Has the pandemic changed what employers want from finance candidates?

content butterfly change roles evolve

The Covid-19 pandemic has been disruptive on so many fronts, and notably in the world of work. Disruption will have been felt by accountancy and finance professionals working across industries, sectors and in practice, not only in how they operate but how they integrate with clients or other departments, as well as the expectations placed on them to provide support and ideas to organisations seeking to survive or thrive in a tumultuous environment.

So we asked recruitment experts from around the world how the pandemic has affected how employers view finance candidates, whether they want them to have more of some skills and experience than others, and whether new roles have emerged.


Lee Owen, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance

The industry has undergone a tremendous amount of digital transformation in recent years which is changing entry-level jobs. Automation in particular is reducing the number of manual tasks that entrants into the field often have to do, which is opening up opportunities for them to add human value to more strategic projects. The industry is changing to prioritise analytical and strong IT skills more than ever before.

Additionally, flexibility and adaptability are particularly important to employers with many looking for professionals who have experience or the mindset to handle a changing environment.

Similarly, employers are on the lookout for candidates who are confident in using technology, as video interviews and virtual onboarding are now crucial parts of any hiring process – and as remote working looks set to remain a key part of the future of work.

Nicola Shellard – senior business manager at Michael Page (Finance)

I wouldn’t say there are any new roles that didn’t exist before the pandemic, however, there seems to be more demand for candidates who are ‘tech savvy’, have strong systems experience and who are also able to demonstrate that they can add value not just in finance, but across wider disciplines too.

Australia and New Zealand

David Cawley, regional director, Hays Australia and New Zealand

We’re noticing that changes to roles and focus areas in finance and accounting have been dependent on the businesses position throughout the pandemic. For example, skills in cost-saving analysis have been a greater focus if a business has been or becomes financially hit hard as a result of the pandemic, compared to a focus on growth and commercial development if a business benefited throughout the pandemic.

One thing is certain that today’s employers are reinvesting in their headcount. Technology upgrades, new projects and the addition of resources to help organisations return to growth or continue to grow as a result of the pandemic.

The other noticeable trend we’re seeing across the Australian and New Zealand job market is job seekers are favouring businesses that adopt a hybrid working policy and have increased flexibility. Government restrictions and lockdowns shifted people’s preferences towards flexible working arrangements.

Businesses are currently offering a mix of remote and in-office working arrangements, and they will need to strike the right balance to ensure they retain staff and attract new talent.

Search hundreds of roles from all over the world on ACCA Careers

Sign up for a job alert tailored to your desired location and role


Vishalane Devi, team manager, Hays Malaysia

While finance and accounting roles remain the same, the need to be agile has increased. To be able to work from home, adapt to changes and the use of systems. People are more reliant on cloud-based systems in order to be able to work from home and still have all the data/information updated immediately.


Caroline Copley, director of Permanent Talent Solutions, Robert Half

Accountancy and finance roles are the same as they were before the pandemic, because companies’ reporting, analysis and financial needs have not changed. However, how and where these roles take place have changed. During the pandemic, employees proved that they can be just as productive working from home, and many businesses now are prepared to offer remote and hybrid working. 


Echo Wang, senior manager, Hays China

Some multinationals have needed more staff to act as a bridge to their local branches and headquarter, hence candidates with an international background are in high(er) demand. Furthermore, commercial finance candidates are in high demand.


Kelly Wee, senior manager, Hays Singapore

In general, employers are tending towards candidates who demonstrate flexibility and those who bring a wider range of skills to the table. With the heightened focus on productivity and efficiency, finance candidates with the ability to drive productivity, improve work processes, and increase efficiency will be in high demand. These candidates will be expected to fill the role of business partners who simultaneously drive revenue and help to reduce costs.


Alistair Houghton, business director - Accounting & Finance, Hays Canada

The evolution of accounting and finance roles has been a steady one, and slightly accelerated by the pandemic – with the demand for increasingly IT savvy candidates being the main evolution across all roles in this space. More companies will invest in technology in 2022 to keep up with the market and also to increase the digital security of their operations, increasing the demand for candidates that have training in the latest tools and ERP systems.

There is a growing focus on accounting professionals with data analytics skills/experience to support process improvements and efficiencies. The role of accounting professionals continues to broaden its definition within a business, and is increasingly being given a seat at the table for all key decisions made by a business.

Back to listing