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Counteroffers reach 20% of salary but still not enough to make accountants stay


  • Average counteroffer now 20% of salary, up from 15% last year
  • A third of accountants are currently being counteroffered but most wouldn’t be tempted to stay
  • Counteroffers cost £529m to the UK financial services sector

Counteroffers in accountancy and finance are at their highest level in recent years, with the average offer now 20% of salary, 5% more than last year according to specialist accountancy and finance recruiter Marks Sattin. However, the financial reward accountants would demand to stay in their current role has outstripped this rise, increasing from 20% to 23% in the same period.*

A third of resigning accountants are currently being offered pay rises to convince them to stay, also an increase from the one in four seen last year and the one in eight in 2011. This is due, in part, to a rise in demand for the best talent, but also because more accountants are seeking new roles, with 76% currently considering a move compared with 68% last year.

Despite the rise in counteroffers, one in five accountants said no amount of money would make them stay and a further two in five said they would require more than the average offer of 20% to change their mind.

Dave Way, Managing Director of Marks Sattin said,
“Employers are extremely eager to hold on to talented staff and counteroffers are the most obvious staff retention tool when faced with a unwanted resignation. While offering money to resigning employees can be a quick fix, for many accountants this isn’t the answer to their concerns with their current employer. The fact that the required level of counteroffer continues to grow, suggests  it is not a long term solution to staff attrition”

The total cost of counteroffers to the UK financial services sector is estimated to be around £569m, with an average offer of £13,290 and almost 43,000 financial services workers being counteroffered.** However, just 1% of HR professionals rank counteroffers as one of the most effective measures of talent retention, suggesting a large proportion of this money is being wasted.***

Among accountants, the most important reason people left their last job is career development or a new challenge with 44% citing this – something a counteroffer does not address. Twenty four per cent of people cited purely financial reasons – a fall of 4% since last year.****

Dave Way said,
“UK firms are spending a huge amount on counteroffers – often expenditure that is unplanned and not budgeted for. However, they are rarely effective and rarely scratch the itch of employees looking to leave for career development reasons. It’s clear from the candidates we track, that those who are successfully counteroffered ultimately leave their employer in the short to medium term anyhow, and for accountants, that means under 12 months. Keeping disengaged talent in house that bit longer may buy an employer time on a critical project, but at what cost to staff morale and effective delivery of project work. Counteroffers can also add to instability as employees think they can secure a pay rise just by handing in their notice. In the long run, it costs far less to let resigning employees go and secure ambitious talent from elsewhere.”

*Based on poll of 760 accountants conducted in February 2014
** Based on 1.1m financial services workers in the UK (Financial Services Contribution to the UK Economy, House of Commons Library), with 11.8% staff turnover (CIPD Resourcing and Talent Plannning Report 2013), 33% of whom are being counteroffered (Marks Sattin) and based on an average counteroffer of 20% of salary (£13,291).
***CIPD Resourcing and Talent Planning Report 2013
****Marks Sattin Salary Survey 2014


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