Because the summer holidays sit across the third quarter, we usually expect a small decline in activity from the second quarter. Overall the market has remained strong in the third quarter but recruitment was slower to pick up again after the August break than would have been expected. Another factor was the Scottish referendum vote and negative data from Europe which created some uncertainty. Still, by the end of September that uncertainty seemed to have been pushed aside and job numbers increased strongly again.
The candidate shortage across July and August remained the same as in the second quarter but buy-backs from companies to staff looking to leave increased significantly. This often happens in the summer when staff numbers can be short anyway and opportunities to replace them may be delayed. September as usual delivered a sharp rise in candidates, but these are being placed very quickly and often with multiple offers.
As expected, due to the summer holidays, job placements were consistently down quarter-on-quarter across all regions except Scotland which showed strong growth. It’s likely that businesses had been waiting for the referendum result before turning the recruitment tap back on.
The industrial sector was particularly strong in the 3rd quarter, and much of the recruitment was at a senior level which supports the data that manufacturing is feeling more confident. Professional services, transport and distribution, and technology were particularly weak this quarter. We suggest that the more significant drops in professional services and technology in particular were a result of candidate shortages rather than a reduction in jobs. We are now resorting to conducting searches internationally for qualified accountants to fill professional services roles.
Recruitment level analysis
The demand for positions at every level (except for £60k-£70k) has increased since 2013. The most significant increase in demand is at the £40k to £50k level. This is put down to the rise in SMEs, small charities and other not-for-profit bodies looking for people of all seniorities, whereas the large corporates (particularly professional services) are generally seeking more newly qualified accountants to 1-2 years PQE. In 2015, we should see the shift in emphasis to more senior roles.
The market remains very strong and our biggest challenge is continuously finding a flow of high quality candidates. With organisations fighting harder to retain talent, it is important for us to be able to deliver a good shortlist providing a number of choices and for recruiting organisations to sell their organisation hard.
Looking to recruit finance professionals? Interested in taking the next step in your career? Contact Jonathan Firth, managing director at Michael Page Finance now.
T: +44 207 269 2569