By Andrew Hilliard, Managing Director
2020 will go down in history as the year the coronavirus wreaked unprecedented havoc to all our personal and professional worlds. Nothing in any of our lifetimes has had such a profound impact on our economy, political infrastructure and of course our public health.
It also happens to be our tenth year of trading; a year of celebration for all that we have achieved amongst these strange times. It’s important to reflect on our achievements as a company; as public practice specialists, and arguably the leading national consultancy within this space, we have considerable knowledge and understanding of accountancy practices, with deep rooted relationships with partners up and down the UK forged over these 10 years. Coupled with vast experience in M&A transactions, AJ Chambers is uniquely placed within the UK market to assist accountancy practice owners identifying and locating acquisition targets in line with their growth strategy, in addition to assisting practice owners secure the right opportunity for their overall exit strategy.
The mergers and acquisitions market has seen a huge amount of change in the profession as the economy has sought to recover from the last recession. Now as the pandemic has hit, the M&A market has also changed with practice owners being inundated with client requests in amongst the malaise of changing government policy, grants, and furlough schemes and so on. Added to this complexity, competition has grown and client needs have changed, technology advanced, and so the market has altered course with industry consolidations becoming the norm, while practices and partnerships have been bought out by ambitious young and technologically able firms. Meanwhile the revenue has been pushing from behind, forcing reluctant partners, firms and SMEs into the twenty-first century with the rolling out of cloud accounting, MTD rulings and the generalised accelerated sea change to the implementation of remote working practices due to the pandemic.
James Gosling, our M&A specialist at AJ Chambers says of the market space now:
“The M&A market in general, but specifically in the accountancy practice sector remains buoyant. Indeed, in times of uncertainty, like in 2008 at the beginning of the last recession, M&A activity remained busy and in general a spike in activity was witnessed. This is due to many factors; businesses that were in a growth pattern must look to pursue and continue with growth plans by acquisition, albeit following a slightly moderated or refined growth plan. Conversely, owners and principals of accountancy practices will be rethinking their retirement plans, with those whom were looking at exit seven to 10 years down the road, are now bringing those plans forward due to feelings of not having the energy to navigate through the potentially choppy waters ahead. Other practice owners may well seek to strengthen their business or offering, by merging with, or selling to a larger organisation with wider and established infrastructure to secure the future of their business.
Concerning deal structure, we have certainly seen over the last 12 months a move away from just utilising the traditional multiple of GRF model with consideration split over three years. There has been an injection of creativity and adoption of M&A models seen throughout other sectors, which we here at AJ Chambers welcome and have been able to champion, implement and advise on in relation to the transactions we have had involvement in. I have over 10 years’ experience in M&A transactions in various sectors, from professional sports teams, intellectual property sales, such as music publishing catalogues, and more general trading companies such as accountancy practices. This experience allows us to add additional value to our clients, ensuring a knowledgeable and pragmatic approach to the new landscape of M&A within the accountancy practice arena in 2020 and beyond, evidencing the pivotal role we have to play as a trusted advisor for our clients looking to acquire or sell. “
Despite the continued disruption caused by the coronavirus, there is still an appetite for acquisition. For exiting or retiring partners we are keenly aware that the succession of your members’ practices is one of the most important decisions they will ever make, and must be handled as such. Our consultative and expert approach is what sets us apart from our competitors and we will work with firms to secure the right opportunity for the overall exit strategy for your members businesses. We have been over the course of our 10 year tenure a trusted advisor to our clients, adding value on many components of an M&A transaction and journey, ensuring professionalism and correct business etiquette and process is followed at all times.
For more information about us visit https://aj-chambers.com/mergers-and-acquisitions or contact James Gosling at firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking back over the last decade we have seen a huge shift in the recruitment industry. Not only has the internet and social media completely changed the way we interact, but so has the way you apply for a job. As a recruitment consultancy, we have had to adapt and develop, learning plenty of lessons along the way. We spoke to Matt Lawford, Operations Director and Darren Buckley, Director at AJ Chambers, about how recruitment has changed over the past 10 years.
The UK workforce is now made up of over 50% of Millennials and Gen-Z’s and they are having a huge impact on ways of working which makes the slightly older generation’s (the Gen- x and Baby Boomer) sit up and listen. They’re used to traditional working ways whereas the younger generation are more flexible and current with social media, diversity, new technology etc.
There has been a huge digital shift in the past decade. Thanks to technology, it now saves the recruitment industry a lot of time and money as well as opening up more opportunity. The days of printing out candidate profiles and then sending them out in the post or even faxing them seem like a distant memory! Over the years social media was really only used recreationally but now social media is almost a requirement for the recruitment industry. It plays a huge part in candidate and client generation.
Nowadays a job isn’t all about the salary and position. Benefits and a company culture play a huge part in whether a candidate will accept a role. It’s rare that a small salary increase will make much difference if a candidate doesn’t get a warm, positive feeling about the company.
Technology has advanced so much that there are plenty of new jobs required that would have never existed a decade ago, which also works the other way round where many roles which were a mainstay are simply obsolete.
