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Accountants more pessimistic over jobs than HR

21/10/11

Accountants are far more concerned over the state of the jobs market than those people hiring them, according to accountancy and finance recruiter Marks Sattin.

On a scale of 10 (very optimistic) to -10 (very pessimistic) with 0 representing indifference, accountants scored -6.0. The poll surveyed the view of 1,064 accountants across the UK.

The pessimism of accountants contrasted with the optimism of 63 HR departments who were surveyed concurrently. HR professionals were far more confident about the future than accountants were, with a positive score of 2.4.

Dave Way, managing director of Marks Sattin said, “Accountants are far less confident about the future than those who are in charge of recruiting them. This is for a number of reasons. First, accountants have been bruised by a punishing recession. The credit crisis hit banks and decimated the M&A activity on which accountancy and finance workers thrive. Since 2007, accountants’ salaries have dropped 2.2% while national headcount has fallen 6.8%. While some departments have seen rapid increases in remuneration and hiring, the industry as a whole still has some way to go to make up the lost ground since the bubble burst.”

Second, accountants are keen observers of the eurozone’s ills, the West’s frighteningly high unemployment levels, and the deepening gloom over the world economy. Not only have many accountants been made redundant or seen their remuneration fall, they are more sensitive to developments in the global economy than other professionals. That’s skewing their view about the local jobs market.”

But Marks Sattin says the global landscape is not uniformly bleak and some of the concerns of the accountants it polled are unfounded.

Dave Way said, “The recession was nasty – there’s no doubt about it. But accountants are unnecessarily gloomy. Twice as many UK-based accountants saw their bonuses increase in the 2010 season than saw them fall. And in London, salaries have also grown significantly at a senior level.

Partly as a result of banks repackaging how they pay senior employees, salaries for managing directors in corporate finance have almost doubled over the last 12 months, moving from £130,000 to £247,500 – with high flyers now expecting to earn as much as £320,000. Salaries for audit partners in the Big 4 have increased by more than 20%, from between £100,000-£260,000 to £140,000-£300,000.

 

Average Salaries in Senior Roles
The Biggest Winners
2010
(£’000s)
2011
(£‘000s)
Increase (%)
Corporate Finance - Managing Director 130 248 90
PLC – CFO 200 350 75
SME – CFO 95 140 47
Audit Practice (Big 4) - Partner 180 220 22
Public Sector / Not for Profit - Director of Resources 100 120 20

 

Tracey Alper, who deals with executive search and selection at Marks Sattin said, “Senior roles have seen salaries increase rapidly over the last twelve months. Certainly, some of the salary increases in corporate finance have come about as a result of incorporating the cash element of annual bonuses of yesteryear into basic salaries. But significant salary increases at a senior level are by no means restricted to corporate finance. The trend has been particularly noticeable at an executive level with the very best CFOs in PLCs now looking to attract salaries of £400,000 rather than £250,000. But even in the public and not-for profit sectors, a director of resource is earning 20% more now than 12 months ago.

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