Survey results: What must finance and accountancy employers provide to attract and retain top talent?

4 mins

Demand for skilled finance and accountancy professionals has always been high, but in recent years the recruitment market for this sector has become more competitive than ever. As such, it is vital for employers to develop a strong understanding of what motivates staff in this industry, in order to give themselves the best chance of being able to attract and retain the top talent.

To shed further light on what these professionals are looking for in a role, Sellick Partnership has carried out a survey of 650 finance and accounting professionals from the North West of England. The survey was designed to provide insights into candidates’ perceptions of the current marketplace, the factors affecting job satisfaction, and what would motivate these individuals to consider a new role.

Our findings provide an interesting indication of how finance and accountancy employers should be looking to improve their employment offering in order to meet the needs of today’s candidates. 

This is the link to get the downloadable report. 

 Our group of respondents mostly included highly experienced finance and accountancy professionals, with 58% occupying permanent roles and around 85% holding an ACA, ACCA, CIMA or AAT qualification.

The survey revealed the following key findings:

  • One-third of finance professionals are less than fully satisfied with their jobs.
  • Almost 35% believe they are either slightly or significantly underpaid.
  • Roughly 70% of employers have improved their job offerings in response to the cost-of-living crisis, underlining how important it is for every business to react accordingly.
  • When asked about the most important aspects of a new job offer, the most popular response was salary (57%), followed by flexible working (39%), having a career development plan (38%), a compatible company culture (26%) and mentorship opportunities (26%).
  • The most sought-after benefits include pension contributions (46%) and holiday allowances offered above the statutory minimum (42%), followed by a better bonus structure (38%), flexible working hours (38%) and home working options (32%).
  • Candidates would prioritise a better equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) scheme (16%) above better workplace benefits (9%), showing the growing importance of demonstrating strong cultural values.

The report also includes a salary guide as well as quotes from candidates we surveyed, who have discussed what they felt were the main challenges facing the finance and accountancy market. A number of recurring concerns were highlighted, giving some explanation to their disappointment. 

What motivates finance and accounting professionals? Breaking down the stats

These headline figures show that although the majority of finance and accounting professionals are happy in their roles, a significant percentage of the workforce are dissatisfied with certain aspects of their jobs - and would be willing to move in order to find what they are looking for.

Here, we break down these statistics further to provide more detailed insights into the factors that could make the difference between someone leaving a finance and accountancy role, or choosing to stay.

A significant number of professionals are not fully satisfied in their current roles

Most of the professionals we surveyed reported a good level of job satisfaction - but a number of issues may be undermining this:

  • Of those polled, 24% said they were neither happy nor unhappy, while 10% are actively unhappy and 2% are very unhappy.
  • When asked how they felt about their current salary, 35% said they are either slightly or significantly underpaid, while 28% said they do not believe their salary is reflective of the role they do, in comparison to industry norms.
  • 31% of those polled do not currently receive any sort of bonuses.
  • Of those who do receive bonuses, 44% saw their last bonus shrink compared to the previous financial year, compared to only 13% who received an increased bonus.

The majority of professionals are open to changing roles…

With so many professionals feeling conflicted or ambivalent about their current roles, it is perhaps logical that a large percentage of finance professionals are open to looking for new roles, or are actively doing so:

  • 80% of those polled said they have considered external opportunities at some point in the past two year.
  • Of these, 48% said this resulted in them changing jobs during this period.
  • When asked whether they might consider looking for a new role in the near future, only 17% said no. By comparison, 28% plan to do so in the next 12 months, while 32% will do so in the next one to three years; a further 23% said they are open to hearing about new opportunities right now.

Action on diversity and CSR has become vital for candidates

Most employers realise the importance of proactive action on EDI and corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. Our survey data indicates that many finance and accountancy professionals also place significant value on this when looking for roles:

  • When asked what would make them consider a new role, 16% cited a better approach to EDI - this was more than the 9% of people who cited more generous benefits.
  • At present, 54% of professionals are either happy or very happy with their current employer’s approach to EDI - suggesting there is room for improvement on this front.
  • Similarly, around 54% say they are happy or very happy with their current employer’s CSR policy, meaning these could be important differentiators for companies willing to go above and beyond.
  • Of those polled, only around 6% said they were unaware of their employer’s CSR/EDI policies, indicating that employers are largely doing a good job of communicating their values and actions in this area.

Given the growing importance of social values to candidates, employers need to be doing more to adjust to the changing CSR and sustainability expectations they see in the modern marketplace. Potential examples of new initiatives might include a greater focus on local hiring, normalising flexible working, going paperless and selecting more sustainable suppliers.

Take a look at our blog post to learn more about how business leaders can embed sustainability and CSR at the heart of their operations.

Contact and further information

Get in touch with us here, if you would like the report to be emailed to you.

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To find out more about our insights into how employers in the finance and accountancy sector can meet the expectations of candidates, please take a look at our Finance & Accountancy recruitment hub, or contact us on 0161 834 1642.

For more information on how your data might be used by Sellick Partnership, please see our Data Processing Notice here.