Company branding has never felt more important than in this day and age. Companies who do not focus on their brand ultimately lose out when recruiting. Your brand is there to gain the trust of your customers so publicising false values that a company doesn’t follow won’t do them any favours. Nothing diminishes a brand faster than a negative candidate experience, so it’s essential that companies demonstrate their true values from the moment a customer clicks on the website.
CV’s Are Telling
No matter how well an individual might explain and articulate, a choppy, jumpy CV is always a risk. The best way to predict future behaviours is model past.
Technology has enormously impacted the ways we communicate over the last decade. It’s easier than ever to swerve an old- fashioned call and replace it with an email or text. This way of communication has developed into a culture where no matter what time of the day, communication is constant; however is this really for the best? Arguably, it has made the recruitment industry slightly trickier in that it encourages the culture of ‘ghosting’, where someone cuts all lines of communication off.
A decade ago, a CV filled with roles was a turn-off whereas today, it’s something that’s understood and expected. Compared to the Gen- X and Baby Boomer generation, the Gen – Z and Millennial’s are likely to change jobs more frequently.
Flexible working is one of the most significant changes in the working ways. More and more companies are adapting to this new way of work and it’s a major expectation for many candidates. Whether it’s starting late and finishing early for childcare or working from home, people care more than ever about when and where they can work. If a company promotes themselves with this flexible work culture then they’re more attractive to candidates.
Instead of annual performance reviews businesses are now encouraging more frequent feedback sessions like monthly one to one’s and structured learning opportunities. Showing that you’re comfortable with learning new skills, receiving feedback and adapting to workplace cultures can set candidates apart.
Over the last 10 years we, Chambers Group, have received many generous testimonials that reflect our unrivalled service, combining both our market knowledge and industry experience. We take immense pride in these and have gathered our top 10 testimonials to share with you.Integrity
Integrity is all about doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. This is how we build trust.
“I cannot thank Danny enough for helping me throughout this process of finding a new role. I have been in contact with Danny since I first started coming around to the idea of moving on, just over a year ago, and was very aware my next move had to be a long term move to progress my career. Danny took the time to find out what it was I wanted from my role, what was important to me, and what I didn’t like about previous jobs or companies, and matched my requirements with a number of roles for which he arranged interviews. He managed the full process, discussing the roles and highlighting why they would be good for me. He understood my reservations for certain roles, prepared me for interviews, and was honest throughout with feedback and suitability. At no point did I feel pressured by him to take a role or rush a decision, and I felt he was looking out for my best interests at all stages.
After receiving 2 offers and deciding not to take the role, Danny was understanding and didn’t try to push me to make a decision I didn’t want to. I was beginning to lose hope of finding the perfect role, but Danny persisted in finding more opportunities and making the role fit my needs. He eventually found me a role just before lockdown which I accepted and I handed my notice in. I was then told a few weeks down the line that the start date had been pushed back and I found myself out of a job and waiting to start my new one. Not long after lockdown went into full effect, I received the news that my new employment wouldn’t be going ahead as all recruitment has been put on hold. To say I was devastated was an understatement and I genuinely felt all hope was lost.
Danny responded to the situation by assuring me there was a role out there and promising he wouldn’t give up the search and started to provide me with new opportunities local to me. I feared I would have to take whatever role was available and gave up hope of finding the perfect fit. Danny then provided me with a new opportunity and said he felt it would be a good fit for me and the company. He arranged the interview and walked me through the whole process, taking the time to keep me calm and prepare me as best he could after my confidence had been knocked. He kept in constant contact with me even if to say he didn’t have any updates, and he left me feeling confident and like I was in safe hands.
The day Danny called me to make me aware I had an offer of employment is a day I will never forget. He secured me an offer from a firm that is close to where I live and has secured me an offer higher than I was looking for. I would not hesitate to recommend Danny and AJ Chambers for any recruitment needs. A fully professional service with a genuine interest in helping me find a role that was right for me, Thank you Danny, you have been great.”Collaboration
We believe in a peer- to- peer approach, sharing information and insight with our community.
“Stuart is incredible!! I had been at my firm for over 8 years but had been actively looking for a new role for the past year, once COVID happened I gave up looking for any new positions thinking that no firm is going to consider recruitment as they have more important things to concentrate on. Then came Stuart, he found me the perfect role and I was fortunate enough to be offered the job. Stuart was there every step of the way providing valuable advice and reassurances as I was obviously nervous having not been for an interview in over 8 years, no matter how basic my questions were, he was on hand to provide guidance and a non-biased opinion which I valued more than I think he realises. I would not have the courage to start a new role without his guidance and I am so thankful that he was there to help and provide support so will be forever grateful to him. Incredibly happy to have worked with Stuart and would not hesitate in recommending him to anyone who is seeking a new role.”
“Darren has been absolutely fantastic in finding me my dream job. I first phoned Darren through strong recommendations and with both his experience and expertise he found me my ideal job within an accountancy practice in record time! His personality was so welcoming and friendly yet professional. Darren’s knowledge of the profession and excellent relationships with clients makes AJ Chambers a step above the rest. The work he does is invaluable and whenever anyone is searching for their dream job look to AJ Chambers because they will not disappoint. Once again thank you Darren for all your help and support!”
