Is it hard to find accounting jobs in UK?

Does accountancy still offer a safe career?

Is it hard to find accounting jobs in UKAccounting jobs

The field of accounting often has the greatest growth during times of economic instability. However, will choosing this line of work continue to be a secure option in the next weeks, months, and years?

When times are difficult, there is a greater need for employment than usual. On the employment website CV-Library, an advertisement for a trainee accountant position was posted in the month of August. In the normal course of events, this kind of advertisement would only get a few answers. However, the website was quickly flooded with an astounding 3,272 applications within a short period of time.

This pattern may be seen in other areas of the financial services industry as well. Companies who, before to the epidemic, had a difficult time recruiting excellent people are now being inundated with hundreds of applications for open positions. AAT has also witnessed an increase in the number of applications from people seeking to "change careers."

A recent study conducted by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) reveals that the field of accounting and finance is regarded as the third most stable career, behind the fields of medicine and pharmaceuticals as well as education. As the economic effect of the coronavirus epidemic bites, one in every four workers between the ages of 16 and 34 is presently exploring a new professional path.

On the one hand, the increase in applications may be attributed, at least in part, to the rising number of professional employees who have been laid off (during the summer of this year, businesses in the UK were preparing more than 300,000 redundancies), or who have been placed on unpaid furlough. But it also hints to a bigger fact, which is that accounting is perceived as a career that is desirable and steady during times of crisis.

As was the case in the wake of the economic downturn that began in 2008, there will be a high need for accountants to assist businesses in reorganizing, locating superfluous spending, and navigating complicated tax regulations that may provide opportunities. However, despite the recent warning from the Bank of England that the number of people without jobs in the UK might reach 2.5 million, the accounting industry seems to be in good shape to weather the Covid-19 crisis. Those who are currently working in the sector should also anticipate a rise in their workload as a result of the need to help businesses with the conclusion of the Brexit transition phase, in addition to the quickly changing tax and audit regulations.

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But really, how good are your prospects of landing a job in the accounting field this year? Are there any subfields within the profession that have the potential to expand? And if you currently have a career in the accounting business, might you consider switching to a different position within the same field?

The following are the forecasts that accounting and recruiting professionals have provided for the profession.

How strong are the career opportunities in accounting for...

Opportunities for the next year and a half?

Karen Chilton, regional manager for financial recruiting firm Marks Sattin, believes that the finance industry is immune to economic downturns. Accounting is not a luxury that businesses can afford to ignore; rather, it is essential.

Accountants are going to have a lot of work to do in the not-too-distant future because businesses that are coping with the financial devastation caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) will be seeking them assistance. According to Chilton, Marks Sattin has witnessed a "rise in vacancies for insolvency practitioners," which is something that will become more significant over the course of the next several years.

Given that the finances and income streams of many companies have been destroyed by coronavirus, it is probably not surprising that there has been a jump in the number of professionals in bankruptcy and restructuring. As a result, these companies will be trying to reduce costs and consolidate resources.

Any accountants who are adept in cost-cutting will be busy, as many small and medium-sized businesses are placing a higher priority on cash flow and aiming to remove any unnecessary expenditure from their profit and loss statement. In a similar vein, there may be chances for tax professionals who are able to deal with the tax concerns created by government loans, as well as opportunities for business advisors who have a high EQ and are able to calm clients who are apprehensive about their companies.

The manner in which workers adjusted to working from home during the lockdown has created a cultural change for many companies, who have now begun reconsidering their flexible working policies as a result of this cultural shift.

It "has broadened our geographical reach in terms of recruiting," according to Lorna Renton, accountancy services manager at Brookson One, an accounting business located in Warrington. "We can seek for talent nationwide instead of within a commutable area," she said. Working from home also provides a chance to tap pools of talent in demographics like working parents or students who may not have been interested in working in a professional practice in the past.

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Perspectives over the next two to five years?

