Accountancy more recession-proof than other professions

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Accountancy is one of the most resilient professions in the UK to recession, according to an analysis of official data.

Salaries of accountants increased by 11.5% (from £12.7bn in 2002 to £14.1bn in 2014 in real-terms), according to an analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics and the Financial Reporting Council.

Recruitment company Randstad ranked each occupation by the change in the aggregate salary bill for full-time staff between 2002 and 2014, adjusting for the effects of inflation.

Average salaries for other professions with typically high numbers of private-sector employees, such as construction, retail and management consultants, declined during the same period, Randstad said.

The management consulting profession, for example, has seen its total pay bill fall in real terms, from £6.9bn to £5.7bn between 2002 and 2014. The average salary of employees in travel-agency industry fell by more than half (55.6%) between 2002 and 2014. 

Employment in accountancy increased by 40% between 2002 and 2014, Randstad said. Employment in other sectors, such as construction and sales, fell sharply.

"... Accountants are in the enviable position of being in demand whatever the financial weather,” said Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial & Professional. “During sunny economic periods, they 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. By contrast, other private sector professionals, such as retail workers and builders, are more vulnerable to the economic climate.”

Technology is the only other private-sector based sector where salaries increased more (by 82%) than accountancy between 2002 and 2014.

Most "recession proof" industries based on salary increases

  • Technology professionals
  • Social workers
  • Nurses
  • Teaching professionals
  • Accountants

Least "recession proof" industries

  • Engineer professionals
  • Police officers 
  • Building trades
  • Management consultants, business analysts
  • Retail

About Nick Huber

Nick Huber profile image

I’m a specialist business journalist and have a particular interest in tax and technology. 


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