UK Market Review: Q1 2017

3 May 10:00 by

Welcome to Argyll Scott's Q1 2017 Market Review

We are delighted to be publishing Argyll Scott's Q1 2017 market review.  We entered the year with political uncertainty becoming the new certainty as we awaited President-elect Trump's inauguration, further bombing in Syria, a French presidential election campaign and Mrs May's long awaited Article 50 filing.   By the end of the quarter we could add a truculent North Korea to the list and now the prospect of a fourth national plebiscite in the UK in as many years.    

It is, therefore, almost a relief to report that it's been very much business as usual from a recruitment perspective with all of our core sectors continuing at a brisk - if not booming - clip.    One interesting feature of activity has been a switch to trend - rather than growth - led recruitment spend.   Perhaps that reflects an encouragingly robust response from the UK corporate sector to the challenges it faces.   So, for example, we've seen strong demand for FP&A and BI professionals as businesses seek to better understand the impact of a feared spike in prices on their cost bases and operating models, a consistent demand for content and digital marketers as digital transformation becomes the norm across multiple sectors, while IT Infrastructure spend and recruitment has often been driven by the need to stay ahead of the pack in supporting flexible working processes.   Additionally, the pace and scale of change being demanded from technology leaders has seen an increased adoption of agile methodologies, which is bringing wholescale change in the way IT projects and even business as usual activities are being delivered.   

We look forward to the UK professional recruitment market continuing to shrug off these uncertainties during Q2 and beyond.     We will report back in July.  

Read more from our Accounting & Finance specialist team
Read more from our Business Transformation specialist team
Read more from the Marketing specialist team
Read more from the Sales specialist team
Read more from the Technology specialist team

Accounting & Finance

accountingGenerally the first quarter of the year has been busy across the Accounting & Finance sector.  A large number of businesses signed off new hiring budgets at the start of the year and these were implemented without delay.  The general message in the SME world is business as usual with a focus on process improvement and revenue generation support from finance teams.  The Accounting & Finance market has seen considerable demand for FP&A and Commercial professionals with either 1 – 2 years or 5 – 8 years post qualified experience.  This has come hand in hand with an increase in the number of businesses seeking strategic insight from the finance function. As companies prepare for an uncertain market, they are looking for stronger support from their finance function to understand the numbers and use of big data to identify where to streamline, what to invest further in or do more of.   Business partnering roles are the new trend as companies push their finance teams to be more business facing and commercially value adding.

Due to the requirements to adapt to and comply with new regulations, candidates with strong technical knowledge of IFRS are in demand. In particular the IAS 39 to IFRS 9 transition has led many employers to hire expensive interim Treasury experts. There is a skill shortage in this area, with most of the experts working in permanent roles within FS institutions. Implications of the skill/knowledge shortage has led to expensive market rates, which need to be paid to avoid breaking any of the new hedging regulations.

The impact of the IR35 regulations coming into effect within the public sector is twofold; firstly it is deterring candidates from working within public sector bodies as they are unable utilise their LTD companies, and secondly the knock on effect of that is that it pushing up PAYE rates.

We expect the demand for commercial and business partnering professionals to continue into Q2 and beyond with the impact of regulatory changes also likely to affect demand for the foreseeable future.

Business Transformation

business transformation2016 saw a lot a turbulence in Business Transformation, from the huge political changes, security issues brought into the spotlight as well as the continuous evolution of the way consumers engage with brands and consume products/services. This saw companies having to shift focus quickly in the short term, and having to take a step back to understand if their strategic direction needs to change.

Q1 has seen an increase in movement at a senior level, especially across consumer facing brands as organisations look to create stability from top down while adapting to new demands. The rise of ecommerce continues with a focus on how to better monetise mobile payments, while avoiding the security pitfalls of others in the previous year. Data is king and this has continued to drive digital transformations across the market. Companies already have an increasing plethora of sources to acquire data but demand for real time, agile platforms will only increase to drive decisions whether it be across personnel, data or infrastructure. 

Argyll Scott has continued to partner with organisations to understand these shifts, what skill sets are short within companies and how to best to pipeline talent. We expect Q2 to see a lot of new IT initiatives kicking off with the start of the new financial year. Senior changes likely to settle down into an even higher demand for key skillsets to deliver Data, ecommerce and digital transformation programmes.


marketingWith arguably more change occurring within Marketing in the last 3 years than in the last 50 years, demand for more traditional marketing roles is on the decrease.  Meanwhile content marketing and digital marketing specialists are heavily in demand as more and more companies accept the need to embrace digital transformation and include content as a core part of their marketing plans.

