Vacancies in the accounting sector increased by 13% between 2009 and 2014, whilst the number of jobs in other financial services sectors (bankers, insurers and asset managers) declined by 16% according to research commissioned by SJD Accountancy.
Alongside the growth in accounting jobs, the number of new accountancy practice start-ups has also increased by 6% over the past year drawing a stark parallel with the number of law firms that increased just 1% over the same period.
Many of the new jobs are mid-level − for example, non-management roles such as ledger clerks and financial accountants, says Robert Russell, head of business at Reed Finance, a recruitment company. The number of senior jobs is on the rise too. “For more senior jobs, companies are looking for a wider range of skills, such as IT, HR and a broader understanding of and exposure to business,” Russell says. “Clients want people to grow their business.” However, some companies are more flexible when hiring. If candidates meet four out of five of an employer’s criteria, the employer may be happy for them to grow into the role, Russell says. Recruitment companies have also reported a rising demand for accountants in most areas of the private and public sectors, especially in property and construction. This is all good news for the ambitious accountant!
Accountants’ salaries are rising well above inflation and faster than those of many other professions. Some of the biggest increases have been for newly qualified accountants, credit managers and finance business partners. Counteroffering – the practice of outbidding a company that wants to hire your staff – is becoming more common as employers compete for the best talent. 78% of UK employers gave their financial staff pay rises between November 2013 and November 2014, and a quarter of those increases were above inflation, according to a Hays survey. Significantly, large pay rises haven’t just been limited to London, where most of the UK’s financial jobs are, recruitment experts say. Bonuses are also increasing, as well as perks such as more holiday entitlement and professional training, as employers compete for the cream of the candidate crop.
It’s hard to predict how long the boom in the accountancy job market will last, as much depends on the UK’s economic growth. But recruitment consultants are confident this boom will last for at least another year.
Even if you’re happy in your job, it’s worth polishing your CV and reviewing the job market. “It’s a great time to move jobs and…get a step up in cash,” says Morton.
AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.