in the contract market, but that is industry specific. The permanent market has seen a definite uplift in job offering since the start of 2021. In 2019,the permanent market was at a steady pace, some roles in more demand than others, but we had candidates eager to move and hear about new positions, now the job to candidate ratio is way off, with the market flooded with new roles and candidates having their choice to cherry pick the roles they want, be it sector, salary or career progression that drives them, they will get what they want. Clients still have a big appetite to hire on contract especially the big multinational corporations, which do so for many reasons including headcount, IT upgrades, compliance, maternity, and sick leave due to Covid. However, we are noticing a very quick conversion from contract to permanent roles, as companies look to ease the shortage of talent by using them to backfill roles.
The Covid hiring freeze, which was implemented across a lot of multinational financial service businesses, together with natural attrition and other absences has left some businesses at critical staffing levels. This is leading to a desperate urgency to hire and fill the gaps arising.
This lack of personnel and the inability to replace talent has had a knock-on effect. As a result, we’re seeing existing employees who are overworked or stressed, starting to look for better employment situations. This has increased churn and volatility in the market.
Junior Covid starters have not had the level of personal engagement needed to form strong commitments and bonds to co-workers and companies. The lack of personal engagement with colleagues, so important to juniors and graduates, is also isolation within the workplace. As employees gain experience, but not loyalty or company integration. They see no reason to remain and are contributing to churn in the market.
Some candidates that work in Dublin are actively looking for regional opportunities. And they are not keen to return to in-office roles, which keep them in the commuter radius of the city centre. Many want to switch to regional offices or continue to work from home. The demand for talent has seen employers bend to candidates' needs and this is driving up salaries in regional areas. Cpl are seeing this happen across all roles, junior and senior. And this trend is not limited to Accounting and Finance.
What are the underlying forces at work in the Accounting and Finance industry
Initial Covid uncertainties meant hiring in 2020 was slow and very reserved. However, Ireland adapted to online/remote working very quickly and efficiently. This has led to an explosion in recruitment of qualified candidates and the talent pool can’t keep up with demand. The talent shortage is leading to larger employers increasing salaries and benefits to secure much need talent. Interestingly, we’re also seeing accounting professionals who gained experience in PLC/MNC’s, leaving the market entirely to pursue roles in other countries.
What is attractive about Accounting and Finance for 2022
For job seekers the work from home model ushered in during lockdown has been a revelation. Many candidates do not want to return to the office full-time. And employers are adopting a more hybrid approach to attract candidates. Flexible working is now a key requirement for many Accounting and Finance roles. An interesting impact of flexible working models is the ability for candidates to interview without scheduling time off. Virtual interviewing allows candidates to pursue more roles at once and gives hiring managers and job seekers much more movement around scheduling interviews. Those seeking senior roles are also more available to interview than pre-pandemic. Finally, the ability to work outside of Dublin is extremely attractive to candidates, especially those looking to get on the property ladder. This is a huge motivator and can be the deciding factor for many job seekers, who have more than one offer on the table.
What are the key issues facing Accounting and Finance in 2022
The new working models of being 100% remote or have a hybrid version, where employees go into the office one or two days a week is being embraced by many candidates. And research suggests that people are more productive in these models. But some aspects of work do suffer because of the isolation from colleagues. For example, collaboration is trickier, projects which require a lot of brainstorming can suffer from scheduling headaches and very pre-defined work meetings timeslots. While these existed in the pre-Covid world, the ability to bleed over has drastically reduced. Also, learning and creating by osmosis is curtailed when team members are not face to face in a work environment. Workplace isolation is a growing issue, especially with colleagues who have never actually met outside of virtual meetings. Workplace Wellness programmes are key to keeping employees mentally strong and to building up workplace bonds, which have been severally limited by the lack of casual interaction.
What critical skills do companies need to develop for success in 2022
Employers need to recognise the increased candidate power in the market fuelling and Job seeker’s growing expectations. They expect an increased base salary and a healthy benefits package which includes hybrid work. The Accounting and Finance sector seems to be a bit slower in adopting some of the benefits coming to the fore elsewhere. For example, increased AL is not a feature we are seeing. However, we predict a four-day working week could be on the cards for highly sought-after Financial Accountant, Financial Analyst and Commercial Accountant candidates being pursued by multinationals. Assessing what is on offer, comparing it to the market and, most importantly, levelling up to meet employee needs are critical to growth in the current environment. Workers are being more productive than ever, especially those with a decent work-life balance. Employers need to consider how they manage workloads. With employees remote from management this can be tricky. But reducing stress and burnout will also help retain valuable assets in a volatile market.