According to a new report from Hays, a national recruiter, 90 per cent of employers will increase their accountancy staff salaries in their next review, up from 87 per cent who did so in their last review.
While this puts accountants ahead of their other white-collar counterparts, Hays notes that the pay increases may not be as high as some are expected.
Almost two-thirds of employers intend to raise salaries at the lower level of 3 per cent or less.
Hays also found accountants are demanding more pay out of their employers. Over half of the respondents said a pay rise is their number one career priority this year. A further 46 per cent intend to achieve this by asking for a pay rise, while others are looking elsewhere for a new job. In fact, 41 per cent of jobseekers say their uncompetitive salary made them start hunting for a new role.
For David Cawley, who is regional director of accountancy and finance at Hays, these results culminate in a “tug of war” over salaries and resourcing.
“On the one hand, we have professionals telling us they’ve prioritised a pay rise and are prepared to enter the job market to improve their earnings. On the other, employers tell us they want to add to their headcount and are being impacted by skill shortages, yet they plan to curtail salary increases,” he said.
“For example, our [guide] shows that senior finance salaries have not increased above CPI. The exceptions are for candidates in the highest level of demand, particularly analysts, management accountants and commercial managers, second time movers from professional practice and systems accountants,” he said.
Mr Cawley also pointed to where the big opportunities are for accountants in the new financial year.
“At the accountancy support level, salaries are increasing in the construction, property, architecture, energy and engineering industries. In all other industries they remain steady. Salaries are also increasing nationally for payroll professionals in response to demand,” he said.
“Within professional practice, and despite continuously high demand, firms are not increasing salaries above CPI. With clients looking to keep accounting fees down, firms are unable to offer strong salary increases to their staff. The rare exceptions occur for the highest performers,” he said.