PQs ride the pandemic storm

August 2021

PQs are reporting pay rises and bonus – despite the havoc wrought by Covid-19, according to specialist finance and accountancy job board GAAPweb.

At the beginning of 2021, we asked over 1,000 finance and accountancy professionals to share the details of their working lives and how things have changed as a result of a global pandemic. Responses revealed a highly educated workforce of finance and accountancy professionals ranging from bookkeepers and management accountants to finance managers and CFOs.

In this article, the GAAPweb team pulls together some highlights and key stories from the 2021 annual Audience Insight Report. For the full story, visit the GAAPweb website and download your free copy.

The costs of Covid-19 In spite of their credentials and career achievements, the GAAPweb community has faced considerable challenges in the past year. With cutbacks reported across salaries, bonuses and benefits alike, employers have also been reducing rewards in response to Covid-related costs and losses.

In 2020, just 32% of our audience received a salary increase, compared with 60% pre-pandemic. This was compounded by a drop of 16% in the number of respondents topping up basic earnings with a bonus and a 3% fall in benefits recipients.

Significantly, the number of respondents with access to employer provided healthcare dropped from a pre-Covid figure of 52% to 35% in 2020, while just 3% of our audience were offered childcare support during a year when many parents could have benefited greatly from the extra help.

These cuts appear to have had a disproportionate impact on lower level and junior respondents. For example, none of our respondents in purchase ledger positions received a pay increase, and only 9% of payroll professionals reported salary growth. Similarly, no purchase ledger respondents were awarded a bonus in 2020.

The perks of being a PQ

However, it appears that PQs have outmanoeuvred uncertainty and succeeded in bucking this trend.

Some 67% of part qualified accountants reported receiving a salary increase during 2020, making them one of the most likely groups to grow their earnings. As well as being more likely than most to receive a pay rise, 67% of PQs told us they had topped up their basic pay packets with a bonus.

Despite this, the overall average PQ annual salary this year is £28,333 – down 23% from £37,023 when we surveyed our audience prior to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Safe and secure

Regardless of the swathes of pay and benefits cuts, the finance and accountancy professionals showcased their indispensability over the past 16 months, with the vast majority avoiding redundancy (90%) and the furlough scheme (86%). In fact, most were able to continue their professional lives in a relatively normal way.

Despite significant disruptions to daily routines at home and work, the majority of finance and accountancy professionals maintained a healthy work-life balance throughout 2020, with 55% reporting no change in their usual working hours.

Moreover, feelings of job security have improved within the profession. In 2021, 69% of our audience say they feel secure in their current role, compared with 65% pre-pandemic. Although rewards may have temporarily diminished, respondents’ knowledge of the essential service they provide has not.

Mind the GAAP

Female representation is now higher than male in 12 of the 24 surveyed job titles – up from nine at the start of 2020. According to our report, 67% of PQ accountants are female.

Some progression has been made in terms of the overall gender pay gap this year, which has closed by 3%. However, with average male salaries of £70,806 sitting 23% higher than those of their female counterparts (£54,203), gender pay discrepancies within finance and accountancy are still rife and far above the 2020 national average of 16%.

For PQs, the situation is a worse one still. Male PQs reported average salaries of £35,000 this year – 29% higher than the pay packets offered to their female colleagues.

Ethnicity and equality

Ethnic diversity within finance and accountancy appears to have decreased in the past year.

Significantly, the number of Asian and Asian Black respondents dropped year-on-year by 5%, while the number of our audience with a white background grew by 6% in the same period.

Despite this, employers appear to be taking steps in the right direction in terms of pay equality. The ethnicity pay gap among our respondents has decreased from 24% at the beginning of 2020 to 8% this year.

To find out more about the key trends impacting the world of finance and accountancy in 2021, download your free copy of GAAPweb’s Audience Insight Report.