Some of the other issues that were seen as 'threats' to accountancy prior to the pandemic will come to the forefront again when the financial crisis that was triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic eventually fades away (it is predicted that the UK economy won't recover until the end of 2022). These issues include automation and technological disruption, cryptocurrencies, and the rise of data-driven jobs.

This in no way indicates that there will be a shortage of accounting positions. Accountants will have more time to focus on aspects of their job that machines cannot do, such as advising clients, problem-solving, and deciphering data so that the company can make strategic decisions. Although automation is likely to relieve accountants of mundane administrative tasks, it will also leave them with more time.

Nevertheless, according to Chilton, accountants will need to prepare themselves for the future by acquiring skills that are easily transferrable. "With the growth of technology, corporations will be seeking counsel and reassurance," Therefore, accountants who are good "communicators" and who are able to sit in boardrooms and assist make reasoned judgments will perform well.

In today's modern business world, companies depend more and more on data to assist with sales forecasting, to improve internal auditing, and to target customers. A crash course on data isn't a terrible idea for those who work in accounting.

According to Lee Owen, director of the recruiting agency Hays, "data analysis and science will combine with the world of finance in the future years." [Citation needed] "Those accountants who have solid IT abilities and can analyze data to indicate where opportunities could be inside a firm, or new markets they can reach, or even make the business leaner – will be in demand," the author writes. "The need for these accountants is expected to increase."

It is excellent news for tech-savvy accountants because the first part of the 2020s will see many organizations beginning on digital changes to make themselves more efficient. The proliferation of blockchain technology and digital currencies, in conjunction with the drafting of new regulations and taxes for emerging technologies like drones and autonomous cars, may result in the creation of new accounting positions.

What are the career prospects in accounting like for those with experience?Is it hard to find accounting jobs in UKAccounting jobs

Entry-level/junior jobs

There has been a lot of depressing news about employment brought about by Covid-19, including tales that indicate that young people are likely to be hurt the worst. A recent research by a think group called the Resolution Foundation forecasted a dismal future for the "corona class of 2020," voicing worries that welfare lines may grow. According to a poll conducted by the Institute of Student Employers, the number of entry-level positions has decreased by roughly a quarter this year as a direct result of the coronavirus.

This year has proven to be particularly difficult for young people looking for work to get their first job interview. Because of constraints on remote work, several big companies, such as Lloyds and Santander, have discontinued their summer internship programs. This has made the process of training and onboarding new employees more challenging.

However, BDO, the UK's fifth-largest accounting company, has also furloughed first-year trainees and cancelled summer internships due to the current economic climate. So far, it seems that the accounting industry has been spared from this predicament.

According to Matthew Jeffery, UK and Ireland recruitment director at Ernst & Young, "Students are facing a challenging jobs market this year but there are still opportunities available in accountancy for young talent." Ernst & Young has continued its graduate, apprenticeship, and internship programs despite the complications caused by Covid-19.

Apprenticeships are one of the most reliable ways to break into the accounting field. This year, EY welcomed 200 school leavers onto its apprenticeship programs, making it the company's second-largest leaver intake. Additionally, the government's Kickstart program aims to fund work placements for people between the ages of 16 and 24, and it will pay businesses that hire apprentices.

Chilton believes that accounting businesses will not be interested in reducing the number of new graduates and apprentices they hire. "Approximately seven years ago, we had a difficult time recruiting young individuals for positions such as auditing. However, businesses today want qualified workers since they hired fewer young people years ago and as a result have struggled to keep up with demand. They won't want to repeat that mistake in the future."

According to Jeffery, "my advise would be for young people thinking about a future in accounting to carefully explore your alternatives and if a graduate or apprenticeship path may perhaps be the appropriate thing for you." "Also, make preparations in advance: EY is now accepting applications for its graduate, apprenticeship, and internship programs beginning in September 2021. Also, keep in mind that many businesses these days are offering virtual sessions, like as online quizzes, to assist potential employees in determining whether or not they would be a suitable fit for the company.

