Spring recruitment update for accounting and finance banking professionals in London, with tips on how to maintain momentum in your career.
Overview of accounting & finance in banking recruitment
Coming into 2020 there was the sense of pent up energy in the City recruitment market, after the challenges of 2019 which had felt stifled by the ongoing machinations of Brexit coupled with regulatory changes that impacted recruitment processes, such as GDPR, and proposed tightening of IR35 rules which caused a lot of firms to have to rethink their staffing strategies.
After the election result in December, the level of uncertainty in the market was reduced, and that resulted in January being unusually busy for recruiters. Roles which had been waiting for sign off for months got the all clear and hiring managers were able to start processes.
Market trends have seen the continued demand for regulatory reporting roles, mainly at junior level. One notable issue is the skill-gap within this. Hiring managers are keen to have hands-on experience with COREP/Liquidity returns, however the appetite to train up on this is low.
IR35 has been a large issue for the contractor workforce. Only recently have the government announced the suspension of this due to COVID-19. Up until that news there was a talk of a shift towards permanent hires, though we have seen a continued demand for temporary staff in the form of Fixed Term Contracts and Umbrella firms.
Clearly the outlook for Q2 2020 is uncertain. With the arrival of COVID-19, the vast majority of bank staff are working from home and interviews will take place via Video Conference. Having said this, recruitment still needs to take place and hiring managers are optimistic that once people get used to the new working arrangements, recruitment processes may pick up again.
There is not likely to be the usual increase in activity after bonus payouts but once the crisis has receded there may be a significant spike.
Coming into 2020 the contracting market was already facing a number of challenges, from the already Brexit-affected market, through to the huge focus on IR35 in the run up to April 2020. Nevertheless we still had a very busy start to the year, and have experienced a strong performance for placements on day rate and FTC/Temp to perm conversions.
Our job flow has remained fairly constant, however as a team we have had a higher success ratio. The busiest areas so far have been in regulatory reporting across capital and liquidity, requiring candidates with different levels of experience. The key regulation PRA110 implemented last year is still proving an important requirement.
Another area which has been busy for us is Financial Accounting & Control roles, where business required help with year end and reconciling their previous years numbers. In light of changes within accounting standards in recent years, some of our businesses have been looking at candidates with more technical expertise who have knowledge around IFRS 9,15 and 16.
How has the announcement of IR35 impacted interim recruitment?
With the original IR35 deadline in Q1, many were preparing for the change of moving people off Ltd contracts into PAYE/Umbrella. The Government then announced the deadline would be pushed back to 2021, leaving many asking what the impact would be. From our clients, there seems to be a split opinion. Many of the Tier 1 retail and investment banks have announced that they will go ahead with their contingent interim workforce plans so all future recruitment will be via PAYE/ Umbrella. SME businesses have so far had a different approach returning to Ltd model. The change to Ltd costing model will help banks to reduce cost which, at times like this, will be invaluable.
It goes without saying that the current COVID-19 situation caused recruitment to slow down. Despite this, the really positive thing so far is how businesses have seemingly innovated how they interview candidates using various video conference platforms. We have seen hiring through this period and we expect this to continue going forward, just at reduced volumes.
A few tips on how to maintain momentum in your accounting & finance banking career
- Ensure you are keeping abreast of accounting standards and updated regulations as appropropriate. For example, EY have released a paper on how standards are applied during COVID-19. Read every update and article you can.
- Are your technology skills as up to date as they could be? Firms like strong Excel skills even for reviewing roles. In these times it pays to be hands on if staff are out of the office. There are a number of online courses which are free if you google them.
- Be sure to keep in touch with your network, including old colleagues and recruiters. It helps to keep your network fresh and current.
- If your role involves you working from home for a significant amount of time (particularly right now), be sure to stick to a routine similar to what you would have in an office. Ensure you take your breaks and resist carrying on working past your hours, otherwise you have no separation from work and home.
- Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with relevant information and keywords.
- It might feel conceited but search your skills set on LinkedIn and see if you come up. If you don't, then have a think about the information on your profile. One of our consultants can assist if you are struggling with where to start with this.
- When searching for roles, apply for jobs you would hire yourself for. If you were to receive your CV, would you hire you? If not, call your recruiter and ask more questions. This helps you engage with recruiters and understand what clients are looking for.
- In an interview, make your motivations for moving clear. If you don’t, you're not as likely to be successful.
- Stay positive. It can be frustrating looking for a job, particularly given the current situation but remember there’s only so much you can control. Give yourself realistic and achievable targets day by day to make you feel you are achieving and making progress.
Contributors to the Accounting & Finance Banking market update: