Hays talk us through some of the salary and benefit trends that we may see in the coming months.

The Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2021 guide surveyed 3,800 employers and employees across accountancy and finance functions and found that on the whole, the short-term outlook of the profession is positive. This was particularly the case with employers, with most (88%) saying they expect their organisation’s activity levels to increase or stay the same this year.

What’s also encouraging is that over half (54%) of accountancy and finance employers plan to hire new staff in the year ahead. This is actually a touch higher than last year (50%). Tax and audit, risk and compliance are the two areas which our data suggests will see the most hiring activity.

Employers are on the lookout for new skillsets

We’ve heard a lot about skills shortages in the profession and the consensus is that this is still an issue for employers. Nearly three quarters (73%) say they have experienced some form of skills shortage in the past year, causing nearly a fifth (19%) to admit that their organisation does not have the talent needed to achieve its current business objectives.

These shortages may be owing to the fact that employers are on the lookout for new skillsets, particularly those drawing on soft skills. The top soft skills most in demand are:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills (needed by 55% of employers)
  • The ability to adopt change (54%)
  • Problem-solving skills (45%)
  • These skills certainly reflect a new world of work in which we are interacting differently and facing new and ongoing challenges.

Salaries are on the up

The hunt for new skillsets has driven competition and led to half (50%) of employers increasing salaries over the past year. Across the UK, salaries for accountancy and finance professionals rose on average 0.9%. Some functions received much higher rises – for example, payroll, accounts receivable and insolvency practice saw salaries rise over 2%.

Impacts of the pandemic will live on

Our guide definitely highlighted some reasons to be optimistic about the year ahead. However, we cannot deny that Covid-19 has impacted people’s careers and many are still grappling with impacts of changing restrictions and a wounded economy.

In our guide last year, over half (55%) of employees said they feel positive about their career prospects. This year, it has dropped to just over a third (39%). About a quarter (28%) also believe that their career progression has reduced in scope as a result of the pandemic.

Another impact of the pandemic has been on working patterns and preferences, with the vast majority of accountancy and finance professionals switching to full-time remote working around the time of the first national lockdown in March 2020. Nearly two thirds (63%) say that remote working has been a positive thing and a third (33%) say they would like to work mostly remotely (with some office time) in 12 months.

2021 UK Salaries for Accounting and Finance

Roles Average Salary
Accounts Assistant £22,208
Junior Auditor £34,364
Auditor (Newly Qualified) £45,773
Financial Accountant £46,125
Financial Director £111,402

Data from the Hays salary survey

About the Author

  • Name: Helen Flannery - Hays
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