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Middle management and senior roles

Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, higher-ranking accounting experts are reportedly still in great demand from the perspective of recruiters.

According to Chilton, the majority of the demand that his company has received has been for roles such as finance and management accountants. They have shown themselves worthy of respect and experience, and it seems that everyone wants them. People are still looking to hire accountants of a high caliber despite the economic crisis.

"The mid-level has been considerably in demand," says Hays' Owen. "We've seen CFOs have a hard time recruiting finance managers because there are fewer people in the marketplace that meet those requirements... It is still quite difficult to find people of this caliber for middle management positions that pay between $40,000 and $50,000 annually.

Accountants working at the intermediate level who are interested in making a career switch should also give serious thought to acquiring additional skills.

According to Renton, "financial competence is required for every senior function in the accounting business," regardless of the role. "However, I would anticipate that a senior manager would also focus on management and leadership or other specialized training in order to display the balanced skill set that is necessary to propel a corporation ahead."

By field: what are the employment prospects in accounting like...

Prospects for a practice in accountancy

Owen anticipates an increase in the number of job openings at public practices and chartered accountancy firms as a result of an increase in the number of clients requiring increased assistance and advice in coping with the economic chaos unleashed by Covid-19 (not to mention the uncertainty that will be caused by Brexit): "Chartered accounting companies have always had a lack of candidates to fill open positions, and as a result, they will continue to recruit. Because "do-ers" are the powerhouses of public practice businesses and it's hard to locate them, they are an obvious option for young people who are looking for jobs or who are studying accounting.

According to Chilton, many smaller practices have lately been advertising for payroll roles since the government's furloughing system has complicated the process of doing payroll at many different organizations.

People who have been laid off from their jobs or who have rethought their career paths while working from home during a lockdown have started a rash of new firms in the previous year, which has also witnessed a wave of startup companies. According to Renton, this may imply that "client bases in smaller firms have the ability to develop," which, in turn, will benefit a greater number of entry-level students and AAT-qualified professionals.

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Internal financial departments and teams

When contemplating whether or not to submit applications for industry jobs (in-house), it is important to give some thought to which industries are expected to thrive (or not thrive) over the next several years.

According to Owen, "some organizations, such as those in the pharmaceuticals, food/beverage, and FCMG/fast-moving consumer goods (confectionery, soaps/detergents, petcare, etc.), are busier as a result of the implementation of Covid-19." "As a direct consequence of this, they'll have more openings for accountants... If AstraZeneca has an internal recruiting team, I'd make an effort to get on their radar if I could. Retail and travel and transportation are two of the industries that are expected to struggle in the next years.

According to Owen, changes are on the horizon for accounting positions inside firms as well: "Organisations are striving to propel company ahead via revenue growth... As a consequence of this, finance is increasingly becoming more of a business partnering function [a function in which accountants work across different departments within an organization, gathering financial information, data, and 360-degree insight to assist leaders in making more strategic decisions]. If an accountant were to ask me about the trajectory of their career, my response would be to encourage them to cultivate skills that make them effective business partners. They will need to have an understanding of the issues that professionals in fields like as sales, procurement management, and marketing directors confront.

Renton continues by saying that "it will not be sufficient for future leaders to be adept in their primary area alone." "I think this will create opportunities for individuals who have the AAT qualification but don't necessarily want to be accountants but can demonstrate a clear understanding of accounts, compliance, and strategy," the author says. "[T]here are a lot of people out there who want to be accountants, but they don'

Finances from the public sector

Public sector accountants have been at the core of the Covid-19 problem, helping to channel the mind-boggling quantities of cash that are presently moving through the NHS, education, and local authorities. This has put public sector accountants in the spotlight.

It seems that the hectic pace of work will not let up. The public sector debt has skyrocketed to 2 trillion dollars as a result of the expenditure that the government has done to combat the coronavirus, which means that cost reduction is unavoidable.

