Tag Archive | "recruitment"

New regulations to help contractors?

While it may be too early to declare definitively, new employment regulations instituted recently may actually help contract workers.

Firms found themselves in the position this month of updating their human resources practices to accommodate the new regulatory landscape, which could certainly be a hassle when it comes to the shorter term. Many HR departments may be silently cursing the fact that they have a large number of freelancers working for them now, but industry experts say the future could hold some excellent opportunities for other self-employed freelance workers if these new regulations stick around for a bit.

It’s no secret that contract working is a growing trend, and many people in the know and on the move insist that by the end of the decade the average firm will make use of enough freelancers to comprise half their overall workforce. This is of course an HR manager’s bloody nightmare as contractors tend to flit in and out of a company on a per-project basis, but the trend towards digitisation and online cloud computing could mean that it will actually become easier to manage the comings and goings of these ephemeral birds and blokes by then.

At any rate, I tend to agree with this assessment. As the regulatory landscape changes in response to the growth of the contracting community, firms will change to adapt to these new regulations and will in turn make themselves more welcoming to freelancers in the future. This will of course lead to even more regulatory changes to support these new standards of working, and before you know it the humble contract worker will finally claim his or her rightful place as one of the saviours of the British economy.

I mean think about it: during the economic downturn, many companies couldn’t afford to keep their doors open and also pay their employees. Replacing key positions with freelancers meant a reduction in costs for the firm, enabling them to remain viable as the economy ended up in the toilet and providing them the ability to continue to function as the situation recovered. Without contractors, many British companies would have gone belly-up – or at least many more than those that already did! I can only hope that contractors get the recognition they deserve for their contributions.

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Contractor accountant billings at 15 year high, REC says

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation say that job billings have just hit a 15 year high – and right at the top of the heap are accountancy positions.

But wait, there’s more – it turns out that pay rates for contractors are also on the up. Starting salaries are surging forwards once again, with the last high point – October of 2007 – becoming eclipsed. We’ve reached a new high water mark, ladies and gentlemen!

Of course, there’s not all good news when it comes to the revelation. Now, don’t get me wrong – these statistics are absolutely phenomenal! It means that anyone working in the accounting field as a contractor is absolutely in an enviable position, as demand is high for their services and there are no signs of this demand slowing down anytime soon at all, but once you draw the curtain back from the inner economic workings causing this sudden jump things get decidedly less rosy and a bit more bleak.

Yes, the figures do indeed say that the economy needs as many skilled and qualified accountants as it can get its hands on, and it’s willing to pay them handsomely. However, the truth is that this isn’t an indication that the economic recovery has been a full success and we’re just motoring along at a fast clip, building up our economy to pre-recession levels. On the contrary, much of the economic recovery efforts have been slow and sluggish and the only reason contractor accountants are needed so badly is because the skills shortage gripping the country is threatening what little economic recovery we’ve managed to accomplish!

There’s simply not enough workers to go around to support a more robust economic recovery, I’m afraid. That means the firms that need contractors of all stripes – not just accountants – are willing to pay a premium to entice one of the few workers capable of handling the complex processes these companies need to get done in order to stay afloat. If this shortage goes on for too long there simply won’t be enough temporary workers to go around and British firms will have to outsource overseas – and that means we’re likely to see demand for local workers sink like a stone. It’s only a matter of time, or at least I think so, which means you’d better prepare yourselves now!

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Finance sector grows confident, leads to more opportunities

The finance and accountancy sector has grown so strong that industry experts say the opportunities for contractors and freelancers for work are off the charts.

Optimism has begun to run higher than ever when it comes to the finance industry, according to recruitment specialists. The first half of 2013 has seen not just permanent vacancies increase by 26 per cent, but contractor opportunities have gone up by a remarkable 46 per cent.

Not only have things over the last six months been positive, but growth has been increasing almost exponentially. Looking back at the growth to just permanent vacancies from June to July, there was an 8.5 per cent rise, and this could indicate that employers have become confident enough to not rely upon interim workers exclusively, like they tend to do in times of economic uncertainty.