“During lockdown, I was (virtually!) approached by Stuart Whiter on LinkedIn. To be completely honest, my initial thought was "Not another recruiter!" as recruiters I had spoken to in the past often made empty promises or failed to reply to my messages. However, Stuart very quickly impressed me. He patiently waited for me to produce my CV and, having spotted that I am a hybrid property solicitor, connected me with a law firm that he obviously felt very passionate about. He knew the law firm inside and out, and I was comfortable asking him anything, from questions on salary to questions about the personalities of the senior partners at the law firm! I stayed in contact with Stuart through the whole interview process and he was in constant contact with the law firm in question. Stuart was attentive, responsive and helpful. I really felt like he was looking out for me as well as the law firm. He made sure that there was someone covering him whilst he was on annual leave which I really appreciated. I ended up accepting a brilliant offer from the law firm and I can categorically say that this would not have been possible without Stuart. He forged the connection between myself and the law firm and was there to assist me every step of the way. At no point did I feel under pressure to accept the offer or to make a quick decision. I felt supported by Stuart who gave me an awful lot of his time during the interview process. I would recommend Stuart to anyone who is looking for a new challenge.”Urgency
We are fast- paced and quick- witted. Hustle- up or get left behind. There are no flies on us.
“Scott from AJ Chambers proved invaluable to us in finding experienced and qualified staff at a time when we were most in need. He quickly sourced some very talented individuals to fill our vacancies and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the end results. AJ Chambers and Scott were professional and efficient throughout, whilst always being friendly and approachable.”
Ben Lynes, Partner at Cunninghams
“Ella is my lucky charm. From the first day we spoke on the phone, to the calls and emails, she is the best thing that has happened to me in my career life! Ella helped me get my dream job in just one month after my graduation and I had her full support along the way. She spoke to me when out the office and was always there to guide me. I highly recommend Nelson Chambers and am very grateful for Ella's help. Thank you Ella and thank you to Nelson Chambers.”
“I posted my CV online and was contacted by Andrew Fragnito-Day on the same day. Andrew arranged two interviews for the week beginning 14th January. He sent confirmations to me prior to the interviews together with some handy interview tips. I attended the first interview on Monday 14th. Andrew apprised me of feedback following the interview and promised me that he would get back to me again when he was informed of the decision. Andrew rang me the following day to inform me that I would receive an offer of the position. I cannot fault him. He was always approachable and I felt nothing was a problem. I relocated from the north to the south and took up my new position after working 3 months’ notice. I spoke to Andrew a number of times during this period and he was very helpful on every occasion. I have no hesitation to give 5 stars. Thanks A F-D”Curiosity
We have a thirst to research, learn and improve. Embrace change and strive for better.
“From the first engagement over the phone, AJ Chambers Mergers & Acquisitions filled me with the confidence of just how well they understood my specific market space, right down to each firm and individual Partner/Owner - having successfully sold my firm via them; I can say that the entire process was handled expertly, and with thorough professionalism.”
Owner of highly reputable 3 partner firm (CIRCA £1M GRF) - Essex
“Matt's honest and open approach to recruiting, his attention to detail and knowledge of the taxation sector makes him an excellent recruiter. His friendly and encouraging manner has not just secured me an excellent position but helped give me the confidence to approach it. I highly recommend Matt to anyone seeking a new role in the taxation sector.”
- Paul Attridge, Partner at Bright Grahame Murray
“Danielle at AJ Chambers is amazing and I would recommend her to anyone. Throughout the entire process Danielle was the consummate professional, updating me every step of the way. Her knowledge was exemplary and she managed to secure me a role within a week. I have used AJ Chambers for many years now and would recommend them to anyone wanting to secure their next Accountancy role. Thank you Danielle and AJ Chambers!”
To celebrate our significant 10 year birthday Andrew Hilliard, Managing Director at Chambers Group is talking to Marketing Assistant, Jennifer Scorrar about his experiences during the 10 year evolution of the company.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I have worked in both recruitment and retail for a number of years, and really felt – and still do that the recruitment sector is somewhat behind the curve in driving and understanding customer experience, and so thought there might be a gap in the market for a firm with such an ethos.
As Managing Director, can you give me an overview of what this entails?
Oh dear, other than listing a job description, one thing I have experienced over the years that is quite consistent is that owner managers (such as myself) tend be eccentric to varying levels. I suspect I am moving up that scale.
How have the Accountancy, Legal and Recruitment industries changed over the last 10 years?
This was a tougher question than I thought it would be, as I know that it has massively, but when you are in malaise of the change it is hard to quantify.
Other than the technological and legislative changes, probably the biggest impact in people behaviours towards recruitment and talent acquisition in general is (like many other things in society) social media.
What has been your proudest achievement in your career?
It’s incredibly narcissistic of me, but I can’t remember ever quite feeling as overwhelmed as when my name was called out winning ‘Businessman of the Year’. Another moment was coming up with the exceptional idea of the World Cup on Sea Charity Football Event, and with the help of an amazing team, actually seeing through to it being a resounding success.
What's your biggest business regret? - If there is one
Hiring Jennifer So.. Oh actually there have been a few worse I suppose. Probably decisions that were made too late relating to individuals that have worked here.
In terms of strategy, how far ahead do you look in terms of where the company should be going?
