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14th Jan, 2022

Chris Willsher
Chris Willsher
Job Title
Senior Regional Director

Demand increases driving up salaries

As accounts teams returned to offices, the demand for unqualified and part-qualified accountancy professionals with transactional experience increased, driving up salaries. This is reflected in the data of our 2022 accountancy and finance salary guide, with salaries for accounts assistants and accounts payable assistants either going up or remaining stable across the whole of the UK.

During the pandemic, many people were inspired to set up their own businesses. This, along with the recovery of many SMEs, has meant that bookkeepers have been incredibly sought after. Across the 12 regions in the UK, seven have seen salaries for bookkeepers increase, with an 8.7% increase in the North West and 8.1% pay growth in London.

Over the past year there has also been an increased requirement for finance teams to provide businesses with data and information to guide their recoveries. This has led to a surge in demand for management accounts, finance business partners and financial analysts.
However, salary fluctuations for these roles are not consistent across the UK, with some increasing, some staying the same, and some decreasing. Businesses will need to assess their requirements and adapt their salary bandings accordingly if they want to attract professionals to fill these in-demand roles.

Technological evolution

Covid-19 has accelerated the digitisation of the accountancy and finance sector, and the past year has seen even more automation being introduced. Many organisations are experiencing greater need for analytical and technology-driven roles – therefore businesses, as well as accountants, will need to be digitally savvy in 2022.

The quest for data has seen accounting teams increasingly being asked to support the development of management information dashboards using tools such as Power BI. As businesses increase the amount of workflow automation and data transformation projects they’re undertaking, many finance teams are finding themselves tasked with migrating from legacy data systems and ensuring new systems are fit for purpose.

These developments have meant that qualified accountants and finance professionals with technical knowledge, particularly those with experience in using systems to reduce costs and with demonstrable experience in using information and data to qualify companies’ decision making, have become highly sought after.

Salary and benefits to attract top talent

Offering competitive salaries is no longer enough to attract the best professionals in the current candidate-led market. Most 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 the norm for most professionals, and while many accountancy and finance businesses have been reluctant to offer this permanently due to the security issues surrounding remote access to systems, those who do not may find themselves losing out on the best candidates. Businesses who cannot offer some degree of flexibility will need to look at their other benefit offerings and tailor them to suit what jobseekers are looking for.

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 44% of professionals are not happy with their salary, with the most-cited reason that they felt they do so much more than what their role entails. As many businesses were forced to operate at skeleton staff during the pandemic, employees had to take on additional responsibilities.

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 adding more days to holiday allowances is a good way to attract staff. Health insurance was 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.

With the lack of accountancy and finance professionals available in the market, the race for talent is set to continue well into 2022. Now is the time for businesses to review their hiring strategies, benchmark salaries, and offer competitive benefits packages to position themselves above the competition.

Download our free 2024 accountancy and finance salary guide now.