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Half of accountants are actively looking for new jobs, according to new research


Bosses in accountancy firms and in-house financial departments have been warned to do more to retain staff and could see many of their staff leaving over the next six to 12 months.

A research study by CareersinAudit, of 606 accountants, reveals half of the accountants surveyed are actively looking for a new job. Over the next six to 12 months, this figure is set to rise to three quarters of all accountants. Nearly two thirds of respondents (59%) revealed they are networking at least twice a week, a third of these are meeting or making new contacts every day. Nearly half (46%) said their main reason for networking was to get a new job.

Those successful in getting a job over the next few months may be packing both their suitcases as well as the personal contents on their desk. Eight in 10 accountants revealed they would move abroad for a job. Western Europe still tops the league as preferred destination but the Middle East comes a close second.

The research, entitled On the Road to Recovery, also reveals nearly four in 10 accountants (38%) felt they missed out on a promotion because of the recession, and are now eager to forge ahead with their career.  

Part of the problem may lie with companies failing to encourage and nurture their employees. More than three quarters (77%) admitted that their company could be doing more to help career development, with nearly half saying this could be improved through better training and support. Yet, nearly four in 10 accountants (38%) are not hopeful that change is around the corner, admitting that career development is low on the agenda for the company they work for.  

Max Williamson, a director at CareersinAudit, said: "There are a good number of senior internal auditors and senior audit managers within public practice who are caught in a bottleneck. Under normal circumstances, many would have expected to have been made head of their department or been selected for partnership at some point over the past two years. As the UK and some parts of Europe emerge from the recession, they are keen to make up for lost time. The market is recovering and demand is increasing. Hiring freezes are being lifted and we have even seen the return of the counter offer.

"Employers need to be aware that the market is improving. They can’t assume that staff are unlikely to leave them simply because there aren’t enough opportunities to do so. Even if employers are unable to provide a clear view of promotion for their staff, they should consider whether they are doing enough to provide other types of development, through regular mentoring, access to training courses and varying work content through special projects."

But the research also found more than a third of accountants (34%) revealed a good work-life balance tops the reasons for making the move abroad – nearly double for those driven by a better pay packet (18%).

Nearly half (43%) want to work in-house while nearly the same number of respondents (39%) wanting to work in a practice.  Nearly two thirds of those with aspirations to work for an accountancy firm were fixed on ‘either working for a Big 4 firm or no one’.

And accountants are also feeling more confident to ask for a pay rise. Nearly half (42%) revealed it is now a better time to ask for a pay rise than 12 months ago (nearly a quarter have already received one and just over a quarter plan to ask for one in the next few months). A few have been very bold with requests, just short of 5% will be prepared to ask for 50% rise while nearly two thirds will be content to ask for 5%-10% rise.

Williamson, added: "For many accountants, 2011 will be about regaining the momentum that was lost over the past two years. Accountants are becoming more bullish about their career prospects, many are ready for a change and the market has begun to move in their direction."