Now may not seem like the ideal time to be job hunting but - despite the headlines - there are some bright spots for accounting and finance professionals. The economic uncertainty of the past few years has actually raised the profile of accountants, from back room bean counters to key players at the decision-making table.
Companies are focusing on central needs
The job market for accountants is outperforming other areas of the general job market, with companies hiring professionals to address growth initiatives and manage increasing workloads, often the result of understaffed departments. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who have not only solid technical accounting expertise but also the necessary commercial skills to improve efficiencies throughout the organisation, address budget concerns and drive new business opportunities. Companies need staff to manage and support these initiatives.
According to the 2012 Robert Half Salary Guide for accounting and finance, the most highly sought after roles include financial accountants, financial analysts, management accountants, compliance managers and credit controllers. These roles are expected to see above-average remuneration increases (to be discussed below).
Technical proficiency is still an important attribute and advanced knowledge of Microsoft Excel, experience using enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems such as SAP, Oracle and Hyperion, database management and business intelligence software are highly valued.
Skills shortage exists
As companies made redundancies during the recession, departments were left with a core group of professionals that often wore multiple hats. Finance departments were charged with taking on additional responsibility and individuals were often stretched thin; responsible for managing multiple initiatives and responsibilities. Senior management is aware of the impact these business-critical employees have had on the financial and operational well-being of the company and there are growing concerns over the retention of these individuals.
According to a survey conducted by Robert Half earlier this year, 54% of CFOs are worried about losing top performers by the end of 2011. As companies look to expand their teams, there is competition for the best and brightest, especially for individuals with a proven track record of guiding companies into profitability. With the finance department playing a critical role in an organisation’s fiscal health, the individuals responsible for managing the numbers have become a company’s greatest asset.
Moderate growth in remuneration
National average starting salaries are expected to increase in 2012, although at modest levels. According to the Salary Guide, base remuneration for accounting and finance professionals will rise by an average of 2.7 per cent.
Here are some national forecasts for specific positions:
- Starting salaries for financial accountants at SMEs will be in the range of £34,500 - £52,250
- Financial analysts at large companies will see base salaries between£37,000 and £61,500
- Management accountants at large companies can expect to earn salaries in the range of £39,500 - £56,500
- Remuneration for compliance managers at SMEs is projected to be between £43,250 and £58,250
- Credit controllers at large companies will see a rise in base salaries, with average remuneration between£19,000 to £32,250
The national salary ranges provided above will vary based upon factors including region, specialised skills and level of expertise. In London, where the cost of living is higher, remuneration for accounting professionals should exceed this forecast by about 20 per cent.
For more information, request a free copy of the Robert Half Salary Guide by visiting www.roberthalf.co.uk or by calling 08705 329635.