2016 promising for financial consultants

Monday 25 January 2016

We're only a few weeks into 2016, but it is already shaping up to be a good year for consultants in a range of different fields. The latest news from the industry highlights the advantages of being skilled in the fields of finance, accounting and marketing, as there is a skills shortage in these sectors that could benefit consultants greatly.

This news comes from recruitment firm Robert Half UK, which found that more than half of UK businesses have plans to hire more employees this year. This is especially pronounced in the finance and accounting sector, where 62 per cent of companies would like to expand their workforce in 2016.

This is backed up by research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), which has uncovered more evidence of this trend. It found that overall, permanent vacancies increased by four per cent in December of last year, compared to the same period of 2014.

Once again, the finance and accounting industry was responsible for a large portion of this. Permanent vacancies in this sector had risen by 16 per cent, year-on-year. Similarly, marketing vacancies rose by eight per cent when compared to December 2014.

So, what does this mean for consultants? Based on the research, it seems that companies looking to hire will struggle to do so and may well have to rely on consultants. Robert half's research found that 38 per cent of chief financial officers (CFOs) struggle to find and retain professionals with the right skills.

This is leading many to need to turn to consultants and other temporary staff, in order to ease the pressure on their own workforce. This is also being seen as a good way to retain current staff, as in the current climate many talented employees are leaving for higher-paid jobs if their current one is becoming too stressful. Robert Half found that almost 60 per cent of finance executives had lost a good employee in 2015 to another company that offered a higher salary.

Phil Sheridan, managing director at Robert Half UK, said: “With the growing war for talent, retaining professionals with the right skills to cope with the extra workload will prove challenging.

"Companies will do well to consider hiring interim professionals to help ease the pressure on their finance teams. This will also minimise the risk of top talent leaving, as will proactively benchmarking salaries."

The end result of all this is likely to be an increase in consultant pay. Once again, APSCo has already observed this happening, with consultancy salaries having risen by 11.1 per cent in December 2015, year-on-year.
Commenting on this, Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, said: "At a time when the UK is suffering from highly publicised skill shortages… it is no wonder that professional salaries continue to climb. The war for talent is raging as organisations scramble to get their hands on the best people to facilitate future growth and productivity."

By Victoria McDonnell

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