The traditional accountancy career pathway of starting in practice and moving into industry is changing – practice is now a career choice.
Professionals will consider the benefits to practice over industry when deciding on their career path. Traditionally, accountants would begin their career in practice to gain relevant experience, and then move to industry. As we begin a new decade, practices are offering more to employees to narrow the remuneration gap to attract, and retain, top talent.
Practice is becoming more aligned with industry, which is leading to firms retaining more staff who would otherwise have left for an in-house role. However, this also means that practices are expected to provide the improved career opportunities, salaries and benefits associated with industry work.
The Reed Accountancy and Finance Practice Salary Guide 2020 covers the full range of accountancy practice jobs at all seniorities, including tax and audit, finance, corporate insolvency and investigations roles.
Newly qualified professionals can expect the largest starting salary of £46,000 within the corporate finance industry across London, compared to a starting salary of £34,000 in the personal tax industry in the capital. At the top level, the North East and the North West are closely comparable, although the latter has slightly higher salary brackets. Directors/Partners can earn up to £154,000 in audit and assurance across the North West, compared to a maximum of £120,000 in the North East.
Managers working in forensics and investigations in Wales can expect to earn between £38,000 and £50,000, whereas you can earn between £45,000 and £60,000 for the same role in Yorkshire and Humberside.
In Northern Ireland, a 1st year trainee working in business services (outsourcing) can earn between £15,400 to £20,000 – but can expect to get a minimum of £18,000 and a maximum of £28,500 in Scotland.
Although higher salaries and an increased range of benefits are crucial to hiring and retaining the best staff, we find that it is the opportunity for career progression which is the real deal-breaker for candidates. Demonstrating a clear path for career development and providing employees with the support to achieve it are critical for practices to attract the best talent.
Whether that means providing supervisory or management exposure, offering management training or defining a very clear career path, employers must ensure that professionals are presented with obvious options to progress their careers, otherwise they will look to industry roles.
Once armed with the right information, dedicate time to review your salary and benefits offering and determine if it is competitive against other practices and the wider corporate world. If it is not, it will be unlikely that you will be able to attract the best candidates.