Interview with an Accountancy Recruitment Specialist: Matt Byrne-Fraser

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • About the experience of an accountancy recruitment specialist. 
  • Gain insight into how the accountancy job market works and current challenges in the industry.
  • How to find and apply for the best accountancy and finance jobs.


In our new feature blog, ‘Interview with a recruiter’ we’re catching up with recruiters within the Spencer Clarke Group office to discover valuable tips and advice for successful hiring across the range of businesses we work with. 

This time, we’re catching up with Managing Consultant Matt Byrne Fraser, to uncover the different recruitment intricacies and complexities in the world of accountancy and finance. With over 10 years recruiter experience and 5 years specialising in the accountancy sector, Matt has an extensive knowledge of the industry.

For the last 4 years, Matt has worked at Spencer Clarke Group, connecting professionals and delivering outstanding service. Matt has established an outstanding reputation with clients and candidates alike for his commitment and enthusiasm to recruitment in this sector.


Matt, tell us about yourself

I am a husband and a dad to my little boy Sonny. At home we have two dogs; Max and Pablo. As a family we enjoy going away and eating out!

I try to have a really good balance, which I am still working on! Recently I have found an interest in golf, which if you ask anyone at Spencer Clarke Group the passion is there, it’s just the skills that are lacking! Things can only get better right?! 


How did you end up in the world of recruitment?

The plan was always to play in the Premier League, but a knee injury ended those chances. So what's the next best way to be in the Premier League? Become a physio! So I went off to university to train as a Sports Therapist. 

I did make it to the Premier League - well with Bolton Wanderers F.C Reserves and Academy, despite the knee injury!

After university, and while playing football at a semi professional level, I thought about going into the education sector and becoming a Teacher. I ended up getting experience with a recruitment agency within a secondary school, which I really enjoyed!

I then spotted a Recruitment Consultant role advertised at the recruitment agency which I worked for. I applied, they interviewed me, I took a gamble and I instantly fell in love with recruitment. 

My recruitment career started within the education sector while I was still living in London. I quickly realised I’m a home bird and moved back to the North West! At this point, I also wanted to change sectors and was lucky enough to get into the accountancy and finance sector and I haven't looked back since! 


What does your role entail at Spencer Clarke Group?

Everyday is different and I currently work a dual role. I work closely with our public sector clients and assist them to recruit for their interim and contract roles in the finance industry. I help to find anything from Finance Assistant to Head of Finance on a national level. I currently cover the London area and south of the country, but as a division we cover the whole of the UK.

I also work closely with a key base of accountancy practices to support them with their talent acquisition. A lot of the time, this involves finding needles in haystacks to help accountancy practices with their permanent recruitment needs.

I also head up the accountancy and finance recruitment team and help to coach fellow colleagues in the division, which I thoroughly enjoy! I like to pass on my knowledge and I love seeing others succeed!


Who do you work with?

At Spencer Clarke Group, I have worked with a variety of firms from top 10 accountancy practices right through to small independent firms. All of our clients have a diverse range of requirements which can be challenging at times; however, I take great satisfaction in helping these firms especially at senior level. 

The senior roles which I have personally filled vary from senior managers, within the taxation and audit sector right through to Director and Partners. When roles are business critical we always implement our retained approach and we have a 100% fill rate! We have had some amazing success stories and recently we head-hunted someone who had been with their firm for 23 years!

We are lucky to work closely with some fantastic key clients especially on succession planning. When someone retires, we have to make sure there is no break in service by providing candidates for them to ensure handovers take place.

In some cases, we have worked with firms who are opening new offices and we have needed to source staff at all levels for them! 


Can you give us an insight into how the accountancy and finance market works?

At present, it is such a fast paced market. There seem to be so many options for people who are looking for roles in the accountancy and finance market. The main way people can progress within the industry is with experience and qualifications - depending on the area you specialise in.

The qualifications we typically look for in the accountancy and finance market are the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA). These qualifications put individuals in good stead to become a Chartered Accountant and can be a great way to learn about the industry.

There is also the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) qualification to become a Management Accountant or the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP) that provides training and higher education for those looking for a career in payroll.

There are also specific tax qualifications such as The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) and Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) which will then open up routes for you within the industry and help you gain experience and expertise.

However, having said this, there are a lot of clients who will look at experience over qualifications, so don’t worry if you don’t have any accountancy qualifications. There are still many options for you.