But just because employers are hiring on accountants and financial planners on a permanent basis doesn’t mean that all you contractor accountants out there aren’t going to be in high demand any more. As a matter of fact there always seems to be shedloads of demand for interim workers, thanks to one simple fact: they’re much more cost-effective than permanent employees.

Even if confidence is coming up once more, there’s still plenty of uncertainty out there when it comes to whether the economy is truly going to turn itself around. Sure, the prospect of another bank failure might seem rather far-off, but there’s loads of uncertainty in the eurozone right now and there’s really no telling when countries like Greece will get their finances sorted, so there’s more than just a few reasons to maximise incomes whilst minimising outgoings.

Freelancers and contractors can provide fantastic savings to employers when it comes to payroll costs. Finance and accountancy firms – or any firms worth their salt, at any rate – would be incredibly tuned in to these savings opportunities, and that means good news for any contractor accountant or freelance financial adviser that’s looking to increase their client base.

So I wouldn’t worry too much about the economy recovering and ironically making it harder for freelance workers to hold down a job. The best firms out there know the value of interim workers and will want to keep us all employed for years to come, despite the state of the economy here in the UK or how things are abroad.

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What bad economy? Accountants find gainful employment

While the economy is still bad all over, there’s one sector where you’d be hard-pressed to find any evidence of that: accountants are still highly sought out.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that, according to a recently completed research study, most employers are not going to increase their college graduate hiring rates this fall. However, over 50 per cent of firms indicated that they will be looking in earnest for any accounting graduates they can find.

Hiring was up a paltry 2.1 per cent overall, according to the NACE study, which is a serious drop from the 13 per cent projections from fall of last year. Just shy of half of the firms surveyed did plan on increasing their hiring, even as more than one out of three said they will not be hiring as many new workers as they did in 2012. Still, graduating accountants are in some very good company, as 51 per cent of respondents said they will be actively looking for them; the only other graduates that exceeded accountants for demand were computer science majors, engineers, and business graduates.

It’s really no surprise that accountancy experts are going to be experiencing such high levels of demand, industry experts say, as businesses of all kinds require the very specific and helpful expertise that accountants bring with them. Every firm needs an accountant, and larger firms may even need more than one; multinationals have whole battalions of accountants working overtime to manage their billions in incomes and outgoings, relying on them very closely to ensure that all those financial details are sorted and don’t leave the firm exposed to prosecution by the taxman for improper tax reporting – or worse yet, tax avoidance!

So it just goes to show you, all you university students, that picking up some accountancy expertise isn’t the worst thing you could do. I know that I’m not necessarily brilliant at maths, but an accountancy degree could end up being worth its weight in gold down the line; you might want to seriously consider a career as an accountant if you don’t mind dealing with facts and figures all day every day.

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Fancy a top job with HMRC? It’s on the lookout for experts!

Senior tax specialists are escaping HMRC at an alarming rate and by the end of the summer, 80% of its top team will have left.

Three out of the five commissioners are due to retire shortly and the director-general for benefits and credit, Steve Lamey, is moving to the private sector. The Revenue also needs to find a new chairman to replace Mike Clasper. Lin Homer, the chief executive at the Revenue, is a relative newcomer to the department having only taken up her position a few months ago.

Simon Bowles, the chief finance officer, currently appears to be the only commissioner who is not about to jump ship.

The ACCA’s head of taxation, Chas Roy-Chowdhury, said it was unfortunate that all the commissioners were departing at the same time, but this could be a good opportunity to bring in fresh ideas from people in the lower echelons. He said he had spoken to Homer and was confident that she could beef up a new team and deliver the department’s goals.

A spokesperson for the Revenue said it’s vital for HMRC to get the right people in the right roles. Internal and external candidates are welcome to apply and the recruitment process will be fair and open. Applicants for these senior roles will need a wide range of experience and tax will be a key element.

The exodus could turn out to be good for HMRC; a new broom sweeps clean and all that. But will the department be able to get the right people in place quickly enough to prevent chaos?

