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29th Feb, 2024

Eleanor Schader
Eleanor Schader
Job Title
Executive Business Manager

Let’s start with the up-coming budget. As we hold our breath to see what it means for us as individuals and our own bank accounts, businesses will also be readying and steadying their own ship, and this usually translates into contract/interim needs in accountancy terms.  

In times of uncertainty, making use of contractors and temporary employees avoids the need for companies to recruit permanent headcount, saving them from making inevitable redundancies if the government changes negatively impact the business. The risk to the business and current employees is ultimately reduced by recruiting on an interim basis and temporary contractors become paramount in covering extra workload and keeping projects going until a clearer picture becomes available. 

Key accountancy and finance roles for businesses

When we review the types of jobs that appear to increase around ‘budget time’ (which also seems to coincide with a lot of company year ends), the roles centre around cost accountants, FP&A analysts and credit controllers – in other words, anyone with skills to save the business money, retrieve money owed, and analyse where money could be better utilised/invested. While these types of roles become more popular around this time, it’s worth remembering the value of these candidates is also likely to increase, as no business wants to lose their talented credit controller in an uncertain economy. Prepare for a reduced candidate pool and potential counter offers! Nonetheless, investment in these particular job roles can prove invaluable as experts in their fields are usually well placed to ride the wave of government and policy changes, ensuring robust practices are in place for any eventuality. 

Looking back, in an article on the AAT website prior to the autumn 2022 budget, the question was asked: “Will these changes help or hinder accountants, and what impact has all this volatility had on year-end accounts?” The same applies in the here and now and ahead of Jeremy Hunt’s budget next week, only three and a half months after his autumn statement. This will be the last budget, and possibly the final fiscal event, before the general election later this year. According to The Institute for Government, the focus is likely to be on household finances, tax cuts, and spending plans; and while we all hope for brighter days ahead, the upcoming election and potential change of government might mean another pivot and change of focus for individuals and businesses alike. 

Prepare to take advantage of investment opportunities

Thinking bigger picture, the upcoming election campaigns will inevitably spark debate and see some businesses hoping for positive change while leaving others anxious about shifting rules and policies. For example, businesses operating in the sustainability space will be encouraged by the potential change of government as the Labour party has clearly laid out their vested interest in this space and their pledges to make Britain a clean energy superpower. With this in mind, the accountancy community may be looking at ways to help their clients and business utilise this promised investment (although as we’ve seen, these policies rely heavily on whether they’re fiscally viable). As already stated, policies and promises are made but changes, adjustment and outcomes are inevitable, and the accountancy community prepare to adjust with it. 

One thing that can be relied upon is the value of accountancy and finance professionals and their intense focus on ‘numbers’: their ability to adapt, review, analyse and report. They remain results driven, and for this reason, set out to protect businesses against any potential financial pitfalls. So, while we wait to see what the near future holds for government, we can rest assured that our community will be the first to find opportunities and solutions.    

Join our 'Budget breakfast: feast or famine' webinar

For more insight into what the near future might hold for the accountancy and finance sector, join us on Thursday 7 March 2024 for our Budget Breakfast: feast or famine webinar, presented by BBC Newsnight’s Ben Chu. He’ll be exploring Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s spring statement and dissecting the economic and fiscal forecast prepared by the Office for Budget Responsibility. Register for the event today. 

Are you looking to strengthen your accountancy and finance team? Or considering your next career move in accountancy or finance? Contact one of our specialist consultants today.