Why Your Next Auditor Should Be From South Africa

If you’re a UK-based accounting firm limiting yourself to hiring UK-based auditors, you’re going to be waiting a very long time to make your next hire.
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Auditors have never been more in demand in the UK – and neither have audit, accountancy, and advisory services – resulting in huge shortages of staff across the country.

The talent shortage has created an operational nightmare for the vast majority of accounting firms. So, what can accounting firms do about it?

Looking beyond borders

It’s clear that UK accounting firms have got to start thinking outside the box to find solutions for the country’s talent shortage – which isn’t going away any time soon.

To put things into perspective, I’m an accounting recruiter, and I receive at least 25 requests to interview every auditor who contacts me looking for a new role.

Many are saying that the solution is to invest and train the UK workforce to meet the skills gap, but this will take significant time that accounting firms simply don’t have right now.

For the short to medium term, accounting firms will benefit from looking outside the UK’s current talent pool.

Many auditors from overseas are interested in relocating to the UK to fill the talent gaps, but many accounting firms are unsure how to tap into this opportunity – so they ignore it.

Let’s dive into how and why accounting firms should consider hiring internationally.

The post-Brexit opportunity for auditors

Introduced in January 2021, the points-based immigration system (PBS) was designed to attract highly skilled workers from overseas to contribute to the UK economy.

The Skilled Worker route is part of the PBS, and allows UK employers to hire workers from outside the UK, provided the worker can demonstrate that:

  • They have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor (read on to find out how to become one).
  • The job offer is at the required skill level – A Level and equivalent.
  • They speak English to the required standard.
  • The job meets the applicable minimum salary threshold (the higher of either the general salary threshold of £25,600, or the ‘going rate’ for the role in question).


If granted, the skilled worker visa lasts for up to five years before it needs to be renewed.

The PBS enables accounting firms and other employers to access a large and diverse pool of overseas talent, helping them to fill skills gaps, increase productivity, and drive their businesses forward.

Later in this article, I’ll explain the next steps accounting firms should take to benefit from the UK’s immigration system and become a Home Office licensed sponsor. But first, I would like to run through why it’s worth considering hiring your next auditor from South Africa, specifically.

Why should your next hire be from South Africa?

They understand your processes: South Africa has very similar auditing processes to the UK, making it a logical location to source your next auditor. Their transition into your team will be seamless, and they’ll bring a wealth of experience and fresh perspectives.

The pool of talent is extremely high: In South Africa, route to management is slower than in the UK, so you’ll find many exceptional auditors who are hungry for career development.

They want long-term commitment: The candidates I’ve placed from South Africa are incredibly brave for picking up their lives and moving across the world. Because of this, they’re looking for an employer they can stay with for a long time as they find their feet in a new country – making them extremely loyal. 

The benefits of a diverse workforce: Wherever you hire from, a diverse workforce results in better performing teams and more profitable businesses. Companies with a diverse workforce are 35% more likely to experience greater financial returns than their respective non-diverse counterparts.

How to start tapping into the global talent pool 

Many South Africans have, or qualify for, a UK Ancestry Visa – a type of visa that allows Commonwealth and British Overseas citizens with a grandparent who was born in the UK (or the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) to live, work and study in the UK.

If a candidate has a UK Ancestry Visa, you will not need a sponsor license to hire or relocate them. However, it is still worth considering applying to become a Home Office licensed sponsor as it will give you access to a wider pool of talent.

To become a Home Office licensed sponsor, the recommended process from the Home Office is as follows:

  1. Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business: You need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a license.
  2. Apply online and pay a one-off fee: For a Worker Sponsor License at a business with an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less, or fewer than 50 employees, the fee is currently £536. For companies over this size, the fee is £1,476. 
  3. Receive a decision: The standard processing time for an application is usually eight weeks and will start when the Home Office receives your application. There are options available to speed up this process, such as paying an extra £500 to get a decision within 10 working days. Once approved, your license will be valid for four years.


I hope this article has highlighted the opportunities available to UK accounting firms navigating the audit talent shortage, and provided some reassurance that there are options out there. 

If you’re an accounting firm that would like to explore hiring from South Africa or further afield, contact us at [email protected].

Image Credit: Julie Holmes
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