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Accountancy & Finance - Professional Practice

October - December 2015

Australia’s professional practice market remains incredibly candidate short, which has led to greater flexibility from employers. The best example of this is the willingness of employers to consider candidates with not only differing levels of experience, but also qualifications. For example, depending on the area of specialism CA firms will now consider CPA candidates in the areas of audit and business services.

In New South Wales, in addition to a high volume of permanent roles, we have seen an increase in demand for contractors, especially in audit but also in business services which is mainly due to the new financial year. The need for Auditors has been especially high.

In contrast, in South Australia employers continue to prefer permanent candidates. There is some strong demand from employers for high quality candidates, with most roles the result of replacing departing staff or a restructure.

Employers in the Northern Territory also want to secure candidates in permanent roles. There continues to be a severe lack of qualified candidates with professional practice experience in the Territory. Given this candidate shortage, employers want to secure candidates long-term and temporary assignments are rarely considered.

In Victoria demand is most obvious for skilled intermediate and senior business services accountants. All firms are looking for candidates at this level, with particular demand from expanding mid-tiers and boutique firms that are experiencing an increased appetite for advisory services from their clients.

A number of candidates are taking advantage of the thriving job market in the profession to facilitate moves interstate. Firms that are forward in their approach to candidate attraction and comfortable using video conferencing as a first interview then have an advantage when these candidates arrive in Melbourne.

In the professional services market continues to be permanent focused as employers want to secure high quality candidates when they become available. Good quality business services and intermediate accountants remain in greatest demand, with candidates who can engage and communicate confidently with clients particularly sought after. Tax Accountants with experience and Senior Tax Accountants and Managers are in high demand.

Across Australia, employers continue to prefer candidates with local experience, although interstate candidates are considered if a skill set cannot be sourced locally. Employers in many states will also consider candidates from international firms.

Skills in demand

In terms of skills in demand for the October to December 2015 quarter, we’re seeing high demand for Senior Accountants with strong technical skills and good knowledge of technologies, especially Cloud-based technologies and Xero. Excellent communication skills are essential as these roles are largely client facing.

Many practices are looking for high quality Intermediate Accountants with experience. Again the focus is on excellent communication skills so that they can interact directly with clients. Part completion of the CA or CPA program is favored.

SMSF Accountants are needed. Employers look for candidates with experience as a Senior Accountant specialising in SMSF's. Exposure to Class is highly desirable in addition to BGL. Excellent communication skills are essential.

Senior Tax Accountants and Managers are sought, yet there is a shortage of suitable candidates.

Business Services Seniors, Intermediates and Supervisors are also needed given the increased appetite for advisory services.

Of course Audit Seniors remain in very high demand.

Candidate trends

Candidates generally want to expand their technical skills and experience by moving to a larger firm where they can gain exposure to different industries and a wider client base. Career progression, the right culture fit and work-life balance are all important to candidates when looking for their next role.

When interviewing, candidates are evaluated not only on their technical skills and qualifications but also where they have worked. Mid tier experience is highly regarded, as is experience at larger practices. Employers are also looking for strong client liaison skills. Interview performance is important, with prior preparation necessary for success. For more interview advice please visit the career advice page of our website.


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