It’s a statement of fact that finding practice auditors, at every level, is like searching for needles in a haystack. The stark reality is that when it comes to auditors – there’s just not enough to go around.
It’s an industry problem that firms as a collective should certainly be looking to solve! But, on an operational basis, right now, how can HR departments and Partners place themselves in the very best position to be securing talented auditors who might be looking for a new challenge in practice?
We place substantial numbers of auditors in new jobs each year but we’ve recently placed a first class audit candidate (at Audit Manager level) with a Top 50 UK firm and, having reflected on how this successful placement came about, we’ve come up with some stark but important advice to help ensure your firm isn’t faced with soaring costs of interim solutions or even worse, empty desks, and is the first to hear about available talent.
The solution is relationship lead rather than fee lead.
Let’s use our recent placement as a case study. The Managing Partner at the firm in question understands that auditors are integral to the success of their firm. And with that understanding comes an acceptance that investment is imperative and that investment means more than just offering a great package of benefits. Investment comes by way of a trusted relationship with the people that have their ears to the ground when it comes to identifying potential talent. Investment involves accepting the additional cost of a great recruiter.
In short, the Managing Partner accepted that for their firm to be able to have the pick of the best auditors in the current auditor short marketplace, they had to do things differently to their competitors
This Managing Partner invested time and energy into building a trusted relationship with us. They understood that their opening gambit couldn’t simply be fee focused and that the focus should be on the ‘Relationship’. They got to know us on a deeper level and they took the time to ensure our core values were aligned and that we truly understood the direction of travel for their firm and the way that their employees matter to them.
We heard from this Managing Partner on a regular basis. They made it clear that we were their eyes and ears in recruitment and at no point did they attempt to quibble over fees or imply that additional recruitment costs were a drain on their resources and energy. This firm simply accepted that they needed talented auditors, so any expenses incurred in efficiently finding them (while their competitors struggled) represented sensible expenditure. It’s a mindset and one that we’re sure led them to be in prime position to attract the best fish in a shallow pool.
But how does a relationship secure auditors when they are few and far between?
The fact of the matter is that there are limited numbers of auditors in practice. So, the only way that firms are recruiting into posts permanently is when a candidate moves between practices. And though you might not have seen any audit CVs recently, don’t be fooled into thinking we haven’t been placing candidates regularly.
Ultimately, our team is made up of people. And people are motivated to look after people that they like and trust and who they feel like and trust them. That is the relationship factor.
So, when we highlight an auditor who is open to change, if we have a client we know and like who has taken the time to showcase their firm as a great place to work, we’ll likely pick up the phone to them straight away and the end result is that every other firm will never find out about that candidate – they’ll move without a CV ever being sent. And that’s precisely what happened with our case study, the Audit Manager didn’t come to the open market.
And it’s not just the Partners who will need to change their outlook and mindset when it comes to investing in the recruitment relationship.
Often the first point of contact that we hear from a firm who are interested in a candidate that we’re representing, is an email from HR that says nothing more than ‘what are your fees?’
Of course we’ll need to talk about our terms of business to progress a potential relationship, that goes without saying for both parties. But firms who take a moment or two to compose an email about what they’re looking for, what the audit portfolio looks like and why they will be a great employer (and heaven forbid actually top and tail their email with some basic email etiquette) are the ones we’ll trust and work hard to place brilliant candidates with.
HR departments need to adopt a similar synergy to the Partners when it comes to building recruitment relationships.
So, if you’re a leader at your firm, a Partner or part of the HR department we’d encourage you to use this article to start a conversation about your shortage of auditors. The takeaway that we are trying to drive home is that working with a recruiter on a speculative contingency basis is unlikely to bring you results. Instead adopt a mindset that retained relationships built on trust over time the best way to secure the top talent in 2022.
The shortage of auditors isn’t a problem we can currently see a solution to and we won’t be at all surprised if interims are able to charge hourly or day rates more than double what they’re on now in six months time. So, if you’re relying on temporary staff to get your audit work completed on time, or even worse you’re falling behind on your commitment to clients, you need to change your game plan. Recruitment costs and investing time in building relationships should be something you learn to see the value in. From the perspective of both time and money, it’s a no brainer.
If you’re ready to build this kind of relationship with a niche practice recruiter who isn’t afraid to say it like it is, Public Practice Recruitment Ltd will work hard for you from the get go. We’d be delighted to follow up on this conversation via a call or on email so contact us today.