High demand for accountancy qualifications in 2023

aat comment

As the cost of living crisis continues, we dip in and out of double-digit inflation and have a possible recession looming; it’s understandable that many people are feeling nervous about their jobs and salaries.

But amongst all this uncertainty, career prospects are still looking strong for those with accountancy qualifications.

Accountancy – a recession-proof career path

Accountancy and finance roles have a reputation for being recession-proof career choices. This seems to be holding up in 2023, with the statistics showing a positive outlook for those in the finance sector, certainly according to two of the top recruiters in the accountancy and finance market – Wade Macdonald and Hays, who both predict that even if a recession does come in the next six months, the demand for finance professionals won’t wane.

“There’s not much evidence pointing to widespread redundancies across the accountancy and finance sector,” says Chris Goulding, Managing Director at specialist recruiter Wade Macdonald.

Lorraine Twist, a Director at Hay, says, “According to our data, more than half (53%) of finance professionals are looking to move jobs in the next 12 months,” meaning there are still lots of opportunities out there. 

And although automation is replacing many pure data-entry roles, there is still plenty of demand out there for human intelligence, “it’s all very well having large volumes of data – but without people to interpret and analyse its implications and provide it with a business context, it doesn’t have much of a point,” Goulding says.

The most sought-after skills in finance and accounting

Hays recruitment specialists have published the 2023 Salary & Recruiting Trends Guide, which shows that 90% of finance employers experienced a skills shortage (which contributes to an increase in salaries), with 63% predicting competition for talent with other employers. The skills most in demand within accountancy and finance include:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills (63%)
  • The ability to adopt change (52%)
  • The ability to learn continuously (47%)
  • Coordinating with others (40%)

Hays also found that 70% of finance employers would consider hiring someone who doesn’t have the full suite of desirable skills with the aim of upskilling them.

The top finance and accounting roles with salary increases

Hays’s research also shows that 89% of organisations anticipate increasing salaries for finance functions, and 62% of those in charge of recruiting accountancy professionals intend on hiring staff in the year ahead (both higher figures than last year).

Hays says that the top ten roles with salary increases in accountancy and finance are:

  1. Financial director
  2. Finance manager
  3. Financial planning and analysis manager
  4. Newly/recently qualified accountant (0-2 years post-qualified experience)
  5. Accountant (2-4 years post-qualified experience)
  6. Credit manager
  7. Accounts payable assistant
  8. Treasury analyst
  9. Financial controller
  10. Senior credit controller

Chris Goulding agrees, saying, “Many areas of finance have experienced exponential surges in salaries. For example, in the transactional finance market, salaries have increased hugely over the past 12 months – with 50% of people in this area moving roles for more than 15% increases. As a result, the starting salary for those moving for the first time since qualifying has never been higher. At times, we are seeing people change jobs for salary increases of more than 25%.”

Goulding adds, “Many companies are ahead of the curve and combating rising costs with pay rises. Those that haven’t should at least review salaries to ensure that they are up to scratch. We found that 48% of people who’ve moved jobs have received at least a 15% pay rise. Money talks.”

Traditional university study continues to decline in favour of other qualifications and apprenticeships 

It’s little wonder, with demand remaining high for roles like accountancy and the cost of university study being so high, that traditional university study continues to decline in favour of other qualifications and apprenticeships like AAT.

The Spectator says that a traditional degree certificate now costs a student around £28,000 plus costs of living away from home, but a degree apprenticeship is essentially free, with the Government paying around two-thirds and the employer covering the rest. In addition, many skills needed in the workplace are not those often given importance while studying for a conventional university degree.

In its article ‘The decline of university study is no bad thing’, The Spectator says, “As for many degrees, there is little reason to think them best gained by the means traditionally used by universities. What is needed, in other words, is not so many graduates with degree certificates as people with knowledge, familiarity and hands-on expertise.”

Further reading:

Hannah Dolan is AAT Comment’s Content Editor.

Related articles