By Lee Marshall
In a perfect world, the supply of top talent available would match the demand available.
More often than not, the market doesn’t work this way and what we are continuing to see at the moment is a shortage of great candidates in the Accounting and Finance space. This situation may take some time to resolve with employment opportunities for Chartered Accountants expected to grow 3% annually until 2026.
In a market where there is high demand, it is critical to broaden the talent search offshore and London is a natural place to look. As a global financial centre, it remains a destination of choice for Kiwi Accountants seeking international experience.
In London New Zealand Accounting professionals are highly sought after and they can usually find work that offers great growth opportunities quickly. Not only that, but they can command premium hourly or day rates, and they are spoilt for choice with the vast array of industry’s operating in the UK’s capital. So, it’s easy to understand why London is currently home to thousands of New Zealanders working in Accounting and Finance. Over time, over 80% of these professionals will head home.
Last month Manager – Contract Jason Hinton and I visited London to directly connect with top Kiwi talent working in Accounting and Finance who are considering a return home in the near future.
Our trip followed on from research conducted earlier this year to better understand both hiring manager’s views about international experience and the lifecycle of New Zealand Accounting professionals who spend time working overseas. As part of this, we conducted in-depth interviews with clients, and we surveyed London-based Kiwis about their experience working there as well as their future plans.
It will be of no surprise that clients interviewed said finding candidates with the right skillset and the right fit with their company’s culture are their top priorities. But they also told us how much they value the life experience that candidates gain from travelling and interacting with other cultures when they are working offshore.
The research findings also confirmed our assumptions and what we know anecdotally – that there is a strong trend of Accountants who have gained their qualifications leaving New Zealand, particularly for the United Kingdom, in search of experience that will accelerate their career and give them the chance to see more of the world.
It’s estimated that more than 400 Accountants leave here every year and most of these professionals intend to return home within five years. However, with the ancestry visa becoming less common, the average time New Zealanders are spending in London is reducing.
It is also estimated that hundreds also come back each year, with the majority settling in Auckland. Their decision to return is primarily driven by family, lifestyle or visa requirements.
It was with all of this in mind that we headed to the UK. While we were there, we hosted a series of events alongside CA ANZ, INFINZ and Massey University Alumni Relations that were attended by more than 200 London-based New Zealanders and Australians.
We also met one-on-one with Kiwis to discuss the market and opportunities at home. They are highly engaged in what’s going on back here not only with jobs and salaries; but with the economy, the political landscape, life in Auckland and, of course, the housing market.
We were able to share the learnings from our research to help them better plan their return. Those we met with were surprised to learn that more than 90% of those surveyed who came back to New Zealand did not look for work before they arrived. A recurring theme of the survey feedback was that they would have done things differently in hindsight. Their advice to others considering doing the same was to think about how their experience could translate into the New Zealand market, to start their job search earlier and to talk to respected, specialised recruiters about jobs. All advice we fully endorse!
The professionals we met were working for interesting, often complex, organisations. Even those with jobs in industries not operating in New Zealand, are gaining valuable transferable skills. They’ve had exposure to commercial decision-making in businesses that are operating in different markets with different challenges.
The research insights and connecting face-to-face with top talent in London who have taken the step to broaden their skillset reinforced to me the benefit of taking a wider and longer-term approach to searching for the right people.
Through this trip, we’ve been able to build up a pipeline of fantastic talent that we will be able to introduce to clients over the next few months and even years.
The professionals we met were extremely impressive and when they come home, they will be a phenomenal asset to any business.
If you’d like to talk to us about the work we’ve been doing in London, please feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.