Auditors and financial services – the opportunities

Auditors and financial services - the...An increase in positive economic activity in recent months has played a key role in producing new opportunities within the UK’s financial services industry.

Our latest market report in the internal auditor sector has highlighted that specialists in this field could be set to enjoy an upbeat future as more companies seek to attract appropriately-skilled staff.

In particular, there has been an increase in business investment and this means real earnings are now rising after a period of decline.

Although some heads of audit have reported they are seeing an increase in difficulty recruiting, there has been an improvement in departments being adequately staffed over the past 12 months.

The financial services industry continues to be the key employer of internal auditors, but this has been accompanied by a decline in the number of internal auditors in the retail, manufacturing and utilities sectors.

Over three-quarters of auditing departments in banking and insurance have reported an increase in recruitment budgets, while less than a third of non-financial FTSE 100 companies have seen their budgets increase, with just over a fifth reporting a decline in recruitment spending.

It is thought this can be linked to an increase in technology and more advanced audit approaches, contributing to greater efficiency and therefore, a reduction in the number of internal auditors required by businesses.

However, our research shows that the number of vacancies is rising compared to previous years. In 2013, 72 per cent of internal audit departments confirmed they had recruited or tried to recruit new staff over the past six months.

Last year, this rose to 77 per cent, with banking, insurance and consultancies looking to expand their workforce as the economic recovery strengthens.

There was also evidence of more internal auditors opting to move firms and this led to a surge in replacement recruitment. Although, increased confidence and an expansion of business investment did see new positions being created.

Crucially, it became clear that more firms are struggling to fill their vacancies and have been forced to advertise positions for a significant time before managing to recruit the correctly skilled person.

Research found that 67 per cent of internal audit departments have found it challenging to find the right candidates for jobs – compared to 44 per cent in the previous year.

As a result, 73 per cent admitted recruitment had been difficult, in contrast to 56 per cent in 2013.

In particular, finding applicants with the required interpersonal skills was more difficult than finding those with the necessary technical skills. This highlights that many firms are keen to ensure they only employ people who meet their criteria.

For internal auditors who do have the right skills, then employment in financial services could prove very attractive.

An increase in regulatory pressures within the banking industry and a strong emphasis on accountability has led to more banking internal departments expanding their recruitment budgets – just eight per cent reported they were unlikely to take on new workers during 2015.

It is expected that the Prudential Regulation Authority will direct focus on operational risks and this will boost demand for people with a set skill set, especially those with experience in capital markets product knowledge, specialist lending, capital, liquidity and funding knowledge, compliance and financial crime, specialist risk areas such as model/quant risk, credit risk and specialist knowledge in relation to areas such as strategy, third parties, security, business continuity and corporate real estate.

For those who are new to the internal auditor sector, there are also benefits to this strong increase in recruitment. More firms are looking to invest in junior staff and provide formal training to support their development. In-house graduate schemes are also a key way for people to gain new skills and improve their attractiveness to prospective employers.

It is looking increasingly likely that 2015 will prove a positive year for internal auditors.