Tick tock tick tock….

Last year we all thought 2021 would be better – in some respects it has been but for many it has been a rough year.

Furlough has ended and the race is on to get COVID booster jabs rolled out as the second doses wear off. We’re not out of the woods yet.

The world of work has been shifting to either the “old normal” or a new hybrid. The job market has been active with clients fighting for candidates and those who move slowly invariably miss out. Time has taken on a new meaning this year and it’s not for wasting. The Queen echoed this on Wednesday when she said, ‘none of us can slow the passage of time’.

Every day we speak to people seeking new opportunities for growth, whether that’s in terms of a pay rise, promotion or breadth of role, and the opportunities are there for the taking. CVs have taken on a new shape. Longevity in a role no longer looks like 8+ years but it’s far more typical for people to move on after 3. If you are interested in exploring what roles are out there then have conversations with recruiters. Find out what your options are and make informed decisions on what is right for you. Your time is yours. Use it wisely.

Why 2021 is so important

I saw a poster in the tube at the end of 2016 that said “Thanks 2016, it’s been weird”. I think it is fair to say things got progressively weirder from then on.

2020 brought so much fear, mourning, anxiety and struggle but people are emerging in 2021 with the realisation that this year means so much as individuals and also communities. On a global scale now is the time to address issues such as climate change. In 2020 the hole above the Artic actually closed. It shouldn’t have taken a global pandemic to achieve this but can we sustain this progress once the pandemic is over? This year and the next will decide. On a personal level people are experiencing the need for positive change. Individuals are realising what is important to them and acting. No more waiting. No more procrastinating. Now is the time that changes are being made to make their lives more fulfilling, rewarding and purposeful.

Never before have there been so many resources available to help achieve this change. As part of that change those with the skills have trained to help guide people through those decisions – life coaches, career advisers, professional coaches, recruiters etc. If you’re looking for change, start by opening the door to guidance with making the decisions you need to make and taking the steps you need to take. At William Scott Associates we are here as individuals but also as part of the recruitment community to support you in the direction you choose to take.  We are happy to discuss options that are available to you, steps needed to reach your goals and make 2021 count for you.

Senior Lawyer – Bristol

Senior Associate

Bristol

A leading international law firm which provides clients with commercially aware legal advice, whenever and wherever they need it is seeking a senior associate to join their insurance and construction team. They have over 1,600 people situated in key business and financial centres across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

The Insurance and Construction team advises insurers and professional firms on a range of professional risk and construction issues globally. With expertise across an international network, we achieve efficient results that achieve our client’s business objectives.

Their reputation is built on defending professionals in claims, receiving instructions from both insurers and the insured firms themselves, who are recognised leaders in their profession. They also act in relation to pure construction disputes, in particular international arbitrations.

The Role:

They are seeking to recruit a Senior Associate to join the Bristol Insurance & Construction team to focus predominantly on defending claims against construction professionals (including architects, engineers, project managers and quantity surveyors) and coverage disputes.  There will be opportunities to work on other broader non-construction insurance related claims.

Your caseload will routinely involve mediations and litigation (generally in the Technology and Construction Court) and you will gain arbitration and adjudication experience.

Day to day, you will have the opportunity to work closely with a partner who is a specialist in this area. You will also work with other partners and associates in London, and across other offices, as part of a collegiate and supportive international group.

Person specification:

  • Applicants should ideally have between 3-6+ years’ post qualified experience in professional indemnity work in relation to the construction industry.
  • We would expect applicants to have worked for a leading law firm for insurance and/or construction work.
  • Excellent academics and commercially driven.
  • Strong client focus with an ability and willingness to get actively involved in marketing and business development in Bristol and London.
  • Able to work effectively as part of a diverse and inclusive team.
  • Flexibility and a willingness to work additional hours on occasion as required.
  • An enthusiastic and team-oriented approach is essential.

Please message Leo Ketchin on leo@williamscottassociates.com or call him on 07789556586 for more details.

APPLY NOW

Computer says no!

Tailoring your CV for every application is hard work and it’s crushing when you don’t receive any feedback either way. Why is that? Are people really that mean?

