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Workplace wellbeing and flexibility key to practice recruitment

Kathryn Swan, UK Lead for Accountancy Practices at Morgan McKinley highlights the key areas of opportunity in public practice, and believes wellbeing, enhanced pensions and flexibility will be vital in attracting new professionals.

"Kathryn
Kathryn Swan

February 2020

2019 was a steady and consistent year in the accountancy profession and despite all the political and economic turbulence, vacancy numbers and salaries stayed static throughout the year. The pragmatic and measured response in these uncertain times is a testament to the resilience of the profession as a whole.

If we look at accounts or outsourcing roles in Practice, 2019 was a year when many firms further diversified the roles on offer to accounts-focused professionals. Broadly speaking, a firm would previously have an outsourcing function that specialised in bookkeeping and management accounts, while statutory accounts would be looked after by the audit team. Throughout 2019, we noticed many more firms taking the responsibility of statutory accounts production away from the audit team, allowing them to focus more on advisory, and creating a broader statutory and management accounts offering. 

Top 3 Public Practice roles

  • Senior Managers/Director
  • Newly Qualified Senior
  • Accounts Senior

Prominent benefits across public practice

Most firms are now conscious of the standard benefits available to professionals across the sector and have to ensure their total reward offer is as competitive as possible. In general, benefits packages across public practice that meet industry standards include the opportunity to work flexibly and enhanced pension contributions.

On the whole, the sector is now much more conscious of workplace wellbeing. There is a wider awareness of mental health in the office with many firms encouraging discussions, while the promotion of wellbeing is now widespread and its positive impact on performance is recognised by employers and employees alike.

Predictions for 2020

The primary topic dictating recruitment has been Brexit, and while we remain in the dark about how life in the UK will look after we leave the EU, it is likely that candidates could continue to harbour feelings of doubt about moving in uncertain times. This said, the indications have been surprisingly positive and a dynamic period of recruitment at the end of 2019 gives hope of a strong 2020.

In line with Brexit uncertainty and other external factors, we are consequently not expecting to see any significant increases in salaries across the profession in 2020. The only real notable trend which is expected to continue is the increasing number of mid-tier and independent firms who are now offering newly qualified accountants salaries that are above what the Big Four and Top 10 firms are offering.

Kathryn Swan is UK Lead for Accountancy Practices at Morgan McKinley

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