Professional services firms hit by shortages for top talent

19 October 2021

By Nicholas Killeen

Professional services firms hit by shortages for top talent

With economic recovery well and truly underway after the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, “white collar” sectors across the U.K. and Ireland are seeing one of the biggest labour shortages witnessed in years. Shortage of lorry drivers and extreme gaps on supermarket shelves have been a recent topic of conversation when the word employment comes up. However, the lack of workers for office-based jobs is causing accounting, consulting, and law firms to fall into a fevered frenzy over talent. 

How are they reacting to the lack of available candidates?  

With the number of job vacancies hitting over 1m in the UK  for the first time on record, some firms have started to turn away potential work due to the lack of available staff to complete these jobs. Not only are they losing out on money from potential clients, but professional services firms are instigating steep pay rises in order to poach their competitor’s staff. 

From an Irish perspective we have seen a number of new international services firms enter the market for the first time, a lot of which, is due to Brexit. This has also added to the increased competition for quality talent. 

What are potential candidates doing about this? 

The lifting of COVID restrictions has had two distinct effects on potential candidates for these companies. Changing jobs as employees has become popular due to the fact that face-to-face meetings are back and on the rise. However, for other candidates, not being bound by geographic restraints means they are picking the biggest salary without worrying where the company is based. Many candidates are still unsure about the job market and changing jobs due to the uncertain climate that this pandemic has brought. Although, with flexible and hybrid working, you can predict that this will soon not be the case.  

Where is this demand coming from? 

Mergers and acquisitions and forensic accounting are lead drivers in this tug-of-war for suitable talent. Paired with the intense need for lawyers across the board, firms are desperate to secure this talent and it shows. Pay rises have jumped to record levels, primarily in the accounting sector. As well as pay deals, like bonuses, have risen to new heights at certain law firms. This is not just for partners and highly qualified personnel, newly-qualified lawyers have relished in increased pay due to this scramble for employees. 

Lack of labour for professional services has caused firms to poach, increase pay, offer bonuses and pay deals, and all but physically fight each other for suitable staff to join their business. If you’re looking for a job in the professional services sector, you can rest easy as you have your pick. However, if you want to find the perfect fit (with great benefits too), get in touch with our team and learn just about how this ‘war for talent’ can benefit you and your job search in the U.K. 

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