The answer is probably ‘no’ because, according the job search services firm Preptel, around 75% of CVs are never even seen by a human.

Larger companies (including the Big4) use automated systems to filter CVs before they even get that far.

By using a recruiter your CV is not only guaranteed to be seen by a real person but will also be correctly tailored using all the correct keywords and formats to ensure that all the right information is highlighted.

We are obviously delighted if you choose William Scott Associates to guide you through the application processes employed by our clients but should you choose to go it alone but want to make sure your CV is going to produce results we are equally happy to help.

2020 sees the launch of our CV Advisory Service. Check it out on our website for more information https://williamscottassociates.com/cv-advisory/

Don’t turn against audit

There was a recent article on economia highlighting the words of Professor Olaf Blik in the Netherlands who said that “auditors of failed companies are being blamed for everything when the question should be not only where was the auditor, but also where was the accounting department of the audited company, management, the internal auditor, the audit committee? “All parties need to play their role.””

One of my roles at William Scott Associates is to share relevant industry news and of late it feels there is anon stop “audit bashing”. Professor Bik’s words are the only supportive words I have read in a long time and I applaud them! Auditors often work unforgiving hours and as he points out they are only human so mistakes will be made. In my view auditors are not in place as a safety measure – the responsibility for honest and transparent financial reporting should lie with the company in question.

We also shouldn’t forget that auditors are not paid the same as those in other areas of finance so with the amount of negative press surrounding audit at the moment combined with the attractive salaries of corporate finance or consulting it’s no surprise that after 3 years of studying and qualifying the majority of ACA/ACCA students look to launch themselves out of audit as quickly as possible, thus draining the talent pool. And when you’re losing talent faster than you can attract it then there is the increased risk to quality.

I met with a firm recently who admitted they had previously accepted applications from candidates who required extra training support. The candidates may have had exam fails but the interviewers had identified talent which they felt they could nurture and build on. Now however, the same company cannot afford to hire those candidates in case it risks the quality of their audits due to the immense pressure from the FCA and politicians. It’s not only the candidates who are suffering the consequences but also companies who are considered ‘risky’ are struggling to attract companies to audit them for fear of bad press.

All the while, changes are being demanded by regulatory bodies (after a huge amount of investigative work) only for some politicians to disregard their recommendations as an electoral policy.

My hope is that industry leaders are listened to and improvements are made in support of the auditors who work hard to form and report an opinion on whether the financial statements prepared by directors do in fact give a ‘true and fair’ view, as required by company law, to shareholders. We all need to play our role in supporting an industry that deserves better.

Source: https://economia.icaew.com/news/november-2019/auditors-are-human-too

The passion behind “Millennials” who are voting with their feet.

We’re living in very bizarre times. Politically the world is a hugely unstable place, the Earth is losing animal species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate due to climate change and businesses are also facing their own threats. High street retail is in rapid decline, manufacturing and automotive industries are suffering and often the fingers that look for blame point directly at the auditors. They themselves have their own challenges as they try to adjust (or perhaps ‘correct’ is a better phrase) their diversity and inclusion policies as well as keep apace with new regulation. The media is full of negative stories regarding the Big4 especially but hopefully this will act as a springboard for positive change as it feels that as well as uncertainty and perhaps some fear in the air there is also hope for this positive change across Politics, the Environment and Business alike.

We should be excited for the generation currently in their teens and 20s who are driving this change and won’t stand for insufficient, inappropriate or unfair action. There are lots of articles about how Millennials are fickle and lack a strong work ethic but that is a gross generalisation and perhaps they are more fluid with their career choices because they won’t stick in a role for security if it disagrees with their own personal ethics. A jumpy CV doesn’t look great and is considered by the baby boomers as a big “no no” but the reasons behind such moves could perhaps be worth listening to before judgements are made. Times are changing and more and more people are moving and voting with their feet based on their own passions, ideals and aspirations not only for themselves but for the common good and those steps should be commended.

Thinking about working abroad?

We live in such a globalised society where you can work anywhere in the world but what does that entail and are you ready?

