Q1 2022 Finance Recruitment review for UAE

10 Minutes

In this article I will aim to provide an honest insight into what happened in Q1 from a finance recruitment perspective and what I believe may happen in Q2.

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

  1. General overview of Q1 from a finance recruitment perspective
  2. Junior level finance roles review in UAE
  3. Mid level finance roles review in UAE
  4. Senior level finance roles review in UAE
  5. School will be out soon so watch out for hiring!
  6. What industries are hiring

General overview of Q1 from a finance recruitment perspective

I would like to hope that most recruitment agencies are commenting that Q1 has been a good quarter across the board. As a business we were very busy with a lot of roles rolling forward from Q4 2021 so the team were nearly at full capacity for the whole 3 months. To put it in perspective I only managed to make it out onto the golf course twice the whole quarter whilst in Q1 2021 I would have been out twice every week for the whole quarter without fail!

Thankfully we were a lot luckier this quarter closing out roles which I will put down to our team having more control in the recruitment process and moreover clients realizing the days of "sleeping at the wheel" are gone as good candidates will get snapped quickly (in particular at junior and mid level).

The biggest thing I noticed this quarter was the vast majority of candidates we were speaking with were already in jobs as opposed to this time last year when vast majority of candidates we were speaking with were immediately available as they had lost their job or were about to lose it due to company instability.

I believe this positive trend will continue into Q2 as the UAE economy goes from strength to strength which in turn leads to more hiring across the board.

Junior Level roles review in UAE

The junior end of the market continues to be quite robust with a lot of hiring happening, in particular if you were a newly qualified accountant who was "fresh off the boat" having arrived in UAE in the new year. To give you an example I had been assisting with at least 10/15 Big 4 ACA candidates who arrived in UAE with no job and they all managed to secure roles. In saying that it does take time, with the majority who arrived in January not getting an offer until later in February/early March.

There will now be a little bit of a talent shortage at Senior Accountant level in particular as the vast majority of the strong new talent has been snapped up so we must wait for the next wave of strong young talent to land in UAE which should happen in August/September.

Candidates at this level will stick in a role for at least a year or two before looking for their next challenge as the big difference in UAE is most finance functions are usually quite small so candidates find themselves in a situation of "dead man shoes" should they wish to move up the corporate ladder.

The hot jobs for the quarter from our side with salaries ranging from AED8k to AED18k per month:

  • Financial Analyst
  • Senior Accountant
  • Multiple AP/AR roles

If you are looking for your next role at this level please connect with my colleagues Kim Azzam and Surabhi Thakwani for a confidential discussion.

Mid level finance roles review in UAE

Once again this level was our sweet spot for the quarter with a very steady pipeline of roles. A lot of strong commercial roles came through for SME or start up businesses which is a positive sign for the market. There were a few controllership roles but the FP&A based roles were clearly more in demand and I believe that trend will continue in UAE as there continues to be a shortage of strong FP&A candidates in the market.

As Q2 would traditionally be a very strong quarter I would anticipate that come the summer "the well" will have been emptied and with Q3 being quite quiet I think there will be a huge spike in demand for FP&A professionals come September; so if you are one and looking to move to UAE please note the above and reach out to the team.

The hot jobs for the quarter from our side with monthly salaries ranging from AED25k to AED40k :

  • Finance Manager
  • Head of Finance
  • FP&A Manager

If you are looking for your next role at this level please connect with my colleagues Pooja Bhatt and Weam Kamel for a confidential discussion.

Senior level finance roles in UAE

Thankfully the Senior level end of the spectrum was a lot more buoyant for us in Q1 than it was in Q4 2021. As some good CFO & FD roles came through with a few more in the pipeline for Q2.

Fintech was quite busy at this level; an industry which comes across as the place to be at the moment in UAE with a lot of investment going into this industry especially in Abu Dhabi. If I was mid level accountant I would advise trying to get into this industry space as there is a serious shortage of strong finance professionals at the senior end due to it being such a new industry in the market.

Unsurprisingly the legal space seems to be the most booming area as lawyers make money whatever is going on in the world, so we have seen some good senior finance hires in law firms in Dubai.

It was abundantly clear from the few roles that we worked on at this level that it is becoming particularly candidate driven. This is something hiring companies haven't really factored in and there is still a little bit of a mentality "just offer a 10% uplift and see what the candidate says." This is the wrong way to view things as it raises red flags for the candidate and also makes it fairly straightforward for the candidates employers to buy them back once they resign. So my point to hiring companies is offer candidates what their market rate is or risk the reality of being back to square one after wasting three months of trying to recruit a senior profile!

The hot jobs for the quarter from our side with salaries ranging from AED70k to AED120k :

  • Finance Director
  • CFO

If you are looking for your next role at this level please connect with my colleagues Pooja Bhatt, Weam Kamel or myself.

School will be out soon so watch out for hiring (Senior Level in particular!)

In UAE there are usually two times of the year where there is a natural transition of people:

  1. Christmas & New Year
  2. When the kids finish school (July)

So there will be strong finance professionals sat at their desk today as you read this that know come July once their child finishes their school year that they are going to relocate back to their home country or move on somewhere else.

This is all but guaranteed in such a transient place like UAE. So the good news if you are looking for a role there are going to be some seats that will open in the coming months.

In particular, this quarter if you are a senior finance professional keep an eye out. If you work back you can see when jobs should open:

  • Finance professional wants their last day of work to be the end of July to move their family home post schools finishing
  • Most senior finance professionals are on 3 months notice so they will need to resign in May so they serve their 3 months
  • In a lot of these cases given the finance professional is leaving on good terms and can't be bought back they may even tell their employer 4 or 5 months out that they will need to succession plan
  • With this in mind I anticipate at the end of this month and next there will be resignations at the senior end (FC,HOF,FD,CFO) which will happen so please keep in touch as given the market is now "candidate driven" hiring companies can't simply rely on putting a job post which will have endless amounts of immediately available finance professionals looking for any job which results in easy placements. Most senior professionals are in roles so need more than a LinkedIn recruiter message to grab their attention. Enter the specialist finance recruiter....

What industries are hiring

We are fortunate to work with a vast variety of different industry clients across the UAE. 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 in Q1, I will aim to use all this data going forward for the next quarterly report:

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

  1. Consultancy (Top 6 & Boutique Firms) 24%
  2. E commerce 20%
  3. Law firms 12%
  4. Construction 12%
  5. Fin-tech 10%

Hopefully the above stats give a feel for what is going on in UAE and I look forward to sharing more insight in the coming months.

If there are any other topics you would like me to cover going forward then feel free to comment or reach out directly.

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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