Newly qualified accountants in high demand

Recently qualified accountants were in high demand last year, particularly auditors making their first move into the industry, Morgan McKinley's UK Salary Guide has found

It said that although there were fewer vacancies across the board last year, the quality of the roles was higher, with more specialist and niche positions available.

Still, the uncertainty over the EU referendum result had a negative impact on the volume of job vacancies, particularly among larger employers.

The guide looked at different range of sectors and professionals, from entry level to senior executives.


The EU referendum delayed hiring within the accounting and financial sector during the first quarter of the year. The report said that uncertainty related to the vote created a risk-averse culture amongst all firms. Despite not reducing the number of new hires, it created a tougher job market.

Within the accounting and finance sector, the monitor found that candidates with a confident technical understanding of IFRS are becoming increasingly popular, thanks to the increasing demand on businesses to comply with changing regulations.

While there was a stronger demand for newly qualified accountants, there was also an increase in the number of senior positions available during the second half of 2016. Those who proved to have awareness of the risk and regulation specific to the firm managed to secure jobs despite the tough market conditions.

Salaries for newly qualified accountants working in financial reporting, product control, management reporting, treasury finance and regulatory reporting ranged between £35,000 and £45,000 per annum.

Those with two-to-four years of experience were paid between £60,000 and £75,000 and those holding a directorship role had salaries of between £110,000 and £175,000.


People working in the tax sector saw a decline in job flow and an increase in competition throughout 2016. This led to senior level candidates having to accept a drop in their previous pay package, while salaries as a whole remained flat.

Candidates changing jobs are now expected to receive a 10% rise in their salaries (against the typical 15% pay rise).

The report highlighted that the market within the Big Four accountancy firms started to slow before the Brexit vote, with a number of roles being pulled or put on hold following the Brexit vote.

It noted that one of the Big Four firms made a number of redundancies and another offered several hundred staff, across all service lines, voluntary severance packages.

In February last year, KPMG announced it would be axing 50 of its UK-based partners in an attempt to overhaul the firm’s operating model and recover from a fall in profits.

On the contrary, mid-tier firms continued to grow. “It is fair to say that the majority of firms outside of the Big Four have been growing and bolstering their tax teams, with this trend looking set to continue well into 2017,” the survey said.

As the tax sector moves towards the full automation of tax returns and more work is offshored, Morgan McKinley expects the challenging environment to continue within the biggest firms.

The survey also said that ICAEW’s ACA qualification and the CTA were the most “ubiquitous and recognised” qualifications in tax.

Recent graduates can expect a starting salary of between £40,000 and £55,000 in corporate tax, and £35,000-£46,000 in personal tax.

Managers and senior managers have salaries of between £50,000 and £110,000, while directors or partners are paid £120,000 and over.


Candidates applying for auditing jobs within the financial services sector also saw a slowdown in vacancies following the Brexit vote.

The most affected sector was the banking community, with other areas in practice seeing more jobs availability due to the “severe” candidate shortage.

Looking ahead, the recruitment agency said it expects to see strong recruitment drives within the top 10 practices this year. These firms will be looking abroad to attract talent in areas where skills are lacking in the UK candidate pool, it added.

Due to the increase in audit thresholds, many smaller firms that were traditionally required an audit no longer did so, if their turnover was under £10.2m. This translated into a loss in revenue to small sized auditing practices and fewer jobs being created by these employers.

However, this will also result in mid-tier financial services firms introducing new services offering and more roles being created as a result. Smaller practices will also merge across this year, the survey said.

McKinley said that soft skills will be “just as important for the technically strong auditor who is increasingly expected to upsell and recognise opportunities for new revenue streams outside of traditional auditing”.

A semi-senior auditor working in a Big Four or top 20 firm in London has a starting salary of £30,000. In mid-tier firms and the salary starts at £27,000.

Managers at the top 20 firms have salaries ranging between £60,000 and £65,000. Big Four partners based in London have salaries of £100,000 and above, while top 20 and mid-tier firms pay their partners £80,000 or more.

In the Home Counties, the starting salary for newly qualified candidates starts from £20,000 in mid-tier firms, and £27,000 in the Big Four firms.

Those working in internal auditing as analysts are paid between £40,000 and £50,000. Those who manage to go all the way up to managing directors could expects salaries of £150,000 and more.

The survey said that 2017 will see diversity as a key topic on recruiters' agenda.

Although accountancy has always been considered to be a male dominated industry, the agency said that it has seen big efforts made to try and change this.

Source: economia