Dublin remains highly competitive within the aircraft leasing industry, with activity levels driven by several established lessors and new market entrants, resulting in steady growth through the first half of 2023.
With the world returning to “normal” and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the aviation sector has experienced a notable recovery in air travel demand. This has had a positive impact on the industry, resulting in higher lease rates and air travel activity. Due to the increase in air travel activity, airlines have been focusing on expanding and renewing their fleets to meet growing passenger demands. Creating opportunities for lessors to capitalise on by providing new-generation, fuel-efficient aircrafts.
Additionally, we have seen several changes to company structures, with mergers and acquisitions, diversification of portfolios, and internal changes such as moving away from corporate service providers and moving their finance functions in-house. This rebound has created huge demand for talent from the newly qualified level through to middle management across the sector. Although demand is high, we are seeing a shortage of candidates with direct aircraft leasing experience.
Clients now face a variety of different challenges when going through a recruitment process.
Counteroffers are at an all-time high as companies struggle to retain and attract talent. Over H1 we have seen several individuals receive counteroffers, with money not always being the deciding factor. The Big 4 are currently struggling to retain experienced professionals at the newly qualified through to senior management level, so they have deployed a number of tactics to retain their best employees; such as offering them exposure to other departments, promotions, or flexible working. As candidates remain loyal to their Partners, they are encouraged to turn down opportunities. Unfortunately, this is not always in the candidates’ best interests and delays the inevitable for the individual and the firm.
Although money is not always the deciding factor, we have seen an increase in counteroffers across the board, this has increased salary expectations, especially at the newly qualified level. Last year, the market rate for newly qualified accountants was between €55-60k, this year expectations increased to €60-65k with some companies paying €70k to attract exceptional talent.
Opportunities with more flexibility:
Three days in the office and two days working from home is 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.
As Dublin remains one of the focal points for leasing companies, candidates are stuck with no choice but to stay put. This can be unattractive to individuals due to the cost of living and housing crisis. Resulting in candidates looking further afield to other industries to live and work outside of Dublin. Demand for qualified accountants is high across all industries, so companies across Pharmaceutical, Real Estate, and FMCG are opening doors to professionals with financial services experience.
Aircraft Leasing was one of the highest-paid sectors, although, with demand high across the board, the gap has tightened. With rising inflation, a housing crisis, and search for talent it has created the perfect storm for other industries such as the pharmaceutical sector who have increased salaries and more flexibility on location to attract candidates to these sectors. With experienced professionals, moving away from the aircraft leasing sector this is reducing the talent pool further.
It’s not all bad news though, as we are working with several of our clients on providing solutions to these challenges.
Looking further afield:
With Dublin having a shortage of candidates, one approach we have taken with clients which turned out to be very successful was looking for individuals based outside of Dublin. With Shannon being another hub for the aircraft leasing sector companies can avail of talent from these Western regions.
This also relates to the point on flexibility. On the back to COVID-19, people’s expectations have changed, majority of qualified accountants want flexibility. Whether this is a remote working option, working from home, or flexible days/hours. The more flexible a company can possibly be, generally, it would be much easier to attract and retain talent.
Our advice to employers who are currently or intend on hiring over the coming months:
- Avoid offering a lesser salary than candidate expectations (within reason) – get the full breakdown of current salary & benefits and ensure to offer an attractive package.
- If you like a particular candidate, keep the process moving swiftly and close quickly or there will be a risk of losing the candidate which will ultimately end in a long and frustrating process.
- Encourage in-person interviews, it will give you the best opportunity to learn about your candidate, sell the opportunity and demonstrate your company culture & showcase your office.
- Lastly, we advise a wet signature (in-person signing) as it significantly increases the candidate’s commitment and provides you with an opportunity to reinforce company values, view the workplace and it is a fantastic opportunity to meet their new team also; even for a casual drink afterward.
Ireland has an excellent talent pool; we speak to a number of experienced professionals who have exceptional experience in the aircraft leasing sector. Unfortunately, visa restrictions can be a major deterrent to potential employers. Candidates on stamp 1 critical skills require sponsorship from companies, this can be a timely process although once given these individuals cannot change employer for a minimum of one year. This can be a great retention tool for prospective employers and can build loyalty with the employee over time. There are risks however with time delays in the Department of Foreign Affairs and a company could be waiting up to 12 weeks for a visa to be granted. Coopman are happy to provide clients with information on how to sponsor individuals should this be an option in the future.
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.
H1 has proven to be a hugely competitive year so far; depending on your recruitment needs, we are happy to advise and plan for future 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. Although it is an upwardly curve for the aircraft leasing sector, we predict that we will continue to see steady growth and increased demand for qualified accountants across all levels for the remainder of 2023 and into 2024.
If you would like to discuss the above or how we can support your hiring processes in the current market, please get in touch with Senior Consultant Christine Jones at email@example.com