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Global financial sector job postings decreased in Q1

Although the slowdown in financial sector recruitment that was evident last year has not abated, the situation in the UK is not as bad as it is in Middle East or the US.

The latest data supplied by the quarterly jobs barometer from eFinancialCareers shows that job opportunities in global financial markets fell in the first quarter of this year.

In the UK, there were 2, 923 financial job postings in the first quarter of 2012. This compares with 3,270 in Q1 last year and gives a decrease of 11%.
The year-on-year decrease in the US was 13% and in Central Europe and in the Middle East the drop was 14%. Asia Pacific did slightly better than the UK with a fall in job opportunities of 10%

However, the drop in monthly vacancies between the final quarter of last year and Q1 this year was slightly better at just 8%.

eFinancialCareers managing director, James Bennett, said that companies have been focusing their efforts on restructuring and only replacing critical members of staff. Companies throughout the world are still extremely cost conscious and are therefore concentrating on finding ways to improve efficiency and productivity.

Meanwhile, the CBI expects to see the UK economy begin to grow in the second half of the year. However, the QBE thinks it will take at least two years before the economy recovers. Despite the pessimism over the economy, 34% of professionals surveyed by QBE expect to increase their headcount before the year is out.

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SMEs display pessimism about hiring intentions this year

The results of a recent survey of SME owners on their hiring intentions for 2012 provides a disturbing outlook for 2012.

1,000 SMEs were questioned by Huddlebuy, the discount site, and two thirds of them said they are not planning to employ any new staff this year.

Job seekers in the North of England, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales will find it extremely difficult to find work as 70% of small businesses said they would be unlikely to employ new staff in 2012. In the south, 60% of SMEs are not planning to increase their headcount this year.

Economists expect unemployment to increase significantly over the coming months and could reach 2.9 million by the summer. The public sector is making redundancies twice as quickly as originally predicted and the private sector is unable to create enough jobs to absorb them.

The biggest concern amongst business leaders is the UKs youth unemployment rate, which is currently standing at 22%. This is expected to rise further as business confidence falls and the number of entry-level vacancies drops.

The deputy director-general of the CBI, Neil Bentley, said action is needed now to prevent a lost generation of youngsters. The government’s £1 billion youth contract will create apprenticeships and placements but more still needs to be done.

The MD of Pertemps recruitment, Carmen Watson, said training providers should focus on getting young people ready for work and into appropriate roles. Employers also have a role to play and they should ensure new employees receive the mentorship they need to get used to a new working environment.

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Soaring cost of childcare forces families into poverty

A recent survey by Save the Children and the Daycare Trust revealed that some British parents have to spend more than 33% of their income on childcare and this is preventing many women from returning to work and piling financial pressure onto parents.

The REC responded to these claims last week by highlighting the important role specialist recruitment agencies play in delivering a flexible childcare workforce.

The Chair of REC Childcare, Judith Ivers, explained that the cost of childcare is often a major barrier to a parent going back to work. Specialist childcare recruitment agencies provide parents with high quality, affordable childcare.

In addition to considering the cost of childcare, we also need to make sure that there is a pool of properly vetted, suitably trained childcare workers, she continued. Childcare recruiters provide us with this peace of mind.

An increasing number of parents in Northern Ireland are being pushed into poverty due to soaring childcare costs. They spend an average 45% of their income on childcare. Some families on low incomes are having to turn down jobs and others are thinking about leaving their jobs because they cannot afford the cost of childcare.

Whilst parents say they need to work, childcare costs are eating up such a large proportion of their income that nearly 25% are now in debt as a result. One Northern Irish mother said that it was hard to find affordable childcare and if she had to pay for a child minder or private nursery there would be no point in her going out to work.

If the government wants to persuade parents that working is the way out of poverty, it needs to make sure effective and affordable childcare support is available.

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Demand for contractor accountants outstrips rest of market

The latest Job Index from Reed showed an increase in opportunities for newly qualified accountants last month.

Although there was little movement in the rest of the jobs market, there was a 5% increase in new accountancy jobs in August. According to Reed, the past year has seen an increase of 22% in demand for qualified accountants, and an increase of 34% since the Index came into being in December 2009.

