Aggressive audit recruitment tactics symptomatic of market revolution

INCREASINGLY aggressive headhunting tactics are being adopted by the UK’s biggest accounting firms as they battle over a limited pool of senior auditors in a bid to capitalise on increased activity in the large-listed audit market, Accountancy Age has learned.

According to a senior audit partner within the Big Four, their firm has been “on the end of some pretty aggressive behaviour” from competitors attempting to poach partners, or auditors just below partner level.

While headhunting between firms is not a new phenomenon, changes in audit regulation that require companies to put their audit contracts up for tender more frequently means human resources are at a premium and recruitment is taking place at more senior levels than was previously the case.

Increased bid activity – of the 82 FTSE 350 audit tenders to have been completed since October 2012, almost 40% have taken place since July last year – has placed greater emphasis on preparatory work ahead of formal tenders taking place.

At the same time, there is only a limited amount of auditors capable of auditing the biggest and most complex accounts, while it has been suggested that some companies have accelerated their own tenders in order to snag the most experienced auditors in their sectors.

So-called ‘war for talent’ is a hackneyed phrase. But in the case of auditors on the cusp of making partner – and some who are already partners – the phrase seems rather apt.


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