Roles in demand across Specialist Markets
Roles in demand across Specialist Markets

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Professional Services

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General

06/10/20

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2020 has been an unexpected year across the world, and it has been crucial to monitor and deal with all the effects of the Covid pandemic in business and in our personal lives. Amidst this crisis we have also had the uncertainty surrounding Brexit looming over us, which has left many businesses trying to deal with the immediate challenges to society and the economy at large. The effects of both have been felt, and we can see this within the jobs market.   As experts within specialist markets we have been privy to fluctuations within specific industries. Below are some of our observations across the market.Custom and duties tax specialists We have seen an increase in activity and growth across custom and duties tax specialists for large import/export FTSE businesses. Particularly businesses are looking for candidates on an interim basis to make sure effective processes and controls are implemented. This is an evolving space and once we have further clarity we expect demand to increase. In the last 6 months, we’ve seen an increase in recruitment activity from businesses in industries such as food manufacturing and FMCG that have had an increased demand for their products on the back of lockdown. In addition to this, businesses that do a significant amount of importing and exporting see customs and duty as a key area of focus with Brexit looming, and we have advised and recruited for several clients who have required specialist knowledge. This is a niche skill set that can be provided at premium rates by consultancy firms, but there is a recent trend to bring this expertise in house. The cost of doing this would be in the region of £40-50k for a perm hire and c£250 per day for a temp hire - watch this space if you're a candidate within this market.  Audit and riskAudit and risk have also experienced an increase in resource on both the temporary and permanent markets. As organisations seek to learn effectiveness lessons from the crisis they require resource to conduct and undertake Covid specific reviews. In addition, the offering of flexible working arrangements also provides a great opportunity to test network capabilities as well as controls across user access, disaster recovery, business continuity, as well as high level IT controls testing to ensure remote working does not compromise the risk appetite of the business. Start ups Over the past 6-12 months we have also undertaken a number of start up engagements, helping businesses recruit permanent heads of department to develop strategy internally. This is a trend we expect to continue as businesses look to cut spend on consultancy fees and take ownership of these disciplines, ensuring a consistent level of quality and cost efficiency.  To view more of our live roles, visit our job search page.

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Amidst this crisis we have also had the uncertainty surrounding Brexit looming over us, which has left many businesses trying to deal with the immediate challenges to society and the economy at large.

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David Clamp

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David Clamp

David Clamp

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David Clamp

Future prospects for the professional services market
Future prospects for the professional services market

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Professional Services

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General

30/09/20

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What should we expect from our current market, and what is the future for roles in professional services? In times of crisis, the accountancy industry tends to thrive. But will the profession still be a stable career choice in the months and years to come post-Covid19? New research would suggest a resounding yes! The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) shows that the accountancy and finance sector is seen as the third most stable profession, behind health and pharmaceuticals and teaching, which is good news indeed. " A downturn will, at some stage, lead to an upturn in the market. The 2008 recession is testament to that. Accountants found themselves in demand to help companies restructure, identify unnecessary expenditures and navigate complex – and possibly advantageous – tax laws. With this in mind, what are the prospects of securing a new job in accountancy over the coming year?Prospects over the next 12 months“Finance is recession-proof,” says my colleague Karen Chilton who adds her insight on the recruitment landscape for an article in the AAT.“Accountancy isn’t a luxury for business: it’s important.”In the immediate future, accountants will be busy, as companies dealing with the financial havoc caused by the coronavirus, and certain sectors will profit. Karen continues: “we have seen an increase in vacancies for insolvency practitioners; something that’ll become increasingly important over the next few years.”The surge in insolvency/restructuring experts is perhaps no surprise given that the revenue streams of many firms have been decimated by coronavirus, meaning they’ll be looking to cut costs and consolidate resources.Prospects over two to five yearsWhen the financial crisis triggered by Covid-19 subsides businesses will want to future-proof themselves, if this happens again, to make sure that all staff are upskilled and able to work across multiple sectors. Also, data analysis will be key, and an accountant with this knowledge will be in demand. The skill set will be someone with good accountancy skills, with the ability to interpret data to highlight where opportunities might be within a business, or new markets they can access, or even make businesses more lean.Accountancy practice prospects going forwardThere could well be more openings within the accountancy practices due to clients needing increased help/advice when dealing with the economic chaos unleashed by Covid-19. This presents a good market for young job-seekers.Coupled with the government’s furloughing scheme complicating payroll runs for many companies, smaller practices will need to take on people to perform these tasks. A payroll assistant, and software packages that they use, may become a sought after commodity.Audit opportunities in the futureDue to changes in audit regulations, second-tier firms will find audit assignments pushed out to them, rather than the big four, so there could be opportunities within these firms. These second-tier firms will be good places for accountants to find work, because they will be getting busier, and will want to find quality candidates.Please visit our dedicated professional services page for more content, opportunities, and advice. 

