Accounting & Finance Job Market Update: July 2017
We get asked many times a day what Auckland’s accounting and finance job market is doing.
There’s a lot going on out there, but the answer is definitely not straightforward. Let’s try and make sense of a few things for you:
At Consult, we’ve seen the job market continue to be very buoyant. There are a huge number of permanent roles currently, many of them newly created. For contract roles, we are starting to pre book our best contractors for roles a few weeks out of contractors being available. Confidence is good and this is likely to continue with the good news around the America’s Cup giving the city another injection of optimism.
The last six months have confirmed that we are in a market that is very short of the people that our clients like to hire. Examples of candidates having multiple job offers and being counter offered by their current employer have gone through the roof. We have seen this create an upward pressure on salaries across these roles.
Let’s break it down a little further:
COMMERCIAL FINANCE & ACCOUNTING
With strong economic trends across most sectors, we are seeing most companies looking to invest and make improvements within commercial finance functions. Many of our customers are investing in technology and this is driving large change to the traditional finance team structure.
Many businesses have gone through outsourcing transactional finance overseas over the past years and are now focusing on systems improvements. This has seen many clerical roles leave NZ finance teams. Mid level roles are also seeing significant change through this finance redefinition. More and more soft skills and commercial acumen are top of the list for employers.
We are seeing pay increases in some pockets of the market – particularly at that newly qualified level where demand is now strong again. At a senior level, there are still a number of very well qualified people, so rates have not increased.
BANKING & FINANCIAL SERVICES
Financial Services continues to have an ever growing focus on Risk & Governance, with increased requirements from the regulatory bodies resulting in additional roles across Compliance, Audit, Assurance and Risk. With pending further reporting requirements, this will continue to be a high area of demand at all levels. Banking particularly is becoming more regulated in this area, requiring more headcount and a more specified set of skills. High-quality staff are very hard to source and many internal recruitment functions are finding difficulty in these specialist areas.
Accounting Firms are experiencing a terrible shortage of quality candidates currently. Many are losing key staff to commercial organisations or to other firms who are paying above market to attract talent. Additionally, by far the majority of our Accounting Firm clients are experiencing huge business growth which is placing additional stress on their ability to deliver to their clients.
On the more positive side, now more than ever, accounting firms are able to differentiate themselves from each other because there are many focused on just compliance, mostly advisory and value add, and some who are finding success in creating bookkeeping teams. This is good because candidates are able to focus on firms that are more suited to their profile and preferences.
As with all supply and demand situations, something has to give and we are likely to see pay rates increasing in this market as firms compete to hire and retain the best people.
AS A WHOLE, CANDIDATES ARE ASPIRATIONAL CURRENTLY.
Many are looking for their next step in their career rather than just the next job. The best candidates are savvy with their job search and are treating the interview process as a two-way meeting (as they should).
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR YOUR NEXT ROLE?
- Clerical roles now require a systems and problem-solving skill set rather than data processing, and your ability to communicate has never been more important
- Companies are redefining their desired finance employee and have been looking for future fit people to bring into their teams so show your ‘unique selling point’ and ability to adapt with the times
- The competition for senior level roles is still proving to be challenging for most job seekers – networking and focused job searching are required to secure the best job opportunities at a senior level
In Banking & Financial services, there is a higher demand for people with experience in overseas markets (particularly the UK) as they have been through a similar increase in regulation over the past 2-3 years. In particular:
- People that have gained that experience already are in high demand
- With the increased change in regulation, there is growing demand for experienced Change and Transformation professionals – both subject matter experts and change leaders
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IF YOU’RE HIRING?
Move quickly (but with due process and focus), work with a specialist recruitment partner who will identify and secure the best talent and offer market competitive salaries (check out What’s My Worth – a real-time, user-driven online salary comparison tool). As employers, we all need to get our head around the fact that it is not an employers market and most candidates have a number of options.
THE ONES THAT ARE SUCCESSFULLY HIRING ARE THOSE THAT HAVE THEIR RECRUITMENT PROCESS SORTED:
- They know what they are looking for (and can articulate this) – how well do you sell your organisation?
- They are organised – do you know which recruitment agency is best in your area to fill your next role?
- They know that panel interviews and long processes will result in them missing out on top talent – are you ‘up to date’ with interview techniques, and can you move swiftly for the perfect candidate?
Employers need to make sure they are treating interviews as a two-way process – it is not a given anymore that all candidates you interview will want to take your job.
COUNTER OFFER FEVER: A WORD OF CAUTION TO EMPLOYERS THAT ARE COUNTER OFFERING TO AVOID LOSING STAFF.
We have seen a huge increase in counter offers in the last six months. Having seen this time and again, a counter offer normally results in giving yourself six months until the candidate looks again. The underlying reason for the person wanting to leave is typically still there and a counter offer merely delays the inevitable.
Additionally, unfortunately in the process of counter offering, some employers set a precedent for the rest of their staff and it becomes a team wide salary increase tactic. Ensure you are reviewing your staff pay to make sure you are relevant for the market and you are communicating effectively with your team so you can future plan any moves.
Overall, there are many roles out there but companies are demanding exceptional people who clearly don’t come in huge numbers. The smart employers are doing well and we have seen some great success stories in the past six months.
Everywhere we go – people talk about staff being their number one concern. Make sure you are focusing and investing your time to make sure the best people are working for you.
We have just released our updated What The Buck: Again?! – Auckland’s most comprehensive Accounting & Finance Salary Survey. To request a copy click here.