According to the FY2019–20 Hays Salary Guide released today, and based on a survey of more than 3,400 organisations, 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.
However, 65 per cent of employers were looking to raises salaries at just 3 per cent or less, with only 4 per cent of employers intending to grant rises of more than 6 per cent.
“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,” said David Cawley, regional director of Hays Accountancy & Finance.
“Evidently, the aggregate effect of several years of sedate salary increases is taking its toll and we’re now seeing a tug of war over salaries.
“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.”
According to Mr Cawley, accountants are now negotiating flexible working hours or work-from-home options in lieu of a strong salary increase.
Supply and demand
Despite the low salary increases, 32 per cent of employers intend to increase permanent accountancy and finance staff levels over the coming year, with just 10 per cent who are indicating they will decrease staff levels.
Further, 68 per cent of employers said business activity had increased over the past year, with 70 per cent expecting it to increase in the next 12 months.
Qualified accountants with a big four or mid-tier background who are already in a commercial role and looking for their next opportunity continue to be among those highly sought-after.
Within professional practice, internal and external audit, tax and business services candidates with experience working for a reputable local firm remain in short supply.
Mr Cawley also said he is seeing a demand for management accountants with strong reporting, analytical and business partnering skills, and financial accountants who can maintain financial control.