The Wrap: Accounting and Finance Market Update

In this edition of The Wrap, we talk to Founding Partner Lee Marshall about the Accounting and Finance job market and what we can expect in 2021.

1. What is happening in the job market?

There has been a significant boost in the number of permanent roles coming to market in recent weeks, which I think points to an uplift in business confidence.  Typically, we see the balance shift towards contract recruitment if businesses are hesitant to hire so a solid level of permanent recruitment is brilliant. We have also seen a big increase in contract roles over the last four weeks as businesses that are growing look for extra support and there is more project work on offer.

At the outset of COVID, we experienced an influx of offshore based Accounting and Finance professionals coming home to New Zealand. This slowed down for a while but it is increasing again now as we would expect ahead of the summer holidays, so there will be more candidates looking for work.

At this time of year, the race is on to get roles filled before the Christmas break. Organisations want to ensure they get people in place now to start the New Year off on the front foot.

2. What type of Accounting and Finance roles are in demand?

Throughout most of this year there has been a lot more demand for Financial Accountants and now we are seeing a rise in the Management Accounting space too. There is a good variety of vacancies at all levels, from newly qualified through to the senior level. We’ve been recruiting a number of temporary CFO roles through our Interim CFO offering as well, for businesses going through periods of change and growth.

A wide variety of industries are searching for talent with FMCG, manufacturing, technology, construction and property in particular showing good signs of activity.

3. Are there more people applying for roles still?

The volume of applications for Accounting and Finance roles has increased but not significantly.

There has been a skills shortage in Accounting for a while now and though professionals are returning home in record numbers, I don’t think this will be enough to fill the talent shortage over the longer term. Additionally as we have seen since the outset of COVID, despite the good volume of applications, the majority of the candidates we are placing have not applied for the role. Rather they are candidates we have hunted out through our databases and networks.

4. What is important to candidates when considering a job offer?

Security is still the number one priority and people who feel safe in their role are thinking twice before they move.  Those looking for a new opportunity are keen to know how a business responded through COVID, how they communicated and how they looked after their staff. Candidates are also expecting greater flexibility and the option to work from home.

All of this means that employers need to be able to clearly articulate their value proposition and what they can offer to prospective employees.

5. What has surprised you about the market this year?

There tends to be a shift to hiring contractors at times of uncertainty. We saw this during the GFC and so we were expecting this to be the case after the first lockdown but it didn’t occur at the level we were anticipating.

If you’d asked me back in March, I certainly wouldn’t have thought we would be recruiting this volume of permanent roles. But I’m happy to be wrong – this is great for candidates and the market.

6. What advice would you give to candidates looking for a job in this market?

Do your due diligence – recruitment is a two-way process so research the organisation and the culture when you’re thinking about an opportunity. If you know people that work there already, talk to them. Pick the right employer and back yourself to take a new job.

Remember to continue to develop your career, despite the uncertainty around.

7. What advice would you give hiring managers considering recruiting in this market?

Have your plan and your back up plan. We’re getting late in the year now and it will be increasingly difficult to fill roles before the Christmas break. If you need cover during the holidays, get started with recruitment now or consider employing a contractor.

Finally, it may seem easier than ever to recruit with a lot of candidates looking for work but actually it is harder. For a start, it is more time consuming having to sift through the volume of applications. Secondly, having more applications doesn’t mean the best person is among them – search is always a critical component of the recruitment process. If you’re too busy and it’s not your area of expertise, consider using a specialist recruiter.

 8. What do you think the Accounting and Finance job market will look like next year?

It is hard to predict to be honest because much will depend on the economy and the delivery of a vaccine.

COVID has interrupted the plans of many people – New Zealand professionals based offshore have been coming home, those wanting to head off overseas have not gone and fewer people moving jobs domestically has meant less movement. There are still a lot of unknowns.

Traditionally, March is the busiest recruitment month of the year and I think there will be a healthy level of Finance and Accounting vacancies in the first quarter of 2021. Overall, I think we could be in for a good year for Accounting and Finance.

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