Following EY’s strong annual results which saw UK revenue increase by 7%, the firm is continuing its growth story for its regional offices across the country. In the North of England, the South West and Scotland, EY will be doubling its headcount over the next three years.
Steve Robb, Partner in the Financial Services division at EY explains why the company’s Assurance business is expanding, the types of people it’s looking for and why you might want to develop your career outside of London.
Tell us more about the expansion of EY’s Assurance business in the UK?
We’re expanding our offices for financial services assurance across the North of England, the South West and Scotland. It’s been a real growth story – we have gone from 30 people in the North of England to over 130 over the past two years. The plan is to increase that number to 260 over the next three years across all of our service lines – Assurance, Tax, Transactions and Advisory.
There’s a real drive to be closer to our clients, and being able to deliver to the local market means having feet on the ground.
Why should people with assurance expertise want to work for EY in these locations?
EY is a very established brand, and we have a growing presence in the regions. Working in our regional offices can offer a different way of working, but just like in London, we provide a clear and strong career path within an entrepreneurial environment.
Rather than flying our people to regional offices when they are based in London, we’re offering a clearly defined career path in these locations, with local talent. As recently as ten years ago, this sort of opportunity wasn’t available, with London often acting as a bottle neck. But now, you can work with global companies on exciting projects and develop a long-term career outside of London.
Do you get a lot of people who are from the regions returning home from London for these roles?
There’s definitely an element of that – I’m from Yorkshire and went to university in Manchester, so it’s been something of a homecoming. But we have employees working here who come from the US, South Africa, Italy and the UAE, to mention a few places. The variety of work on offer and the pace of change here is attracting a lot of people – the message is getting across.
What kind of skills do you need?
We’re currently focused particularly on attracting newly-qualified accountants with external audit experience, but we’re also willing to consider part-qualified ACCA accountants, both with or without audit experience. We’re growing in financial services, but we also want to recruit people from a range of industry backgrounds such as retail, manufacturing and telecoms.
What’s the biggest challenge you face achieving these recruitment goals?
There are a few challenges – firstly the pace of growth is relatively rapid; we want to hire people quickly, but without compromising on quality. We want anyone we hire to add skills to the team. There’s a shortage of external auditors in the UK, and combining that with the far too frequent perception that these locations don’t offer genuine career opportunities, is still a hurdle we need to get over.
What sort of firms will new recruits be working with?
In Scotland a lot of our clients are asset management firms, in the South West there’s more of a focus on general insurance and in the North of England there’s a combination of consumer finance firms and general insurance.
The audit client base is our bread and butter at EY, and there’s a lot of demand for prudential risk, conduct risk, modelling and Treasury expertise. On the advisory side of the business, we now have a team of around 30 people focused on financial services in the North region and have been developing our consulting business to focus on the local market.
Where do you envisage finding all these people?
We’re open to applicants from a broad range of sectors and backgrounds. We’re now the largest accountancy firm in Scotland, and have a lot of work in our Northern and South West offices as well. Essentially, this is an opportunity for you to work with a broad range of clients across a diverse set of financial services sectors and advance your career outside of London, and I for one don’t see finding talented individuals as a problem.