I have always been told off from various advisors that I probably don’t look far enough ahead in regards the detail and budgeting. I had always been of the mind that as long as we generate good revenue through quality work with good people, we will continue to develop in the right direction.
What's your favourite part of being MD?
I am actually at a stage where, as much as some might berate me otherwise, I enjoy watching the infrastructure emerge and individuals taking wider ownership and responsibilities of the business.
You do a lot for the local charity groups. Why is this?
Well, we have the privileged position of being able to give something back to our local communities.
Have you ever turned down a client?
We have many times. I do remember the first big client we essentially fired and it was incredibly liberating. In fact I would even say it helped form a new level of confidence that was a turning point in the groups’ development.
What are some of your favourite workplace cultures?
This has changed and matured over the years; which probably represents the workforce! There are many fun and engaging quirks to our own work culture, but one thing I think we all share is that we don’t let anyone get too big for their boots.
What was your background before the Chambers Group?
After and during University I undertook sales and management roles within a rapidly growing retail chain.
If you could speak to your younger self, 10 years ago, what advice would you give him?
I think the damage was already done by then…
Lastly, where did the 'Chambers' in AJ Chambers originate from?
Our first office was Weston Chambers, and my initials.
Chambers Group is delighted to announce changes to the leadership team, with the promotion of Matthew Lawford to Operations Director overseeing the AJ Chambers Company.
Matthew previously headed up the London practice divisions which included Tax, Audit, Accounts and Outsourcing;
On his new role, Matt commented;
"Firstly, I’d like to thank our MD, Andy Hilliard, for putting his trust in me to take lead over the already amazing AJ Chambers team. Secondly, I would like to show appreciation to the senior management team, and head office who have already shown positive support as I move into this role. I’m genuinely humbled and will use this experience to develop and learn from the wider team whilst also imparting my many, many, many years of experience!"
Andrew Hilliard, Managing Director of Chambers Group says,
"As part of Chambers Groups COVID restructure and ongoing development in this our 10th year of trading, I am delighted to announce Matthew Lawford’s move to Operations Director at AJ Chambers.
Matt has been with the business 5 years overseeing the Taxation and London Audit and Accounts divisions. During this time, Matt has been a key force in the drive to improve our customer-centric approach, improve the overall quality of our operations and how we deliver recruitment solutions to the UK accountancy practice market.
A family man with no less than 4 children and 2 dogs, it is testament to his industrious nature and commitment that he even finds the time to dedicate driving AJ Chambers to become the best in the business within our space.
I am sure the rest of the group will join me in wishing him the best of success in this new role."
We all wish Matthew an abundance of success in this newly created role.
A few years ago, I saw a business where the owners genuinely only wanted ‘enough’ income for themselves. Their key aim was to provide employment for the local community ensuring the locals had a job, income certainty and a secure future. Commendable? Certainly. Unusual? Probably.Professional practices of all shapes and sizes value their people and will publicly state that fact: ‘We are a people business’ ‘People are our main asset’ ‘Our people are our success’ ‘Happy people make happy clients’. But running a professional practice is hard. And made harder with the relentless quest for more, more, more. More turnover. Better margins. More new clients. Better recovery rates. Lower overheads. Higher profits. Ever increasing profit per partner. Higher rankings. In our drive to be seen as successful have we stopped seeing people as individuals with their own lives, hopes and dreams? Are they merely becoming our machinery, just pounds and profit? I’ve been there. Every new budget I’ve seen demands more. We’re ambitious. We’re successful. We want more. Yet at the same time partners recognise the current performance is invariably off the back of working our people too hard. We know it’s not sustainable, but we have an income to protect, right? We can justify the ‘why?’ – growth creates opportunity, standing still is moving backward, we all want to be part of something successful. But do we really have the answer to ‘how’? How do we achieve our ‘more’ whilst allowing our people the financial rewards and work / life balance we so actively advocate? So, the vicious circle continues, placing ever increasing demands on us and our people. Some lose heart. Some suffer, too often in silence but hey they’re professionals so they must be tough enough to cope? Some leave – clearly they’re making a mistake as we’re a great firm! Those remaining pick up the pieces and things just get that little bit harder. But it’s temporary as we’ll recruit. We might complain about the lack of available talent. We’ll vow to look after our people a bit better, but a few more leave than we budgeted for. But it’s okay, another financial performance is achieved albeit off the back of overworking our people. But things will change next year… Boom! Covid-19. A new world. So perhaps a new beginning? Professional practices reacted quickly. Loans and grants claimed, staff furloughed. But were the right people furloughed? Too many furloughed? Did we react hastily and put pounds and profit before our people? I’ve seen single people furloughed but those with young families trying to work from home and balance the impossible. Neither given an explanation to their fate. Neither asked if that decision was okay. Both unhappy and confused. But that’s okay as doesn’t the business come first? Definitely, but weren’t our people our greatest asset? Our people will judge us. Do they feel cared for, valued? Or just a number, a piece of machinery left dormant whilst not needed. Now fearful that redundancy might be their next fate as business leaders start to realise that their previous quest for more, more, more might have been misguided. This new, forced, leaner, smaller business is more manageable, more enjoyable; a reminder of ‘the good old days’ before things got too big and complicated. More profitable? That’s a surprise. And with lower risk. And less staff to contend with… Never has there been a better opportunity for a new beginning, a new way forward. Restructuring plans and brand-new, zero-based budgets are still being finalised. We still have a chance to get the balance right for our people and for ourselves. A chance for professional practices to lead by example and emerge as a business where the owners only want enough for themselves and to be that great employer – one that genuinely sees people and not just pounds and profit. Author Paul Dearsley is one of our Chambers Group Advisors and founder and owner of Aston Ley Limited, a management consultancy accountancy practice started in October 2019. Paul has over 30 years experience in accountancy practices of which over 15 years were as an equity partner in a leading regional and national firm.
