Across both contract and permanent requirements we have seen a consistent flow of a variety of roles, in areas such as Product Control, Business Analysis and most recently Financial Planning and Analysis. Additionally, in the contract space we have also seen an increase in the number of roles in Internal Audit and particularly within the IT Audit space. .
Many firms sought to capitalise on the influx of newly qualified candidates who came to the market in Q4, which matched a significant number of these candidates seeking new employment. However, a large section of the newly qualified chartered accountants were keen to pursue Front Office based roles and as a result their expectations had to be managed, considering the difficulty of moving into those particular positions. Instead we looked to guide them towards more traditional roles within the CFO world that would better suit their skills. Additionally, firms that could offer more commercial roles had more success in recruiting newly qualified accountants. We found another challenge in candidates from audit backgrounds whom lacked experience in banking and capital markets, who were keen to secure FP&A or Business Partnering type roles. The problem we faced was that banks tend to consider these candidates for financial reporting roles only with the promise of internal mobility after a period of time.
Within the asset management space there has been a steady flow of jobs, despite many firms having completed the bulk of their offshoring projects to cheaper hubs. Dublin and Luxembourg have seen an increase in roles in Fund Accounting, due to the regulatory requirements following funds being moved to these locations in the run up to BREXIT.
In Audit the announcement of the BDO Moore Stephens mergers has sent some ripples through the market. This merger will create a firm that will leapfrog Grant Thornton and become the 5th largest accounting firm in terms of revenue. This could increase the candidate pool for firms who are usually specific in their search for “Big 4” candidates, as a “Top 6” will be created.
The final quarter of 2018 saw a wide range of roles released, with the remnants of the summer period supplying most of the roles at the start of Q4 due to the importance of Q1 in terms of financial year end in April.
An area that has continued to grow is Newly Qualified Market with typically clients looking for “Big 4” candidates with 2-3 years post-qualification at £60-65K. This was typically a salary range the most sort after candidates were already being paid, making any move, at least financially, a lateral one for those candidates. The clients, who found ease in securing the best candidates, were those who were more flexible in their salary negotiations and who were swift in their processes.
Another area that has shown strength has been for roles for candidates 3-4 years post-qualification.
These have had more turnover than usual, with candidates who would have qualified just before the Brexit announcement, securing roles and with the expectation of moving 2-3 years later, but not being able to do so, due to the uncertainty of Brexit. Now that there is more clarity surrounding Brexit compared to Q4 in 2017, these candidates are seeking to move roles without fear of financial firms relocating large sections of their operations to mainland Europe.
A number of investment Banks released Financial Accounting roles in their reporting functions which predominantly targeted newly qualified accountants seeking to leave audit and get into industry. Financial Reporting roles targeting more senior candidates were also released, mainly for candidates who would be asked to manage teams with newly qualified accountants.
We also noted demand across many of the large investment banks for experienced product controllers with strong technical and direct product exposure. Within this space, there has been an emphasis on recruiting candidates with complex, exotic knowledge in such areas as credit, fixed income and equities derivatives. This has been true both on the permanent and contract sides in terms of the amount of roles released.
Within the Asset Management space roles typically did not require qualified accountants, but instead candidates with experience in the asset class that the fund will sit in, whether it’s Real Estate or OEICS, have been particularly desirable. There has been a rise in oversight roles within Fund Accounting, with firms needing candidates to review the results of the functions they have outsourced to TPAs. We have a seen an increase in firms seeking London based candidates to fill roles in their Dublin and Luxembourg functions, as firms seek to acquire the drive and efficiency that comes with working in London. In recent times we have seen an increase in Asset Managers basing their operations abroad.
Amongst both contract and permanent markets, we have found a recent spike in the number of financial planning and analysis roles released. These have ranged from junior to senior positions, with most requiring solid MS Excel and MI experience. We believe this is tied to Brexit, with firms creating hubs in mainland Europe; they will look increase their headcount to handle financial planning and analysis functions of their cost and revenue channels.
With Brexit looming, we have seen some, but a limited number of related roles in the contract space. Business analyst positions appear to be the most popular within this sector, as firms look to bring in experienced regulatory reporters ideally with FINREP and COREP experience, to handle any regulatory changes that could occur with Brexit.
Overall Q4 and 2018 we saw hiring remain strong even in the face of wider uncertainties. Clients who are willing to be flexible in salary negotiations and offer training for candidates were more successful in securing the best candidates.
Throughout December, we saw the number of contract roles release rise steadily. This was due in part to leftover company budgets, combined with an effort to bring people in for year end reporting. We expect this trend to continue into the first quarter of the New Year.
As Q1 is the time most firms pay out bonuses to employees we expect to see much greater candidate movement. Additionally, we expect to see more roles seeking candidates from London and the UK to relocate to Luxembourg and Dublin, particularly in Asset Managers Fund operations, as the candidate pool in those locations is small in comparison to London and the UK.
We also anticipate an increase in contract requirements as firms ensure they the have headcount flexibility to be dynamic and meet their business needs in the wake of an uncertain European future. However, most firms have sustained their policy of ‘business as usual” until a final decision is made.