Interview with a Finance Recruiter: Shannon McGarry

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • About the experience of a Principal Consultant working in finance recruitment in the North West. 
  • Gain insight into how the finance job market works and current challenges in the industry.
  • How to find and apply for the best finance jobs.

In our feature blog, ‘Interview with a Recruiter’ we continue to catch up with recruiters at Spencer Clarke Group to uncover valuable advice and strategies for successful hiring across the range of industries we specialise in.

This time, we spoke to Principal Consultant, Shannon McGarry, to discover more about the finance recruitment market. With nearly 10 years of recruiter experience, Shannon has an extensive knowledge of the finance industry, specialising in industry roles.

Seeking a new challenge, Shannon left her previous recruitment job of 9 and a half years and joined Spencer Clarke Group in August 2023. In less than 6 months, Shannon has been an integral part of developing the finance team and she has also won Employee of the Month demonstrating her immediate impact.

Shannon, tell us about yourself

I have worked in recruitment for just under 10 years, and have covered temporary, permanent, team management and specialised in Business Support and Accountancy and Finance. However, finance recruitment is where my heart lies. It really appeals to the data/order side of my personality and you can tell so much about a business purely from their finances!

Outside of work, I train as a powerlifter and have even competed at British Championships! I love it as it's a great de-stresser and as it's number-based, I can see the improvements over time. 

How did you get into recruitment?

Like most people, recruitment found me. I had a dabble back in 2012 for a specialist engineering agency, but it didn't really suit me. I did however get the recruiter buzz and soon started working at a large UK agency where I progressed my career for the best part of 10 years before joining Spencer Clarke Group in 2023.

Prior to working in recruitment, I worked within hospitality, retail, sales, insurance and banking. I struggled to find my niche but one thing all of the jobs had in common was people. I love meeting people from all walks of life and believe recruitment allows me to speak to new people everyday. It sounds very cheesy but I love helping people develop their career and find the perfect role, as well as finding that perfect person for a business!

When finding my feet as a recruiter, I covered a few markets before settling on finance. I’m very passionate about finance and truly believe that it's the heartbeat of every business.

You specialise in finance recruitment, what does your role consist of at Spencer Clarke Group?

I joined Spencer Clarke Group to launch and establish the finance leg of their already established Accountancy and Finance service. We already have a really successful team covering accountancy across the UK and I came in to work alongside them partnering with companies across the North West.

I cover a variety of roles from Accounts Assistants through to Finance Directors as well as Chief-level executive roles. I partner with businesses to really get under their skin, in order to learn what I can about their practice and their culture. I act as an extension of them to identify the best talent available for their vacancies.

My particular area of expertise is with finance leadership roles. I have built up a great network of professionals over the years and have a strong affinity for the strategic side of finance.

Who do you work with?

Predominantly, I work with manufacturing businesses, however I cover all industry roles from education to public sector and everything in between - as long as it's within the North West.

My clients come to me knowing that I will take the time to discuss each opportunity in detail to assess what is best suited to their needs. I look for solutions to replace someone that’s leaving and support clients with new up-and-coming projects, business expansion or business transformations. If you want to hear more about what I do, get in touch!

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

The finance market is actually relatively straightforward! Most people start out in an Accounts Assistant position of some description and complete an Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification.

They will then likely progress to become a Chartered Accountant, completing formal qualifications such as Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA.) The roles that come with these qualifications include Management Accountants, Financial Accountants, Finance Business Partner and Finance Leadership roles.

It’s also quite common for some people to become ‘qualified by experience’ and work up the ladder through hard work and natural talent. It varies from business to business, which is why I take the time and care to understand each business and person individually.

What is your favourite thing about being a recruiter in finance?

The people! Despite the stereotype that Accountants are boring, most people that work in finance have bags of personality and impressive commercial acumen. I’m always fascinated to learn about other people's approaches to various challenges within the business. 

As a self confessed data geek myself, I am completely invested in the details and what these professionals do on a day to day basis. 

What are the challenges in the current finance job market?

Alongside the common issues facing most businesses recruiting at the moment, finance has its own set of challenges. Often newly qualified and qualified Management Accountant roles are the hardest roles to fill. I think this could partly be a result of the Covid-19 pandemic when people stopped studying for various reasons.

Having worked throughout the pandemic, coming out of it, it is clear that quality finance professionals are in high demand. This in turn has driven average salaries - which not all businesses can align themselves with. I often try to bridge the gap or advise alternative solutions that will work within budgets and what is available in the market at any one time. 

How does Spencer Clarke Group help triumph over these challenges?

Having worked through many highs and lows in the employment market, there isn't much I haven’t seen or found solutions to! Something that has helped us stay ahead of the curve is prioritising candidate care and building strong client relationships.

Instead of approaching recruitment as transactional, I am proud to say that we take the time to really get to know everyone that we work with. It’s not just on a surface level, we build long lasting relationships built on trust. This enables us to help candidates find their dream job that aligns with a businesses culture points and longer term aspirations.

What advice would you give to someone looking for their first position in the finance sector? How can they gain valuable experience?

Many people start out in an Accounts Assistant role and complete an AAT as part of an apprenticeship or alongside full time work before progressing onto the chartered qualifications.

Another path into finance would be via university studies which allows for exemptions from the Chartered Accountant exams (the exemptions depend on which qualification you choose to do). 

My advice, regardless of which avenue you choose to go down, is ensure that you have some form of practical experience - whether that be volunteering or temping during the holidays as a student, or supporting a friend's business. Having a qualification with no experience is less appealing to employers! 

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

2024 will be my first full year at Spencer Clarke Group so I want to make a mark! The plan is to be the go-to recruiter for finance within the manufacturing sector of the North West. 

The vision beyond this would be to build a team around me, branching out into different areas of the UK, and into different sectors. I have a great and supportive team around me so the sky's the limit!

Finance recruitment services

As a specialist finance recruitment agency, we’re here to support employers with their staffing needs. We predominantly work with manufacturing businesses in Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. However, we can apply our finance recruitment expertise to all industries and locations. 

If you’re struggling to recruit, why not get in touch with our Principal Consultant, Shannon McGarry, to discuss your individual needs and how we could work together. 

Finance jobs

If you’re searching for your dream finance job, we work with some of the biggest employers in the North West. Check out what’s available now! Alternatively, you could upload your CV and Shannon, or one of our other experienced finance consultants, will contact you to discuss relevant opportunities.

If you’ve already got an interview lined up, why not check out 8 killer questions to ask in a finance interview to give yourself the best possible chance of success! 

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Meet Shannon McGarry

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Since 2017, we've been changing the face of recruitment. From our employees, to the way we do business, to the culture within our office, we're determined to make a difference and create a positive impact on everyone around us.

Recruitment to us isn't just about matching candidates and clients; we’re passionate about finding candidates the perfect job which has the ability to boost their salary and standard of living, better their work life balance and improve their mental health. 

Similarly, we understand the impact which an experienced and skilled employee can make to a business and we love seeing clients thrive through the hard work of candidates which we have placed with them. 

We operate in two sectors:

Private Sector

Public Sector 

In eleven specialisms:

Accountancy & Finance

Education & SEND

Construction, Trades & Labour

Healthcare, Social Care & Nursing


Corporate Functions & Business Support

HR & Workforce Development

IT & Digital

Property & Asset Management  

Planning, Development & Regeneration 

Highways, Infrastructure & Engineering

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