Auditing the Unknown
Undoubtedly the repercussions of a potential Brexit are already reverberating around the recruitment sphere, specifically in Internal Audit – the largest overseas employer within finance.
The general trend in the audit market is contradictory to what was previously forecast, with around 80% of FTSE 100 companies reporting that they attempted to recruit for their internal audit function in the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2015, a tendency that was predicted to continue in 2016. Regardless of investment in internal audit functions, as well as the evidence suggesting that internal auditors in the UK are becoming more confident and willing to move, 75% of all C&I companies surveyed reported experiencing challenges in their recruitment processes.
Industry wide, three main factors were predicted to shape audit recruitment in 2016. It was firstly suggested that the jump into digitalisation would leave companies vulnerable to the consequential threats from cyber attacks, evidently influential to audit recruitment. Additionally, following 2015’s record breaking $4/5 trillion worth of M&A activity, a surge in change/transformation projects were inevitable, therefore causing uncertainty. Finally, the repeated changes implemented by regulatory bodies, specifically the FCA, which were placed increase pressure on compliance. These three factors combined were expected to create a recruitment drive across all elements of internal audit.
Despite the above trends, a significant slowdown occurred over January and February in the financial and operational audit market. This was reminiscent, if not identical, to the run up to the election; clearly politically driven. The potential threat of Brexit has caused companies to become apprehensive to over expand headcount and therefore stifling recruitment processes.
In spite of the current political uncertainty, we are now are seeing a shift in priorities as we move into March. Companies have started readying themselves for year end, and the publishing of their results, where must present potential risks to shareholders of, amongst other things, Brexit. There is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the potential effects of Brexit and forecasting the impact it possesses has been nothing short of hazy. Needless to say that the operational cost of the unknown is a huge risk that companies are keen to mitigate, which will ultimately lead to a demand in auditors regardless of whether Britain remains or leaves.
Communicate’s recent market research has shown an increase in the amount of jobs being advertised across the market, which correlates with the high amount of roles currently being worked by the company. The growth in demand of candidates has led to an inevitable salary increase as companies compete to retain and entice top talent, indicating that despite the indecisive political future, there is no better time for auditors to make a move.
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