H1 | JAN-JUN
GLOBAL TREND REPORT CORE FINANCE
A MODEST IMPROVEMENT IN THE GLOBAL MARKET
• Organisational change, compliance and
regulatory issues and IT changes have been
the main drivers of recruitment
• Experience in ERP is a highly prized asset
• Candidates need to keep on top of changes to
reporting requirements (in particular IFRS)
• In Commerce & Industry there is a trend
towards hybrid roles combining core financial
and commercial functions
• In Hong Kong and Singapore, recruitment
budgets remain tight
• The market is becoming more buoyant in Ireland
• More roles are being posted in the UK in a cost-
conscious post-recession environment
• There is a shortage of top-quality candidates in
Japan but language is a barrier to entry for non-
• Salary growth will be at best moderate and may
even decline in some cases
In line with our commitment to keep professionals working in Core Finance functions
up to date with employment and recruitment trends, at the start of 2014 Morgan
McKinley conducted an international survey of its consultants in five markets.
The market has picked up in most regions and we expect further improvement in 2014.
Nevertheless growth in salaries will be moderate. In this climate candidates must
seek out employers that offer a good cultural fit and offer opportunities for career
progression, for example through internal rotation.
The recruitment market for Core Finance roles
picked up a little in the second half of 2013,
though the focus was on replacement headcount
against a background of continuing economic
uncertainty and static or declining recruitment
budgets. Organisational change (such as review
and restructuring of the operating model and
introduction of new products) and globalisation
of functions were among the main drivers of
demand for Strategic Finance, Financial Accounting
and Reporting, and Systems and Project Finance
specialists. “Organisations still feel obliged to
contain costs and many have recruitment freezes
in place, while others are sourcing candidates
directly from LinkedIn,” says one of our Hong
Kong-based recruitment consultants.
Experience in ERP systems has proved a valuable
asset when combined with a professional
accounting qualification and an MBA. Increasingly,
listed companies are also interested in candidates
who have the company secretary professional
The contract market has remained stable.
Candidates should look for
companies that are a good cultural fit.
MARKET IMPROVING DESPITE TIGHT RECRUITMENT BUDGETS
SALARIES & BENEFITSOur outlook for 2014 is generally optimistic.
However, candidates will need to be realistic
about salaries and focus on opportunities that
will broaden their horizons and advance their
careers in the long term. “Candidates should
look for companies that are a good cultural fit,”
says one of our Hong Kong-based Core Finance
consultants.This is as likely to be with an SME
as with a large enterprise. We see a shift of
emphasis from reporting to business partnering
and financial planning roles.
The projected increment for salary increases
in 2014 is 5%. Many organisations will reward
individual performance with bonuses, but
increasingly multinational companies are
including global performance as a factor, which
means that even if the Asia Pacific region hits its
target bonuses will also take into account losses
or shortfalls elsewhere.
Economic confidence returned to Ireland in 2013
and with it an improvement in the recruitment
market for Core Finance, with organisations
recruiting new and replacement headcount as they
implement IT changes and reorganise. Recruitment
budgets are increasing, but hiring processes can
be lengthy as organisations seek the perfect
match.The main growth areas to date have been
Transactional (AP/AR/RTR/OTC), Senior Finance
(Commercial/Financial Planning & Accounting)
and Financial Accounting & Reporting roles.
“We have been most surprised at the pace of
growth in the number of roles that combine core
financial and commercial functions,” comments
one of our Dublin-based consultants. Fluency in
a foreign language is an increasingly valued asset
alongside a professional accounting qualification
and experience with ERP systems.The contract
market is fairly buoyant.
Hiring organisations must
speed up their hiring processes.
ERP EXPERIENCE A HIGHLY PRIZED ASSET
Our outlook for 2014 is optimistic and we expect
to see more candidates coming forward.Those
who want to progress should build up their ERP
experience. “Hiring organisations will need to
speed up their hiring processes if they want to gain
an edge in this competitive market,” comments
SALARIES & BENEFITS
We expect to see a moderate increase in basic
salaries but no changes to performance-related
pay and benefits.
We saw no discernible change in the recruitment
market for Core Finance roles in Japan in the
second half of 2013, despite signs of an economic
upswing. Organisational and IT change were the
main drivers but the focus was on replacement
headcount. Strategic Finance (Commercial and
Financial Planning and Accountancy), Financial
Accounting and Reporting and Systems and
Project Finance roles were most sought after.
One of the problems for hiring organisations was
the lack of local talent, a problem in Japan as
fluency in the language is a sine qua non for any
Core Finance position, and fluency in a foreign
language (typically English) is very often
a requirement, too. Hiring organisations also
value practical experience, including experience
of ERP systems such as SAP and Oracle, alongside
a professional accounting qualification.
Candidates with practical experience and
foreign language fluency are in demand.
SHORTAGE OF SUITABLY QUALIFIED CANDIDATES
There is currently an over-supply of candidates
in general in Japan but an under-supply of
suitably qualified candidates.There is an excellent
opportunity for overseas candidates with the
right set of qualifications, project experience,
and fluency in Japanese, but these are very rare.
“Hiring organisations will blow out any candidate
who is a 70% match or less, so there is little point
in us putting them forward,” says one of our
Tokyo-based consultants. “In such cases it is more
constructive for us to act as a good career partner,
give an honest assessment, and provide what help
we can to move people forward.”
We also expect a greater trend towards business
partnering. Candidates must demonstrate
that they can also add value beyond the strict
boundaries of Core Finance.