Despite the increase in opportunities, salaries for new qualified accountants remained unchanged in August. Compared to the recruitment market as a whole, this is still an improvement as the Salary Index sank to 97, 3% below the benchmark set when the Index started.

The non-qualified Accountancy Index is also outstripping national figures at 28% higher than it was this time last year.

Martin Warnes, Reed.co.uk’s MD, said it was really striking to note the increase in demand for qualified accountants last month when all other areas of the economy remained flat.

The service sector in particular is suffering at the moment. The latest Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers index fell from 54.4 to 51.1 in August. This was the largest drop in ten years as economic uncertainty in the Eurozone continues to harm the FTSE and consumer confidence is eroded by rising inflation and constrained incomes.

Nick Jones from World First currency brokers said that a fall had been expected but the extent of the decline was a real shocker. The services industry is still slightly growing, he continued, but any more shocks to consumer confidence could see the sector contract and threaten the third quarter’s GDP.

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Does the gender pay gap really exist?

Maureen Blenkharn from leading Scottish recruiter McAdam King said surveys which claim that discrepancies exist between male and female executives’ pay do not help the cause of women.

One such survey suggested that the gender pay gap could be as high as £10,000 per year but Ms Blenkharn warned that those sort of comparisons did not paint an accurate picture of working practices in recruitment.

She said that in her experience employers just want to find the right candidate and offer the same package to both men and women. She went on to say that McAdam King works with major financial services, manufacturing and oil and gas firms and it’s not possible to imagine a situation where companies would take a different approach to salary negotiations because of gender.

The CMI recently published research claiming that it will take 100 years before women executives receive the same pay as men.

Kay Senior from Badenoch & Clark said that if this is true it is very disappointing and must be addressed. She also claimed that men were proactive when it comes to pay and women should adopt the same attitude. Almost 75% of women do not know the market rate for their position, she said whereas 34.5% of men knew exactly what they should receive and were prepared to make sure their employer was aware of it.

She finished by saying that organisations must address the gender pay gap but it was just as important for employees to understand the industry standard for their job and communicate regularly with their employer about their salary.

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More than eight out of ten accountants wants to jump ship

Accounting firms could find themselves without key members of staff as more than eight out of ten employees, including accountants for contractors, are considering changing job.

Definitive Consulting, a City recruitment specialist, recently surveyed senior executives and discovered that although 65% thought their employer successfully retained staff during the economic crisis, less than 10% said they have been very successful at keeping employees happy and engaged since the recession ended. And only 8% were very confident that their employer would make the correct people decisions whilst the recovery was still ongoing.

As a result of these negative feelings, 82% said that unless they are guaranteed a salary increase and a bonus, they will move to a new employer within 12 months. Out of those, 22% said they were ready to move immediately and 43% said they plan to change jobs within the next six months.

Almost two-thirds of the survey’s respondents said their employer doesn’t appear to be following a clear employee retention plan. Instead they are reacting to circumstances and making high counter-offers to encourage employees to withdraw their resignations.

The report went on to point out that employers seem to have learnt from the 2001 downturn when redundancies led to a skills shortage and high wage inflation. Instead, firms implemented salary and bonus freezes, long term leave and secondments to reduce costs during the economic crisis.

The MD of Definitive consulting, Darren James, said this strategic approach seems not to have extended into the recovery period. Employers need to stabilise the situation as a matter of urgency to stop key employees jumping ship.

Employers may want to bear in mind that the small business community values the advice of accountants highly. 48% of respondents to an unbiased.co.uk survey said that accountants helped them save money, 47% said they helped make sense of the UK’s complex tax system and one in five admitted they were their most valuable source of advice.

More than a quarter of the small business owners questioned said they had more time to focus on running their business if they used an accountant and 10% said they had more free time to spend with family.

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24% of employees are seeking out new horizons

The latest ‘Employee Outlook’ survey from the CIPD suggests that UK workers are feeling increasingly insecure about their jobs.

21% of employees now think it is likely that they will be made redundant as a result of the recession, a rise of one percentage point on the previous quarter.

