The Hays UK Salary and Recruiting Trends 2024 guide surveyed over 1,800 employers and professionals across the accountancy and finance sector. The results reveal that hiring plans are on the up, as seven in ten (70%) finance employers intend to hire new staff this year, an increase on last year’s figure (62%) and the year before that (60%).

However, employers expect to face many obstacles over the next 12 months, and the greatest external factors that organisations feel pose the most significant challenge include the economic environment (59%), rising business costs (56%) and recruiting the right talent (51%).

Employers shift their focus to skills and potential

Many industries continue to face skill shortages and the accountancy and finance sector is no exception. Majority (88%) of finance employers experienced skill shortages last year, a slight decrease from the year before (90%). The skills gap has been most noticeable within credit management (92%), part-qualified accountancy (90%) and qualified accountancy (89%).

Nearly three quarters (73%) of employers expect to encounter a shortage of suitable applicants in the upcoming months and many are turning to alternative hiring methods to overcome this. As our research shows, employers are increasingly hiring for potential, as 78% say they are likely to hire professionals without all the required skills, with the intention of upskilling them. On top of this, more than half of employers (54%) don’t feel it’s important for a candidate to have a degree.

Soft skills, sometimes known as core, people or transferable skills, are arguably more important than ever. Finance employers cite the top five most sought-after soft skills as:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills (66%)
  • Problem-solving (52%)
  • The ability to adopt change (52%)
  • The ability to learn and upskill (52%)
  • Flexibility and adaptability (47%)

Salaries continue to rise

As a result of the on-going cost of living due to inflation, many professionals are unsurprisingly concerned about their salary covering the extra costs. Our research shows that 90% of accountancy and finance employers raised pay in the last year, almost the same (89%) as the year before but significantly higher than the year before that (64%). On a positive note, 84% of employers are expecting to increase their staff’s salaries over the coming year.

Our research found that salaries have increased by an average of 5.6% over the last year, compared to 6.5% the year before but above the overall average increase across the UK this year (3.5%). In terms of specific positions, treasury and payroll roles (both 6.8%), accountancy support (6.5%) and part-qualified accountants (6.2%) saw the most significant pay uplifts.

That being said, the main reasons finance professionals cited for leaving their previous role were unfulfilling jobs (36%), a lack of career progression (27%) and their salary being too low (26%).

Flexible working vital for attracting talent

Our guide highlighted that aside from salary, work-life balance is a top priority for accountancy and finance professionals today, as 29% cited it as the most important factor after salary, followed by an appealing benefits package (23%).

Almost three-quarters (73%) of employers currently offer hybrid working to their staff, on par with last year (74%), and this flexibility continues to be important to finance professionals; over half (53%) would not consider accepting a job in the future that didn’t offer hybrid working, whereas 47% would. Our research also shows that more accountancy and finance professionals believe they work most productively at home (48%) than in the workplace (43%).

Finance professionals are passionate about working for organisations with a strong sense of purpose, as 82% say this is important to them when considering a new role, followed by 70% of employees who say an organisation’s commitment to sustainability is crucial when deciding on a new role.

2024 UK Salaries for Accounting and Finance*
Roles Average Salary
Accounts Assistant £26,250
Junior Auditor £39,773
Auditor (Newly Qualified) £52,045
Financial Accountant £55,000
Financial Director £153,333

*Salaries based on jobs across the UK. Source: Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2024 Guide.

About the Author

  • Name: Lorraine Twist, Director at Hays specialising in Accountancy and Finance

Lorraine Twist, National Director of Professional Services at Hays specialising in Accountancy and Finance, has over 20 years of experience in recruitment, and a wealth of knowledge, expertise and market insights when it comes to the accountancy sector. Lorraine leads the specialist business areas of professional services for accounting firms audit, advisory, business outsourcing, general practice, and tax. She is also responsible for Internal Audit, Risk & Compliance, Tax and Treasury across all sectors in the UK and Ireland.

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