Predicting the unpredictable: Our take on some likely 2021 trends

To say 2020 has been a year of surprises is somewhat of an understatement. The year started on a high for many businesses, but that quickly changed as everyone had to adapt their ways of working in quite dramatic ways. While hopes are pinned on vaccines and positive developments for 2021, it’s clear that some level of uncertainty is likely to remain, at the very least for the first half of this year. It makes it very hard to plan or predict what might happen next, however with consultants ‘on the ground’ across each of the sectors we operate in, there are a number of positive trends that we’re seeing that look set to continue throughout the year ahead.


1.  It will remain an employer led market

Having been a candidate led market for so many years prior, 2020 signalled a dramatic shift in the industry. We expect this to continue, at least in the first half of 2021. What this means for employers is that there is a huge breadth of talent available across all roles and sectors, and if you are a business that is in a position to hire, arguably there has never been a better time. 


2.  International roles in Charities are growing

The third sector is one that has suffered devastating consequences as a result of COVID-19. Yet encouragingly we are seeing some early green shoots in this area. International roles, particularly those in charities that are related to COVID-19 are growing, and these organisations are looking to hire. Some small signs of recovery, and certainly a step in the right direction.


3. Transformation experience is a top skill

This year will continue to see change in businesses across all sectors as they adapt to the impacts of COVID-19. Inevitably there will be restructures and we expect there to be an increase in demand for accountants and financial professionals with experience of business transformation. Having that experience will set candidates out from the competition.


4.  Government and Public Sector roles in high demand

Now is certainly a good time to hire if you’re a Government department. Interest in these roles has skyrocketed since the pandemic hit, as individuals see these opportunities as being more secure than their equivalent private sector and commercial roles.


5. Growth in Interim Roles

Interim recruitment in finance roles is experiencing a resurgence, particularly in roles relating to the COVID-19 response. This is particularly the case in the public sector, however it’s worth noting that frequently these roles require people with pre-existing experience in Government finance.


6.  Accountancy continues to be considered a viable career

Throughout the various periods of lockdown, there have been reports across a lot of other sectors that people are reconsidering their careers and are looking to change things up. From our experience, this has not been the case with finance, and we are not seeing people leave the profession. If anything, it is causing people to rethink where they want to work, with increasing interest being placed on public sector opportunities, as well as opportunities where people feel they are doing good – such as in Housing Associations.


7.  It is a tough time for recently qualified graduates, but there is hope

As we continue to experience an employer-led market, it is comparatively harder for recently qualified individuals to secure jobs as they are now facing competition from people who have several years of experience. However, many organisations are still considering entry level finance professionals, and are prioritising having the right cultural fit over the amount of experience that individual might have.


8.  Growing calls for long term flexibility

Across every sector we work in, we have seen a significant increase in demand for flexible working, beyond the pandemic. People are no longer looking for one day working from home but are asking for two to three days at home. Others are flexing their hours around their lives, and not simply doing a standard 9 – 5. While this by no means signals the end of the office, we expect that many employers will embrace much more flexible working patterns in the future – if they don’t, they risk losing out on some of the best talent.


9.  Productivity is on the rise

Connected to working from home is the fact that many are reporting an increase in productivity. Faced with fewer distractions, limited commuting and potentially more ‘free time’, employees are also demonstrating the business benefits of remote working.


10.  Housing Association Roles will face growing demand

Often an overlooked sector, Housing Associations are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, with more and more professionals applying to these roles. As with public sector, it is a good time to hire if you’re a Housing Association. Finance professionals with a commercial background in large corporates are increasingly considering these roles and these types of candidates are particularly in demand in this sector.


As we navigate the months ahead, we do anticipate encouraging developments across all our sectors. To discuss your hiring needs, or to find out about available roles, please don’t hesitate to contact us on  


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