January 2024

The rising cost of living means money has become more important than ever for accountancy professionals, according to the latest Hays UK salary and recruiting trends guide 2024.

Most (90%) employers in the finance sector increased staff salaries over the past 12 months, and it will come as no surprise that nearly three-quarters of employers (73%) say they did so because of the rise in the cost of living.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of PQs describe themselves as satisfied, or very satisfied, with their salary.

However, of the 42% of PQs who say they are more inclined to move jobs due to the current cost-of- living crisis, the majority (62%) say it is due to their current salary not covering their living expenses. So there are some mixed messages out there.

Hays reveals pay within accountancy and finance over the past year has increased by an average of 5.6% – above the overall average increase across the UK (3.5%). More specifically, payroll and treasury roles (both 6.8%), accountancy support (6.5%) and PQ accountant roles (6.2%) saw the highest pay increases.

Since the pandemic, professionals have had a taste for flexible working, but now some employers are calling for a return to the office. This shift is reflected in the research findings; while 30% of PQs were based fully in the office last year, this has now increased to 37%. Similarly, hybrid working has slightly declined, from 52% of PQs splitting their time between remote and office-based work last year to less than half (48%) working under a hybrid model today.

Karen Young, director of Hays Accountancy & Finance, told PQ magazine that flexible working patterns continue to be a crucial consideration for PQs when assessing job offers, as over half (58%) of PQs would not accept a role in the future if it did not offer hybrid working.

She felt that the popularity of flexible working will persist in the next 12 months, as 56% of PQs plan to find a role that is more of a mix of hybrid working, the same figure as last year. Young stressed: “Pay remains a top priority as most (68%) PQs tell us they would not accept a lower salary for a role that was fully remote.”

Skill shortages are being felt across the accountancy sector, but no more so than with PQs, where 90% of employers said they were struggling to find the right talent.

And with communication and interpersonal skills top of employers’ ‘core skills’ list, many PQs were found to be keen to develop these to help drive their careers forward.

The good news, Young revealed, was that employers said they were willing to recruit PQs with ‘potential’.

She said: “That means you don’t necessarily have to have all the required skills for a new post, as your employer will look to help you upskill.”