2022 Finance Recruitment Review for the UAE

10 mins

πŸ‘Ÿ The Alchemy Run Club & 2022 Finance Recruitment Review for the UAE 🎽

🌹"A rose between two thorns " springs to mind from the below picture. The three amigos took part in a recent 10K run down on the Marina last week.

πŸƒβ€β™€οΈ Graham HaltonLewis Elsey will be organizing weekly morning runs down at Kite Beach for all levels of fitness followed by a nice coffee catch up afterwards.

🀘 So if you would like to join their first session on Thursday 26th January then please sign up to the running community in the comments below.

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ”¬ I would like to share an article on how the team at Alchemy Search felt 2022 went from a finance recruitment standpoint and what lies ahead for 2023.

πŸ‘³β€β™‚οΈ Hopefully the article will help jobs seekers get a better feel for the current market trends and give them more confidence in their job search.

To give an overview of what I will cover in this review, you will find:

1 - General review of 2022 from a finance recruitment perspective 

2 - What industries were hiring  

3 - Outlook for 2023 & join our community  

πŸ“² Please reconnect with the team as we expect roles to get called in the next few weeks.

In this article I will aim to provide an honest insight into what happened in 2022 as a whole from a finance recruitment perspective, with a particular focus on Q4 and what I believe may happen in 2023.

To give an overview of what I will cover in this review, you will find:

  1. General review of 2022 from a finance recruitment perspective
  2. What industries were hiring
  3. Outlook for 2023 & join our community !!

General review of 2022 from a finance recruitment perspective

Another year down.... 2022 was certainly an eventful one for the UAE and the wider Gulf region which accumulated with a very successful FIFA World Cupβ„’ in Qatar despite the doom and gloom by Western media doing their upmost to put a dampener on the occasion.

The Dubai economy in particular gained a lot from the event with a lot of the fans using the city as their base to fly in and out for matches. It was great to see all the Arab nations getting behind Morocco in particular.

As 2022 was Alchemy Search's first calendar year in business it was greatly satisfying to see the business grow and also make some welcome additions to the team. When I look back on the year from a finance recruitment perspective I would note the following points:

  • There was a lot of recruitment done in Q2 & Q3 which traditionally wouldn't have happened as usually most of the hiring is done in Q1 & Q4.
  • The knock on effect (for Alchemy anyway) of this was that Q4 was actually quite underwhelming from a finance recruitment perspective. Why may this be:

As of right now I would position Alchemy as a very strong newly qualified to mid level finance recruiter, given we had a high volume of these roles in Q2 & Q3 meaning that the majority of CFOs/FDs had their hiring done and in place before the year was done. This resulted in there not being the same high demand for such positions such as Senior Accountant, Finance Manager, FP&A Manager etc; which we certainly felt in Q4 just gone.

  1. For Senior Finance professionals, we had a very bleak H2 in 2022 with very little senior industry engagements whilst in H1 we worked on multiple CFO & FD roles. However, for finance professionals who are looking for Corporate finance work in the Big 4 or various Boutique firms there was a healthy flow of senior engagements in H2 and throughout the https
  2. It was party time pretty much from half way through the quarter. As once the FIFA World Cupβ„’ started we noticed there was a little bit of a drop off for some roles and rightly so given the FIFA World Cupβ„’ is only a stone’s throw away and people went to support their home countries. Times were so bad for me personally (given Ireland will probably never qualify for a World Cup again in my lifetime) that I went to support our wonderful English neighour's to assure them that "it's never actually coming home."
  3. Schools out.... This may have been the biggest reason as to why Q4 was quite slow for us – the fact that schools were effectively off for 3 weeks in December. The vast majority of senior finance professionals who were doing the hiring in previous years would try to push hiring through before the Xmas break. Now, perhaps with personal responsibilities e.g. keeping the children entertained or in camps just means recruitment is usually further down the priority list and will be picked up again in the new year (which thankfully we are already starting to see in January)

Now to share some real life data of how the year ebbed and flowed for Alchemy. But more importantly to share the trends we have seen from a finance recruitment perspective and try make sense of the patterns as this may help forecast recruitment for the year ahead.

The above is a snapshot of the year for us and let's dig into what may have caused things to fluctuate up and down.

Q1 - We came out of the traps strong. I feel this would have influenced by the fact that the 3 week school holidays had only been introduced in December 2021. Then there was a clear tail off for February & March but overall Q1 was a positive one and a good start to the year.