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What should we expect from our current market, and what is the future for roles in professional services?

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Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

The changing role of the audit professional, is the dynasty and monopoly on large listed audit over?
The changing role of the audit professional, is the dynasty and monopoly on large listed audit over?

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Professional Services

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General

13/11/19

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As a manager in the audit, accounts and tax team at Marks Sattin, I take an interest in anything audit related. In fact, my favourite time of the year is the end of October, when the yearly top 100 Accountancy Age list is published! Having worked in this industry since 2012, I have seen the trends, and the changes, particularly in what is needed by the modern day auditor, and how this is constantly changing in line with market trends and general turbulent times. With fierce competition, and the increase in the number of service lines that firms offer, the modern day auditor needs to have it all! Auditors need to feel comfortable in many different areas such as accounts, tax and outsourcing, when servicing customers. There is also a huge focus on the softer skills like communication, influencing and negotiation. This is now a bonus to being able to technically complete the job, with an exam qualification tied in. This is one of the major changes that I have noticed in the professional services industry over the past five years. The other change we’ve noticed is within the Big 4, where there have been a number of high profile audits at firms such as KPMG with Carillion, PWC with BHS, Deloitte with Serco, EY with Thomas Cook, which have not portrayed the firms in a favourable light for a number of reasons. We have seen these audits result in fairly significant fines, as well as uncalculated damages to credibility. This has been affirmed by suggestions made within the professional services related press. It would seem as if the industry in general has had enough, and is looking to a higher power to rectify this situation. This may well be about to happen with the UK Government weighing up a proposal from the competition watchdog that would force all large listed businesses to appoint one Big 4, and one non Big 4 firm, to conduct joint audits. David Herbinet, global head of Mazars, echoed the change or shift towards non Big 4 firms having a seemingly unbreakable monopoly by saying, “We’ve had more invitations to tender for audits in the FTSE 350 market in the last six months than we have in the last ten years”. Scott Knight, BDO’s head of audit, supported this trend by saying that he had seen an “unprecedented” rise in demand. It has also been reported that FTSE 100 insurer, Prudential, and house builder, Taylor Wimpey, which are audited by KPMG and Deloitte respectively, have held early-stage conversations with “challenger” firms, including BDO and Mazars about switching their auditor. Fiona Baldwin, Head of Audit at GT, said that although it was “too early to tell” if attitudes amongst FTSE 350 audit committees were changing, she noted “we’re still being invited to tender, which is a positive sign”. Over the next couple of years, we expect the role of the auditor to continue changing, and the rise of challenger firms to steady. The insistence on Big 4 firms to complete an audit to a high standard represents a change for the better, which is good news for everyone. Non Big 4 or challenger firms will take a bigger slice of the “audit pie”, resulting in Big 4 firms not being so stretched for time and being able to complete a higher standard audit. It will be interesting to see these shifts happen, and be part of the process, as a recruitment partner to both Big 4 firms and non Big 4 firms. If you’re interested in learning more about our live roles, or would like to learn more about how we can help you with your recruitment strategy, please contact us for a confidential discussion.

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As a manager in the audit, accounts and tax team at Marks Sattin, I take an interest in anything audit related. In fact, my favourite time of the year is the end of October, when the yearly top 100 Accountancy Age list is published!