Whilst copywriting was traditionally seen as a core skill of any marketer, content has taken this generalist skill into a specialism of its own and expanded it into a standalone position.  Content teams have to deliver highly targeted, specific white papers, commentary, insights, blogs in written, pictorial and video format that trigger revenue generating customer action. 

Digital specialists who understand SEO, PPC, CRMs, can analyse, initiate and manage customer interactions across multiple channels are in hot demand.  Digital marketers who have completed digital transformation projects are equally sought after as companies look to learn from the mistakes made by others.  Marketing automation, whilst been around for a while, is now being embraced more keenly as companies become more aware of the commercial benefits of applying automation tools to drive MQLs, enhance customer experiences, retain customer loyalty and increase profitability per customer.

Strong strategic marketing leaders are in demand and short supply as marketing becomes a more regular member of the C-suite leadership team and companies seek to use customer data to drive strategic decision making.

We anticipate the market remaining in robust shape through Q2.  The competition for customers remains stronger than ever as new entrants continue to be disruptive across a number of markets. With demand outstripping supply, the candidate is king and this is impacting remuneration.


salesWe have seen consistently strong demand for new business acquisition sales professionals with a focus on consultative selling.  With competition high, the traditional pure account manager has decreased in demand and even account managers are expected to have good business development skills in order to up sell and cross sell to existing clients.   Every business wants to get more customers and more out of each customer.

There has been a clear demand for senior sales professionals, particularly those who have Enterprise client experience. 

The effects of technology advancements on the sales sector have been twofold.  As technology providers create greater numbers of more complex and intelligent products capable of delivering smarter, wider reaching, more impactful solutions, the average sales value has increased and in turn heightened the purchase risk and therefore lengthened the sales cycle.  This means that the process is longer but with higher reward.  Additionally product complexity and potential increases drive a continual increasing demand for sophisticated senior sales professionals who are capable of selling art of the art technology.    We have seen most demand within the big data, cloud, managed services and SaaS space.

As technology continues to disrupt the way we live and work at an unrelenting pace, we expect to see further increases in demand for smart sales professionals within the ever expanding technology sector.  However demand will not be exclusively limited to the technology sector.  As business leaders in most sectors recognise the battle to attract and retain revenue streams is intensifying, we anticipate investment in sales teams across the board.

As reported elsewhere, it is a good time to be looking to move if you are a talented sales professional with a track record of consistent performance and year on year success.


technologyBusiness Intelligence & Development

Q1 saw the dawn of a year with so much political uncertainty globally, a new US president elect, a lingering and much anticipated Article 50 trigger and yet more political elections globally still undetermined. Gratefully, I am pleased to report that at this early stage in the year, all these potential disruptive factors have not impacted the UK job market. 

Q1 has seen a consistent attempt by clients to bolster their development programmes, with a big demand for front-end technology specialists and ecommerce based experience.  As clients attempt to gain their competitive advantage through technology based solutions the drive has really been selecting those IT professionals that can incorporate more user friendly UI’s, more creative, elaborative algorithms and more favourable adoption of development tools that lead to the analysis of consumer behaviour, for example. This in turn has subsequently drawn attention to data – the way companies store data, analyse data, report on data and this has led to a huge increase in the demand across the Business Intelligence and data skillsets.

As discussed in our last quarterly newsletter both of these areas continue to be of real focus for Argyll Scott with Q1 seeing the addition of several consultants in both our development and business intelligence teams. This continued growth will be sustained by an anticipating continued increase in the demand of these specialist IT staff.

We look forward to repeated success in Q2!!


Q1 continued to demonstrate the continual improvements companies are making to their infrastructures to allow flexible working amongst their workforces. With ever changing growth, globalisation, inflation and costs, the market appears to be hiring in technical areas that allow their staff to work remotely, globally and access all information needed via the cloud.  Skype for Business,  Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Office 365 and Virtualisation PM’s, Architects and Engineers continue to dominate the first quarter’s hiring amongst Argyll Scott’s client base with anticipated needs for data centre consolidation skills and hybrid cloud automation engineers. It seems the investment clients are making now will make more effective communication and cost reduction in years to come and we look forward to continue providing our clients with the those candidates that are able to make this possible.

If you have any questions or would like to talk to a specialist in your field regarding recruitment solutions or career advice, please meet the team