Ghosting, the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication was once a term exclusively used in the dating world but is now fast filtering into the workplace, much to the frustration of the recruitment industry.
It’s a common practice for consultancies and internal hiring teams to report applicants not turning up for job interviews, successful candidates failing to arrive for their first day or in some extreme cases, candidates completely vanishing off the side of the earth. This worrying trend has been highlighted in research conducted by Robert Half where a staggering 1 in 4 people have backed out of the decision after accepting the job.
The consequence of this is wasted time and a drain on resource. In some cases where organisations have appointed a candidate, only then to be ghosted, are left confronted with heavy workloads and no one to do it. This can also be very damaging to a potential candidate’s career path, where their reputation can be placed under question. A sudden change of mind after accepting a role, can have repercussions for the future. With a generation of people more comfortable breaking up by text, navigating through the complexities of multiple offers or not taking an offer can end in a bit of a car crash situation where the rejected employer can get very hurt, if the situation is not handled appropriately.
Andrew Fragnito-Day, Manager at Nelson Chambers recalls a situation where a qualified Criminal Solicitor and friend of 10 years approached him to find a new role as she wanted to relocate to London and find a position as a Criminal Duty Solicitor. Andy recalls that “she went through the screening process and I found her an interview for a firm in Shoreditch which she interviewed with and after rearranging several second interviews, was offered a very good salary for a Duty Solicitor which she accepted straight and agreed to suitable start date. All perfect.............or so I thought! I called her 5 days before her start date, all set and ready to go. The client called me on what should have been her 3rd day to say she never turned up, she emailed me to say due personal reasons could she start the Monday – I spoke with the client and they agreed with this. The 2nd start date came up, but my candidate didn’t turn up again. The client then calls me wanting to end the situation, but I convinced them I would speak with my candidate and find out what's going on. She told me her Mum was mis-diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and it took a personal toll on her health. I convinced this firm in Shoreditch to allow one more start date, they agreed, and I spoke with the candidate the day before her start date. 3rd Monday comes again and guess what, the candidate doesn't turn up again.
Safe to say the relationship with the firm was tarnished and my friend didn’t have the courtesy to explain her actions to me”.
But is this cultural shift the fall out from the digital world we live in now, where communication is not always face to face but on WhatsApp, email and online social media platform? The anonymity social media allows, perhaps gives rise to the laissez faire attitude of a younger demographic. But it is key for consultancies to engage with modern methods of communications, to ensure they have an omni channel approach across traditional and digital mediums to guarantee they are engaging with the younger workforce.
This generational shift goes some way in explaining the trend but is also linked to attitudes towards business relationships. Cultivating emotional intelligence in the hiring process eliminates the factor of ghosting as the hiring process is no longer transactional, but a collaboration. Consultancies which offer great experience and quality of service within the process will remove the risk of this happening and ensure a smoother negotiation.
The key to limiting the damage of ghosting is to follow these key rules
Maintain regular communication with potential candidates
If you’re unable to contact a candidate after a few attempts and think you’re being ghosted, then put in place a contingency plan and consider other applicants.
Speed up your recruitment process
Don’t leave candidates waiting otherwise they will go elsewhere. In today’s digital world, people are used to having instantaneous access to information and making instant decisions. The faster your recruitment process is the quicker candidates can assess whether they are a right match.
At the Chambers Group we can help you navigate through finding your next career without the fear of ending up in any complicated situations, or damaging your reputation with the market. If you are unsure of how to approach speaking with a specific firm, we have great insight and can help with a smoother negotiation due to our unique position as specialists in our field. If you would like to speak to us, please contact one of our team on 01245 208000 or email us at email@example.com
The pandemic is affecting all aspects of our lives, and the job interview is no different. With that in mind it may be worth you preparing to be asked some Covid-19 related questions if you are seeking a new role or currently in the interview process. Here is our shortlist of potential questions to consider before your interview:How do you feel about working from the office when the pandemic is over?
It’s going to be a big step for us all when we eventually do return to the office, and it could be quite a daunting prospect for some of us to transition to a busy office environment. If working full time in an office environment is something which you do not feel comfortable with now or after the pandemic subsides, even when government guidance says it is safe to do so, you may want to only look for roles which are completely remote working.What are your motivations for a career move during this time?
This question could potentially be a bit more complex due to Covid 19, and recruiters and employers will want to know why you are considering a move during such a tumultuous time. Our recommendation is to be honest and answer with the utmost of integrity. If you have been made redundant, or have been furloughed and you’re simply using the time off to consider better options for you in the longer term, then be open about your motivations when askWhat have you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
Recruiters, employers and hiring managers are bound to ask you to tell them a bit about yourself as is standard practice during the process leading up the interview. However, you may also be asked to reflect on what you have learned about yourself during the pandemic. This gives prospective employers and insight into your emotional intelligence, so make sure you are prepped on what your answers will be to this question before the interview stage.Is the job feasible for you to do at home?
