Based in our Edinburgh office, Morgan Philips' Craig Christmas specialises in placing junior to mid-level roles in the accounting and finance support space.
With the unemployment rate at an all-time low, and new technology threatening to disrupt business as usual, we caught up with Craig to get a market update on the accounting and finance support sector in Scotland.
Flexible working is a must-have.
Traditionally speaking, professionals in accounting and finance have always worked long hours, particularly during busy periods towards the end of the month.
But in the last few years we’ve seen a strong rise in the number of candidates demanding greater flexibility from their jobs, as well as a better work-life balance.
With the current unemployment rate in Edinburgh sitting at around 4%, the accounting and finance sector is a highly competitive and increasingly challenging market to tap into, and it’s significantly harder to find talent than it was a few years prior.
Perhaps that’s why many professionals aren’t afraid to demand more flexibility from their places of work. For instance, part-qualified accountants need time off to study for exams, and people with children need to drop off and pick up their kids from school.
As a result, many organisations are breaking away from traditional working hours, and providing employees with the necessary technology to work from home during busier times of the year.
That being said, there’s a strain of ambitious assistant accountants who are prepared to work long, hard hours in order to gain experience and get ahead in their careers.
Payroll is paying off.
Payroll is by far the most in-demand job function right now, with many organisations desperate to take on talented new payroll professionals. However, in today’s candidate-driven market, these people are becoming increasingly hard to find.
Part-qualified accountants are also highly sought after with organisations seeking to hire a new generation of thinkers with a different approach. This market is tight though, as many active studiers are reluctant to move, as they are in the process of completing their qualifications.
Candidates have the pick of the crop.
As a result of today’s candidate-driven market, many candidates are very selective about the organisations they choose to work for.
And just because a candidate accepts a job offer doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily end up taking it, as many will receive between two and three job offers before finally settling on one. To find the right talent, many of our clients are prepared to spend a lot more than they usually would.
To help our clients find the best and brightest talent on the market, our vast network has proven to be particularly advantageous, and we are currently placing a large number of roles through referrals.
Robotic Process Automation within the finance function.
Everyone we talk to within the finance support function is very much aware that their job may eventually be at risk. For example, the days of huge accounts payable functions are gone with the introduction of OCR.
However, CFOs and other finance leaders still require support teams that offer true value with commentary and a first-class service. My advice to anyone within this space that is concerned about the robots taking over is to look at opportunities within their organisation for further training and development so they can futureproof their career. Perhaps look at studies such as ACCA or CIMA, or look to gain experience with placements within any projects that may be ongoing at their organisation.
The people want pensions.
We have also noticed a spike in the number of people asking about pensions during the interview process. Candidates want to know about company pension schemes, and are asking about pensions for the business rather than just about their specific salary.