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      Accounting & Finance Market update – March 2022

      Welcome to your market update – March 2022

      The end of Q1! What a very busy first few months it has been indeed. Now as we head into Q2 and a new financial year, it’s looking expensive. The cost of living has just gone crazy… I had to pay £1.82 per litre at the pumps the other day (madness).

      Unfortunately, fuel, energy, council tax, and national insurance all to name a few are all increasing this month!

      Included in this market update – March 2022

      • Key senior finance hires for March
      • Vacancy and job market update
      • Pay transparency and job adverts
      • Thoughts ahead

      Key Senior Hires for March

      As we head into a new financial year, many companies going through year-end are looking for contractors who are technically strong accountants to aid in the year-end accounts preparation. Often, clients are keen to see experienced candidates with a practice background and relevant reporting standard knowledge (IFRS/FRS 102, etc). Due to the lack of available contractors, we have noticed clients having to be more flexible when it comes to the pay rate.

      The start-up market is particularly busy with many of our Fintech, Tech, and SaaS clients looking for Senior Finance candidates from first-in-house hires tasked with building out the finance function to more specialist roles covering funding and FP&A. Sought after experience in this area includes experience within VC backed start-ups, capital raise experience, pre-IPO experience, and prior experience implementing processes and systems (NetSuite seems very popular).

      Newly qualified ACAs from practice are still in high demand, with many clients seeking candidates for Financial Accounting or Group Accounting positions. Again, due to the competitiveness in this part of the market, we have seen candidates’ salaries creeping up compared to this time last year

      Vacancy and Job Market Update

      The senior finance market remains very buoyant and most candidates I speak with are in multiple recruitment processes. One I spoke with last week was in the process with 9 companies! Although I liked his ambition, it’s perhaps slightly unmanageable for most but it shows the current appetite to hire senior finance professionals. If hiring, you must prepare for candidates to receive multiple offers, and that seems to be a challenge for a lot of clients I’ve spoken with over the last month. Companies are losing candidates at the final stage to other companies. Sometimes it can be down to the other companies offering a better overall package, but often it’ll be down to the recruitment process. An area I’ve been supporting clients in is coaching them through an ideal process and how they can create the best recruitment experience for candidates.

      Another area companies are losing candidates to is the dreaded counteroffer (a recruiter’s worst nightmare). Companies are doubling down hard on retention and there is some serious money being thrown at counteroffers to keep candidates. I spoke with two clients over the last couple of weeks, who had lost candidates to counteroffers of 36% and 38% higher salaries. Not perhaps the normal counteroffer by any means but how do you compete with that?! I’d always suggest asking a candidate about their motivations to move if it’s purely about pay – this is a red flag, and they should talk to their company first before starting interview processes.

      Here’s a great article written by Josh Morris on whether or not to accept a counter offer. 

      In an ever-increasingly competitive market, you’ll need to have a slick, well-oiled recruitment process aimed at creating a great experience and impression on candidates along with a competitive offer and timely delivery of such an offer to not lose out. For any advice on the above, please feel free to get in touch.

      Pay Transparency and Job Adverts

      “Evidence shows listing a salary on a job advert and not asking applicants to disclose salary history provides a firm footing for Women to negotiate pay on a fairer basis”

      This was something Boris Johnson shared a couple of weeks ago. Whether you’re a Boris Johnson fan or not, surely this is something that everyone can get behind. If you’ve been reading my updates long enough, you’ll know I’m a massive advocate of putting salaries on job adverts, and not asking for salary history during the interview. The Government report explains that better pay transparency can support a reduction in companies’ gender pay gaps. This includes advertising salaries on all job adverts and not asking for salary histories during job interviews. The US already bans asking about salary history during the interview process…could this be something the UK adopts? For now, the UK is piloting a scheme where companies are trailing putting salaries onto adverts.

      Should you ask about a candidate’s salary history? In my opinion…no! A candidate’s prior salary history should not have any bearing on what you will offer them. Companies’ offers should come down to; Does the candidate have the required experience/qualifications/skills to do the role? AND Is the candidate’s salary expectation in line with the company’s budget for the role? – I will add that this cannot be a number plucked out of thin air. There needs to be proper research that is regularly updated. If yes, then it’s simple…offer what they have asked. It’s within your budget and that’s what they are worth. Don’t try and lowball because that’s what other companies have got away with in the past. A study from the Fawcett Society shows companies asking to provide a salary history makes everyone less confident when negotiating their pay. 58% of women said they felt they had received a lower offer than they would have if the question had not been asked. It shows a real negative impact during the process and could result in candidates not starting or choosing to take another offer.

      A recent Glassdoor survey said 67% of people say that a salary was the most important factor in a job advert. By not putting a salary range on the advert, you are missing out on the key information that most candidates are looking for and run the risk of those candidates applying to other jobs instead. Putting a salary range on the advert is a no-brainer (well to me anyway). By putting a salary range on the advert, the candidate can decide before applying if that fits their requirements. Saving both candidates and employers valuable time at the start of a process.

      Thoughts ahead

      Evidence suggests in terms of vacancies, we may eventually see the top of the peak. But this does not mean an instant impact in making it easier to hire. I can see the challenging market continuing throughout the year. There are still over 1.3m vacancies in the UK and that won’t be filled overnight.

      This month sees one of the biggest shifts in the cost of living in a generation. NI contributions are going up 1.25% starting in April, the energy price cap has increased by 54%, fuel has increased by 50%+ since Jan 2021, there are council tax rises and the list goes on. The cost of living is soaring, and could this have a knock-on effect on the salaries candidates are asking for? Couple that with a challenging recruitment market, and it’ll be interesting to see the impact this has on salaries across the year.

      It’s not all doom and gloom though, it’s been a very successful start to the year, and we’ve helped many clients find candidates. The majority have been filled through direct headhunting, so the candidates are out there if you know where to look! Also, for candidates considering their next move, it’s never been a better time, with an abundance of choice in the market.

      Thank you for taking the time to read our market update. As always, if you would like any advice on hiring, candidates, salary benchmarking or just a general chat about the market, please get in touch.

      Ashley Reeve

      Senior Qualified Finance Recruiter

      Tel: 07949 161 351