By Rob Russell*

Rob Russell shares the calculations businesses should make to take advantage of the industry’s sharp, new image and stay ahead by recruiting and retaining top talent

The finance function has been instrumental in helping businesses emerge from the recession. With employers looking to expand, candidates have security and satisfaction, and finance and accountancy’s new image is attracting a wealth of new talent, but how do you make sure you keep the best and recruit even better?

We know that candidates are on the move. And this move is not just confined to the UK and Ireland, or to one industry. Global companies need to be aware that whether in Hong Kong (78%), the Middle East (90%) or Australia (47%) a significant amount of workers are considering a new role in the next 12 months. This means that competition for places is heating up.

Many of these candidates will be searching for a role that provides job satisfaction, security and opportunities for progression. As 84% of the UK’s part-qualified accountants and 74% of qualified professionals rate themselves as satisfied in their roles, finance and accountancy is setting a high standard for working conditions. Compare these high satisfaction levels with just one third (33%) of workers across all sectors in Hong Kong, a similar amount (38%) in the Middle East, and the statistics become even more impressive.

However, stagnant pay across these markets will have also contributed to the number of jobseekers in various industries. In Hong Kong 71% of workers have not received a pay rise in the past 12 months, which is mirrored in the Middle East (74%), Australia (73%), Ireland (84%) and across the UK (66%).

Within the UK finance industry the signs from the past 12 months have been more positive. More than half (53%) of part-qualified professionals have received pay rises and 42% received bonuses in the UK in the past 12 months, and the data shows rewards are not limited to part-qualified accountants. Almost half (44%) of qualified professionals received a pay rise in the past 12 months showing that the accountancy and finance industry is reaping the rewards from playing an important role in helping businesses rise out the recession. From this it’s not difficult to see why the industry is such a popular graduate career choice.

Capturing the best new talent is essential for businesses to stay ahead. An obvious opportunity is revealed in our research; 62% of companies in the UK do not have a clear talent management strategy in place and 13% admit they do not do a good job of attracting talent to their organisation. In fact, this lack of training and development is a short-fall experienced across many regions; just one quarter of employers across all sectors surveyed in Hong Kong (23%), Middle East (26%), Australia (27%) and Ireland (25%) invested in training and development for staff in the past 12 months.

Engaging with recruitment specialists and implementing a training plan to develop new recruits and place them on a clear path to fulfilling their potential within the firm is the best way to fill this worrying void. And with the growth the economy is beginning to experience, this is an opportune moment to do just that.

Whether fresh out of the education system or looking for a change in career, accountancy ticks the boxes for those looking for a rewarding career. Stability, regular pay increases, a good starting salary, job satisfaction and job progression all contribute to this.

With accountancy and finance roles playing a significant part in steering the world’s businesses out of the recession, today’s professionals are seen as smart, empowered individuals that are essential to driving the direction a business is going. Through paying close attention to where the market falls short and excels, the right incentives can be put into place to ensure companies make the correct talent calculations to stay ahead of the race for the best talent.

*Rob Russell is REED Finance UK divisional manager

Related link

The REED Accountancy and REED Finance Salary Guide and Market Insight 2014