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Top 20 accountancy firms aim to hire 2,260 people in the next year Back  
Based on the findings of FINANCE’s Annual Accountancy Survey, the top accountancy firms are looking to hire an additional 2,260 staff, bringing the total number of employees in the top 20 firms to over 10,000 people. This is set to a background of a skills shortage in the industry where many partners see the lack of skills as the number one threat to the industry.
In the 12 months between June 2006 and June 2007, the top 20 Irish accountancy firms hired 2,082 staff. For the period June 2007 to June 2008, the top 20 firms estimate that they will hire a further 2,260 employees, swelling the number of staff in these firms beyond 10,000.

The 2,082 people hired between June 2006 and June 2007 exceeds the industry’s predictions from last year’s survey. There, the top 20 firms reckoned that they would hire 1,771 employees during this period. This accounts for a difference of 17.5 per cent, equivalent to the average growth of a top 20 firm in the last year.

The growth predicted for the coming period is once again to be seen mainly in the trainee area, while there is a decline in the number of non-professional graduates being predicted. The top 20 firms see this figure dropping from 315 in 2006/2007 to 286 in 2007/2008, this represents a fall-off of over 10 per cent in this area.

It is also surprising to note that there is no predicted increase in the number of professionals being hired. This number remains static between the two periods at 647 hires. Although it must be noted that 2006/2007’s actual figure exceeded last year’s Survey prediction of 527 professional recruitments.

Despite having fewer employees and a smaller fee income than PricewaterhoueCoopers, KPMG is planning on hiring the most people out of the top 20 firms in 2007/2007. The all-Ireland accountants expects to grow its staff by 526 employees, including 150 professionals and 346 trainess, the highest number out of any of the firms.
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PwC has the second highest number of planned hires with 450 people on its list. It plans to employ the joint-most non-professional graduates, with 80 recruits, placing it level alongside Ernst & Young.

The two other firms in the Big 4 are third and fourth on the scale of expected hires. Deloitte is in third place with 400 new staff, while Ernst & Young is in fourth position, expecting to increase its workforce by 350 people.

As in the main survey (see pages 4 and 5), BDO Simpson Xavier and Grant Thornton occupy fifth and sixth spot respectively. The two top mid-tier firms intend to recruit a combined staff of 194 people.

For some firms recruitment agencies are a very popular resource when looking to recruit. The survey revealed that 37 per cent of firms outsource 81-100 per cent of their recruiting to recruitment firms. This figure has more than doubled since last year where only 15 per cent of firms outsourced to this extent.

Surprisingly, no firms outsource 61-80 per cent of their hiring needs to recruitment firms. Following the top bracket, the next most popular option for the top 20 firms was 16-30 per cent outsourcing. This disparity between the two most popular options suggests that different firms of different sizes in the top 20 have chosen to tackle the skills shortage in contrasting ways.

While the outsourcing of recruitment may help to widen the net of potential employees, the industry is now looking further and further afield in a bid to fill the vacant positions at firms. This has seen firms increasingly looking abroad to hire people.

In this year’s survey, we asked firms what percentage of their employees were foreign workers, and where they mainly came from. It was found that 8.3 per cent of employees at the firms surveyed were foreign nationals. These figures range from as low a 1 per cent at Russell Brennan Keane and Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon to highs of 32 per cent at Brenson Lawlor and 25 per cent at DCA Accountants.
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Poland was the most common source of foreign employees. Although foreign workers are coming from further afield than ever before, with some employees at firms hailing from such countries as China, Malaysia, Nigeria and Brazil. With the introduction of the Green Card Permit Scheme this year, the number of non-European professionals recruited by top firms is likely to increase.

Salary trends
With the industry being so competitive to attract the right employee in the current skills deficient environment, many firms are willing to boost their employees salaries with juicy bonuses as well as additional perks.

Some firms believe that bonuses could extend up to one quarter of an employees basic annual pay, although the other firms believe that the level of non-partner bonuses should remain below 10 per cent. However, such firms are in the minority as a growing number of companies are handing out bonuses in excess of one-tenth basic salary. In last year’s survey, 30 per cent of firms paid out salaries of greater than 10 per cent, this year, however, this figure has crept up to 37 per cent, more than one third of firms surveyed.

The trend seems to be towards higher bonuses as the figures for the top two brackets of bonus in the survey have both grown this year.

As was the case last year, employees at BDO Simpson Xavier and IFAC Accountants will be the best rewarded with non-partner bonuses of 25 per cent, although BDO’s bonus has dropped from last year’s figure of 30 per cent. Meanwhile staff at PwC, Russell Brennan Keane and Deloitte will all be happy to receive bonuses of 20 per cent.

The former employees of Baker Tilly O’Hare will be happy following their firm’s merger with PKF Ryan Glennon. Their annual bonus is set to increase from 4.5 per cent under the old firm, to 15 pe cent at the newly formed Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon.

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