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Accountants could see pay packets boosted by 20%

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Accountants could be set for bumper salary increases, as fierce competition and candidate shortages have fuelled wage inflation. 

12th Jan 2022
Editor AccountingWEB
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Accounting and finance is one of the white collar professions to see salaries increase by as much as 25% in the first quarter of 2022, according to professional recruitment firm Robert Walters

20% increase for accountants

AccountingWEB readers have seen similar increases in salaries offered in the South East. “There’s some strong money being offered albeit for industry jobs and large practices,” AccountingWEB reader Slim reported on Any Answers. 

The user compared notes with his accounting peers and others have also noticed around a 20% increase.

According to the benchmark report, finance managers, assurance associate and financial planning and analysis (FP&A) roles are in the most demand within accounting and finance.  

Depending on the industry, the average salary a qualified finance director at a medium firm can expect is £86,455, while at a large enterprise they can expect an average salary of £109,700. 

Meanwhile, financial controllers at medium enterprises can make £58,997, while their large enterprise cohorts can expect a salary of £73,350.

AccountingWEB regular Drookit Dug is tracking this trend in job pages, with small company financial controller jobs previously advertised at £35k-£45k now listed between £45k-£55k. 

Some white collar industries are seeing salaries increase by up to 50%. Alan Bannatyne, chief financial officer at Robert Walters, told the BBC Today programme on Monday that newly qualified lawyers are getting placed on starting salaries as high as £147,000.

Newly qualified ACA, CIMA and ACCA accountants aren’t commanding similar starting salaries yet. These candidates can expect a salary between £53k-£58k depending on the size of the organisation. 

News of increasing salaries will be of interest as the Great Resignation takes hold in the profession and workers leave their jobs for new, better paid and less stressful roles. 

Increased payrolls

Robert Walters expects payroll budgets to increase by between 10-15% this year as companies bounce back from the Omicron variant. If these salary increases come to fruition, this would be the largest increase in payroll budgets since 2008. 

The majority of these white collar professional pay rises will be put aside for new starters, although the recruitment firm foresees at least 5% of these budget increases being reserved for existing employees at all levels. 

One of the motivations behind these salary increases is to retain current employees at similar levels as the higher pay awarded to new hires.  

Talent wars

The fierce competition for talent is also pushing up salaries of finance managers and in large accountancy firms. 

AccountingWEB has long followed the escalating talent wars in the profession and seen firms shift to remote working and looking beyond geographical boundaries in their recruitment efforts.

But as flexible and remote working became the norm during the Covid lockdowns, these incentives have ranked lower in importance for professionals who now see it as a given . 

Instead, compensation and benefits (65%), a desirable bonus scheme (53%), and job security (40%) are far more attractive to professionals responding to the Robert Walters survey.

Wage compression

“Wage increases above market value for in-demand hires was a recurring theme of the past year. As a result, we saw new starter salaries outstrip those of existing employees,” said Chris Poole, managing director at Robert Walters UK.

“The consequences of this will result in ‘wage compression’ – where existing employees feel their additional experience at the company (over new starters) is no longer valued or has not grown in value over the past two years.

“Looking at the year ahead we will see more companies raise the pay of their existing employees  to sit in line with new starter salaries.”

Pay days

Reacting to the news of impending salary increases, AccountingWEB readers are already preparing for their pay review conversations. 

“Think I will be suggesting 20% at mid summer when mine gets reviewed,” said AccountingWEB commenter DJKL. “The last four years have just been agreed as CPI and if they do not agree to a modest 20% I can just retire and do nothing.”

Replies (4)

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By Paul Crowley
13th Jan 2022 22:13

Jeez
No way could I afford to pay myself an extra 20% unless the staff are willing to go on a wage freeze

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By 1 2
14th Jan 2022 09:34

Given accountant salary levels a year or two ago seem negligibly higher than when I trained/qualified about 15 years ago, they're probably due a hike to cover inflation!

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By Justin Bryant
14th Jan 2022 09:56

This quote from the link below sums things up well re lawyer salaries:

"Latham & Watkins is in the mix and doing well, and no wonder. As one lawyer said, "I'm a 26 year old with no discernible experience of anything and can barely iron a shirt yet earn nigh on £150k... It's a complete joke (in a wonderful way)".

https://www.rollonfriday.com/news-content/im-26-cant-iron-shirt-earning-...

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By SteveHa
14th Jan 2022 09:57

When I moved jobs last time I managed to secure a 30% increase over my previous salary. I'd be quite happy with another 20% now, although I have no intention of moving again.

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