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Q1 2017 review: Accountancy recruitment and hiring trends

5th June 2017

The start of a new year is a perfect time to take stock of the accountancy industry, look around the jobs market and take advantage of the current business climate. 2017 was always going to be dominated by social-political factors coming to a head, but whereas other industries may have felt cautious in the first three months of the year, the accountancy sector has gone from strength to strength. The following industry report not only indicates trends to come but is worth looking at if you're in doubt about your current prospects as an accountant.

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A confident start to the year

We started the year knowing full well that the role of an accountant had changed, with many qualifications now being pitched as business qualifications first. Professionals must now take a more active role in business, to have the technical and communication skills to integrate finance proposals across the business to employees who don't necessarily understand that side of the strategy.

In January, research found that accountancy firms were expected to be the largest recruiters of graduates, with the UK's top employers planning to increase graduate recruitment by 4.3% as a whole.

As businesses entered the year, it became clear that accountancy advice would become a vital part of navigating through uncertainty, with changing relationships, new regulations and reliable forecasts all in need of trusted, technical advice.

In terms of Brexit, accountants were keen to set out their list of key priorities. The Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) released its own checklist for success, which focused on stability and reliability. It set out that accountants needed security on qualification innovation, career pathways and initiatives to retain and grow a skilled workforce in the UK.

Accountancy expertise are in high demand

In the second half of 2016, accountants expected to be high in demand, and that high quality, specialist vacancies would be top on the agenda in 2017. Looking ahead, strong recruitment drives are expected for audit, tax and IT specialists as firms, particularly mid-tier organisations, continue to bolster their teams. What's more, a recruitment survey this year found that finance and accountancy vacancies have increased by 41% year-on-year.

As we moved into February, 47% of MPs were positive about the impact of Brexit on the accountancy profession, recognising that more accountants would be needed to advise clients on the implications of leaving the EU. It was stressed, however, that this would only be achieved if the wider business community acknowledged the value that the accountancy sector can bring to the UK economy.

This March, Britain's unemployment rate fell to its lowest number since 1975, and businesses were preparing for rate changes in the Spring Budget, which once again highlighted the need for accounting software, training and expertise.

Looking ahead

Despite Brexit, business confidence remains high as firms expect profit growth in Q2. Looking forward, accountancy vacancies are expected to rise as employers make sense of a shifting economic landscape. Significant opportunities will be created for skilled accountancy professionals, with greater freedoms to integrate into the wider business.

From our experience, candidates have been optimistic about the year ahead and the hiring climate has been reason enough for workers to take on their next career challenge.

It is now critical that accountants position themselves to target specific roles in the market in order to get in front of employers looking to hire specialist, permanent staff, and look to established recruiters to obtain the best advice.

Grafton Banks Finance is a specialist in the provision of accountancy and finance staff. For an in-depth and confidential consultation about jobs and careers in finance please contact Nigel Jeyes on 01273 229499 or email

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