Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Are you an Accountant wanting to enter the UK Accounting Job market?

Expanding your accounting career in London and the UK can be an exciting opportunity. Here are answers to some of the more commonly asked questions regarding the accounting recruitment industry in the UK.

Can I get a job in accounting, banking or finance before I leave home?

Most employers in the UK accounting job market turn to recruitment companies to fill their vacancies. Accounting recruitment firms are nearly always required to meet candidates face-to-face before putting their CV forward for any positions. As a result it is very rare to secure an accounting job before leaving home. In the rare circumstances where an Accountant secures a job in advance of arriving it is usually as a result of an internal transfer to the London office of a multinational firm.
What is the difference between a permanent accounting job and a contract accounting job?

A common misunderstanding is that contract or temp accounting jobs are not full-time. However most contract accounting jobs are full-time and therefore you earn the equivalent of, or often more than, a standard accounting salary. The key difference is that permanent accounting staff are employed by the company you are working for whereas contract staff are often employed by the recruitment firm and usually do not receive paid leave. Permanent accounting staff enjoy a higher level of job security whereas contract accountants often enjoy higher earnings and the opportunity to take advantage of certain tax benefits.

Am I limiting my chances of getting a permanent accounting job if I am also open to offers for contract accounting work?

The simple answer is no, employers looking for an accountant will be looking for the right fit of skills and experience with their team regardless of whether your accounting experience has been achieved in contract or permanent accounting positions. There is the obvious disadvantage that you may get offered a permanent accounting role while still completing an existing contract role but that can often be managed if you best accounting skills for the job. Accounting employers looking for accountants to take permanent roles will often look at the stability of an accountant in previous jobs. If you have moved job every three months it is an indicator of low stability and employers would be weary of offering a permanent accounting job to someone they believe is likely to leave after a few months.

Will having a youth mobility visa limit my chances of getting a full time accounting job?

The youth mobility visa now allows you to work the full two years in full time employment. This gives accounting employers confidence that if they put in the effort to teach you new systems and accounting procedures then they can get a good two years effort out of you provided that you are comfortable and motivated by the accounting position. So the chances of getting a full time accounting job are very good!

Do accounting recruiters specialise in different sectors of the accounting job market?

Accounting recruiters in London will typically split the accounting job market into four key sectors – Public Practice, Banking, Public Sector and Commerce. Public practice includes all accounting firms which are usually broken down into Big 4, Second tier accounting firms, mid-tier accounting firms and small or boutique accounting firms. Banking also includes the broader financial services sector such as investment funds and insurance. Public sector includes all government organisations including local and central government. Accounting recruiters will often align not-for-profit organisations such as Greenpeace within the public sector as well. Commerce is the largest sector which includes all your household name businesses and the not-so-household-name businesses. Accounting recruiters have various methods of breaking down this sector with common methods being by size or industry. Common industries used in the accounting job market are telecoms, media, manufacturing, fmcg.

As an experienced accountant will I be pigeon holed into the sector that I have experience in?

Employers looking to hire a new accountant want someone with relevant experience. As many accountants come from backgrounds in accounting firms this often provides experience across a number of industries due to servicing many clients in various industries. Large employers in the UK particularly like accountants from the Big 4 accounting firms for this reason. Most qualified and experienced accountants have enough transferable skills to move into new sectors and industries. The main sector that proves difficult to break out of is tax accounting.

What are the average pay rates for the UK accounting job market?

Below are indicative pay rates for contract and permanent positions in the UK accounting market.

Newly Qualified Chartered Accountant, £20 - £30 per hour, £35,000 - £50,000 salary
Part Qualified Chartered Accountant, £10 - £18 per hour, £18,000 - £30,000 salary
Experienced Chartered Accountant, £25 - £35 per hour, £40,000 - £60,000+ salary
Financial Controller, £300+ per day, £70,000+ salary
Accounts Payable, £6 - £12 per hour, £12,000 - £20,000 salary
Accounting Support, £6 - £12 per hour, £12,000 - £20,000 salary
Payroll, £6 - £12 per hour, £12,000 - £20,000 salary

Do employers in the UK accounting job market prefer accounting or finance qualifications over experience?

It’s probably obvious that they prefer both accounting experience and accounting qualifications but ultimately accounting experience counts for a lot. An accounting or finance qualification without any accounting experience is going to prove difficult breaking into the UK accounting job market. Whereas relevant accounting experience without a qualification is still probably going to get your foot in the door. In fact some employers prefer this scenario because they are in a position to offer a lower salary compared to a qualified accountant with similar experience.

Will my Chartered Accountant qualification be recognised by UK accounting employers?

Qualified accountants from Australia, Canada and New Zealand are well regarded in the UK accounting market. You do not need to transfer your qualification to the UK equivalent in order to find an accounting job.

Where will I find most accounting work in the UK?

London is the financial centre of the world and houses head quarters for many of the world’s largest multinational companies. As a result there is a constant need for experienced accountants in the local accounting job market. Other centres in the UK support small local accounting job markets but these are largely dwarfed by the size of London’s job market and therefore also the strength of its established accounting recruitment industry.

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