The recession meant that many senior-level finance professionals focused their efforts on up-skilling and broadening their experience, rather than looking for new roles in lean times. But, with the economy showing slow but definite growth, the jobs market is now looking more positive.
Tim Vye, divisional director of Reed Finance
, told our sister publication www.accountingweb.co.
uk that, as a result, some businesses may need to re-think their approach to recruitment, to avoid missing out on the most talented candidates.
The jobs market is often an important indicator of the economic health of the nation. We are now three years on from the nadir of the 2008 recession, which saw many businesses struggling and had a knock-on effect on the employment prospects of thousands of people. This period of instability and fear was quickly followed by two years of pay and headcount freezes – prompting many finance professionals to stay under the radar as the recession played itself out.
As a result, many employers have assessed the recruitment landscape as being a ‘buyer’s market’ where they hold the balance of power. Consequently, many firms have been, understandably, more demanding in their requirements and expectations when seeking to fill new finance professional roles.
However, Reed Finance has seen the opposite trend emerging in recent times. For many senior-level accounting and finance professionals, the economic slowdown was an opportunity to develop broader skills and prove their worth by adding bottom-line value through financial and commercial acumen. This has created a thriving talent pool of professional finance candidates who are increasingly in a prime position to pick and choose the next steps in their career.
A number of factors have fuelled this diversification and up-skilling of finance professionals over the past three years.
Within the accountancy profession, there has been the start of a polarisation in skill-sets and career paths. With accountants choosing between a more technical career route, in terms of statutory and financial accounting, or pursuing more analytical, business-facing roles.
In addition, organisations dealing with the recovery from recession have often called upon finance professionals to diversify into some non-traditional, but business-critical, areas such as change management, project management and new system implementations.
Regulatory changes such as BASEL III and Solvency 2 have created skills shortages within some areas as employers look to ensure that they have the necessary technical expertise within their organisation.
The combination of these trends has led to a broadening of the skills and experience that many senior-level finance professionals can now offer. This all makes them increasingly attractive to prospective employers, many of whom are still facing a challenging business outlook.
As a result, there may well be a real disconnect between the perception held by some employers, as they embark on renewed post-recession recruitment strategies, and the reality in the marketplace. The latest Reed Jobs Index published by reed.co.uk shows that job demand in the qualified accounting sector is 27% higher than the index starting point in December 2009, which indicates that firms are proactively hiring once again.
As competition for the most talented candidates increases, businesses seeking to recruit may need to readjust their expectations. Reed Finance recommends the adoption of recruitment strategies that a post-recession recruitment market now demands. Employers need to take the time to re-assess key policies such as benefit packages, so that they do not miss out on highly sought-after candidates. Increasing the speed of decision timelines could also mean the difference between securing a candidate of choice or losing them to a rival.
Similarly, some employers may well need to return to using targeted headhunting as a proven strategy to identify and capture the types of individuals needed for an increasingly competitive business marketplace.
It is clear that the recruitment landscape is fast-becoming less of a ‘buyer’s market’ and instead the balance of power is shifting toward those candidates with the most in-demand skills.
Tim Vye is a divisional director at Reed Finance
, a division of Reed Specialist Recruitment. Reed Finance specialises exclusively in senior and executive-level finance and accountancy recruitment.