Accountants in hot demand as regulatory change affects market dynamic

Demand for finance and accounting talent has accelerated rapidly in the wake of the pandemic, establishing a market where 56 per cent of CFOs think it will be more challenging to find skilled candidates in 2022.

  • Demand for accounting talent now exceeds pre-pandemic levels as recovery continues 
  • Employee retention is front of mind, but competitive salaries for new joiners are reducing company loyalty 
  • Tech skills in high demand to support digital transformation projects 

Demand for finance and accounting talent has accelerated rapidly in the wake of the pandemic, establishing a market where 56 per cent of CFOs think it will be more challenging to find skilled candidates in 2022, according to a new report by specialist recruiter Robert Half. 

Robert Half’s 2022 Salary Guide – an annual report for projected salary ranges, benefits and hiring trends across several sectors – reveals that demand in the finance and accounting hiring market has now exceeds pre-pandemic levels, and the war for talent is fierce.  

To beat their competition to the brightest talent, employers are flexing role requirements and are relying heavily on recruitment specialists to help them fill key vacancies. CFOs are also increasing opportunities for remote working to meet candidate demand, with 57 per cent recognising that it is important for attracting talent in a post-pandemic world.     

However, finding the right candidate is not the only issue facing employers in the finance and accounting sector. Robert Half found that employee retention is front of mind for CFOs, with 93 per cent ‘somewhat to very’ concerned about their ability to keep top talent in their ranks. 

One of the main drivers of employee turnover is stagnating wages for existing staff. The report reveals that salaries have remained stable for current employees but new talent on the market can expect competitive salaries with a jump of at least 20 per cent. Employers who cannot afford to raise base salaries are offering to change roles and responsibilities to suit candidates who are hungry to learn and progress, as well as looking to balance the difference with benefits and flexibility. 

Commenting on the findings of the report, Leo Hewett, Associate Director at Robert Half, said: “Competition for candidates in finance and accounting is fierce – especially those with the tech skills to support on digital transformation projects. New hires can command significant salary increases, making existing staff more likely to jump ship, so those concerned about retaining talent should be prepared to put up a fight.” 

The biggest strategic priority for CFOs and finance departments over the next 12 months is rolling out digital transformation and automation initiatives to streamline workflow, increase productivity and reduce costs.  

As well as transforming internal processes, big data will be key to providing the growth insights businesses need to bolster their recovery efforts and accounting and finance teams will be expected to adapt to meet their needs.  

According to Robert Half’s research, accounts assistants, finance managers, finance analysts and management accountants are the most sought-after roles, whilst candidates with a strong understanding of MS Excel, finance management and tax are particularly attractive for employers. 

Along with insights on employer expectations for 2022, Robert Half’s 2022 Salary Guide also includes salary data for a large range of roles, allowing businesses to find out how much they should pay and candidates to find out the going rate.