The pros of working abroad are plentiful but it’s a big change – you’d be living away from friends and family and would need to build up a new support network somewhere else. Sometimes, you may need to make a lateral or even a small backward move to prove yourself in a new market.

If this doesn’t faze you and you’re thinking about moving to a new country talk it through with friends and family and even a recruiter to make sure it’s the right choice for you.

Do your research and make this decision before you apply to roles. Some processes can move very quickly and if you are not committed to the move it can feel overwhelming. If visas are involved it can also take a longer time which you also need to be prepared for.

When is a good time to go personally and professionally?

• We recently helped a family move from the UK to Australia and it worked well for them but perhaps the best time to move would be independently with few commitments such as mortgages etc

• From a professional perspective there are a lot more opportunities for newly qualified CAs than Directors so opportunities will naturally diminish as time progresses.

• We also tend to become more risk averse as time goes on.

Where?

• Research possible markets that you would like to work in and are able to? Does your firm do international transfers/secondments?

• Are you restricted by visas? If so can you seek sponsorship?

• Think about time zones, can you skype family and friends outside of working hours?

The opportunity to work abroad should never be taken for granted – it’s opening a door to a whole new set of experiences you might otherwise not get the opportunity to explore. You only get one life. Live it. Love it.

Women in Finance

The gender pay gap and the lack of women in boardrooms are topics currently dominating the headlines. Back in October last year not only was the #metoo campaign born but the UK government also launched an inquiry into the number of women working in finance.

 

Working in accountancy practice recruitment I can see there are definitely fewer women at these higher levels but why? Here are a couple of ideas why.

 

Firstly, women are less attracted to financial services as it is still viewed as a male dominated industry, so in terms of competition, there are fewer women competing for these top spots in the first place. I’d argue that in order to increase the talent pool more women need to be encouraged into financial services while still at school and choosing their AS level subjects and university courses to direct them towards completing their ACA or ACCA. Both sexes need to be educated about the different opportunities available to them and ignore any gender stereotyping.  While at school I certainly was unaware of the different types of roles available within finance. It’s not all number crunching, for example strategy, cyber security, and origination are all areas which require totally different skills sets. From a recruitment perspective it’s hard to deliver a 50% female representation for the higher grades when the pool is not split 50-50 in the first place so positive discrimination comes into play.

 

Secondly, by the time women are reaching senior manager level it coincides with the best biological window to start a family and some women decide to not return to work or to change their job to accommodate their new family. Some women are able to return to full time work again and continue to progress with only a short delay but more often than not some kind of balance is required.

 

On this point I do think the larger consultancies are working very hard to make the workplace more flexible for mothers to return to with flexi working hours, the opportunity to work from home and the ability to share maternity leave with a partner.  They appreciate that in order to retain their female staff, and in turn create a more diverse and profitable business, these benefits need to be offered. Hopefully with changes such as these and with support from the government we can expect to see more senior female leadership in financial services and beyond. Currently 205 Firms in the UK have signed up to the Women in Finance charter which pledges to have at least 30% women in senior roles by 2021 and of those, 40 firms have committed to a 50/50 gender split in senior roles by 2021 so watch this space!

Finance Transformation Manager, London (Big4)

An exciting opportunity to join a fast growing team in one of the leading professional service practices in the World.

In the Finance Transformation (FT) team of this Big 4 Management Consulting division, our client improves the effectiveness and efficiency of finance functions and generates real insights to help deliver value to their clients. Their mission is to be the leading FT practice in the UK market, to be number one in their focus markets, and to be recognised as innovators in finance technology.

The team is structured by market segment (Financial Services, Corporates and National Markets) with consultants having deep industry specific expertise. The go to market approach is business-focused and solutions are developed around client issues.  The team is therefore also structured by capability, providing specialist services and solutions such as Integrated Finance Transformation, Enterprise Performance Management, Global Business Services and Digital Labour & Automation.

Working within the FT team will provide an unparalleled opportunity to gain experience in target operating model design and implementation, finance transformation, enterprise performance management, process improvement and change management, all of which are invaluable in today’s market place.