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Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

Clear career paths for Irish practice professionals
Clear career paths for Irish practice professionals

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Professional Services

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General

07/08/19

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Ireland’s impressive economic revival continues to gather pace, driven by further growth in the labour market and an uplift in private investments. A significant positive development is the rising employment across the country. Even the west, where recovery has lagged behind the rest of the county, is registering robust job growth, with 5,100 new jobs on the market over the past 12 months. Growth is also very evident within our accountancy firms, who are concentrating on exploiting our economic revival as much as possible. There are great opportunities to help clients capitalise on indigenous and international business opportunities, and practice accountants are working hard under the radar to add real value by making informed decisions. This has led to increased demand for commercially astute accountants who have strong business acumen and are able to work with clients in a consultative capacity.  Intense competition for candidates  The increasing complexity of reporting standards in Ireland, coupled with changes to audit requirements, has put additional pressure on small to medium sized practices. They currently face intense competition to secure technically strong, well trained accountants in a market where public practice firms are paying a premium to secure suitably qualified candidates.  Clear career paths for practice professionals For those who decide to stay in practice in Ireland, career paths tend to be well defined and reasonably transparent. In order to attract and retain the best people, progressive practices are enhancing their benefits packages as well as focusing more on delivering effective CPD, providing a high level of client exposure and helping staff develop business acumen. As the role of the practice accountant evolves from a mainly statutory reporting position into a more consultative role, those at manager level and above are enjoying fulfilling careers where they are able to add tangible, measurable value to clients whilst also driving the growth of their practice. So, if you’re considering a new opportunity within an accountancy practice firm in Ireland, don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing dublin@markssattin.com. There hasn’t been a better time to make your move in the last decade - the economy is buoyant, wages are increasing and inflation hasn’t dramatically increased. If you’re not considering a new opportunity in Ireland but know of someone who is, we're are offering a €1,000 referral reward for any successful referrals*. Please reach out to dublin@markssattin.com to find out more.  

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Ireland’s impressive economic revival continues to gather pace, driven by further growth in the labour market and an uplift in private investments.

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Matthew Fitzpatrick

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Market Insights 2018 | Specialist Markets, London
Market Insights 2018 | Specialist Markets, London

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Professional Services

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Market Insight Reports

16/08/18

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The specialist markets 2018 Market Insight Report covers the following areas (click to view salaries): Audit & AssuranceTaxationInternal Audit Audit & Assurance The latter part of 2017 was busy for audit and assurance and this trend has continued throughout the first half of this year. Top 20 firms have lost a large number of professionals to the industry sector and refilling those roles has been a challenge, particularly at the audit senior level. Taxation 2018 has been buoyant so far, with tax professionals in high demand from the turn of the year due to January deadlines. This trend is expected to continue throughout the year, thanks to a diminishing candidate pool. The market is very candidate driven, with multiple firms fighting over the same professionals, so line managers need to sell the role as well as assess if the candidate is the right fit. Internal Audit 2017 saw a surge of activity in the city within the permanent audit market, with recruitment levels higher than the previous year. The usual post-Christmas ‘hangover’ was absent this January, with many clients commencing recruitment as soon as they returned. Q1 2018 has seen a large recruitment drive within the IT audit space, but there have also been large pockets of recruitment within niche areas such as Anti-Financial Crime (AFC), electronic trading and data management. Download the full Specialist Markets 2018 Market Insight Report »  View salaries and commentaries in other UK regions and Ireland »

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Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

Are auditors still under-estimated?
Are auditors still under-estimated?

