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21st Jan, 2021

Chris Willsher
Chris Willsher
Job Title
Senior Regional Director

The key trends in accountancy

Accountancy teams have mostly been insulated from any job cuts, with professionals in demand as businesses recognise that they need strong, effective accountancy and finance departments. With companies requiring tight control over their finances, we have seen huge demand for a number of roles, including accounts receivable, credit control, accounts payable and credit analysis positions.

As the economic downturn continues, organisations will persist in prioritising work around costs, analysis and forecasting – creating a need for both cost accountants, and financial planning and analysis accountants.

The sector has coped well with the shift to remote working, with many businesses already set up to accommodate this even before the start of the pandemic. Mindful of the potential for future disruption, accountancy departments have used this time to make improvements to their systems, processes and reporting, and this shall remain a widespread strategy in 2021.

While the impact of the virus has been the main emphasis for the profession, there are other trends which will also take precedence this coming year. Accounting departments will continue to find ways to streamline systems and processes. And, last year’s delay to IR35 means that businesses will continue to rely on their accounting teams to navigate the legislation when it comes into effect this April.

How the pandemic has affected finance departments and finance professionals

Having strict oversight of costs has been critical to the survival of businesses who have seen their revenue slashed through the impact of Covid-19, giving finance teams an integral part to play over the past 12 months.

The effect of the virus has varied for individual finance teams, depending on which sector their organisation is in. While some finance departments have been badly hit, teams in the tech and professional services markets have held strong.

Those professionals and teams with an aptitude for raising capital and financial modelling have fared best during this period, although financiers with M&A knowledge and skills have also been in demand.

Businesses have recognised that strong finance leadership is critical at present, and consequently we have seen strong recruitment demand for senior professionals to guide companies through this challenging period.

Accountancy and finance salaries and benefits

A Reed survey of 173 industry professionals helped inform the content in our Accountancy & Finance Salary Guide 2021.

Despite potential salary depression and increased workloads caused by the pandemic, nearly three-quarters of professionals (71%) were satisfied with the salaries they currently receive, with half stating that they believed they were fairly paid for the work they did.

Of the 30% who were not satisfied with what they were being paid, the most common reason was that they did more than was stipulated in their roles. One-fifth believed they could get paid more elsewhere, while some 19% said they had seen their position advertised for a higher salary with competitors.

While the comparison between ‘actual’ and ‘desired’ benefits were broadly the same among professionals, our survey revealed there are some areas of key difference. 38% of those surveyed receive a company mobile phone, but only 5% listed it as a top five most attractive benefit. Similarly, while just under half were given a form of life insurance (48%), only 28% found it one of the most attractive benefits, and only 1% included vision insurance in their top five, despite 15% receiving it as a benefit.

As should be expected from professionals with sound financial knowledge, the most desired benefit was a generous pension scheme, with over half of those surveyed also choosing a performance bonus, increased workplace/family flexibility and health insurance as beneficial add-ons.

Regional salary highlights for accountancy and finance

Reed’s 2021 Accountancy & Finance Salary Guide enables you to benchmark salaries for some of the most popular roles in the industry. Overall, the sector saw a 0.1% decrease in average salaries across the UK. Here are some of the key highlights:

  • London saw a 0.8% salary decrease overall.

  • The North East saw a 7.8% salary increase. This included a 9% increase in financial analyst salaries and 8.6% increase for credit control managers.

  • The South West saw 2.3% average salary growth across the industry. Accounts payable assistant salaries went up 6%, and financial accountant roles increased by 6.9%.

  • Wales saw 6.5% growth in accountancy and finance salaries – with a 4.3% increase in group financial controller, and 7.3% increase in salary for payroll managers.

For more information on what you could be earning, or the salaries you should be paying, download Reed's free Accountancy & Finance 2024 Salary Guide now. The guide contains insight and salary data for the industry across the UK, and will help you make informed decisions in the year ahead.