Is accountancy a recession-proof profession?

Stock market
By Isabelle Bell, CA Today

16 February 2016

Accountancy has been named as one of the most ‘recession-proof’ professions in the UK, according to new research.

The study, undertaken by recruitment agency Randstad Financial and Professional, examined the change in total salary bills for full time staff over 12 years, using ONS and professional industry data.

It found that accountancy is the sixth most ‘recession-resilient’ profession in the private and public sector, with the total salary bill increasing by 12% from 2002 to 2014.

Management and business consultants, travel agents and retail workers are at the opposite end of the spectrum, ranking as some of the least recession-proof careers.

The management consulting profession has seen its total pay bill fall by 17.3%, dropping in real terms by over £1.2 billion.

Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial and Professional, said that accountants have been resilient throughout the recession because they are in demand in good times and bad.

She said: “During sunny economic periods, [accountants] can pick up consulting work.  In more choppy fiscal waters accountants become an invaluable source of risk advice – while the demand for tax advice and audit work is never going to dry up.”

Most ‘recession-proof’ sectors

  1. Technology professionals (+82%)
  2. Social workers (+25%)
  3. Nurses (+23%)
  4. Transport professionals (+20%)
  5. Teaching professionals (+14%)
  6. Accountants (+12%)

Least ‘recession-proof’ sectors

  1. Police officers (-7%)
  2. Building trades (-14%)
  3. Management consultants and business analysts (-17%)
  4. Retail (-19%)
  5. Electricians (-22%)
  6. Travel agents (-56%)

The study also found that the number of people registered as accountants grew by 40%, but Tara Ricks warns that it is becoming harder for firms to find the right candidates.

She said: “Given the pay, the opportunity to earn world-renowned qualifications, and the recession proof nature of the job, the [accountancy] profession remains a hugely attractive career to graduates. But, in the short-term, that won’t fill gaps at a more senior level.”

The technology sector topped the list of recession-proof professions, with the total salary bill rising 81.7% since 2002. Other top professions were social workers and nurses.

The average salary bill for private sector professions decreased by 37%, the study found.

Share your views

Do you agree with the findings of the study? Do you think that accountancy really is recession-proof? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


  • Accountancy

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