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Professional Services

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General

03/04/18

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Decades ago accountants were seen as monotonous but useful professionals in the strengthening capital world. However, that has slowly but surely changed over the past forty years. Partners at Big Four practice firms, whose salaries vary from £600k - £1m per year, are more likely to be seen as more voracious than most front office traders at Goldman Sachs! The Big Four in the spotlight In a recent turn of events the spotlight has been put on the Big Four and not in a good way. Top four auditors have failed many high profile companies (Carillion being the latest) leading to MPs calling on tighter regulations. Rachel Reeves, chairwoman of the business select committee, said last month after questioning KPMG, Carillion’s auditor, said: “Audits appear to be a colossal waste of time and money, fit only to provide false assurance.” PWC is the latest firm to come under fire by MPs with one of them famously asking the PWC partners (who admitted that they had not yet done the work to answer one of his questions): “What does £20 million buy you these days?” after charging the government £20.4 million for the three months work it had done on liquidating Carillion.   The quick fix attempt The frustration has led to policies being changed but this has not stopped opinions wondering whether this is another quick fix attempt to satisfy the electorate as well as Westminster. Stephen Haddrill, chief executive of the Financial Reporting Council, which regulates the profession, seems to have gone back on his word saying that he now believes it may be time to carve out the audit department. This shift in attitude is likely to be met with resistance from the top consultancies as it would take a great deal of money and many years to implement.  It has been only four years since the last review which led to minor changes in policy leading many to believe that a similar move is more likely than meaningful change. However, there is one thing many people seem to agree on: something has to change! “Unless something is done about it we’re not going to have an audit profession worth its name in ten years”. Those were the words of Michael Izza, chief executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.  The current market Top 250 companies have been somewhat limited in their choice of who they would use to advise/audit them due to the potential risks associated with a less known brand. Many people seem to have perceived this as the Big Four trumping many smaller firms, leading to some of the latter practice firms choosing to pull out of serving listed companies to concentrate on the small to medium sized market. Smith & Williamson is a prime example in Britain, reducing their number of firms to just 34, this is down from 50 two years ago. One thing is for certain, an auditor’s work is best performed when they act completely independently which becomes difficult when they need to make recommendations which may go against what a colleague is advising to the business. Many believe that separating the role of an auditor from the rest the accountant/advisory role is many years overdue. Auditors should be completely independent of clients, bankers and shareholders of companies. How much of it sticks? So, is there much substance in all this? The answer, in my opinion, is yes and no. In my dealings with the Big Four (and the smaller consultancies) – they add a great deal of value to a business. On the flipside, there have been many unsuccessful cases which, helped by the media hype, have attracted more attention than the successful work these firms deliver systematically. The audit world has changed but the stigma in many cases remains. Similar to every other profession there are two sides to every story but unfortunately the grief which auditors usually get is unjustifiable in my opinion. We need to realize that auditors are an integral part of a business; we know that good auditors get paid handsomely and that’s because 99% of the time they produce fine quality work. They make a real difference in controlling and managing risk. Long gone are the days where auditors were seen as the police of an institution who walk around with a checklist. They need to have in depth knowledge of the business area they are auditing as well as the technical and entrepreneurial skills to think out of the box when looking for key risks. Furthermore, they partner up with stakeholders to become a key player in the team’s success whilst maintaining their independence. After all, it was lack of proper auditing which sent the world into meltdown in 2007! View our opportunities in audit here. 

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In a recent turn of events the spotlight has been put on the Big Four and not in a good way. Top four auditors have failed many high profile companies (Carillion being the latest) leading to MPs calling on tighter regulations.

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Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

Commerce and Industry - Internal Audit Roundtable
Commerce and Industry - Internal Audit Roundtable

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Professional Services

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General

28/03/17

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In Q3 2016, specialist finance, accountancy and advisory recruiter Marks Sattin hosted an Internal Audit Roundtable at the Double Tree Hotel in Leeds. The event brought together heads of internal audit and senior managers in internal audit and risk from a wide range of commercial and industrial organisations, including Royal Mail, ASDA, Greencore, Morrisons, NISA, Costcutter and Jet2, as well as directors from KPMG and PwC. The 15 attendees discussed various aspects of risk management, the impact of Brexit, and approaches to the use of data and IT auditing.  Download our white paper that summarises the conversation.  

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The event brought together heads of internal audit and senior managers in internal audit and risk from a wide range of commercial and industrial organisations.

