SMEs across the South East need financial expertise to look after the bottom line but also for business success. Accountancy and finance roles are not just operational, balancing the books, but also strategic ensuring that companies are competitive, enabling them respond to threats and seize opportunities, grow etc. For candidates interested in accountancy or finance jobs there is a significant opportunity to forge a rewarding career within a wide range of different sectors.

I recruit for part and newly qualified accountancy and finance professionals in the South East, placing candidates in the companies they want to work for. Here I share my advice and insights for candidates who want a finance career in this part of the UK.

It’s a Candidate Driven Market

If you’re thinking of relocating to the South East or have just started your career in accountancy or finance, you will be pleased to hear that it’s a candidate driven market. This means that demand for finance talent outweighs the number of candidates currently available who can fill those roles. Companies and organisations are competing for the top talent; so if you’re a part or newly qualified accountancy or finance professional, you can expect to take your pick of the most suitable jobs.

The South East has a relatively buoyant job market. Many of the UK’s most exciting SMEs are based in this part of country, as well as multinationals and big brands that offer great opportunities for dedicated and ambitious individuals – outside of London. Forward thinking employers understand the benefits of recruiting new talent – especially candidates that are actively studying or have recently qualified – and offer progression and development for the right candidates.

Part and newly qualified candidates also have an edge over other accountancy and finance candidates. In recent years the economy and political climate (we can’t ignore the impact of Brexit) has resulted in restructuring, offshore relocations, redundancies and even companies going under. Some professionals who have successfully worked their way up to senior finance roles now find themselves on the job market, unqualified.

They have experience but no qualifications, and also high salary expectations. In a risk adverse environment few large companies want to pay the salaries that reflect years of promotions and pay rises, instead they’re looking at the qualified and part qualified market. Put bluntly, most large organisations will not take on a QBE (qualified by experience) candidate, and that means there are more opportunities for part qualified candidates. In fact, it is currently the second biggest recruitment area in accountancy and finance, and along with IT related roles (think Fintech) is set to dominate recruitment this year.

Salary Expectations and Career Progression

It is well documented that salaries are generally higher in the South East than other areas of the UK. Part qualified roles typically pay between £25k for entry level up to £40k+ for a finalist nearing qualification, dependant on the role and your level of experience. A recent graduate with exemptions may not get the same salary as someone who is part qualified with two years’ experience. It’s therefore important to understand what the opportunities are for you at whatever stage of your professional qualification you’re at, and get some career’s advice about what to expect.

My approach is to focus on your career progression, what size of companies you want to work for, what area of accountancy and finance you are interested in, and then put together a plan to get there. Understanding what the career progression opportunities are within different organisations is an important part of that. What happens once you qualify – apart from getting a pay rise – can you progress within the organisation and get the development you want?

To this end if you’re looking to get a part or newly qualified role, I recommend that you consider the following:

  • Understand your skills set – what can you bring to a role, and what qualification level are you at?
  • How much are you worth? Our salary guide can help you find out.
  • What do you want? What kind of organisation do you want to work for – size, culture & values etc?
  • Where do you want to go? What are your plans medium to long term? If you can define these it’s easier to work out the steps you need to take to get there.

Finally, it is worth getting someone onside who can help you find that next role. I specialise in part qualified accountancy and finance candidates – proactively working with them to find a suitable role. By the last count I think I am the only recruitment consultant in the South East that is entirely dedicated to supporting those studying an accountancy and finance qualification, so you might want to speak to me!

Call 01252 718777 or email for an informal chat about your needs.