The aircraft leasing industry in Ireland has maintained its competitive edge internationally, experiencing substantial growth in 2023 across all functions as the global aviation sector rebounds significantly from the impacts of COVID-19. With increasing commercial air travel demand, leasing companies are capitalizing on the need for new-generation, fuel-efficient aircraft whilst the demand for mid-life aircraft remains strong due to manufacturing supply chain issues from the OEMs.
Additionally, we have seen several changes to company structures, with large mergers and acquisitions, diversification of portfolios, and internal changes such as moving away from traditional corporate service providers and operating these services in-house. Overall these changes have created huge demand for accounting & finance talent from the newly qualified level through to middle management across the sector, with a relatively small amount of movement towards the senior end of the market.
In 2024, clients now face a variety of different challenges when going through a recruitment process.
The industry is facing a talent shortage, particularly with candidates who have direct aircraft leasing experience. Counteroffers have reached unprecedented levels, as companies strive to retain their best and most-skilled professionals. The Big 4 are employing various measures to retain staff including early promotions and flexible working arrangements. This has resulted in increased salary expectations, especially at the newly qualified accounting (NQA) level.
Quickly looking back; in 2022, the market rate for newly qualified accountants was between €55-60k, in 2023 expectations increased to €60-65k with some companies paying €70k in a bid to attract exceptional talent. In essence, base salaries for NQA has increased by 10% year on year since 2021.
Flexibility and Location:
Flexible work arrangements have become the norm, with three days in the office and two days working from home being the market average, although there is no “one-size fits all”. Some companies have more rigid working-from-home policies, which unfortunately can be less attractive to candidates however these companies tend to find talent, but vacancy times increase dramatically. Our data shows that this can increase it by up to 4-6 weeks.
As Dublin remains one of the main locations for leasing companies in Ireland, and is one of the most expensive cities in the world; an alarming number of NQA are emigrating to Australia, London, North America etc. Dublin has become somewhat unattractive to these individuals due to the cost of living and housing crisis. According to Coopman’s internal data, shockingly, 33% of NQAs within the Top 10 firms who qualified in 2023 have emigrated. This in-turn has led to a severe lack of supply of NQA’s in the Irish market for roles especially within leasing.
Companies in other sectors, including pharmaceuticals, real estate, and FMCG, are leveraging the demand for qualified accountants with financial services & leasing experience.
Changing Salary Landscape:
While aircraft leasing was once among the highest-paid sectors, increased demand across all sectors has narrowed the salary gap. Rising inflation, a housing crisis, and a competitive talent market have prompted other industries, such as pharmaceuticals, to offer higher salaries and more flexibility to attract skilled professionals, further reducing the talent pool in the leasing sector.
It’s not all bad news though, as we are working with several of our clients on providing solutions to these challenges.
Exploring Beyond Dublin:
To address the shortage of candidates in Dublin, successful strategies have involved seeking individuals based outside of the city, particularly in hubs like the Limerick/Shannon region. The post-COVID-19 era has shifted expectations, with candidates prioritizing flexibility. Companies that embrace flexibility have found it easier to attract and retain talent.
Employers are advised to offer competitive packages, keep the hiring process swift, conduct in-person interviews, and use wet signatures for increased commitment. These measures contribute to a smoother recruitment process in a competitive market.
Sponsorship and Interim Solutions:
Visa restrictions pose a challenge in accessing the talent pool, especially for candidates on stamp 1 critical skills. While sponsorship can be a valuable retention tool, there are risks associated with delays in the visa application process.
At Coopman we also provide interim solutions to our clients, this looks at hiring experienced professionals/consultants on a contract basis. This can be a time efficient way to secure candidate and has proven to be a very successful method of hiring candidates locally and outside of Ireland.
Predictions for 2024:
The industry is witnessing a shift towards sustainability, with Aircraft Leasing Ireland’s aspiration to reach Net Zero 2050. Companies are adapting reporting practices to meet evolving sustainability standards, creating a demand for professionals well-versed in ESG principles and sustainability reporting frameworks such as CSRD and TSFD reporting.
2023 has proven to be a hugely competitive year; depending on your recruitment needs, we are happy to advise and plan for your 2024 recruitment needs. In this market, there are many factors that can contribute to finding the best talent; e.g. time of year, talent availability, salary expectations and new market entrants.
As the industry continues its upward trajectory, 2024 is expected to bring steady growth and continued demand for qualified accountants across all levels.
If you would like to discuss any of the topics mentioned in this update, please reach out to Senior Consultant, Christine Jones, via email at email@example.com, +353 86 102 5488 or Director and Co-Founder Mark Fallon, via firstname.lastname@example.org, +353 833609333.