FDs sit tight to avoid suspicion

Confirming a downturn in recruitment at FD level, Nigel Lynn, chairman of accountancy recruitment specialists Nigel Lynn Associates, said finance chiefs may be delaying moves to avoid further destabilising the market.

‘The recent spate of accounting scandals has focussed attention on companies and individuals. I suspect many FDs may be unwilling to risk attracting the attention that moving on may create. Leaving may be wrongly perceived as jumping ship and so they are preferring to sit tight.

‘They may also be unwilling to take on a new position and risk uncovering something – a classic case of better the devil you know,’ he added.

Lynn also pinpointed a dearth of investment in new projects, traditionally a healthy source of opportunities at senior levels, as a brake on the market. ‘The collapse in stock prices has made equity capital more expensive and we’re therefore not seeing much new investment and the turnover of people that goes with it,’ he explained.

Andy Pickering, a 44-year-old FD with a background in software and technology, has been looking for work since his former employer, a dotcom company, failed in February.

‘I’ve never been so active in the market and never had such little response,’ he commented. ‘Nobody’s moving and nobody’s recruiting.’

But signposts showing the way out of the doldrums are already appearing, said Lynn. ‘Profit warnings are at their lowest for two years, which means less insecurity and stabilisation in the market. There’s no single reason why the market has slowed at the top end but there’s a complex series of interlocking issues at work.

‘Once the holiday season is past we should have a clearer picture of the way the market is heading.’

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