TOP performing accountants in Australia are moving away from traditional salary bands in favour of tailored employment contracts, based on individual performance rather than years of experience, new data reveals.

Our recently released 2018 Salary Survey of mid-tier accounting firms, found companies will need to move away from standard remuneration packages and focus on the unique demands of top performers if that is who they are trying to attract.

The survey showed that most roles within the sector will again receive a 2-4 per cent pay rise when the new financial year ticks over on July 1.

The study also showed that for the first time, all of the larger firms will be offering graduates a starting salary of $50,000 or more which is a solid improvement from last year’s median of $48,000. The Big Four are still offering higher wages to lure the cream of the crop in the mid-$50s.

Across all disciplines, salaries jumped an average of 5 per cent upon achieving a CA/CPA status. Some firms are still giving bonuses for completion while others are giving pay rises along the way to safeguard against staff moving while completing their professional qualifications. The threat of staff jumping across to commerce is at its highest immediately after completion of CA/CPA.

What has become crystal clear in the past few years when compiling our Survey is a growing move to tailored packages, which allow flexible working hours, clear career pathways and promote opportunities for staff to progress through the ranks.

We speak with firms in this space every day and increasingly they are telling us that attracting and retaining top talent takes much more than a healthy pay cheque.

Candidates are thinking more strategically now about their careers than was ever the case previously. They want to work with collaborative teams in firms which encourage innovation and understand flexible working conditions go further with many candidates than an extra few dollars each week.

A recent industry spotlight report produced by SEEK found that in the banking and financial services sector, the top driver of attraction for jobseekers (as listed by 18.5 per cent of candidates) is still salary, but they want more and it’s not about money.

“While base salary must be competitive, candidates are also on the lookout for a broader package,” the website states. “Benefits such as bonuses or profit-sharing, as well as generous parental leave entitlements, are proving to be highly attractive to talent.

“Salary and compensation remain the key driver of attraction for candidates in banking and financial services, however companies with innovative training programs and more flexible working arrangements look set to stand out.”

As is the case with all Salary Surveys, it must be noted that candidates who are able to command a competitive remuneration package which factors in their desire for work-life balance must also stand out from the crowd.

As well as qualifications and industry experience, employers will go above and beyond in negotiations for staff who have strong soft skills specifically communication and sales abilities.

With increasing advancements in technology and automation firms are trying to shift from compliance to advisory services but need to recruit and retain those candidates who can communicate and sell to clients.

Our clients tell us time and again that when they are seeking candidates, they want to see:

  • Formal qualifications
  • An ability to learn new skills and information
  • Experience in delegating and reviewing the work of others
  • Ability to complete high volumes of work and achieve write-ups on jobs

Strong university results are no longer enough for candidates to be able to command the packages they are seeking; if they can back up their formal qualifications with highly sought after soft skills, plenty of doors will open for them.

The survey was the result of data collected from a wide range of firms including Bentleys, BDO, DKM, Grant Thornton, Pitcher Partners, William Buck, HLB, Vincents, PKF and Hall Chadwick.

For more on MW Recruitment’s 2018 Salary Survey for second tier accounting firms, click here or contact us on 07 3009 6409.

By Andrew McNamara, CPA, Partner at MW Recruitment