What is the best thing about being a recruiter in the accountancy sector?

For me, it is helping people to secure new positions. I am very much a people person so recruitment is the perfect job for me. Talking to people all day, asking questions and solving problems is what I love! 

There is one story that really sticks out for me. I was contacted by a Senior Audit Manager who was looking to relocate to be with his partner; his partner had just secured a new position in a leading hospital in London as a cancer specialist. He didn’t quite know where to start and where to look.

I worked closely with him and assured him that we would secure the right role for him and allow him to complete the final piece of his personal jigsaw. Within a week of speaking with him, I had secured him 3 interviews and within 2 weeks he accepted a new role. It was a real pleasure working with him as he was very thankful that he could now move and be with his partner! 


What are the current challenges in the accountancy job market?

The main challenge that we are facing in the accountancy job market at the moment is that it has become quite a candidate-driven market. Candidates now have more choice than ever before and it can be hard to decide where to start their job search.

Since the pandemic, working patterns have become extremely important for jobseekers and not all businesses make it clear whether they offer hybrid or remote work. This can be difficult for those who need flexibility or require a particular work model.

Another challenge we have noticed our clients are facing is that within the audit sector there appears to be a mini crisis with masses of people leaving the audit practice sector to move into industry. 

We don’t actually know why but we are seeing many people across the country wanting to leave audit work. The knock-on effect for us is that audit roles are a lot more challenging to fill and we are trying to advise our clients on this.


How does Spencer Clarke Group help overcome these challenges?

At Spencer Clarke Group, we have state of the art technology that gives us access to people that our competitors don’t. This puts us ahead of the game when it comes to speaking to our clients and candidates.

We work closely with our clients to understand their needs and requirements so we can deliver a clear message to the talent pool to help them secure the best possible talent.

Within the audit sector, we work with clients to not only help them attract talent but to retain talent too. We find that by working closely with clients, we can give them valuable insights into the market and current recruitment trends which we have noticed.

We are also digging deeper than ever before with candidates to understand why they want to make a career move and give them details on the impact a move could have on their career both positively and negatively. 


What advice would you give to someone newly qualified and looking for their first position? How can they gain valuable experience?

As there are so many different routes into the accountancy and finance industry, you need to first decide which area you are looking to specialise in. Typically if you want to work within practice you will be able to find a firm who will take on graduates and support you through your studies.

The industry as a whole looks highly on qualifications and there are many training providers where you can study full time or part time. There is also a lot of information online to help you succeed and advice on the Spencer Clarke Group Accountancy Career Hub!


What does the future hold for you at Spencer Clarke Group?

Firstly, I’m here for the long term, I hope I retire here! I would love to continue to expand our division and in time bring in the next generation of recruiters.

I also really want to continue to grow relationships with clients and candidates alike and go on providing a first class experience. We have recently embarked into other areas of the finance market and when the time is right we want to continue to grow our headcount.


Accountancy and finance recruitment

As a specialist accountancy and finance recruitment agency, we’re here to support practices and businesses all over the UK with their staffing needs. If you’re struggling to recruit, why not get in touch to discover everything we have to offer. 


Accountancy jobs

If you’re searching for your dream accountancy and finance job, why not check out all the latest vacancies available now? Alternatively, upload your CV and one of our accountancy recruiters will contact you to discuss relevant opportunities. 

Already got an interview lined up? Check out 6 interview tips for Accountant jobs to get ahead of the curve!


Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Since 2017, we’ve been revolutionising the recruitment industry to ensure the best experience for clients, candidates and our business. From our office in the North West, to the way we conduct business, we are committed to evolving and creating a positive experience for all.

We are driven by our desire to empathise candidates' mental health and work life balance, by matching them with clients that prioritise standard of living with the ability to boost their salary. We understand that shaping a better, brighter and more fulfilling future for all is crucial for individuals seeking their next career leap or enterprises aiming for unprecedented growth. 

We operate in two sectors:

Private Sector

Public Sector 

In eleven specialisms:

Accountancy & Finance

Education & SEND

Construction, Trades & Labour

Healthcare, Social Care & Nursing

Housing

Corporate Functions & Business Support

HR & Workforce Development

IT & Digital

Property & Asset Management  

Planning, Development & Regeneration 

Highways, Infrastructure & Engineering

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