Internal auditors in demand, more opportunities opening up outside London
The first six months of 2015 saw a slight downturn in the number of new internal audit vacancies generated. The boom of 2013 and 2014 came after the recruitment market effectively stalled in the wake of the economic downturn, with demand returning to more natural levels this year, according to Barclay Simpson’s new Internal Audit Compensation and Market Trends Interim Report.
However, this is certainly not to say the situation is tough for any internal auditor looking for a new role, as Barclay Simpson’s Internal Audit Manager Daniel Flynn explains. Demand is very much linked to geographical location: whereas some regions are seeing relatively little internal audit recruitment activity, others are extremely busy. Variances can also be seen between different market segments.
As such, Daniel says demand is “extremely high” for people seeking banking and financial services audit jobs in London and the south-east.
“If you’re entering the market either as a newly qualified auditor or with two to three years’ post-qualified experience, you are going to have a multitude of positions to consider. It’s not uncommon for auditors with the right blend of specialist sector knowledge and interpersonal skills to pick up multiple offers, receive a counter-offer from their current employer and then be in the enviable position of deciding the direction their future career heads in. Demand really is that high in that particular segment of the market.
“Moving outside of the banking sector, if you’re working in the London and the south-east market in any sector, you’re going to be benefiting from a strong recruitment market. You will have options if you are active in the market at the moment.”
Demand is inconsistent outside London and south-east
While it is possible to identify clear trends within internal audit recruitment in London and the south-east, the rest of the country is harder – if not impossible – to define.
Recent demand has been strong in the north-west and the Midlands, but this could easily switch to the south-west and the north over the next quarter. “The regional market really doesn’t have the same pattern or trends as London and the south-east and this makes it far harder to predict,” says Daniel.
More opportunities to become available away from the capital
Due to the large banks being the dominant recruiters, the internal audit recruitment market is currently extremely London-centric.
Across the rest of the UK, there are several other key centres, from Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, to Manchester and Liverpool in the north-west, Birmingham and Coventry in the Midlands and Bristol and Swindon in the west.
Although these locations are unlikely to change any time soon, Daniel believes there will be increasing demand away from London, predominantly due to the emergence of the challenger banks.
“Most of the challenger banks will continue to grow their audit functions and this will mean increased demand in Edinburgh from Tesco Bank, Sainsbury’s Bank and Williams and Glyn. Williams and Glyn are likely to base auditors in Manchester as well. Outside of this the Midlands market will benefit from the growth of Secure Trust, the west from recruitment at TSB and further down the M4 Aldermore in Reading. So whilst the centres might not change, the availability of roles and competition for staff will increase.”
What are the biggest drivers of internal audit demand?
Within banking and financial services, regulation is the biggest driver of internal audit recruitment activity. As new regulation is introduced, organisations are creating new teams to focus on particular segments of the audit plan that must be completed.
“Those roles are filled both internally or externally, but either way it’s creating certain vacancies – there’s not a large, or even medium-sized, banking environment at the moment that is going to carry vacancies within audit,” adds Daniel. “If they lose someone, they will replace them, and they will have the budget to do that.”
Is now a good time for internal auditors to move jobs?
From a market perspective, a wide variety of roles are now available to internal auditors – particularly those who already have strong experience within the profession. September and October are traditionally strong months for candidates entering the market, as companies aim to tie up their recruitment before the end of the financial or calendar years.
However, it is also important to consider that walking away from a job at this point could see auditors miss out on hard-earned bonus entitlements, particularly given that many organisations are now shying away from offering bonus buyout payments and golden handshakes due to scrutiny from the regulator.
“We are still registering a strong flow of new and very interesting opportunities,” Daniel insists. “The thing to consider at this time of year is the strength of the future prospects and package against what could be a short-term reduction in bonus.”
Our Market Reports combine a review of the prevailing conditions in the internal audit recruitment market with the results of a comprehensive compensation survey, covering both permanent and contract internal and computer auditors.