Harry Young leads Rutherford Cross’ newly/recently qualified practice in West & Central Scotland.
As we approach the end of 2022, Harry shares some insights on salaries, market movements, benefits and opportunities in the newly/recently qualified accountant space this year; as well as a few thoughts on what to expect next year.
There is no doubt that this year we have seen an upward trend in salaries in the newly qualified space. In 2021, as the qualified market got busier again post-COVID, many firms lost significant labour resources in a short period. To avoid a repeat of this in 2022, we saw firms increase salaries and offer benefits like retention bonuses to retain staff.
Given there remained a huge appetite for newly qualified accountants to transition into the commercial industry, in many cases, commerce and industry clients have had to review salary bandings to remain competitive and attract top talent from firms. Several of our clients have also performed salary reviews across their finance function due to having issues recruiting newly qualified roles in salary bandings put in place prior to this year.
Another major pressure on salaries this year has been the cost-of-living crisis: with inflation reaching unprecedented levels in recent times, businesses have had to review salaries to ensure people are not worse off in real financial terms.
There remains an embedded skills shortage for accountants in the Scottish labour demographic – accountants were noted as the 5th most short in supply skillset by Scottish Business Insider in Scotland in 2022.
There are a few reasons for this skills shortage. Graduate intake was reduced at many firms, whilst a lot of senior professionals exited the market, leading to pressure on both sides. I recently met with a Partner from a ‘Big 4’ firm who noted that this was a very real issue, and in order to mitigate this they will be significantly increasing graduate recruitment in the next few years.
For newly/recently qualified accountants, this shortage means that they have more options than ever before – it is simple supply and demand economics, given there is a lack of candidates and a high supply of jobs. This is a positive outcome as it gives people options, and in many cases allows newly qualified accountants to make moves that may not have been available to them 3 years ago as commerce and industry clients are more open to hiring accountants directly from practice.
There is no doubt that in the last few years we have seen a shift in priorities when people are looking to make a move. Individuals are far more focused on things like D&I policy, Employee Value Proposition and Employer Flexibility.
Most individuals are looking for some flexibility such as working patterns and hybrid working. People also want to work for businesses that are making a positive contribution to the world, so areas like med-tech and clean energy are becoming hugely attractive options for people.
Clients looking to hire within a skills short market will need to make sure that their EVP is on point in order to attract top future finance talent.
Looking to Next Year
As we head into 2023, I am not anticipating any major changes. In spite of some economic headwinds, the UK economy returned to Growth in October; and whilst a recession seems likely at some point next year, accountants will have the benefit of being non sector-specific, and knowing what the bottom line looks like in times of economic uncertainty becomes even more important.
Even if there is a slight regression in the volume of opportunities in the marketplace, given the shortage of supply of individuals for these roles, this could lead to a better equilibrium in 2023.
If you are a newly/recently qualified accountant and want to find out how the team at Rutherford Cross can enhance your career in 2023 and beyond, you can contact Harry Young for an initial confidential discussion: [email protected].