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Brexit causes slowdown in legal finance recruitment market, Ambition reveals

Ambition has released its latest hiring trends in professional services market insights for Q1 2017.


Following the uncertainty of Brexit which led to a slowdown within the legal finance recruitment market, Ambition has seen an influx of candidates looking for work, particularly at the transactional level.


The movement of business services teams to areas outside of London is another factor that has contributed to the rise in legal finance candidates entering the jobs market.


Restructuring at many law firms and an increase in M&A activity has put further pressure on the market. 

There has continued to be high job flow within practice finance & accounting and candidate shortages. As a result, many talented candidates are getting numerous job offers, which in turn is pushing up salary levels.


In accountancy practices, auditors are in high demand, particularly those with financial services experience. With this being such a candidate short market, many commerce & industry and financial services firms have increased their salary offerings in order to attract talent.


Ambition has also seen this cascade down to transactional, Accounts payable and credit control managers who are being actively sought by these firms and offered higher base salaries. This is inflating the market and pricing candidates out of some mid-tier firms.


Q4 saw an increase in hiring within the Top 20. A slowdown of roles within the Big 4 gave the Top 20 the ability to attract more talent to their firms.


According to the company, there has also been an increase in counter offers in an attempt for firms to retain their employees.


There has been huge demand and a real shortage of talent at business development and marketing executive level. Bids roles at all levels and interaction specialists within the legal sector are also in high demand. On the agency side Ambition has seen an increase in firms hiring PR specialists.


These skills shortages have led to many professional services firms hiring outside of their sector more than ever to fill positions. This has resulted in salary increases for these roles as well as a rise in a counter-offers as firms worry not only about losing their best talent but also replacing them. 


The insolvency recruitment market has remained stable since Q3 2016 with the number of new insolvency appointments remaining fairly flat.


Low interest rates and creditor tolerance has certainly contributed to the static market conditions across both corporate and personal insolvency although bankruptcy numbers are worryingly on the up.


The impact that this has had on recruitment levels throughout 2016 has been significant. With less work coming through the door for IPs, the need to recruit staff has not been all that necessary. A sizeable number of those insolvency professionals who have moved on have gone on to leave the profession entirely taking with them transferable skills into finance or investment based roles.


Ambition expects the current uncertainty in the market to continue into the first half of 2017. Confirmation of the Brexit date will enable firms to better plan for 2017 and beyond. Law firms will be heavily involved in legislation surrounding Brexit which will bring opportunities to some firms.


Technology will increasingly be discussed and more roles will start to be automated. Firms will continue to look at cost savings through automation and by moving business services teams outside of London.


In legal finance, there will be more M&A activity and pricing roles will continue to grow as firms focus on commerciality.


In accountancy practices, Ambition expects to see a continuation of high job flow and low candidate availability over the coming months. There are a number of partners approaching retirement age within mid-tier firms and gaps at director level will put increased pressure on the senior end of the market. This will impact the growth of firms moving forward and we may see an increase in M&A activity. ​


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