PracticeAccounting FirmsPositive outlook brings the poachers out of the shadows

Positive outlook brings the poachers out of the shadows

Perhaps the best example that the accountancy business is feeling bullish once again can be found at London Bridge station. There, above the overpriced sandwich shops, a billboard ad announces that PricewaterhouseCoopers is hiring.

The firm is looking for accountants, auditors and risk managers, not to mention business advisors, tax advisors and corporate financiers. It is, in short, looking to expand across the board. And it’s not alone.

A CBI survey – sponsored by PwC coincidentally – reveals this week that in the last quarter, staff numbers in the financial services sector have increased at the fastest rate in 15 years. Just 5% of companies have cut employment over the last three months, while 41% took staff on. Even more encouragingly, companies are expecting growth in employment over the next quarter.

The news comes on top of last month’s Accountancy Age Top 50 survey, which revealed that the UK’s biggest firms will be expanding over the next 12 months. Some 80% said they expected to increase professional headcount in the next 12 months.

Given that all this activity comes at a time when the labour market is tight, the ‘P’ word is also back. Poaching may not yet be rife – but there are signs of its re-emergence. You need look no further than last month’s defection of a 16-strong Deloitte transaction services team to KPMG for evidence.

Staff retention will be a key issue over the next 12 to 24 months. Can you honestly say that you are equipped to retain and attract the brightest and best?

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