New Zealand employment market
Moving to New Zealand
Things to consider
A) Do your research – What do I want to achieve in moving to New Zealand…lifestyle, career or both? Am I moving permanently or for 12 months to try it out? When do I want to go? Which city appeals? What is the process to obtain a visa? Both recruitment agencies and employers are going to be more inclined to support your search if you have at least answered these questions.
B) Make contact with an Immigration consultant. Companies such as WorkingIn and others can answer your visa, logistics and lifestyle questions and speed up the process. Obtaining a visa can take some time, so start now. You may choose to look at a short term working holiday visa to test the water through contracting.
C) Be prepared to get on a plane and take a risk. Once you understand the above and assuming you can afford to take the risk, get to New Zealand. Despite video conference and internet communication, technology employers in New Zealand are usually reluctant to progress your application without meeting in person. A trip of 2+ weeks, to your city of choice, will allow you to meet recruitment agents, understand how to tailor your experience to New Zealand roles and prove that you are serious about the move. I am always more confident representing someone to a client I have met in person. New Zealand resumes are also longer (3-6 pages) than the norm of 1-3 pages in the UK. Therefore, you may be asked to expand your responsibility and achievements for your last 1-3 roles. Also, remember we may not recognise your last company so consider including a very short description including industry, size, product or services for context.
|Auckland||Engine room for commerce and NZ's largest city. The main centre for financial services and manufacturing. Provides a balance of lifestyle and career options.|
|Wellington||Dominated by central government and associated professional services. A government town but with a great compact and cosmopolitan culture.|
|Hamilton||A farming centre predominately.|
|Christchurch||Gateway to the South Island and a more relaxed lifestyle. Predominately smaller businesses and rural support for South Island farming.|
Keep in mind that in many cases roles in New Zealand tend to be broader than those in the UK due to smaller finance departments. Doubling you current salary in UK pounds is a rough rule of thumb for what you would earn in New Zealand dollars. That is 40,000 pounds equates to approximately NZ$80-$90,000.
Current market state
After enjoying record low unemployment rates of 3.2% three years ago the current rate sits at around 7%. The good news is that there remains a shortage of high calibre mid level, qualified accountants. We have seen a marked increase in demand for experienced and commercially minded Management Accountants, Commercial Managers or Business Analysts in order to better understand financial planning, analysis and profitability. This is in line with an overall increase in the expectations of business leaders on finance teams to provide more straight forward, relevant finance information on which to base their decisions.
These changes have meant that some CFOs have either restructured or bolstered this area of their team to be more experienced, with better commercial and interpersonal skills. As a result the salary range they are prepared to pay for these positions has creped up slightly. However, overall salaries for Accounting & Finance professionals have remained fairly static during the past 12 months. While we may have officially emerged from the recession, the ongoing focus on cost control and efficiency gains in many businesses is still having a significant impact on finance teams, and in turn wages rates. Generally we would not expect a return to pre-recession head count in finance for some time and therefore the culture of more with less is with us for a while. In larger businesses the trend towards shared service centres and outsourcing continues for the same reasons.
The area of credit control and debt recovery continues to receive greater than usual attention, with some managers choosing to recruit short term contract cover to reduce debtor days, or 'beef up' the Credit Control position permanently. This is also forcing up the salaries managers are prepared to pay for these positions.
On the flip side a greater than usual number of senior finance managers, from Financial Controller to CFO, find themselves looking for a new role. This has resulted in a congested senior candidate market and therefore more flexibility from candidates on base salaries, provided other factors such as security, expansion plans, decision making control and cash-flow are present.
Some Senior Finance Managers (circa NZ$150K+ base salary) have either seen out the period of intense cost control and are now looking for a fresh start, have seen their scope of responsibility shrink with the business, or have restructured themselves out of the business in favour of a 'janitor' FC level position - given business growth aspirations have dried up with the forward order book. With the wait for senior roles being up to 6 months some are taking short term contracts to maintain their own cash-flow, putting pressure on career contractors who would otherwise secure this work. Frustration at this senior level has also led to an increased interest in migration to Australia in search of greater choice and better salaries.
Contractor rates have remained at similar levels over the last 12 months. However, as mentioned, permanent candidates taking short term assignments while they wait for the market to improve has had an impact in two ways. We have seen an increase in candidates pulling out of contracts for permanent roles, and career contractors are left with less employment choices.
Demand for Accounting & Finance support roles has eased as many organisations absorb this function into existing roles rather than replacing employees as they leave. As well as recent market conditions this has also been affected by the general trends towards automation or outsourcing of transactional accounting functions.
For the balance of 2011, we expect that salaries will be steady for permanent roles in the Accounting & Finance profession in New Zealand. Any upward change will be modest, ranging between 1% to 3% in line with inflation. As the export markets recover, demand for Accounting & Finance professionals is expected to increase gradually, adding further upward pressure on salaries.
*The above information was current as of May 2011
For further information, please contact Tony Pownall, Hudson, Director, Accounting and Finance, Financial Services on +64 (9) 977 9855 or email.