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14th Jan, 2022

Barry Davis
Barry Davis
Job Title
Senior Regional Manager

Increased flexibility and commercial expertise

Prior to Covid-19, the option for professionals to work from home was a rare perk, but the lockdowns proved that firms can still thrive when employees are working remotely, so many professionals are now seeking this as standard. In addition, practices are seeing that offering hybrid or remote working is a great talent attraction and retention tool, so this new way of working looks set to continue.

Another evolution we’ve witnessed in 2021 is that clients are increasingly trusting practices to be true business partners and making full use of their expertise by requesting commercial and business advice. This is increasing demand for accountancy and finance professionals with commercial acumen or commercial finance experience.

With this increased demand, practices need to ensure their employees receive ongoing training, along with exposure to wider business issues, so they can provide the best possible service to clients and continue to be seen as true business partners. Providing training and development opportunities is also key when attracting and retaining talent, especially those from industry who often move to practices in order to develop and progress their skills.

Salaries for high-demand practice areas

Tax and audit professionals are still the holy grail for accountancy and finance practices, with a continuing shortage of specialists in these areas. This has been exacerbated by the increased demand for both personal and corporate tax specialists. Salaries for practice managers in audit and assurance can reach up to £54,000 in East Anglia, £70,000 in London and £60,000 in Scotland.

Another area that has seen increased demand is payroll. Organisations are increasingly outsourcing their payroll functions to accountancy practices, calculating that the process can be handled more efficiently, while saving them money. This new revenue stream means that firms are seeking payroll specialists with the latest expertise and knowledge as they grow their payroll support functions.

A first-year trainee working within business services outsourcing can expect to receive up to £18,000 in the East Midlands or £26,000 in Greater London, whereas a senior (newly qualified) accountant in the same discipline can expect a salary of between £25,000 - £32,000 in the North East and £35,000 - £45,000 in the South East.

Salaries and benefits to attract and retain talent

Firms have long been experiencing talent attraction and retention difficulties. With many professionals moving from practice to industry due to the increased salaries, firms have had to work on their whole salary and benefits packages to attract and retain the best accountancy and finance professionals.

We conducted a snapshot of over 500 professionals at the end of 2021 to find out their current and preferred salaries and benefits. We found that annual leave/paid time off was the most popular desired benefit, with two-thirds of respondents stating that they find it attractive – signalling to businesses that providing greater holiday allowances is a good way to attract staff. Health insurance was also ranked highly, with 51% of respondents listing it in their top-five benefits, while performance bonuses (48%), annual salary increments (45%) and a higher-than-normal pension (44%) also featured prominently in professionals’ top five.

While many specialists will move to industry for higher pay, offering competitive salaries is no longer enough and in fact, 56% of respondents said that they were happy with the salary they receive. Jobseekers have come to expect more from their employers in the past two years, largely driven by the changes to the working environment seen during the pandemic.

Flexible, remote, or hybrid working has become commonplace for most professionals and the firms that offer this will find themselves best placed to secure talent. When asked if they would be deterred applying for roles not offering remote working, 11% of respondents said yes, 39% said it would depend on the role, 40% didn’t want to work fully remotely but would look for hybrid positions, while only four percent were against all forms of remote work. This highlights how important offering flexibility is in attracting professionals.

Firms that want to retain their staff and attract talented professionals need to consider whether their packages are competitive. This will be key for practices’ success in 2022.

For more information on salaries and benefits for accountancy and finance practices, download our free practice salary guide here.