Renton predicts that the public sector will be active in the recruitment of financial professionals. "In particular, they will be searching for persons with histories and attitudes related to the business sector. Not only do they have the responsibility to safeguard the public treasury, but they will also have to operate under far tighter limits related to business.

According to Owen, local governments would also want personnel in the financial sector since "the employment retention strategy implies they should have extra work." And if we do enter a recession, there may be a need for housing that is provided by the government."

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Charity work and morally sound commerce

According to Pro Bono Economics, the financial shortage that was generated by Covid-19 has placed one out of every ten British charities in jeopardy of going bankrupt. On the other hand, as a result of this deficiency, the industry may decide to seek the assistance of accountants so that they might "restructure like a commercial organization would," according to Owen.

As the business sector develops a greater ethical conscience (as shown by the fact that major corporations ranging from Nestlé to Nokia have made carbon-neutral promises), the government has speculated that the number of "green collar employment" might climb to 2 million by the year 2030. In light of the recent commencement of an investigation by the Financial Reporting Council into whether auditors should incorporate the financial risks of climate disaster in their accounts, such as carbon emissions, this might generate new accounting positions as well.

According to Renton, "a company that places 'meaning' for success outside of EBITDA will also be able to recruit excellent employees and develop a better brand image." "Data and KPIs lend themselves just as well to monitoring waste reduction and emissions as they do to keeping an eye on sales objectives and money balances."


According to Owen, "in the not-too-distant future, almost every organization will go through some degree of transition." "Many businesses will have the internal capabilities to cope with this shift, but many others won't, which might result in additional chances for people who are self-employed."

"Also, if a corporation has made cutbacks that are too severe and too early, there will be additional pressure placed on the business. After they've eliminated a position due to redundancy, they won't be able to fill it with a new employee in the same capacity. However, it is possible that they will need to choose the freelancing option in order to handle that issue.

It is also feasible that start-ups and smaller enterprises will have a greater propensity to seek the assistance of professionals with their bookkeeping and accounting needs in order to strengthen their resilience.

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Opportunities for consulting work

Owen has a prediction that "many organizations will be worried about the next several years and will want to infuse some knowledge into the firm." It's possible that we'll have more customers interested in hiring interim accountants to help them handle their problems. When everything has returned to normal, these temporary measures can be used permanently.

According to Chilton, there will also be a demand for accountants who specialize in change consultancy: "When Covid-19 struck, many organizations didn't have technology set up for their staff working remotely or transitioning from physical to digital-only work. These companies will be implementing new systems, which may result in an increase in the amount of work available to accountants that specialize in business transformation and the adoption of new systems.

Audit opportunities

Owen has observed that as a consequence of changes to audit laws, "second-tier companies are having many audit jobs pushed out to them [rather than the big four]," which suggests that there may be prospects with smaller firms. These second-tier businesses are ideal locations for accountants to get employment since they are growing busier, but they have a history of having difficulty finding competent individuals.

Among the recommendations made in the Brydon Report from the previous year, which was aimed at fixing the scandal-hit auditing sector, was the creation of a standalone audit profession (which would be separate from accountancy). This could also result in new roles being created for those individuals who want to bring new levels of trust and integrity to the occupation.

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And last but not least: what about the money?

The compensation offered by accounting firms continue to be competitive:

  • Mid-level/senior salary
  • Between 123,000 and 260,000 pounds for the chief financial officer.
  • £39,750 to £65,000 per year for a qualified management or financial accountant
  • Manager of financial information systems: £55,000 to £92,750
  • 80,000 to 120,000 GBP for the position of Director of Audit and Risk.

Entry-level/junior salary

  • Assistant accountant: £18,500 and above
  • Assistant management/financial accountant: £22,000+
  • Credit Controller: £18,500 or more per year
  • Accountant for the company: £31,000 and above
  • Risk/compliance associate: £31,000+
  • Internal auditor: £33,000+
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