Not surprisingly, the highest level of concern is found in the public sector, with 30% of employees believing they are likely to lose their job. 27% of those in voluntary sector share the same sentiment but only 19% of private sector workers express concern.

Job satisfaction fell five points during the quarter to +34. Employees in the voluntary sector are most satisfied whilst those in the private sector are least satisfied.

The survey also discovered that 24% of respondents were looking for a new position with a new company, up from 19% in the previous quarter.

Research from staffbay.com suggests that figure could be even higher. It claims that since the two consecutive bank holidays, there are now four times the normal level of people looking for new employment.

The founder of the online recruitment platform explained that bank holidays give us the chance to reflect on our career path and back to work blues hit people strongly enough to encourage them to apply for new positions.

However, according to the latest Reed Job index, there was a 2% drop in vacancy numbers last month. Since December 2009, 25% more job opportunities have been created in the private sector and year on year demand is 22% higher.

Demand in banking and leisure and tourism fell back last month whilst customer service, engineering, IT and manufacturing were among the sectors to record an increased job demand.

The bank holidays may have played a part in the drop in demand as UK businesses experienced a disjointed period with the two long weekends, suggested the MD of reed.co.uk, Martin Warnes.

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How will City contractor accountants fare this year?

It is unlikely that city hiring this year will reach the heights of 2010, according to recruiter Robert Walters.

Chief executive, Robert Walters, said that last year banks were correcting from the savage cuts they made during the economic downturn. They needed to re-staff quickly but that was a one-off and we now need to wait and see what they’ll do next.

He also commented that the hiring process was starting to take longer. Employees are unsure of their worth and complex variations in salary packages are confusing, he pointed out.

Robert Walters placed 2,000 City workers in 2010 and has seen a 10% rise in net fee income in the first quarter of 2011.

Large recruiters report a buoyant demand for financial staff, in particular those with experience in risk management and regulatory functions. However, much of this demand is due to churn as people look to change employers. Some analysts have predicted that banks will reduce their headcount by between five and eight per cent this year.

Ambition recruitment consultants say that workers in the City pay the same amount in taxes as the whole Scottish population. Its research found that Square mile staff paid a total of £11 billion in NI and income tax, equal to the remittances from the entire workforce north of the border and 7% of the UK total.

Ambition UK’s managing director, Simon Lynch, said that City workers have been subjected to a torrent of abuse in the last few years but they make a very valuable contribution to the public purse.

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Contractor accountants could be in demand this year

Accountancy recruitment is continuing to increase according to the latest Ashdown Group Jobs Index.

The profession registered a 13.52% rise in recruitment during December and January and a 5.95% increase last month.

The BCC and the CBI have predicted Q1 economic growth and as business confidence returns to the marketplace companies will be looking to increase their headcounts. Financial professionals will be in demand as their numerical ability is vital for businesses looking to implement sustainable growth strategies.

Ashdown’s director, John Lynes, said it is not clear whether churn or departmental expansion is responsible for the increase in vacancy numbers. He pointed out that the considerable growth in online recruitment has made it easier for financial professionals to apply for new positions. Whatever the reason, more accountancy positions are now available.

He continued by saying that unless large numbers of accountants are quitting the profession, the trend points to new hirers. This bodes well for contractor accountants this year, both in terms of prospects and the ability to command higher rates.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are concerned that limited company contractors may be receiving poor business development and marketing advice from their accountants.

On the whole, accountants do not understand marketing and business development. Robert Craven, a marketing consultant, said a lot of accountants appeared to be interested solely in surviving and are making no attempt to win new business.

It has been suggested that this lack of interest in marketing could lead accountants to give aggressive cost-cutting advice to business owners.

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  • Switch Accountants for FREE

    Switch Accountants for FREEAt K&B Accountancy Group we have introduced a simple and straightforward approach to changing accountants. We’re offering contractors, consultants and freelancers the opportunity to switch to K&B Accountancy Group for FREE without the need to pay for any ‘catch up’ or retrospective accountancy fees for the previous year’s accounts and corporation tax return* *T&Cs apply

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