Any firm hiring at the moment or in the future months will probably be conducting all the interview, offer and eventually on boarding processes via remote means. Be prepared therefore for questions around your ability to work from home and what resources you have to hand to facilitate the role, for example whether you have a dedicated home office or sufficient wifi connection.
Finally, also remember to practice your video conferencing etiquette. Make sure you are prepared for any calls or video conferences, and you have familiarised yourself with all the technical capabilities before conducting a video call.
If you would like any other advice, or are considering a move, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01245 208000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our dedicated accountancy practice consultants will be on hand for a confidential chat.
Now, more than any time in our recent history, we will be judged by our capacity for compassion.
Our ability to come through this won’t just be down to what government or business can do, but by the individual acts of kindness we show one another. Rishi Sunak, Chancellor
Business as Usual? Not really, but technology and unprecedented government intervention never seen in any of our lifetimes is mitigating the losses already.
As the sheer impact of coronavirus impact, plus the sacrifices we were all going to make to beat this invisible threat dawned, there was a real sense of rising collective panic last week. Then there was a collective National sigh of relief with Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a raft of measure to keep the economic heart of the country still pumping. Even the most cynical or pessimistic of individuals would have been affected by his powerful words, calling for us all to come together in surviving this health crisis and retain our economic strength, with a startling level of emotional connection.
When this is over, and it will be over, we want to look back at this moment and remember the many small acts of kindness done by us and to us. We want to look back this time and remember how we thought first of others and acted with decency.
We want to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort - and we stood together.
Perhaps Rishi was speaking to business leaders across the country to not make any snap decisions, but ultimately organisations all over the world now experiencing extreme disruption to their operations. Globally, we have combated health issues before, most notably Swine Flu and SARs, but never before have we seen this type of scale, exasperated very much by the increased globalisation of the economic world. We are all so intrinsically connected by business across continents, that this is not a one country issue, but a world crisis which we need to combat together and as one. It is in no doubt during these extraordinary and unprecedented times, that there are massive challenges to everyone’s lives, both professionally and personally. Whilst we all do our bit by staying and working at home, so that we can return as soon as possible, business will continue. The rapid advances in technology have been crucial in preventing the pandemic from causing more serious damage to the way in which the financial and recruitment sector continue; where remote working and cloud based software is enabling firms across the country to offer a service to their clients. Certainly face to face meetings and interviews are not possible, but working from home is an opportunity to focus on on-going strategy, assess your recruitment plans recruitment and conduct video or phone interviews. Organisations need to have a robust, rigorous and disciplined business continuity plan in place to enable the entire workforce, where possible, to work remotely and securely, while ensuring that business continuity is maintained, entirely independent of the office. The virus’s impact will of course affect hiring efforts, however companies will be leaning on accountants during this really challenging time, so the sector will still see buoyancy, as will certain sectors such as food retail and delivery as everyone moves towards. The effect on the recruitment will be very sector specific
For those continuing to recruit, there will be increases of virtual methods for the assessment and selection of candidates. But while digital-only recruitment methods could help reduce time to hire, they must be used in the right way so applicants weren’t put at a disadvantage. But there is still hope for the recruitment industry, as many employers will continue to hire for essential roles, and some sectors – such as health and social care and logistics – are already recruiting more workers.
It will also be welcomed new that the Government has delayed controversial IR35 reform by one year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that contractors will continue to decide their IR35 status for another 12 months when working in the private sector.
The global pandemic could also change the way employers hire for the better, Pawel Adrjan, head of EMEA research at Indeed. The move from in-person to virtual recruitment, and the widespread use of home working during the outbreak, could be a positive step-change for some, he said.
“We know from our own research that jobseekers are increasingly looking for flexible work, including the option to work from home, and even before the outbreak employers were increasingly offering flexible-working options,” he said. “With people across the world being advised or required to work from home, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues after the pandemic is quelled.”
This business agility is key for hiring professionals – keep calm and focus on finding alternative ways of working to ensure business continuity throughout the coming months.
What is the difference between a specialist recruitment consultant and a recruitment agency? It’s a question that many people ask themselves when they are considering a new job role. There is a whole wealth of benefits to using a quality, specialist recruitment consultancy like ourselves to assist in your search and here are a few of them…Relationships with clients
A huge benefit of using a specialist recruitment consultancy is that they have relationships with the firms you want to work for. They build strong connections and live for the reputation held with clients, which due to how competitive the market is, can be one of the most vital parts of their roles. This means that they know what companies are looking for, what experience clients want, the qualifications they are looking for, and then can tell which firms are best fit for a candidate. It also allows easy access to more opportunities because the consultant will know the internal office.