Q2 - April was for us the 2nd worst month of the year and here's a couple of reasons why in my opinion:

  1. Ramadan started on the 1st April and ended 30 days later. So it was clear to see that things slowed down to celebrate the Holy month with a plenty of Iftar dinners providing a great time to reconnect with people. The knock on effect for recruitment is that very little happens which is reflected in the numbers above.
  2. We also had Easter Celebrations in April which again means Expat residents take time off when their children are on school holidays for a couple of weeks and may travel home or do staycations in UAE. The knock on effect again is that recruitment is put on the backburner.
  3. However.....once April concluded we then had our two strongest months of the year in May and June. I know from speaking with other recruitment agency owners they experienced a similar trend which is great for everyone in the industry, as hiring managers were back at their desks full time and needed to play catch up from the downtime in April.

Q3 - Then we had July........After two strong months of hiring before the heat of UAE becomes a bit much we seen a massive drop off of hiring. July is a month when a lot of Expats would traditionally go back with their families to their home countries or on holidays to a part of the world which is considerably cooler than the UAE in the heat of summer. Once again processes stall as it's harder to arrange interviews with clients or even connect with potential candidates as they are harder to get hold off.

Thank God for the schools reopening in August as this naturally brings back families which in turn gets clients and candidates back at their desks so we can get processes moving again.

Another interesting trend we noted at this time of year was the influx of strong newly qualified - 2 years PQE finance professionals that arrived in with their "lovers" who are usually teachers. So they have free accommodation through their other halves and can take a chance on trying to secure work without risking too much. Thankfully the vast majoirty of them secure roles quite quickly as they are extremely attractive for hiring managers for the following reasons:

  1. They are immediately available so no notice period to wait for
  2. No chance of buy back from previous employer
  3. Will most likely take a role at the fair market rate so there will be no back and forth with counter offers which we seen happen with many candidates who were in roles in UAE in 2022 and wanting to move to another role
  4. Bring a fresh perspective and best practice from other parts of the world

Thankfully we had a strong end to the quarter in August & September with the vast majority of hiring being a high volume of newly qualified to mid level hiring

Q4 - We had a tremendous October and really thought we were on track for a big finish to the year. I was blasting out "Dancing on the Crossroads" by the Wild Swans every morning on the way to work (listen to it if you haven't).

But like the "golfing gods" do to me most weekends after playing a semi decent shot we were quickly brought back to earth with a significant drop off in November and to conclude the year with our worst month which was December. However, I'm always an optimist and I feel the reasons I have shared earlier in this article give me some comfort as to why we had an underwhelming conclusion to the year.

For me, the above really shows the correlation between recruitment in the UAE & school holidays/religious celebrations given close to 90% of the workforce are expats in the UAE. Which makes the recruitment market so different to other parts of the world.

What industries were hiring

I have taken the stats from our system of every job we worked (not every job we placed) to give some real data of what industries were hiring the most across the year of 2022.

Across all of the roles we cover in commerce and industry these were the top 5 hiring industries:

From Q4

  1. Consultancy (Top 6 & Boutique Firms) 33%
  2. Government 22%
  3. Professional Services 16%
  4. Oil & Gas 11%
  5. E-Commerce 5%

From Q3

  1. Consultancy (Top 6 & Boutique Firms) 31%
  2. Fin-tech 21%
  3. Manufacturing 18%
  4. Oil & Gas 15%
  5. Telecommunications 10%

From Q2

  1. Consultancy (Top 6 & Boutique Firms) 35%
  2. Professional Services 22%
  3. Aviation 16%
  4. Oil & Gas 12%
  5. Fin-tech 8%

From Q1

  1. Consultancy (Top 6 & Boutique Firms) 32%
  2. E-commerce 20%
  3. Professional Services 12%
  4. Construction 12%
  5. Fin-tech 10%

Hopefully this helps paint the picture of what industries were busy hiring in 2022.

Outlook for 2023 & join our community

If you have made it this far down the article, thank you. I would like to conclude with how I see things panning out in 2023 and also push my network to join the Alchemy community.

I believe 2023 will be a great year from a finance recruitment perspective. I'm writing this article 2 weeks into the quarter and I can happily confirm we had more job briefing in the last 7 days than we did from mid November up until Christmas. So I hope we will follow a similar trend to what we experienced in January in 2022.

A midst all the gloom and doom around the world, the UAE and wider Gulf is bringing welcomed positivity which will bring more inward bound investment which will result in more jobs being created!


Finally, anyone who has followed the Alchemy journey thus far knows we love to throw an event of some sort. So we have created a community page which hopefully caters for everyone in our professional network so please sign and up as we will hosting many events throughout the year.

Hopefully the above article gives a feel for what is going on in the UAE and I look forward to sharing more insights in the coming months.

Of course should you want to have a confidential chat about your next role or next hire please do not hesitate to reach out to me on cmchugh@alchemysearch.ae.

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