SALARIES & BENEFITS
In the current climate Core Finance professionals
have grown rather distrustful of bonuses and focus
more on basic salaries. However, these will remain
stable or may trend slightly downwards in 2014.
In general we feel that the Singapore market
improved in Core Finance in the last year compared
with the previous two years. However, hiring
processes still remain lengthy and there is a big
emphasis on the quality of the candidates and
financial professionals’ resilience in an ever-
changing environment. Also, we have seen a
trend in employers reaching out for external
hires but eventually hiring individuals internally
who have been mobilised from other teams,
and this has been frustrating for job seekers.
Organisational change, compliance and regulatory
issues and IT changes have been the main drivers
of recruitment. However, recruitment budgets
remain quite tight and some organisations
have cost-cutting measures in place, including
pay freezes and consolidation, outsourcing or
offshoring of functions. We have seen hires made
in roles such as Financial Accounting and
Reporting, Systems and Project Finance and
Strategic Finance and these will continue to
be the main areas of growth in 2014.
Maintaining one’s level of education
regarding changes in regulations
and compliance issues is imperative.
PROOF OF RESILIENCE AND A STABLE CAREER RECORD ARE KEY
In 2014 Singapore will remain a highly
competitive market, where hiring organisations
are very particular, and this will lead to long hiring
processes in many cases. In the current economic
environment employers are looking for candidates
who can demonstrate a stable career record
and resilience to the ever-changing financial
landscape. Maintaining one’s level of education
regarding changes in regulations and compliance
issues is imperative, and keeping up to speed with
changes in reporting standards is particularly
important. Within Commerce & Industry non-local
finance professionals should perhaps take a more
flexible approach to their job searches if they
are genuinely keen to work in Singapore.This
means being open to interim, contract and
temporary positions in the first instance in
order to secure an opening.
In this environment it is vital that candidates
should prepare very thoroughly for interviews.
Core Finance roles are also becoming increasingly
hybrid in the Commerce & Industry sector,
extending to functions such as supply chain,
taxation and treasury. However, there is a
continuing reluctance among many candidates to
embrace this broader scope, which is limiting the
talent pool. Employers will find it difficult to find
quality candidates and, at the same time, will be
challenged to retain staff in an environment where
quality finance professionals with a solid track
record are much sought after.
SALARIES & BENEFITS
Core Finance professionals making a lateral move
in Commerce & Industry and Financial Services are
unlikely to secure a significant increase in pay. In
specialised finance roles such as audit and tax we
expect increases in the order of 5 to 10%. We have
seen no changes in bonus and benefits structures
compared to previous years.
Against the backdrop of returning economic
confidence, the recruitment market for Core
Finance professionals picked up somewhat towards
the end of 2013. Hiring budgets have increased in
some organisations (though the picture is rather
mixed) and demand was strongest for Strategic
Finance, Financial Accounting and Reporting and
Systems and Project Finance roles. Compliance
and regulatory issues are driving demand as well
as organisational changes and IT initiatives.There
has been inadequate local supply to meet this
demand so we have seen applications from abroad,
with the number of job seekers from Australia
and New Zealand heading back upwards.
Some companies launched internal mobility
schemes about 18 months ago to redeploy
finance staff and this can work very well, but
such initiatives can exhaust themselves quite
quickly and we are now seeing more external
recruitment from those same firms. Candidates
with a professional accounting qualification and
experience in ERP systems such as SAP and
Oracle are in demand (or Sage at SMEs).
“We have seen more jobs posted in the latter
part of 2013 and moving into 2014 with an
increasing number of candidates gaining multiple
offers before accepting one,” says one of our
It is in employers’ best interests
to provide constructive feedback.
ROLE OF FINANCE IS CENTRAL TO BUSINESS DECISION-MAKING
We are confident that the upturn in demand will
continue in 2014 and that candidates will be more
proactive in seeking new roles. Although economic
confidence is returning, these are still cost-
conscious times and finance plays a leading role
in business decision making. Competition will be
strong, and we counsel people to brush up on their
interview techniques. “Too many candidates go
to a first interview poorly prepared and this
can be fatal to your chances. We encourage them
to seek advice and do a mock interview, especially
if they are coming back onto the market after
some time in the same job,” says one of our
Candidates will also need to be flexible about
what they want to get out of a position, and not
focus exclusively on pay, as this will send the
signal that they are not committed for the right
reasons. “Think carefully about your end goal and
work back to understand how you achieve this.
Businesses that offer greater rotation potential in
finance after qualification can advance employees
more quickly,” says another of our UK consultants.
However, by the same token, hiring organisations
that want to secure the brightest and best minds
available have a duty to themselves to act quickly
and provide effective feedback. “When the market
picks up it is in our clients’ best interests to provide
constructive feedback on the candidates they see.
This will give them a positive reputation in the
marketplace, which will also ensure that they see
the best talent when it is in short supply,” says
a London-based consultant.
Candidates should also take note of the fact
that IFRS is going through a huge change, being
consolidated down from 2000 pages to 200.
“Accounting professionals who demonstrate
awareness of such changes always stand out,”
adds the consultant. IFRS will become even more
important as smaller businesses will no longer be
able to report under UK GAAP.
SALARIES & BENEFITS
We see a potential for a slight improvement in
salaries and benefits in 2014, but no more.
A MORGAN McKINLEY GROUP COMPANY
GLOBAL TREND REPORT CORE FINANCE