Raises of 3% forecasted for accountants in 2016

By Ken Tysiac

Employers in the United States are likely to increase base pay for finance and accounting professionals by an average of 3% in 2016, according to a newly released salary guide.

This would make raises similar to the ones finance and accounting employees received in 2015, reports the 2016 finance and accounting salary guide published by Randstad, a staffing services organization.

The job market is more favorable for finance and accounting job seekers in 2016 than at any other time in the past four years, according to Logan Dubois, Randstad’s vice president for the Southeast region. He said unemployment is extremely low for degreed finance and accounting professionals, whom he expects to remain in high demand for the rest of the year and into 2017.

Professionals with certain skill sets, such as senior accountants, cost accountants, and finance managers in financial planning and analysis, can expect raises of 4% or 5%, Dubois said.

“We expect that to keep increasing as the job market becomes more competitive and becomes an even more candidate-driven market,” Dubois said.

Employers say they face challenges finding and securing top talent in this environment, Dubois said. To attract and retain skilled finance and accounting professionals, Dubois said employers should:

  • Offer skills-building opportunities. Managers should give staff members a chance to work with cross-functional teams to gain new skills.
  • Give workers responsibilities. A workplace culture that lets employees take the initiative rather than simply following orders is attractive to all workers, and especially younger employees.
  • Provide career advancement opportunities. Openly communicating chances to advance within the organization shows employees that they have a clear path to success that they can follow without bolting for a different employer.
  • Pay competitive salaries. Fair compensation based on the size of the organization and the skills required should be top of mind.

Job seekers, meanwhile, can improve their chances by developing the appropriate skills. Accountants need to be able to analyze trends and develop insights that inform smarter business decisions and solve problems. The ability to communicate these insights and use technological tools also is important, Dubois said.

Experience implementing enterprise resource planning systems and analyzing databases is particularly valuable.

“Accountants who can think like consultants will have a leg up on those that have more foundational or transactional skills,” he said.

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

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