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Where are all the Recently Qualified Accountants?

If you are a Hiring Manager in Limerick / Clare, and you are currently seeking to employ a Recently Qualified Accountant (ie Qualified between 2015 – 2019) who has trained through a ‘Top 6’ Accountancy Practice for a contract position, you are probably wondering why is it so difficult to identify someone suitable.

I can summarise the challenge as follows;
* The fact that it is a Contract position
* The fact that you are seeking a Recently Qualified Accountant (ie Qualified between 2015 – 2019) to fill this vacancy

Contract Vacancies
I won’t dwell too long on the current challenges re filling Contract vacancies in general except to say that we are almost at full employment and this presents an issue as regards availability of candidates – see our post on why it is so difficult to fill temporary contract vacancies

Recently Qualified Accountants
The next challenge you will have is that, based on our experience of recruiting within the finance market, we believe there are approx 70-85 Trainee Accountants commencing training contracts within a Practice environment in Limerick and Clare every year … of these, approx 40 are through the ‘Top 6’ Accountancy Practices.

For ease of calculation, if we assume that the pass rates for final examinations in ACA, ACCA & CPA are similar to the average pass rates of Trainee Accountants over the course of their training contracts as published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2018, which was 71%, this means that on the law of averages there are 28-30 Qualified Accountants from the ‘Top 6’ Accountancy Practices finishing their training contracts every year.

In the last 3 years we have calculated that an average of 8 Qualified Accountants per year, from the ‘Top 6’ Accountancy Firms in the region, have decided to move directly into industry in Limerick / Clare with the remaining 75% opting to stay on in Practice after their training contract has finished and /or go travelling or relocate to Dublin.

In addition, we have found that very few Recently Qualified Accountants who are originally from Limerick/Clare and who trained through the ‘Top 6’ Accountancy Firms in Dublin consider a move back to Limerick / Clare for the first 2+ years after they have Qualified.

Attracting back to Limerick/Clare Region
We have also found over the last 4 years that, once Recently Qualified Accountants from Limerick/Clare travel overseas, when they are deciding to return back to Ireland a disproportionate number gravitate toward Dublin for an additional 2 – 3 year period before considering a return back to the region.

And once they do decide to return to Limerick/Clare, it is at that stage that they are faced with the salary dilemma … how much of a salary cut can they afford to take (if any) and can they afford to consider a Contract position.
The reality is that if they are considering a move back to Limerick/Clare, then they are quite likely seeking to put down ‘roots’ in the region with the view to ultimately purchasing a house. This then presents another challenge as the various Banks who are issuing Mortgages will apply a much lower ‘Salary Multiplier’ to the salary of an Accountant who is in a Contract position as opposed to a Permanent position. Therefore, while they wish to return to the Region, they tend to stay away from Contract positions for quite a period of time and continue to try to secure a Permanent role.

Suggested Solution
So to go back to the original question posed at the beginning – you are a Hiring Manager in Limerick / Clare, you are currently seeking to employ a Recently Qualified Accountant (ie Qualified between 2015 – 2019) who has trained through a ‘Top 6’ Firm for a contract position and you are probably wondering why is it so difficult to identify someone suitable.

What can you do?
The first suggestion I would make is as follows – is this really a Contract vacancy or in reality is a permanent vacancy but you want to see how the person works out during the contract before you make them permanent? If this is the case, then given the shortage of available talent in the Jobs Market at present, please ensure that you seek, if possible, to get authorisation for a permanent position so that you give yourself the greatest number of potential applicants to consider for the role.
While this method of identifying potential talent in the past has worked very well for organisations, given the current challenges in the Jobs Market, it is unlikely to give you as successful a return on the time you will invest to source someone suitable.
We have also found that a vacancy described as a “Contract with a view to Permanency” does not increase the number of individuals who will consider the position as typically they do not believe that the initial contract position will covert to a permanent position … this is as a result all the false promises that they, and their counterparts, will have heard over the years.

The second suggestion I would make is to decide do you really require a Recently Qualified Accountant (ie Qualified between 2015 – 2019) for this contract position. Given the current (and they are just current) challenges that I have outlined regarding the availability of Recently Qualified Accountants from ‘Top 6’ Firms for contract positions, is it possible to amend the Job Spec for the vacancy so that someone with 5+ or 10+ year’s experience might be considered for the vacancy … while not needing to increase the salary range being considered for the position?

The reason I say this is that if it is truly a Contract position, then you are seeking a suitably qualified individual to complete a ‘body’ of work / project assignment and the key factors when screening potential candidates should be;
1) do they have the relevant experience to complete the role?
2) will they fit, within acceptable parameters, the ‘culture’ of the team/organistaion?
3) is their salary expectations within the range for the role?

So to alleviate your current challenges, you may find that broadening the search criteria for the contract vacancy or amending the requirement to a permanent vacancy will give you a greater ‘pool’ of individuals to choose from in order to fill your position(s).

BDO Recruitment specialises in sourcing candidates for permanent and temporary positions across the disciplines of Accounting and Finance, Executive Appointments, and Support Staff.

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