The 2021 digital Salary Guide from staffing specialist Walters People reveals that demand will remain high for accounting professionals. To recover quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic and to transition smoothly to a new way of working, organisations will increasingly focus on the right soft skills when recruiting finance professionals this year.

We asked Jens Spittael, Associate Director at Walters People, which skills are in high demand and what will happen to salaries for finance professionals in 2021.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the hiring market in 2020?

Jens: “During the first lockdown beginning of 2020, many organisations were shocked and didn’t know how to digitally organise their ongoing recruitments. For some organisations, it took some time to have faith in a digital recruitment process. Because of the Corona pandemic, we saw certain companies undergoing a reorganisation. Few temporary assignments were stopped or put on hold. As a result, more candidates became available on the market, but on the other hand, we also saw that candidates became less willing and more careful to change jobs.

Some candidates preferred to stay with their current employer instead of changing to a new and unknown environment. This is understandable, but not always the best idea."

I believe that, when you’re no longer happy in your current job, this feeling will increase even more in periods of stress and uncertainty caused by this pandemic.

What are the major trends for 2021 for finance professionals?

“It is very unlikely that we will return to a normal way of working very soon, so we expect that recruitment processes will continue to be digital, or at least for the first few interview rounds.

We would strongly advise junior candidates to start looking for their first job even before graduating, and taking on a temporary job if they don’t find a permanent one immediately. Taking on a temporary job will allow them to gain experience in different working environments and will help them to easily find a permanent job later on.

Professionals who are available and who can integrate quickly in an organisation, will continue to be in high demand in 2021.”

What are the skills organisations will be looking for in 2021, when hiring financial talent?

“Finance professionals with a strong knowledge of monthly and yearly closing processes will continue to be in high demand in 2021. In order to transition smoothly to the new way of working, professionals will need to be flexible and able to adapt quickly to any changes the organisation is going through.

In the past few months, we’ve seen that candidates with strong communication skills and a proactive mindset are highly valued. Organisations want to move forward, and not waste time due to bad communication or a lack of teamwork. For 2021, we expect organisations to focus even more on these soft skills when recruiting new people.”

What advice would you give hiring managers looking to recruit and retain talent in 2021?

“2020 had a big impact on staff and it’s important not to underestimate that. The past year was a rollercoaster for everyone and some people can manage these changes easier than others. As a Manager, it is therefore important to have regular open and honest conversations with everyone in the team. Being able to quickly identify worries or high stress levels with some individuals, will help you to find a solution before it has an impact on the productivity level of the whole team.”

Will finance professionals benefit from salary increases in 2021?

“For 2021, we believe that salaries will remain more or less stable. However, salaries for General Ledger Accountants and Senior Accountants will most likely be in the higher part of the salary range because they are in the highest demand.”

Want to know more about the recruitment market for finance professionals?

Request access to our digital Salary Survey or contact one of our offices for more personal advice.