UK companies struggle to find finance candidates with the right skills and experience

12 December 2013
  • Finance teams being asked to do more for less – creating morale and retention concerns
  • Salaries not keeping pace with extra workloads set by finance leaders
  • Salary guide helps employers set competitive pay levels to attract the best staff

London, 12 December 2013 – The jobs market for experienced finance professionals has tightened dramatically, finds the Robert Half 2014 Salary Guide.  Despite relatively high levels of general unemployment, UK companies are finding fewer candidates with the right skills and experience needed to deliver growth strategies.  Many of the most in-demand professionals are receiving multiple offers and counteroffers creating a ‘war for talent’ amongst businesses.

The Robert Half 2014 Salary Guide is the most comprehensive and authoritative resource on starting salaries and recruitment trends in the accountancy and finance fields.

According to the guide, the majority (87%) of UK CFOs surveyed say that it is challenging to find skilled financial professionals, and as a result, organisations are paying more for the market’s brightest and best candidates - a figure up on last year which stood at 79%. Qualified management/financial accountants experienced the greatest percentage increase in salary, with those within SMEs and large businesses moving 3.8% and 4.1%, respectively.

The shortage of strong candidates means that finance departments are being asked to do more with less.   As workloads have intensified, voluntary turnover is on the rise as employees look to increase salaries.  As a result morale and retention concerns are growing fast in British businesses.   In fact, nearly half (48%) of UK executives say voluntary employee turnover is on the rise within their organisations.

The changing regulatory environment and further adoption of integrated governance, risk and compliance programmes has furthered demand for these roles. Compliance salaries continue to increase the most year by year, highlighting this huge demand, with the salary for compliance managers within SME and large organisations increasing 3.4% and 3.2%, respectively.

The Robert Half 3% club: salaries that will rise by 3% or more between 2013 and 2014

Role

Average UK 2014 salary range

London* 2014 salary range

% rise over 2013

Systems Accountant (large company)

£47,500 – £62,750

£61,275 - £81,000

3.0%

Risk Manager (SME)

£43,000 - £65,500

£55,500 - £84,500

3.1%

Risk Manager (large company)

£50,500 - £67,750

£65,000 - £87,500

3.1%

Compliance Manager (large company)

£48,500 - £65,000

£62,500 - £83,750

3.2%

Compliance Manager (SME)

£42,750 - £62,250

£55,000 - £80,500

3.4%

Qualified Management/Financial Accountant (SME)

£34,000 – £54,500

£43,750 - £70,500

3.8%

Qualified Management/Financial Accountant (large company)

£53,250 - £79,750

£54,750 - £83,500

4.1%

 

Best paid roles in finance and accounting

Role

Average UK 2014 salary range

London 2014 salary range

% rise over 2013

Partner (public practice, SME)

£100,000

£129,000

0%

Finance director (large company)

£70,000 - £123,500

£90,000 - £159,500

1.2%

Chief Financial Officer/Group Finance Director (SME)

£71,500 - £103,500

£92,250 - £133,500

1.7%

Partner (public practice, large company)

£107,500 - £440,000

£138,500 - £567,500

1.8%

Chief Financial Officer/Group Finance Director (large company)

£78,000 - £132,500

£100,750 - £171,000

2.7%

International Tax Manager (large company)

£75,750 - £107,500

£97,750 - £138,750

2.9%

 

*Note: The Robert Half Salary Guide provides customised salary ranges for 11 UK regions. The London regional variance is 129.0% whereas the UK average is 100.0%. 

The past few years found finance leaders focused on reducing headcount.  However,business growth and new product and service expansion now require commercial accountants with strong business acumen and communication skills to deliver augmentation strategies.  Consequently, finance professionals are benefitting from optimism in the market as companies look for additional insight and strategy into business process improvement, cost savings and new revenue sources. Indeed, the research shows that 41% of CFOs and FDs choose this as their most valued attribute.

According to the report, experience in systems implementation is also highly valued. Pension auto enrolment will create a new requirement for systems to be updated and for the finance department to partner with HR and payroll departments to ensure that organisations remain compliant with government legislation.  Many executives anticipate increasing headcount to manage the operational implications of the new regulation.

Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director, Robert Half UK said: “Many companies continue to be challenged with recognising the efforts of their employees with balancing cash flow issues, making it difficult to award annual increases.  As such, retention fears are growing.  Companies that delay hiring in search of the ‘perfect match’ or that subject candidates to lengthy rounds of approval may find their top choices accepting offers from competing organisations.

“Companies looking to attract the market’s most sought-after professionals are realising that pay is only one factor affecting candidates’ decisions.  As workloads increase, employees aim to balance work and life commitments.  Offering a comprehensive benefits package, often flexible and tailored to each employee’s preferences,  is helping companies position themselves as great places to work.”

- ENDS -

 About the 2014 Salary Guide

Since 1950, Robert Half has produced Salary Guides to offer business owners, hiring managers and professionals information on prevailing starting salaries in their geographic areas and insight into the latest employment trends. Companies consult the annual guides to determine appropriate remuneration for accounting and finance, financial services, technology and administrative professionals at all levels. The Robert Half Salary Guides can be downloaded at www.roberthalf.co.uk/salary-centre.