Accountant pay flat but bonuses up

THE CHRISTMAS bonus season should be good for UK accountants, but their salaries look set to rise at below inflation rates, a new survey has found.

Six in ten City businesses expect to pay their finance staff bonuses this year, the survey by recruitment consultancy Ambition found – and while accountants on average expect a bonus of 8.7 per cent of salary, employers anticipated paying an average 10.8 per cent.

But while finance staff surveyed expected five per cent salary rises in 2011 – almost two percentage points above inflation – employers said they expect to offer an average 2.6 per cent raise, which falls below the current 3.2 per cent inflation rate.

Jamie Lyon, head of employer services at the ACCA, said accountants recognised that economic conditions had been challenging and bonuses may not be as high as in booms.

“Finance departments are the unsung heroes of businesses and we support our members in trying to get the best remuneration,” he said.

Based on current average accountants salaries of £42,000, bonuses should average £4,536 – £880 higher than expected, creating a total bonus pot for all UK qualified accountants of up to £3.1bn. In 2009 accountants’ total bonus pot was £0.57bn, an average of £1,974 each.

“It’s understandable that staff now want to get their pay back in line but the fact that businesses will be paying higher bonuses than expected will go some way to appeasing any disappointment,” said Ambition managing director Tim Gilbert.

In March, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales reported that members’ salaries were down about two per cent on 2009’s level, to an average £79,100. Bonuses had fallen 26 per cent over the year.