Candidates are being sought with the skills to support growth strategy and the ability to work with leading Private Sector organisations in both the Business to Business and Business to Consumer sectors. As part of this team, you will be working with a broad range of clients from the initial diagnosis, strategy formulation and analysis, through to implementation.

 

The Role

• Engagement delivery: leading and managing projects or work-streams of small to medium size and complexity (including planning and organising work packages, overseeing data gathering and analysis, summarising insights and presenting results, owning client relationships and  preparing and chairing client meetings and workshops)

• Risk management: identifying and managing risks and ensuring the Firm’s frameworks are implemented appropriately and effectively

• People development: performance management including identifying team member development needs and accelerating development with particular emphasis on coaching and skills transfer

• Practice development: taking a leading role in processes and initiatives that are key to scaling the business and achieving our Mission Statement

• Business development: developing a strong understanding of client needs and building positive, long-standing relationships with clients through engagement delivery; identifying business development opportunities, and supporting the business development activity of senior members of the team (including shaping and presenting proposals/ bids for future work and managing proposal development activities)

 

The Person

Successful candidates should have strong finance knowledge and demonstrate the following skills / experience:

• Proven track record of working on finance improvement consulting projects, working across multiple aspects of a finance function (transaction processing, management reporting, financial accounting, planning, budgeting and forecasting), with a focus on high quality client service
• Excellent understanding of issues and challenges facing Finance functions, Finance business partnering and trends in Finance
• Experience managing teams to deliver to deadlines and required quality standards; experience developing, coaching and mentoring team members
• Excellent communicator with the personal skills to build strong and lasting internal and client relationships; and the ability to deliver clear, concise, focused messages to senior finance team members or clients
• Strong commercial and financial analytical skills with the ability to interpret data, generate insights and construct solutions.
• Impactful written communications, producing high quality, client ready outputs (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Vision etc)
• Flexibility to travel
• Relevant finance qualification – ACA, CIMA, ACCA, CIPFA or equivalent

Relevant experience in one or more of the following solution areas is required:

• Finance Transformation – leading practice insights across finance and accounting processes, operating model design, data and technology, including robotics and artificial intelligence
• Enterprise Performance Management – planning, budgeting and forecasting, management information and reporting, profitability and cost management, and performance data and analytics.
• Global Business Services – business and information technology outsourcing, shared service and global business services design, build, transition and implementation

 

Process & Controls Improvement – Senior Associate, Gatwick, Reading, Southampton St Albans and Uxbridge, UK (Big4)

The successful candidate will join our client’s growing Governance, Risk & Controls (GRC) team in the South East. The team has grown exponentially over the past 4 years due to the large market opportunity across the region. Our client’s team has vastly experienced Partners, Directors, Senior Managers and Managers offering Governance, ERM, Compliance and Process & Controls improvement advice to our clients. They have a huge wide variety of clients across industries from large listed companies and global businesses to private and private equity backed high growth companies. Our client is looking for a candidate that has significant financial process and controls improvement experience to fit into an ever expanding part of our team.

Requirements:

  • Ability to engage effectively with key stakeholders.
  • Experience of identifying and recommending process and controls optimisation opportunities.
  • An understanding of SOX compliance.
  • Experience assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of business processes and controls
  • Experience in supporting the capture of both current and future state business processes, risks and controls, including process mapping and risks and controls matrices (RACMs)
  • Chartered Accountancy (fully qualified or exam qualified)
  • Experience of financial processes and controls
  • Possession of strong team working skills
  • Well-developed listening and questioning techniques
  • Experience of risk-based control identification and assessment methodologies
  • The confidence to challenge the status quo and desire for continuous improvement
  • Ability to communicate clearly and confidently with colleagues and clients at all levels, and good report writing skills
  • A methodical approach to problem solving and delivery of client solutions
  • Good project management and organisational abilities
  • Presentation and oral communication skills

Desirable skills:

  • Facilitation skills (i.e. risk workshops)

You will receive appropriate coaching and training on engagements you will undertake, together with a sufficient level of support on engagement delivery, although it is anticipated you are able to work reasonably autonomously without the need for day to day direct management.

Our client is looking for a candidate who has a willingness to work across the region and nationally.