Another year has passed in the blink of an eye. Twelve month ends have gone by, budget cycles, reforecasts, audits, staff appraisals, system changes, restructures, and the list goes on…
There’s something about working in finance that seems to make time go faster than anywhere else, and for many of us, approaching the end of the year causes a slight panic that time has gone too fast, again.
As we pause for a moment to reflect on another fast-paced year, we are all acutely aware of the financial challenges that 2023 has posed to the nation, impacting both individuals and businesses. While we had all hoped that life would have returned to some form of normality following the challenges of Brexit and Covid, this year, employees have been faced with relentless pressures to manage sustained cost increases. Businesses across the board are struggling to retain profit margins and overhead costs have been subject to intense levels of scrutiny. In many cases, this has led to employees being offered lower than expected salary increases with management then struggling to retain key staff who are leaving to find higher salaries elsewhere. This is an extremely challenging position for managers to find themselves in and unfortunately not a rare event this year. We have recently helped a number of key clients to work through this issue, so if you are a hiring manager and you are feeling the impact on this then we are on-hand and well-equipped to assist with innovative team restructuring strategies or creative approaches to motivate your staff beyond traditional salary incentives.
On a personal level, if you have had another hard year and you find yourself contemplating moving to a new role due to these factors, it’s crucial not to rush in to any decisions. Many other organisations are navigating similar challenges and while you might be able to find a higher salary elsewhere, the grass isn’t always greener. Take a holistic approach when evaluating your job satisfaction. Reflect on your growth prospects, appetite for progression and what other potential opportunities exist within your current organisation before diving head first into the market. If you would like a helping hand with this, we are here to lend an ear or arrange a brainstorming session with our in-house ICAS qualified finance professional who can help you interrogate your own thoughts and decide on the best option for you.
We are sure many of you began 2023 with a long list of goals for the year ahead. While we are sure you have achieved a huge amount so far, most of us will be ending the year with some unfulfilled goals. Working in fast-paced environments with shifting priorities means we all need to become experts in time management and the art of prioritisation. This struggle to meet expectations can lead to burnout, commonly caused by self-imposed pressure. It is important to remember that communicating regularly with your superiors on your priorities is the key to ensure there are no surprises about what has or hasn’t been achieved. However, if you feel burnt out due to unmanageable expectations set by management, it’s time to reconsider your work environment and the impact it is having on personal well-being and professional growth.
Accountancy & Finance – market summary
2023 has been a year that has posed many challenges but also great opportunity, particularly across the Senior Accountancy and Finance market.
Employers have had to navigate the complexities of digital transformation, automation and AI, regulatory changes, high interest rates, salary inflation and sluggish growth forecasts. Candidates have been dealing with higher inflation, which impacts on individual ‘cost of living’, which has led many to think seriously about a job change that will boost their earnings.
With this in mind, traditional roles such as Financial Controller and Finance Director remain vital, however there has also seen a large demand for specialists in Commercial roles, specifically FP&A. Additionally, Technical Accounting and Tax continues to be in high demand.
As technology and systems continue to evolve, the proficiency of advanced analytics and adaptability of new technologies i.e., cloud-based platforms is highly attractive to most businesses.
Overall, employers are seeking candidates across the senior market that have a good mix of technical skills, strategic acumen, sound relationship skills and systems know how, with the ability to lead and input in decision making.
In 2023, a shortage of candidates has hit the Part Qualified and Newly Qualified market in Scotland, a result of lingering Covid-19 effects. Many individuals paused studies or opted for the qualified by experience (QBE) route, leading to diverse candidate backgrounds. Employers are adapting positively, opening discussions for QBE candidates, broadening the talent pool, and fostering inclusivity in the dynamic financial landscape.
In the newly qualified to 2-year post-qualified market, there’s a shift towards valuing personal qualities over assumed technical ability. While technical skills are easily tested and answered in interviews, personal qualities like business partnering and team leadership are proving harder to assess. Many roles struggle with candidates not effectively demonstrating these qualities in interviews, despite being on their CVs. Coaching on competency questions from recruiters could make a significant difference, especially for questions about dealing with challenging stakeholders, remote teams, and presenting financial information to non-financial stakeholders. Building a bank of examples aligned with these questions is crucial for interview success at this level.
In Scotland’s transactional finance sector, distinct patterns are evident, emphasising a continued and substantial demand for credit controllers. This surge stems from businesses’ concerted efforts to recuperate financially post-recession and cope with the escalating living expenses. Brexit-induced disruptions have significantly affected credit control teams across many sectors, leading to supply chain disruptions, shutdowns, and logistical hurdles in shipping and travel. As a result, finance departments grapple with escalated order volumes, delayed deliveries, and a notable increase in overdue payments, where the crucial role of the credit control comes into play. Businesses are finding themselves pay above market rate to attract and retain vital credit control support.
Simultaneously, there is a continued and noticeable demand for payrollers across different organisational levels. This demand surge corresponds directly to the expanding workforce across sectors, leading to the requirement of efficient payroll management to accommodate the growing employee base. Most notably, as the market tightens within this area, we are seeing a demand in payrollers who have experience in assisting with the implementation of company benefits, as many employers have looked to increase their benefits package in a bid to retain their workforce and stay ahead of their competition!
The accountancy practice market continues to be busy in the run up to Christmas, where we are predominately seeing an influx in requirements for NQ, Manager level roles across Tax, Audit & Business Advisory disciplines. Businesses that are attracting the best talent are paying above market rate and or have a very competitive offering in terms of development, job design or culture/team offering. It has never been more important for businesses to clearly define their unique selling point (USP) and what makes their company/role attractive, we would encourage firms that are struggling to do this to reach out to us and we can help you further define this through our Iconic Advisory Services. Looking ahead to 2024, we don’t anticipate any market slow down, however we do predict that it will consistently remain a challenge to attract high-calibre talent in the Scottish practice market and would advise clients to act on their next year recruitment plans as soon as possible.
Iconic Resourcing were delighted to present our first Unlock Your Potential event in Edinburgh at the Bonham Hotel in conjunction with the Turnaround Management Association (TMA). It was a spectacular evening of networking, career advice and two insightful keynote speeches from our speakers Claire Martin, Director of Restructuring at Grant Thornton and Paul Copland, Senior Audit Partner at EY. The night was made extra special by the participation of the attendees; the engagement and promise of this next generation of talent was commendable and is something we love to see at Iconic. We are already planning our 2024 Iconic event calendar, and considering Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen locations, watch this space for further announcements soon!
October saw some of our very brave Accountancy & Finance team climbing 3 Munros in 1 day at the The Cairnwell Munros as part of the F25 team, with Fiona leading the Iconic pack and joined by guests Jordan Longmuir, Finance Director at Goals and Nick McMillan, Head of Finance at Idox.
F25 are a group of ‘25 ICAS – The Professional Body of CA’s’ who have each pledged to raise £1k for the ICAS Foundation to support some of the amazing work they do in promoting social mobility and ethnic diversity among the next generation of CA’s – and we are so proud to say that after braving a 5am wakeup, snow, wind, hail & rain, we smashed our £1k target! A massive well done to Fiona, Hannah, Jenna & Scott!
We look ahead to 2024 with a level of excitement and anticipation as some of the Iconic team set their sights on Hyrox March 2024! Training is in full swing (with a brief Prosecco pause over the festive season) as we gear up to smash our goals as a team – wish us luck!
If you would like to discuss anything in this Iconic Insights update, do feel free to reach out to any of the team or email firstname.lastname@example.org