We are a heritage recruitment brand, innovating and leading by example for over 30 years. We specialise in sourcing the very best talent for a variety of businesses - from global organisations through to growing SMEs, or high potential start-ups.
We offer a full multi-channel recruitment service for interim and permanent positions across our core disciplines.
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I don’t think anyone would disagree that 2020 was a tough year. In recruitment we are usually on the sharp end of economic turmoil, so I’m very empathetic to people’s struggles, especially those seeking new employment. However the good news is that over the last couple of months we have seen some glimmers of hope. Since last September there has been a slow but steady incremental demand for accounting & finance talent in London. This was precipitated by the gradual reopening of offices, and clearing the hiring backlog which was created in the late spring and summer months due to the COVID restrictions and the extreme uncertainty. Candidate needs have changed Whilst firms were constrained and had conservative hiring plans, the risk appetite among candidates for a new role, company, or location change surprised us - this has no doubt been triggered by the enormous lifestyle changes that we’ve all been contending with recently. Many people have decided to escape that city in search of open, more green spaces, and the vast majority of candidates we speak with are expecting a new level of work flexibility to support their personal and family interests.A large dichotomy between company attitudes to hiring! Some firms are making the hiring process so cumbersome that both parties lose interest half way through the process. It’s not uncommon to see a candidate going through six or seven rounds of interviews, without receiving an offer at the end of the saga. Whilst other organisations are very quick to bridge the skills gap, recognising that finance departments need enough resources to operate effectively. The overwhelming message that we are receiving is that accountants are feeling jaded, given they are working harder than ever with less moral support and fewer resources. Now businesses are starting to see cracks appear and recruitment is back on the agenda. " It has largely been an employer’s market lately, where candidates have very realistic expectations and businesses have been able to secure strong candidates quickly. We are also seeing a fresh demand for niche skillsets, such as: Regulatory Reporting, IFRS 17, and Technical Accounting, which has led to competing offers and a shortage of candidates with the right skills. The projects that were put on the long finger are now back in focus.In contrast to the 2008 crisis, we haven't seen many redundancies within financial services firms. Nevertheless, businesses are reassessing what skillsets they require from senior finance leaders in this uncertain environment. Unfortunately we have seen some cost cutting at the very senior end of the market with opportunistic or knee-jerk removal of CFOs and Directors who may have been seen as an expensive luxury in a stale economy, however these people will be an absolute necessity to have in place when businesses return to growth mode. We’re expecting risk appetite to accelerate Going into spring 2021 we fully expect that positive news on a vaccine will spur a newfound confidence, and risk appetite will accelerate the need for additional resources and new expertise, leading to a war on talent. Our advice would be to really look after those star employees who you want to keep as they will be approached by other companies! If you are thinking about growing your team or department, it may be worth getting ahead of the game and kicking that process into action before you lose out, or have to pay salaries over the odds.If you are considering recruitment options, or want to discuss your own personal circumstances, then please feel free to call me for a chat on 079 6337 0126, or drop me an email.
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Having spent two years at a Big Four firm and three years working in the part qualified market for Marks Sattin, I have a vast amount of market knowledge and have worked with a variety of clients within financial services. The part qualified market forms a big part of our business, however some of our clients have never recruited a PQ candidate before or are unsure of what this candidate pool looks like. So, we thought we would answer some typical questions/opinions regarding PQ recruitment below. ‘We are a small team and cannot afford to lose a member of our team to study for weeks at college’This is a common misconception from clients who have no experience in study support for junior accountants. If you are a practice-trained ACA your personal experience will be very different to accountants who have qualified in industry. It’s important to note that typically candidates don’t get sent to college for vast amounts of time, and there is always the opportunity to offer candidates online courses or evening/weekend courses taken outside of core working hours. A typical study support package towards ACCA/CIMA would look like this:- Exam and membership fees - Study materials- An additional one or two day’s leave for revision plus the exam day, per exam ‘We don’t want to invest in someone and then they leave our company’ Investment in candidates is always rewarded with harder work and longevity which are key attributes clients look for when hiring! The ultimate goal for aspiring accountants is to become qualified and have steady career progression, and without investment by their current business, they may be more likely to seek investment from a competitor who will provide study support. " When offering a study support package most clients can protect themselves with a clawback clause, meaning if an employee leaves during their studies or a short period after qualifying, they will have to pay back a percentage of the fees incurred by the employer. ‘Why would good candidates be on the market for a new role before they’ve qualified?’ This ties in well with the above point, whilst study support is very important to candidates, equally to that is career progression and continued professional development. I am sure if you are reading this then you will be able to relate, especially when thinking about your own decisions and choices that you have made to get to where you are today! Coming from a big 4 background myself, I know how uncommon it is to leave an ACA training programme before you are qualified - you could even say it is frowned upon. There is a completely different culture to accountants who train and ones who qualify in industry. Just because they are on the market as a part qualified accountant does not mean they are underperformers. In fact it just means they actually are committed to bettering themselves! ‘We are looking for a smart and ambitious graduate but we don’t provide study support’ In short you’re saying you want the best of the best without giving them anything in return. Smart and high achieving graduates will be sought after by many businesses. From my experience, these types of candidates