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2020 was a strange year for us all. Within recruitment, every skillset and sector were impacted, be that for better or for worse. Unfortunately, those working within finance were some of the unlucky ones, with permanent finance vacancies halving in 2020 whilst candidate availability increased rapidly.

Despite these scary figures, there is a lot to take comfort from if you are working within the non-profit sector. Our not-for-profit permanent finance desk saw an increase in permanent placements towards the end of the year, this was no doubt brought about by increased vacancy activity. According to KPMG’s and REC UK report on jobs, this upturn was generally due to increased business activity and a vast improvement in market confidence. The vaccine news towards the end of the year meant many recruitment plans that were previously delayed, were started again with clients looking to get ahead of the competition and hire before the new year. Once again despite the lockdown, we are seeing an increase in permanent vacancy and placement activity throughout January.



  • There has been a steady month on month increase in demand for finance staff across London since October 2020. This has been mirrored in our vacancy activity with not-for-profit finance permanent vacancies gradually increasing from November to December, with a further increase in vacancies apparent from December to January. We are hoping that this upward trend continues throughout the coming months, with more and more clients becoming accustomed to onboarding candidates remotely.
  • Across the UK there has been a continued 8month period of decline in permanent salaries offered. The non-profit sector however has continued to pay pre-COVID-19 salaries. Clients have been willing to push to the top end of their salary bandings in a bid to secure the best candidates. Increased competition for candidates could also be a factor that played a part in this. Rather than candidates pinning their hopes on one interview, they were involved in 3 - 4 interview processes throughout December and heading into January, this a direct correlation to the increase in vacancies.



  • Large Housing Associations are continuing to hire at a steady pace despite them keeping a closer eye on recruitment spending in a bid to protect their finances. Essential positions (vacant positions, those that have a significant strategic impact, additional posts to help with growth etc) are being signed off by senior management and hired remotely.



  • Analysis of financial data for 2019/20 and forecasts for 2020/21 concluded that the University sector had “responded well” to the pandemic and their overall financial position was “sound”. Student recruitment has also been significantly stronger than early predictions. This has allowed them to push ahead with 2021 recruitment plans and remove 2021 recruitment freezes.



  • Since the first lockdown last year, we have certainly noticed a sharp increase in candidate availability due to cost-cutting and lower levels of vacancies. Many charities made cuts due to a decrease in income and although finance functions were less affected by this, they were certainly not immune. However, as the KPMG and REC report suggested, this growth of candidate availability eased during November and December, with more organisations starting to begin their recruitment processes again and in fact-finding, they were able to hire permanent staff at a quicker pace with more candidates being immediately available.
  • There is a continued push for charities to look inwards for talent. It is often more beneficial for them to invest in the development of current employees, rather than outsourcing for new talent. This opens up more promotion opportunities for those already in permanent positions.


In summary, organisations were initially hesitant to hire throughout the first several months of the lockdown, due to being unsure and unaccustomed to interviewing and onboarding people remotely, which is completely understandable and something which would have been alien to most of us. However, since November positive conversations with clients have certainly shown a shift in this attitude, which has evidently resulted in a higher number of vacancies and placements. Many clients have in fact preferred the flexibility of holding remote interviews and this has, in a lot of cases resulted in a faster more efficient recruitment process.


If you would like to have a conversation around the current market, or you are looking to add to your team please don’t hesitate to reach out. Boston Hale specialise in financial recruitment across the non-profit sector, both permanent and interim.

Daniel Kelner
Number: 020 3800 1836

Catherine Hegarty
Number: 020 3800 0767



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