Finance, accounting and financial services employment will be an either-or proposition in 2013. Either you’ll find finance jobs are more plentiful than they were in 2012 because you possess an in-demand skill set and industry experience, or you’ll see limited opportunities to advance or move to a new position because your skill set hasn’t kept up with the market.
The year could also bring fatter pay packets. Accounting and finance professionals are expected to see a 3.3 percent salary boost in 2013, according to the 2013 Salary Guide from Menlo Park, California-based staffing firm Robert Half International.
Financial Services Hiring: Jobs for Those with the Right Skills
The market for financial services jobs has split into two distinct groups of job seekers. “It’s a dual job market,” says Keith Feinberg, director of permanent placement services for Robert Half International. “There’s a much larger divergence between highly qualified candidates with in-demand skills and moderately skilled employees.”
Companies forced to make do with leaner head counts are filling financial services jobs with workers who can add value in multiple areas. An IT professional with an MBA and experience upgrading finance systems will find a finance job faster than someone with only an MBA, for example.
“To take advantage of that, you need to be focused on your continuing professional education,” Feinberg says. “Get on special projects, get additional degrees, pick up more skills for your tool set internally and externally. It can be as simple as an online class in Excel or coding language.”
Mortgage Industry Hiring: Shift Now from Servicing to Originations
As the mortgage market looks now, the best job opportunities ahead will be in mortgage origination as the market shifts its focus from servicing delinquent loans to lending again. “We’ll see a trend of declining servicing staffing,” predicts Sam Garcia, publisher of MortgageDaily.com in Dallas.
To ride this industry wave, watch to see where others in your company go and try to follow them. Let your vendor contacts know you’re looking to move to a new finance job.
While there’s a lot of refinance business being done right now, do what you can to move into purchase originations. When rates rise, the refinance boom will end and companies will want employees who excel at direct marketing to Realtors, builders and consumers, Garcia says.
Accounting Jobs: Audit, IFRS and IT Skills in Demand
The biggest trends in accounting employment in 2013 are the same things that influenced hiring in 2012: the Dodd-Frank Act, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the need to specialize, says Scott Moore, senior manager at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Dodd-Frank primarily covers banking, but its reach is widespread. “There’s a whole slew of regulations coming out of the Dodd-Frank Act that will impact the way businesses are audited,” Moore says. “Accountants are going to have an increased role because audit standards will be revised.”
IFRS hasn’t been mandated in the US, but the largest corporations are allowed to use it. Given that IFRS is used in more than 100 countries, companies that do business overseas either via subsidiaries or vendors need accountants who understand it.
Take any opportunities you can to expand your IFRS expertise, Moore says. If IFRS wasn’t taught when you got your accounting education, catch up by paying for online courses and certification from the AICPA or take a free online course offered by firms such as Deloitte.
Industry specialization will also be crucial to finding accounting jobs in 2013, Moore says. “To set yourself apart, you have to become a subject-matter expert,” he says. “The days of being a generalist and a staff accountant are going to be behind us fairly soon. The role of CPAs has evolved from being a number cruncher to being an adviser and analyst.”
His picks for hottest specialties: personal financial adviser, business valuation, forensics and IT auditing.
Federal Budget Woes Could Hurt Finance Job Market
The one dark cloud on the horizon for finance job seekers is the rising federal budget deficit. Democrats and Republicans will have to come up with a budget compromise that can make it through both chambers of Congress to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases in early 2013.
That leaves companies with a difficult decision to make: Do they hire finance employees in anticipation of continued economic growth, or hold off until they see how the budget resolution influences the economy in 2013?
Here’s hoping they do the former.
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