On average, people searched Google 49,500 times per month for 'accountant salary' in 2015, nearly 50% more than a year earlier. This is inline with research by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, which shows that advertised finance and accounting jobs rose 15% for permanent roles and 8.6% for temporary ones in the UK in 2015.
This is good news for salaries, which are rising across the spectrum of accountancy and finance roles, and not just in the UK. According to Robert Half, 59-84% of finance leaders in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Shanghai expect to increase salaries, while a further 41–49% plan to increase bonuses.
In the UK, CFOs are growing in confidence and 50% surveyed by Robert Half for their 2016 salary guide said they planned to add additional headcount over the year ahead. Another factor forcing salaries upwards is the fact that demand far outstrips supply, with firms finding it increasingly difficult to attract the desired talent, experience and skillsets, and finance bosses across Asia and the Europe highlighting this as a key concern.
This activity in the finance jobs market is not confined to management and senior roles either, with part-qualified ACCAs in great demand, especially those with management accounting and commercial skillsets. Part-qualified and junior salaries in the UK can range between £17,000 and £30,000, according to the Robert Half survey, in such roles as trainee accountant in a public practice, assistant accountant, sales ledger clerk, cost accountant and internal auditor.
In Asia, junior salaries can go from £14,000–£22,500 in Hong Kong for an assistant accountant, to £17,500–£30,000 for a credit analyst in Japan, £24,000–£30,000 for accounts payable in Singapore, or £17,400–£32,000 for an internal auditor in Shanghai.
The financial services sector is a particularly strong growth area for the UK economy, as reflected in the projected salary growth of 2–4% in 2016 for finance roles, which include newly qualified technical accountants (£55,500–£76,000), financial accountants (£45,500–£63,500), regulatory accountants (£55,250–£78,500), management accountants (£47,750–£72,250) and product controllers (£52,500–£65,250). CFOs in financial services firms earn in the range of £135,500–£235,500, according to Robert Half.
As for more senior roles in commerce, ACCAs in the UK with 5–10 post-qualification experience and CFOs and FDs with proven strategic and commercial backgrounds are greatly sought after. Managers, financial controllers and management accountants in SMEs and large firms can earn up to £70,000 a year, with experience and specialism beginning to add greater value to people's skillsets.
Further up the chain, CFOs and group finance directors at large UK firms can earn up to £150,000 per annum, or up to £112,000 at SMEs. Partners in large professional services firms such as the Big 4 (Deloitte, KPMG, EY, PwC) can up to an incredible £450,000 a year. Counterparts in SME practices also earn upwards of £100,000.
Meanwhile in Asia, managers in financial planning and analysis, an area of considerable interest for companies as they seek growth in highly competitive markets and volatile economies, may see salary increases of 3% to a range of £31,000-£73,000. Top finance leaders – CFOs and FDs – in Asia can expect up to earn between and £70,000 and £220,000, with salary increase of up to 3% in the year ahead.
Increasingly relevant for experienced professionals and those with project management skills are short-term contracts, with people in these fields able to charge increasingly higher fees. There's a growing trend in company's relying on interim and temporary roles, with a PwC survey revealing that HR managers expect that by 2020 20% of the UK workforce will be made up of freelance or temporary workers. When asked how reliant they were on contract or temporary staff compared to last year, 59% of FDs said they were more reliant on interim management-level staff and 49% said they were more reliant at a non-managerial employee-level, according to Robert Half.