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Accountancy & Finance - Professional Practice

January - March 2015





Intermediate and Senior Tax Accountants – There is a shortage of suitable candidates in these areas, plus a reluctance to move. In addition, at the senior level in particular, candidates often seek commercial roles, and this further depletes the pool of available candidates.


Business Services Seniors – There is particularly strong demand from small to medium firms for Managers, Seniors and Supervisors with advisory and compliance experience. Competition with the commercial sector, as well as higher salaries in commerce, have both led to a shortfall of candidates for professional practice. Candidates need strong communication and client liaison skills and high-level technical skills. Employers also look for candidates who have experience mentoring entry-level staff as well as managing client contact. Many of these positions are newly created roles rather than replacements which is an indication of improving economic conditions. These candidates remain in short supply and employers are very selective on who they will take.


SMSF Senior Accountants – This is one of the fastest growing areas in professional practice in regional locations. Good Senior Accountants are required to oversee around 100 SMSF's end-to-end.


Audit Seniors and Managers - Given the number of hours this job function requires, many experienced candidates move into financial accounting. Since a high number of Auditors secure commercial roles, the pipeline of talent in professional practice is not strong enough to replace them immediately. This is creating extremely high demand for Auditors.


Internal Auditors - Larger firms are recruiting Internal Auditors who they will market to their clients and who will work onsite. This is a positive revenue stream, and these professionals can follow up on their external audit reviews. 


Intermediate Accountants – It can be difficult to attract intermediate accountants, particularly to regional locations. As a result, some firms have started placing candidates in Bookkeeper roles, who they charge out to ensure workloads are still completed. These candidates are seen as a better option than graduates since they can complete work at a higher standard. 




Employers are recruiting new staff in order to bolster their teams for the year ahead.  Candidate levels remain low, with skills shortages particularly notable in the above areas.  The movement of qualified accountants to commerce and industry continues to impact staffing levels in professional practice.


In regional locations, employers have a high demand for experienced accountants and consequently salaries have increased as a method of helping to attract talent. Employers are also considering paying relocation costs and providing additional benefits to attract candidates to rural locations. 


We’ve seen a preference from employers to hire candidates with strong relationship building skills. Firms are starting to offshore lower level compliance work in favour of developing business partnerships and focussing on positive commercial outcomes for their clients.


Given the shortage of talent, some firms have started to fill intermediate roles with Bookkeepers and are training them into the role.


In addition, more top tier firms are willing to offer sponsorship, which is an attractive opportunity for working holiday visa candidates who want to remain in Australia long-term.


We have seen a marginal increase in the number of employers open to candidates from the UK with no local tax experience. Such candidates meet all the criteria for Business Services roles bar local tax experience, but they are typically at a senior level and can research any changes in legislation. They therefore come up to speed quickly.


In a final trend, some employers have added testing to their recruitment process. However this adds significantly to the length of their process and subsequently they are missing out on their preferred candidate to an employer with a speedier process who can make an offer at the end of the first interview. 

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