Finance managers struggle to fill key accounting positions

Qualified accountants are not the only finance professionals to be in demand if a recent report from Robert Half is to be believed.

According to the recruiter’s annual Global Financial Employment Monitor, 67% of finance managers are finding it challenging to hire skilled accounting professionals to fill certain roles. Furthermore, 56% are more concerned about retaining their top talent than they were last year when only 45% were worried that key performers might leave.

Robert Half UK’s managing director, Phil Sheridan, said the accounting and finance jobs market is in transition at the moment. Finance managers are reporting difficulties finding skilled employees and senior executives are becoming more concerned over how to retain key performers.

Global candidate shortages are now emerging in specialist operational support roles such as payroll and accounts payable. In the UK, executives are also having problems filling finance, accounting and audit positions.

The problem of skills shortages in accountancy has got so bad in Western Australia, that the state government is coming to the UK to try and recruit general accountants. Senior chartered accountants also feature on the immediate skill shortage list for New Zealand.

The last time we witnessed these sorts of shortages was in 2003 when accounting practices were faced with a skills crisis. It appears that employers did learn some lessons from 2001/2 and this time around made fewer redundancies, instead using options such as overseas secondments and extended leave with reduced pay.

However, a lot of employees are now losing patience with the lack of salary increases and promotion prospects. A recent survey showed that 82% of accountants want assurance that they will get a pay rise or promotion within 12 months or they will look for another job.

If that were to happen, the skills shortage problem could get worse before it gets better!

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