More evidence of accelerating growth in accounting and finance salaries

By Ken Tysiac

A report released this week provides additional evidence that accounting and finance salaries are rising at an increasing pace.

Accounting and finance salaries in the United States will grow 2.4% in 2016, according to a 2016 Salary Guide published by the recruiting firm Accounting Principals. That’s up from the 1.2% increase projected for 2015.

Another salary guide published last week by staffing services provider Robert Half projected that average starting salaries for U.S. accounting professionals will grow between 4.0% and 5.3% over the previous year, representing a significant jump from the increases projected for previous years.

The salaries in the Accounting Principals guide are based on national averages compiled by CareerBliss, a career community that aggregates data based on salary reports from workers. The guide also considers local market data in its projections.

Jodi Chavez, a senior vice president with Accounting Principals, said that employers in accounting and finance recently have become more willing to negotiate with candidates who do not accept their first salary offer.

“That’s not to say you can name your own price in terms of salary,” Chavez said, “but employers are open to discussion when it comes to salary negotiation, whereas they had not been even, I would say, six months ago to a year ago.”

Although the job market has shifted more in job seekers’ favor, Chavez said candidates need more than accounting and finance skills to maximize the interest they will receive from employers. She said qualities that put job candidates in higher demand include IT skills, fluency in a second language, and business management acumen.

Understanding how the numbers impact the business and being seen as a valued business partner can help accounting and finance candidates receive higher salaries, Chavez said.

Citing a review of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the salary guide projects that the following accounting and finance job categories will experience the most growth through 2022:

  • Financial analysts (projecting a 16% increase in jobs in 2022 over current levels).
  • Accounts payable and receivable specialists (a 15% increase).
  • Staff accountants (a 13% increase).

Accounting and finance employers, meanwhile, are finding that it’s challenging to find skilled professionals who are willing to change jobs, Chavez said. She said those who will consider moving generally are dissatisfied in their current jobs with a lack of career development opportunities, lack of career mobility, and stagnant salaries.

In addition to salary, Chavez said employers who want to attract and retain top talent are providing:

  • Enhanced training programs and tuition reimbursement.
  • Flexible schedules.
  • Less formal dress codes.
  • Opportunities for social and community involvement.

“A large percentage of people stayed in their jobs in 2008, 2009, 2010, because we were happy to have jobs,” Chavez said. “… Now they’ve done the same job for a number of years. They’re comfortable. They enjoy what they’re doing. And they have a desire to continue to learn, and employers are meeting that need by bringing in additional training, cross-training for different positions, things that are not necessarily costly to the organization.”

Although those cultural aspects are important to employees, salary is important, too. And Chavez expects accounting and finance salaries to increase even more in the salary guide that is published next year.

“Employers are expecting more from finance and accounting professionals in terms of the skill sets, and they’re willing to pay for those skill sets,” she said.

Ken Tysiac (ktysiac@aicpa.org) is a JofA editorial director.

SPONSORED REPORT

How to make the most of a negotiation

Negotiators are made, not born. In this sponsored report, we cover strategies and tactics to help you head into 2017 ready to take on business deals, salary discussions and more.

VIDEO

Will the Affordable Care Act be repealed?

The results of the 2016 presidential election are likely to have a big impact on federal tax policy in the coming years. Eddie Adkins, CPA, a partner in the Washington National Tax Office at Grant Thornton, discusses what parts of the ACA might survive the repeal of most of the law.

QUIZ

News quiz: Scam email plagues tax professionals—again

Even as the IRS reported on success in reducing tax return identity theft in the 2016 season, the Service also warned tax professionals about yet another email phishing scam. See how much you know about recent news with this short quiz.