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Firms 'must attract best financial talent'


Accountancy firms can bridge the skills gap and help train up talented financial services professionals if they take steps to improve their recruitment and development processes, an expert has claimed.

Steve Harry, chief financial officer with Unum, pointed out that the industry has always been seen as a good choice for ambitious, hard-working graduates who want to work in an area with clear opportunities for progression.

However, the competition around the sector in recent years has placed increasing pressure on its recruitment policies, he explained.

Writing for Accountancy Age, he argued that the struggle to keep hold of the best staff is becoming even more intense, with many professional services businesses having to think of new incentives to maintain their staffing levels.

"To compound this, the pressure for higher margins and new revenue streams has led many firms to look beyond traditional roles and responsibilities to offer more consultancy services," added Mr Harry.

What this means is that accountants need a new series of skills - it is no longer enough to be proficient in basic auditing and account management, with a wide range of general business and managerial qualities now part of the role at many firms.

The industry is still doing relatively well when it comes to bringing in younger members of staff, with most large accountancy firms running well-funded graduate schemes.

However, more needs to be done if it is to continue to excel at hiring and developing staff.

"In the fight to snap up and retain the best people, firms must also focus on how they're incentivising staff beyond promotion and basic salary - something that will become increasingly important as people stay in work for longer," declared Mr Harry.

With younger workers increasingly interested in a holistic approach to their role, focusing on the potential for development and career fulfilment as well as on salary and bonuses, firms need to consider carefully the opportunities they can offer new hires.

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