The Rise of the Contract Option for Accounting & Tax Professionals…

The Rise of the Contract Option for Accounting & Tax Professionals...

Even pre-Covid times, there were clear indicators in the Irish market that the employment landscape was changing with an increase in contract opportunities coming onto the market. Here Kate Flanagan, Partner | Accounting & Tax with Barden takes a closer look at the contracting landscape for accounting and tax professionals.

Traditionally, contractors have been associated within the IT sector & the gig economy but over recent years the idea of contractors within accounting and tax has been gaining strength.

Given how quickly Covid has catapulted us into a work from home environment, it suggests the contract market will do the same, and in fact, the team at Barden had already witnessed this trend. We also believe this trend is set to continue in 2020 and into 2021.

So what exactly is the contract market for accounting and tax like at the moment and what are the benefits of considering a contract role?

The State of the Current Market 

  • Permanent opportunities across accounting and tax have fallen by approximately 50% in quarter 2, compared to quarter 1 of 2020 and quarter 3 of 2019.
  • Contract opportunities across accounting and tax have increased by approximately 70% in quarter 2 compared to quarter 1 of 2020, and approximately 60% year to date compared to 2019.
  • Approximately 70% of the contract opportunities are as a result of maternity covers with the majority of them to begin in late Quarter 4 of 2020 or early 2021.
  • Approximately 30% of the contract opportunities are project driven as a result of increased business activities and planning for future growth plans.
  • Approximately 50% of the contract opportunities on offer have scope for a permanent contract at the end of the specified period.
  • Whilst too soon to make future predictions of the market, given the current uncertainty around Covid, we do believe the contract market will continue to expand in Ireland across the accounting and tax markets, which is reflective of the change we were experiencing pre-Covid.

Benefits of a Contract Opportunity 

So why would you consider a contract opportunity?

And what are the benefits?

  • Without sounding obvious… an opportunity to work is the main benefit – of course this is only a true benefit if you are currently out of work and luckily within the accounting and tax markets, there is pretty much full employment. But needless to say if you are currently out of work, taking a contract should be considered.
  • If you are looking to move home from overseas (and ok with self-isolating for 14 days!) taking up a contract opportunity as your first employment back in Ireland is a great chance to get back into the market, test the waters, and if you like, let the dust settle with Covid matters.
  • Alternatively if you were one of the unlucky people who had travel /relocation plans cancelled due to Covid, taking a contract role now until the international market opens up again, is a great way to keep your CV up to date and your skills as fresh as possible.
  • You are in a permanent role but not happy with your role, team, company, salary, progression opportunities etc. Some of the contract roles can provide better career opportunities because of the work you will be involved in, the people you will work with and potential to grow other skills and experience that you simply won’t in your current role.
  • If you are in practice and want to gain industry experience but not sure what type of industry/role, taking a contract can allow you to test the waters and figure out what you want to do long term, with no commitment to stay.
  • With many bonuses and promotions being deferred, a contract role can often give you a chance to earn a guaranteed bonus by way of completion bonus.

Anything Else to Consider? 

Despite a couple of early teething problems, companies have on-boarded new joiners successfully over the last few months. This is often a question raised as to how it would feel starting a new job at the moment given the majority of us are working from home.

Thankfully the feedback from our clients and candidates has been positive and in fact it gives people a chance to meet (albeit over video call) a lot more colleagues and team mates in a more relaxed environment rather than an often frantic working office environment where people are running from meeting to meeting. Plus you don’t have to contend with a new commute – it’s just about getting to know the people on your team, as best as is possible, and looking forward to meeting them in person when current restrictions are relaxed.

Final Thoughts

We have advised accounting and tax professionals for years on their careers. Our advice when it comes to contract opportunities…

Look at each opportunity, be it contract or permanent in the same light.

Asses does it satisfy your career objectives in terms of the type of work you want to get involved it, the type of people you would like to work with, the type of industry you want to be part of?

If so, trust in yourself, in the company and in the market – there is a huge opportunity for your career to develop just as much (if not more) in a contract role, whether that’s in the company you’re moving to or within other organisations.

For specific advice on your own career, please get in touch with Kate by email or via LinkedIn.


About Kate Flanagan AITI CTA | Partner | Accounting & Tax | Barden

Trained through Big 4, Kate qualified in tax in 2006, and spent a number of years, post qualification, in both practice and industry before moving to recruitment in 2010. Kate is a founding member of Barden’s tax and accounting recruitment practice in Dublin, is a subject matter expert in tax careers, regularly contributes to publications on the tax profession and advises CFOs and tax leadership teams, in Leinster, on attracting and retaining world class teams.

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