In-demand accountants see salaries rise

A combination of a skills shortage and the opportunities provided by the resurgent UK economy have created a highly competitive market for finance and accounting talent. The competition is leading to increased pay for many finance professionals in the UK, research commissioned by recruitment agency Robert Half found.

A survey of 200 UK CFOs and finance directors found that 42% planned to provide staff with pay rises, while 26% plan to increase bonuses. The average award will be 6.1%, far in excess of the rate of inflation, which stood at 1.8% in April.

The generous increases can be explained by the fact that there is a shortage of qualified finance staff that businesses need to help them capitalise on opportunities for growth. 

Eighty-seven per cent of UK CFOs polled said they had faced challenges in finding skilled finance talent, and 79% said they were concerned about losing their top performers. In this context, decision-makers are more willing to use pay as a means of attracting talent and retaining valued employees.

According to Robert Half, demand for experienced management accountants, financial analysts, risk and compliance professionals, financial business partners, cost accountants, and credit controllers is particularly high.

The survey suggests that management accountants can expect to earn between £34,000 and £54,500 (between $57,000 and $91,000) in a small or midsize company, rising to between £42,500 and £64,750 (between $71,000 and $108,500) in a larger organisation. Those based in London can earn up to one-third more than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. Financial business partners earn between £45,000 and £68,250 (between $75,000 and $114,000) at large organisations.

Alongside technical accounting knowledge, the most sought-after attributes in finance talent were commercial/business acumen (cited by 41% of the UK CFOs and FDs polled), technology skills (23%), and team-building and collaboration (19%). Communication skills were at the top of the list for 12% of CFOs, followed by leadership abilities (4%) and customer service orientation (3%).

The survey also gathered information from finance leaders in 15 countries around the world. Inflation-busting pay rises in the UK are broadly in line with levels in Western Europe, with increases of 6.7% planned in France and 6.6% in Germany.

But the biggest rises in percentage terms will be awarded to finance professionals in China, where average increases of 13.6% are expected. Seventy per cent of respondents there said they would be increasing basic salaries, and 61% planned to increase bonuses, compared with a global average of 44% and 28%, respectively. Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based professionals will see an average wage hike of 11.4%, and Brazil-based professionals, 10.8%.

Samantha White ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.