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David Clamp

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David Clamp

David Clamp

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David Clamp

The tax and audit see-saw
The tax and audit see-saw

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Professional Services

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General

14/10/16

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It’s often said that recruitment firms are the barometer of the marketplace as political and economic uncertainty have an immediate effect on hiring levels and it’s clear that the market is tough, both in terms of roles released and decisions being made.  So perhaps it’s strange that September was our best month of the year and just shy of our all time record with strong results across our divisions and regions. Or not so strange. Whilst some of our competition talk openly about reducing their UK headcount, our strategy is to continue investing in our core markets and making key hires into our business. Even more crucially, our consultants prove again and again that their motivation, market knowledge and passion for the job are second to none.  Similarly, Professional Services performed strongly with audit hires driven primarily by strong levels of demand from mid-tier firms and the Big 4 being relatively quiet. The opposite is the case for tax, with Big 4 and Top 10 firms still hiring strongly. We’re also seeing increasing demand for specialists in tax automation and tech with firms keen to bolster their advisory offering as this area rapidly evolves. Writing for the Accountancy Age, Martin Muirhead, senior partner at Kingston Smith. notes that “larger firms have been able to grow their tax income at a faster rate than their fees from audit and accounting, with seven of the top ten firms reporting more growth in tax than audit. This trend does not appear to be replicated across the rest of the 50+50, with less than a third of firms across the top 100 being able to report the same.” Martin goes on to point out that the HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ scheme is likely to see a rise in advisory fees but squeeze compliance as tax returns become automated. One thing is certain as a turbulent 2016 draws to a close, the ever increasing complexity in regulation and compliance means that there is plenty to keep accountants occupied for some time to come.   

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It’s often said that recruitment firms are the barometer of the marketplace as political and economic uncertainty have an immediate effect on hiring levels and it’s clear that the market is tough, both in terms of roles released and decisions being made.

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Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

Accountants take the gold
Accountants take the gold

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Professional Services

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General

22/09/16

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It’s been an interesting summer; Pokémon had the nation collectively bumping into lamp posts, Andy Murray reigned supreme, there was the small matter of the Referendum and Team GB finished the summer off by surpassing every expectation in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.  It’s been no less heady in the world of accountancy jobs within professional services. The biggest accounting firms are continuing to grow and invest and the Top 50 firms increased their fees to £12.8bn, up nearly a billion pounds from £11.9bn in 2015, according to the 2016 Accountancy Age Top 50+50 Survey published in September 2016.  Candidates are very much in the driving seat with competition for top talent unabated across all disciplines and seniority within accounting practices, most noticeably at manager/senior manager level in audit and tax – a situation exacerbated by lower than usual levels of candidate activity.  The roots of this state of affairs can be traced back to the financial crisis of 2007/08; training contracts fell dramatically across the board. This has lead to a relative shortage of ACA/CTAs coming through the ranks fuelling the current skills gap. However, it’s a mistake to simply assume the talent isn’t there – you just have to work harder to attract and engage candidates.  At Marks Sattin, we adopt a national approach to accounting jobs in practice. We have a presence in all major UK markets and we ensure that we talk to each other about what our candidates and clients want. So, if you’re thinking about relocating to London, Reading, Manchester, Birmingham or Leeds then we want to hear from you! Firms are offering generous salary packages and attractive roles with increased variety for experienced accountants. For candidates in practice this means more opportunities to gain broader experience and a greater chance of promotion. On many occasions, bespoke roles have been created for the right individual so relocating can elevate your career quicker than staying at your current firm especially outside of London.  There are also opportunities to gain exposure to other service lines. For example, newly qualified auditors who are interested in corporate finance but find internal barriers in London firms have found these disappear when exploring the other locations, some securing moves to other professional service firms and furthering their career.   

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Candidates are very much in the driving seat with competition for top talent unabated across all disciplines and seniority within accounting practices, most noticeably at manager/senior manager level in audit and tax – a situation exacerbated by lower than usual levels of candidate activity.

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Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus

Josh Rufus

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Josh Rufus