Finance and Accounting Review: What Happened Last Year and What Can We Expect in 2022

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This post reviews the current jobs and talent market as we leave one year and enter another. The data and findings I share are based on the current recognised journals and bodies in the finance world.  

We have a lot to look forward to as an industry and, as always, key areas that we need to address if we want to capitalise on the opportunities ahead. 

This time last year, we were all in a tight lockdown again as we navigated a new variant of the Covid-19 virus and a vaccination programme that hadn’t got going. 

A year later, the scenario is very different. 

As I write this article approaching 72% of the U.K. population has been vaccinated, and the booster programme has been successful. Omicron, the latest variant, is contagious though seemingly less harmful than its Delta equivalent. 

The U.K. government appears to be navigating an endless stream of inappropriate ‘events’ that have come to light, which may or may not result in a leadership change. On a positive note, Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid are presenting a united front that restrictions will be peeled away as the plan to move the economy back to pre-March 2020 levels marches on. 

 

General Economic and Jobs Overview 

In October’s World Economic Outlook published on the International Monetary Fund’s website, the global economy continues to recover. The momentum isn’t as strong, and a level of uncertainty is still present. The global economic recovery is ongoing, even as the pandemic resurges. 

The global economy is projected to grow 5.9 percent in 2021 and 4.9 percent in 2022, 0.1 percentage point lower for 2021 than the July forecast. The downward revision for 2021 reflects a downgrade for advanced economies due to supply disruptions and for low-income developing countries, largely due to worsening pandemic dynamics. 

The economy from a jobs perspective is improving. Data from The Office of National Statistics reveal 29.5 million payrolled employees in December 2021, an increase of 409,000 since February 2020.  

Pay rolled employment is above pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels in all English regions, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 

The U.K. employment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points on the quarter to 75.5%. The number of part-time workers decreased strongly during the pandemic but has been rising from April to June 2021, driving the increase in employment during the latest three-month period. 

APSCo, the association of professional staffing companies here in the U.K., published a report at the end of the year and highlighted that the professional recruitment market has continued to perform exceptionally well with increases in year-on-year vacancy and placement figures, while monthly data points towards a recruitment sector recovering exceptionally well from the pandemic.  

The data presented, not surprisingly, that year-on-year metrics for permanent vacancies and placements showed marked increases – up 39% and 91% respectively – reflective of the easing of restrictions over the summer of 2020, followed by the Government reintroducing working from home and a 10 pm curfew for the hospitality sector in the latter part of September 2020. 

However, permanent and contract vacancies increased between August and September 2021 – up 13% and 7%, respectively – indicating the widely reported skills shortages across the professional sector that drive talent demand. This is in line with the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which shows vacancies hit record highs between July and September. 

APSCo’s data reveals the ongoing reliance placed on professional staffing firms like ourselves by employers as demand for talent drives hiring activity with sales revenue for both permanent and contract placements up 2% and 16% month-on-month.   

With widespread reports of skills shortages, coupled with the impact of Brexit exacerbating this issue, employers have to be more creative in their talent attraction strategies where talent demands more from companies than salary alone.  

This is in keeping with the latest research from APSCo members, which suggests that businesses need to adapt their offerings following new priorities shaped by the pandemic. 

Employer branding and employer value propositions are no longer popular buzzwords; instead, they are fast becoming ‘must do’ strategies for companies across the U.K. 

 

How Does This Relate To The World of Finance? 

A recent post from Hays accountancy and finance division in P.Q. magazine has several positive things to report.  

Most accountancy and finance professional employers have a positive outlook for the year ahead. 

It is not surprising when organisations report an 11% increase since last year, on their activity levels or staying the same, which is great news for the finance profession as the recovery continues. Close to two-thirds (60%) are planning on hiring new staff in the year ahead. 

 

The Demand For Different Skills From Finance Professionals 

The skills on employers’ wish lists have been different since the start of the pandemic. Technical finance skills remain at the top of the list, and now new data and administration skills are coming to the fore, wanted by nearly a quarter of all employers. 

Non-technical or soft skills also have a firm place in the spotlight, reflecting a new world of work in which we interact differently and face new challenges.  

Employers say the soft skills they are looking for most are:  

  • Communication and interpersonal skills (needed by 61% of employers). 
  • The ability to adopt change (57%). 
  • Flexibility and adaptability (51%).

The report revealed that 64% of P.Q.s feel positive about their career prospects, up from 43% the year before. 

What about finance professionals? What do they now want and expect from their employers? 

 

What Do Finance Professionals Now Want in 2022? 

A report from Microsoft on Global Work Trends suggested the world of work in all sectors would need to prepare themselves for a higher level of resignations as employees re-evaluate what is now important to them.  

Hays confirmed this for the finance sector, with 31% sharing that they want to be working at least half remotely and half of their time in the office. It certainly looks as though being fully based in an office is a thing of the past for many, and that a variety of working patterns will be taken up, something to be considered by employers who are looking to attract new finance talent. 

In addition, many finance professionals have experienced remote, hybrid working and like it; and are looking to employers for more flexibility.  

Here at Rebus Financial Recruitment, we have increasing numbers of candidates asking what the work culture, flexibility and opportunities are before they consider being part of the interview process of our clients. 

 

Summary 

Another year of change for the finance sector as the economy improves. More employers across all industries appreciate the benefit of having access to their skilled finance team. Early data suggests this scenario is predicted to continue throughout this year. 

For those employing finance professionals from an F.D. to a bookkeeper, a focus on team engagement and developing your employee value proposition will be vital to retaining and attracting staff. 

Expect more movement of employees because of flexibility drivers and lack of development aligned with more certainty as we continue to navigate the ongoing impact of Covid. 

 

How Can We Help?  

It’s time to get out there and start searching for the ultimate financial candidate.   

Start by reaching out to a financial recruitment company that can help you build the perfect hiring strategy for your post-pandemic talent search. You can connect by emailing us here or calling our direct line on 01282 930 930. 

 

Thanks,  

Rachel Mitson  

 

About Rebus Financial Recruitment      

Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, which historically range from various organisations, including SMEs, to large PLCs.      

We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs, and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly. To find out more, get in contact with one of our team today, or you can call us on 01282 930930.  

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