Dublin competing with London for international accounting talent
Robert Walters Ireland’s Suzanne Feeny, Tallia Beagle and Michael Nolan analyse the current labour/recruitment market in accountancy and FS and give their outlook for the coming year.
Suzanne Feeney, Country Manager at Robert Walters Ireland: “The ‘war for talent’ continues to rage in the labour market. Practice and industry markets have seen significant growth leading to an increase in demand and shortage in supply. We can see this across all levels from Junior to Director.
Suzanne Feeney
Suzanne Feeney

“Over the next 6 – 12 months, as long as companies in the finance space continue to build headcount in Ireland there will be a continuous demand for talent. However with a small local talent pool, hiring for international talent will remain high – with the main competition being with the UK who share competing specialism around risk, compliance, ESG and consulting services. For context, the demand for qualified Chartered Accountants from South Africa has dramatically increased in both markets with Dublin and London competing to attract the best talent.

“Within the newly qualified accounting space in particular, individuals are able to travel overseas for the first time in over two years, so much of our fresh talent are taking the opportunity to travel and experience working in other markets.”

“In Financial Services, we expect additional hiring for internal audit and regulatory reporting positions as the Central Bank of Ireland continues a call for substance across the three lines of defence.

“Audit is often viewed as a malleable skillset for competing specialisms to draw from, particularly as all markets feel the pinch of their own candidate short markets.

“Commerce & Industry will continue to draw talent from similar candidate pools – and if market conditions swing – that is when we will begin to see a lowering demand and shift away from commercial finance to financial control.”
Talia Beagle
Talia Beagle

Tallia Beagle, Manager Accounting & Finance at Robert Walters Ireland: “It is a confluence of conditions which brought on this particular candidate shortage and with it, a skills shortage. Considering a lot of companies paused and slowed growth during the pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase to catch up on hiring that would have typically occurred over a three-year period.

“There has also been a very strong mixture of newly created roles and replacement hiring in the Irish market. This swelling of intake and increase in international hires – where training contracts last around 3 – 4 years – will mean that there will be a steady influx of newly qualified accountants entering the market, where we can expect a balance to come within around two years and subsequently a potential surplus of talent should market conditions change significantly.

“While the future looks safe with post primary curriculums now including climate change / ESG topics, there will be a period of educating students on career pathways and then waiting for that talent to join the emerging workforce – nonetheless new skills gaps will continue to appear!”

Michael Nolan, Associate Director at Robert Walters Ireland: “To tackle the shortage of candidates companies will have to change their hiring strategy focusing on the 4 Ws – where, what, when and why.
Michael Nolan
Michael Nolan

“They will need be more flexible and open with candidates’ backgrounds; for example PwC in the UK recently announced it will no longer have a 2.1 minimum requirement for undergraduate and graduate roles. Firms also need to offer greater flexibility regarding hybrid and remote work. This is now a given – in fact we find that most professionals won’t consider a new position or company where this isn’t on offer.

“Additionally, we have seen an increase in salaries at junior levels (10-15%) which is having a snowball effect - with inflation also playing a role here. Retention is high on the risk agenda for many firms and so pay increases and counteroffers will continue to be common place – if firms aren’t ready for this then be prepared to see talent walk.

“However, we do expect the volume of roles in accounting firms and commerce to ease when market conditions change. Financial services hiring demands are not fully dependant on market conditions and we need to see what happens in regard to further calls for substance from the CBI. Demand and supply are so interlinked that a shift in the market would ignite a surplus of supply which ultimately eradicates demand.”
This article appeared in the September 2022 edition.