Having a great relationship also means they can speak to clients about candidates and discuss the recruitment process of who they’re representing and how they fit the specification for a role. If an interview occurs, it allows you to know that the recruiter has already spent a solid length of time selling your profile to the client.Market Intelligence
Holding market knowledge opens a whole world of opportunities for a candidate that they wouldn’t usually find if approached themselves. More and more firms are using recruitment consultancy to advertise instead of advertising themselves. If a firm are thinking about a role but don’t have it live yet, then the recruiter will know to start working that position before its anywhere online. Most Consultants will pride themselves on the relationships and knowledge shared with candidates too.Dealing with the negotiation and organisation
The apprehension of submitting CV’s, perfecting cover letters, and chasing HR departments yourself will result in constant emails and calls from potential employers that you don’t want to miss. However, the reality of doing this via a recruitment consultant is very different and stress free. It allows candidates to focus on other things without the headache of trying to fit hours of job hunting around everyday life. The consultant’s job is to sort out interview availability, contracts, salary negotiations, and any problems that come up along the way are part of the service to candidates. This means that when a candidate does get an offer, they know it will be one they can accept without any regrets and can look forward to joining the new firm.
A specialist recruitment consultant acts on a consultative basis, where discussions about any opportunities are done before putting candidates forward and when keeping up to date throughout the whole process. This enables confidence that they’re supplying the right opportunities to the clients and candidates.Personal Touch
The industry is so people focused it means that consultants become invested in the people they work with. The robust candidate registration process and the whole process of getting to know them is truly a key part of the business. Consultants love checking in with candidates and clients to hear how they are getting on in their new roles, or that they are doing so well. Recruitment is a people business; every Consultant likes to think they play a small part in improving someone’s life in some way.
Clearly the benefits to using a specialist consultancy are abundant, the levels of expertise, knowledge, and care used in the approach to everything really does make a good specialist consultancy a massively useful tool in finding a new role.
How to be productive when working from home
Due to COVID- 19, many employees have been urged to work from home and for many people, this has many perks, however, it is bad news for some. Yes, you’re allowed to work in comfy clothes and have a more flexible routine but when it comes to productivity, are you really make the most out of your day?
Here are 5 ways that will assure you make the most out of your working day.
1. Structure your day
Plan your day similarly to a normal working day. It is easy to go off track when at home and with all the distractions. At the beginning of the day, write a list or put your day plan into a time calendar. It is great for monitoring how productive you really are being. Also, doing things like taking your lunch break the same time you would in the office helps too.
2. Find a quiet space to work
The location of where you choose to work can have a huge impact on your productivity. Avoid working in your bed or the sofa as it’s easy to become tired and distracted. It may be hard to switch off at the end of the day if your workspace is your comfort space. Find a dedicated space for working from home like a dining room or spare room.
3. Take breaks regularly
Taking regular breaks will also help your productivity when working from home. It is almost impossible to concentrate for hours on end so having breaks every so often will hep refocus you, even if it is to make a drink or have a snack. Also, leaving the house once a day for exercise or a walk can really benefit your productivity too. Being cooped up inside all day is not good for your mental health.
4. Do not completely isolate yourself
If you’re used to working in a busy office then working in complete silence may be a shock to your working pattern. Put the radio on for background noise or even work with another partner in the same room as if they’re your colleagues.
5. Know when to stop
By knowing what time you’re going to finish work it can help to avoid procrastination. It can be easy to get caught up in working overtime or even under time. By setting a time in the day when you aim to finish, it will help focus you on the jobs that need doing. A bit like if you were in the office. It’s just as important to switch off as it is to switch on.
It’s important to remember that everyone works differently and that if you are struggling to be productive, then to mix it up and find what works for you. Communicating with your employer is one of the most important things when working at home. Keep them updated and let them know how you’re doing. Working from home will not be for everyone however with the recent outbreak of COVID- 19 we are all having to adapt and self- discipline.
For @International Women’s Day, we wanted to celebrate the female trailblazers in the accountancy industry. We have gathered together 5 of the UK’s top influential accountants, who just happen to be women. Here are a few reasons why we chose each one of them…Sacha Romanovitch
Sacha has made it onto our top 5 females in accountancy list due to the fact she was the first ever female chief executive of a major British accounting firm in 2015, running a £500m business with over 5,000 UK employees. Sacha increased Grant Thornton’s brand awareness by 95%, the highest in the company’s history. Whilst doing this, she has encouraged diversity and equality and has achieved a 20% increase in trainees from diverse backgrounds.Rebecca Benneyworth
Rebecca has made it onto our top 5 females in accountancy list due to her passion and drive. She has been labelled as the ‘Best Tax Lecturer’, has worked as a chair of the ICAEW Tax Faculty and is passionate about small business issues, heading up a tax software company for small practices. Rebecca not only does all of this, but she is a small business owner herself owning an accountancy practice. Rebecca has helped a wide range of businesses, from the UK’s Treasury department to small independent businesses.Sharon Thorne
Sharon Thorne has made it on to our list because of her huge positive impact to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace at Deloitte. Sharon was the first woman appointed to the UK’s firm Deloitte Executive, taking on the role as Managing Partner Talent and is now serving as the chair of the Deloitte Global Board of Directors. She has served as executive sponsor for the Deloitte UK LGBT+ network championing inclusion, and has set up a very active Women’s Network which promotes flexible working and encourages employees to be agile in their working hours and location and offer a Time Out scheme where both men and women can take up to 4 weeks unpaid leave.Heather Townsend
?Heather is on our list because of her wisdom, experience, and achievements. She has judged the British accountancy awards several times and is a member of the PSA. Heather is the founder of the accountant’s millionaires club and has a large following on social media which further increases her influence. Heather specialises in helping professionals, usually lawyers, accountants and consultants, grow into a larger practice.Heather Self
Heather is on our influencer list as she has over 30 years’ experience in the industry, is head of tax at a FTSE 100 company, a partner at a big 4 accounting firm and is an adviser at HMRC. She is usually recognised for her creation of the ‘Women in Tax’ network and often comments on current Tax matters. Heather usually comments on these matters on BBC radio, TV and at professional conferences.