can usually end up with more than one job offer on the table. For example one of my candidates recently graduated from a top university (University College London), and within a week had three offers on the table! In this scenario, more often than not, money is not a key motivator. By contrast these candidates will favour career progression opportunities, study support as well as the culture of the business. You need to make yourself competitive to win over ambitious candidates, unfortunately a good salary isn't enough. ‘We would prefer a newly qualified accountant’ Depending on the type of role a good question to ask is: Why do they need to be qualified to do this role? Part qualified candidates ultimately show value for money. A part qualified accountant with 2-3 years experience, will know how to do the job itself. For example, processing invoices, journal entries, bank recs, preparing management/financial accounts. Their salary expectations range from £33k to £44k. You can then compare this to a newly qualified accountant coming from an audit background that may never have performed a hands-on accounting role, only external audit. Their salary expectations are usually around £55k if they’re big 4 or around £50k outside the Big 4. Alongside the savings you could make, PQ accountants tend to be more willing to take on some of the transactional tasks which qualified accountants want to move away from, recently qualified ACA candidates typically do not like financial reporting roles, instead they’re looking for more ‘commercial’ roles. This is proving to be a massive challenge in recruitment. You can achieve greater longevity from a part qualified accountant as they work towards becoming qualified, especially with the help of clawback clause. ‘We prefer to hire directly for junior roles’ With everyone looking to cut costs now more than ever, it also means there are an abundance of candidates and more people applying for jobs. One of my adverts received over 2,000 applications! This may seem like the ideal situation with plenty of options to choose from but the reality is that the majority of applications are candidates who are not suitable for the role. A lot of job seekers have the ‘throw everything against the wall and see what sticks’ kind of approach. And the reality of finding the right CV becomes ever more daunting. By using a recruiter who specialises in this industry, and who spends their days building relationships with these candidates, you can cut this down to receiving a few top quality profiles tailored to your business. Not only will this save you time, but you will also receive an extra level to the interview process. Speeding up the entire hiring process (especially if you are looking to replace a team member who is leaving, this notice period window can be crucial). As everyone in business likes to say; time equals money! Long hiring processes can mean losing candidates to other offers, or losing their interest if you make them wait too long - it doesn't reflect well on the business. At that point you may find yourself starting the whole search process again, not ideal or cost effective. If you would like to discuss a part qualified role, or if you're looking to expand your team please get in touch with me here.
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As we start the final furlong to Christmas and the end of a pretty eventful year, I wanted to give my overview and thoughts on the current state of the UK compliance and financial crime market, taking a positive outlook and working towards what to look forward to in 2021. The current market in the UKWhen looking at unemployment statistics for 2020 it might feel a bit concerning, The Office for National Statistics confirms the estimates for June to August 2020 showing an approximately 1.52 million people unemployed, representing 209,000 more than a year earlier and 138,000 more than the previous quarter. This puts the current unemployment rate at 4.5%, considerably less than most of the other G8 nations and still some of the lowest figures on record. However, despite the UK dipping into a recession, there’s still been plenty of recruitment activity within the governance space, fuelled by the UK’s position as a global financial services hub, with a special mention to the growth of the fintech (the UK has three of Europe’s biggest fintech firms in its grasp). London especially continues to perform well in global rankings for innovation and investability, regularly coming in at the number one spot and continuing to lead the world in forex trading with an estimated $2.86 trillion per day going through London and as such businesses continue to maintain their presence in the square mile. A new way of workingAgile working has never been more prevalent with working from home now firmly entrenched in many businesses cultures, coupled with investment in digital and virtual processes which have been implemented over the last 6-9 months. Within compliance and financial crime our clients have responded well to all changes and have adapted with ease, meaning less need for employees to worry about making too many adjustments or needing to come in to work on a regular basis. Compensation in the compliance and financial crime sectorPositively, salaries and benefits for permanent roles have remained fairly consistent this year although there has been a marked decrease in day rates on offer for contractors with £500 to £700. This is where we have found most businesses comfortable operating in a volatile market. This has also been affected by the anticipated arrival of IR35, which will come into effect in April 2021. Why choose compliance and financial crime? Compliance and financial crime continues to be a popular career choice for school and university leavers, driving the competition for graduate level roles. We continue to see an increasing number of qualifications available from the ICA, ACAMS and IRM which are being more desirable when applying for a new position. " This is unsurprising given the UK’s position within the world of banking and financial services. It’s also due to the fact that a career in compliance is now possible straight from university, rather than the traditional route through legal or audit.Relocation is high on the agendaWhen looking at available vacancies it’s worth noting that a large number of roles are being relocated to Europe, particularly Benelux. Amsterdam is boasting a strong selection of risk, compliance and financial crime roles, particularly within the attractive Fintech space. However, we know that it’s not simple to uproot from London and move abroad, and there is still high appeal in London for both the employee and company side.Marks Sattin has continued to perform well and above expectation this year. Whilst some businesses have reduced headcount, we have maintained and in some places expanded our existing teams to ensure we can continue to support clients across all locations. We are anticipating a marked increase in the number of hires next year and would love to support you with any future hiring plans. For more information on how we can support you or if you have any other needs you would like assistance with please get in touch.