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As we launch the Sharp Consultancy 2019/2020 Salary Survey, Executive Director Lee Sweeney reflects on the previous 12 months and shares his views on what lies ahead over the coming year.

As we launch the Sharp Consultancy 2019/2020 Salary Survey, Executive Director Lee Sweeney reflects on the previous 12 months and shares his views on what lies ahead over the coming year.

Brexit. It’s never far from people’s thoughts. At the time of writing, we are still awaiting what the final outcome will be, yet the political uncertainty and potential turmoil being foreseen has done little to dampen demand with early indications showing that finance and accountancy remains incredibly buoyant across the region.

The economy continues to improve – we have seen six consecutive years of growth – and with growing companies driving demand for recruitment, the end of 2018 saw employment levels in the UK approach full capacity.

The previous 12 months saw sustained demand from across all industry sectors; even those experiencing reported difficulties– such as retail – pressed forward with recruitment with the changing needs of businesses driving the demand just as much as growth.

The quest for part qualifieds to finance controllers in particular remains high with a notable increase in six figure plus senior level appointments also being witnessed. However, with demand somewhat outstripping supply across a number of roles we have seen significant changes to the way in which organisations are approaching their ongoing recruitment needs.

The dynamics of the current market have led to an increasing number of businesses engaging with recruitment specialists on a retained basis and, with it very much being a seller’s market, companies are making significant moves to becoming more flexible. With increasing emphasis upon part-time and family-friendly working patterns we are seeing organisations seizing every opportunity available to them to make their opportunities most attractive to candidates.

With good quality candidates seemingly having their pick of the available opportunities, it is those companies who are fleet of foot that will triumph in the current market conditions. With the recruitment process for candidates below qualified level typically taking between two to four weeks maximum and senior level appointments typically being filled in less than eight weeks, companies which become embroiled in procedure and red tape are regularly finding themselves behind the curve.

As the pressure on supply continues, the need to retain top talent intensifies. A higher proportion of buy back and counter offer attempts are being made with high pay rises and increased benefits being offered, albeit with often quite strict demands and tie-in conditions in return to secure loyalty. As a result we are seeing fairly sizeable jumps forward in salary levels; typically 5-10% but increases of 10 – 15/20% are no longer unusual.

The volume of demand and pace of the current market has seen businesses reverse the trend of recent years to take their recruitment in-house; many are recognising that for key business change roles in particular, the need for specialist expertise and support is critical to successfully securing appointments.

This shift in the relationship between client and supplier has seen more emphasis being placed upon our role as a trusted advisor and this is set to continue over the coming year as, whatever the outcome, Britain finds itself entering a new era.

The above editorial is an extract from the Sharp Consultancy 2019/2020 Salary Survey; a full copy can be downloaded here


Sharp Consultancy specialises in the recruitment of temporary, interim and permanent finance professionals and the full spectrum of HR roles.  With offices in Leeds and Sheffield our highly experienced team of consultants recruit for positions throughout Yorkshire and beyond.


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