What does the New Zealand job market look like for accountants?
The Hays Job Market Forecast for July – December 2018:
Hotspots of skills in demand
Over half (53 per cent) of employers in New Zealand expect to increase permanent staff levels in the next 12 months, exceeding the 8 per cent who say they’ll decrease. According to the 2018-19 Hays Salary Guide, 18 per cent also expect to increase their use of temporary and contract staff, exceeding the 11 per cent who anticipate decreasing in this area. Meanwhile, 21 per cent now employ temporary and contract staff on a regular ongoing basis, with another 41 per cent employing them for special projects or workloads.
Given vacancy activity, hotspots of skills in demand are emerging.
While audit professionals at any level are in increasingly short supply, there is particular demand for Internal Audit Principal Advisors.
While the technical skills of Internal Auditors are never in doubt, there is a shortage of senior advisors who are true business partners who can present to senior managers and show the value proposition of what they do.
Assistant Managers in BAS and Audit are needed too. Qualified CAs are taking contracts overseas, thus widening the local shortage of those with one to two years of post-qualified experience. This is a key position within firms; after three years of training and study these employees start to become profitable.
Tax and Business Advisory professionals at all levels are sought, but particularly at the Intermediate, Senior and Manager levels. With an increasing emphasis on business advisory services, many firms have high workloads and require additional support.
There is also ongoing demand for Senior Accountants who wish to remain in the profession rather than move to commerce after qualifying.
Intermediate Accountants are needed. Many firms do not provide their intermediates with sufficient exposure to clients or enough drafting experience. There is therefore a shortage of suitable candidates that fit the traditional requirement of an ‘intermediate’.
In addition, many recently qualified Intermediates and Seniors are bonded to firms for a period of time as a result of their professional studies, which can reduce the availability of candidates further. Following the completion of their CA or CPA candidates that do wish to change employers often move into commerce or to a larger firm. Others travel overseas.
Associate Directors with business development skills are sought, however most qualified accountants at this level move to commercial roles for better work-life balance.
Agri Accountants are in demand, however there is a shortage of candidates who specialise in this area.
In terms of soft skills, consulting and communication skills are highly valued. Firms are moving away from compliance and thus require candidates who can add real value through consulting. The focus is not only on how you present reports to clients, but how you articulate information and add valuable insight by showing what information really means to a client.
Assistant Managers and Managers must also have strong account management skills. Given the fast moving nature of Big 4 and 2nd tier firms, employers look for candidates who can work across multiple projects and ensure they are kept within budget and on time.
Finally, Xero certified candidates are increasingly valued since an increasing number of firms are utilising this software.
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