As an industry, female representation in accountancy at board level is far off where it should be. Most leadership roles are held by white men, and it is no surprise that this perpetuates an ongoing bias towards appointing the same people in senior positions. Added to this, there is a question about confidence. It is a slightly binary example and there are wider complexities, but men are more comfortable to draw attention to how well they are doing whereas women wait for acknowledgement of their hard work, which perpetuates this inequality. The women above represent a key point of difference here where they are confidently trailblazing change in the accounting industry – for all of us as a nation of women we must not be shy in highlighting our strengths and our ability, and International Women’s Day is a brilliant platform to bring this in to view.
A well written CV can be the difference between getting an interview and not being considered. Accounting is a very competitive industry, so even being called to an interview is a huge achievement. In a recent study it was found that most employers spend an average of only 8 seconds looking at your CV before they decide whether it’s what they are looking for or not. After years of being in a comfortable job, returning to your CV can be tough. CV patterns and requirements change all the time so whether you’re a new accountancy candidate or experienced in the industry, there are certain elements that go into constructing an accountancy CV. Here are a few key points to ensure your CV stands out from the crowd and looks as appealing as possible.
What to include on your CV?
The point of a CV is to get your details across to the employer. An accountancy CV, depending on your experience, will be around 2 pages long. They should be tailored to you and include the following:Personal details Personal statement Work and Employment Experience Achievements/ Key Skills Qualifications Hobbies/ Interests
1. Honesty is the best policy
Throughout the application and interview process, if you have been found to tell a white lie or over inflate any of your accountancy qualifications. It will not be looked on favourably by prospective employers. Over two thirds of candidates who lied on their CV’s ended up being removed from the interview process, so it will not pay off and may damage your reputation further. Over selling yourself is also another unattractive CV feature. A way in which you can counter this is with a strong personal statement and highlighting your skills outside of work.
2. A powerful personal statement
The first thing an employer will look at will be your personal statement. You need to create a catchy pitch explaining why you are the right person for the job and what you’re offering. The challenge is to condense your top skills, achievements and qualifications. For example, in accounting it would be useful to include things like your ACA or ACCA passes and pass rate, or any key work experience or work achievement, without it being too convoluted.
3. Make it look good
A good-looking CV will stand out from the crowd in a world where image is everything. In such a number-based industry, you can get creative with your application and play around with software settings to help you nail your CV format. Using percentages for your qualification passes also makes it easier for people to take in a lot of information. Make sure the layout is crisp and clean as well as to the point.
4. Tailor your CV
Applying for jobs can be a full-time job itself but is important to tailor your CV for every accountancy role you apply for. Pay attention to what characteristics and skills the role you are going for requires and match them to your skills.
One in three CV’s are sent with a grammar or spelling mistake. It is very important to avoid as many errors as possible. Employers look for mistakes in CV’s so proofread your work to avoid them and get a friend or family member to do a final proof before sending across.
6. Key Soft Skills
Accountancy recruiters will look for a certain range of soft skills in a CV. Be sure to highlight the key top skills at every opportunity you have, for example, leadership, communication, business knowledge etc.
7. Show your loyalty
Elaborate on the length of time you have been with a company and how you have supported them for long periods of time. Most employers want to recruit someone who they see staying with the company long term instead of someone who jumps between roles.
8. Key Words
When posting your CV online, keywords or past participle action words are important. This means your cv will be more visible to accountancy recruiters online and will also mean your skills will stand out on paper. Incorporating certain technical active verbs into your accountancy CV will also strengthen the readers engagement, so for example using buzzwords like ‘audited’, ‘budgeted’ or ‘re-structured’ will make you stand out from the crowd
9. Use the STAR format to show your key achievements
The STAR format is a great way of structuring your key work achievements, which then can be used at interview during competency-based questions. The examples to use do not have to be overly elaborate, just think of an example of where you were proud of an achievement at work, or where you actively improved a process at work.
Some of your achievements may have been early on in your career, so consider structuring your CV with achievements and accomplishments at the beginning of the cv without anchoring to a specific role, and then the career history below with key dates. If you have had a lot of short-term contracts, then link them together. If you did have any ‘gaps’, link them to something positive rather than not mention it, so you can say ‘career break to spend more time with family’ for example. Leaving unexplained gaps may lead employers down the wrong conclusion and they may think you are hiding something, which could mean they disregard your application.
One last tip from us is to remember that the purpose of a CV is to represent your experience and how you can add value to a prospective employer’s firm, so take you time in crafting your CV. The effort will pay off!