Accounting, Finance and Banking Careers in the UAEPosted on April 7, 2014


Having taken a broad look at the accounting and finance job market in 2013, Laimoon has discovered that the major hiring organizations were banking and hotel groups and that compliance is a major area of growth as a result of updates in regulations.

So for 2014, as global economies begin to stabilize and in some cases even grow, companies are planning their financial future and the job market is particularly buoyant for the finance and accounting sector. However, there is one significant problem plaguing not just the UAE but many countries at present…which is that whilst there are many jobs available, there are simply not enough skilled specialists to fill the vacant positions.

The rate of change

What seems to be happening is a crisis caused by the updates to regulations as well as the new threats and opportunities created by an ever-increasing digital and global marketplace. The rate of change in the sector is significantly out-performing the rate of change amongst the workforce and thus there is huge demand for specialists who can tackle these emerging challenges and not enough individuals with the right skills, knowledge, experience or education to fill them. Many of those with even several years of experience are finding that they are not adequately prepared for the future and that their generalist skills required 20 years ago are now redundant; the sector now demands hyper-specialists instead.

Shane Phillips (Consultant and Executive Recruiter) says “Companies now need people with knowledge an inch wide and a mile deep, not the other way around. Individuals and companies who do not invest in developing their specialist human capital will suffer greatly in this next business era.”

Demand for hyper-specialists

The finance and accounting job market in the UAE is believed to be growing faster than any other at present. As it grows the areas of specialism increase too; there is significant fragmentation of roles such as risk and audit. Not so long ago one individual would be responsible for all the business risk or all of the business auditing. Now each of these areas has split and there is a call for specialists such as liquidity risk managers, reputational risk managers, market risk managers and many more. Moreover, compliance may once have been a small part of a finance manager’s role. Now compliance has become significantly more complex and much more highly regulated, again here there is a need for a specialist and we are seeing compliance emerge as a major career path.

Shane Phillips goes on to explain how companies are tackling these issues head-on;

“Some UAE companies are hiring consultants or even hyper-specialists or gurus on mid-term projects from overseas. The workforce is increasingly mobile which creates even higher competition in the job market. To complete effectively an individual must invest in becoming a specialist through their education and experience.”

How can you take advantage of the current employment boom in accounting and finance?

Bobbi Hartshorne, Head of Career at Laimoon says:

“Time and time again we see the same sought-after skills and qualifications detailed in job descriptions (see infograph). So the message is very clear for those looking to begin or progress their career in this field: get skilled and get specialized.”

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Middle East branch explains the value of becoming a Chartered Accountant:

“81% of FTSE 100 companies have an ICAEW Chartered Accountant on its board. In other words, training to become a chartered accountant gives you the skills and experience that can take you to the very top and allow you to make important business and strategic decisions within large corporates.”

There is a significant number of accounting and finance courses available in the UAE. These can take anywhere from 2 days to 6 months and cost upwards of 2000 AED. You can find over 60 specialized courses at


Shane Phillips

ICAEW Middle East

2 Responses to “Accounting, Finance and Banking Careers in the UAE”

  1. Pieter O June 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    I agree completely with the fact that specialist skills are the most sought after commodities.

    What I have also experienced is that the entire recruitment process can be quite long and complicated for the UAE.

    I understand that there are regulations and also quiet business periods such as Ramadan. Does anybody have advice in how I as an Ex Pat coming from South Africa can fast track the process. Get in touch with the right decision makers.

  2. Bobbi Hartshorne June 25, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    Hi there Pieter, you are right often it is a very convoluted hiring process, particularly when companies are looking to hire from outside the UAE (which is very costly for them) they will really labour over it.

    There is one fast-track and one fast-track only (and even then it isn’t very fast); come to the UAE, you are much much much more likely to be hired if you are already here. Once you are here network your socks off, LinkIn with people, got to events and exhibitions in your field, look up trade press and blogs to see what companies are changing and influencing the landscape (they are likely to be hiring to), get yourself under the nose of the hiring managers in these companies. It’s all about where you are and who you know.

Leave a Reply