By Jason Bramwell
Starting salaries in the accounting and finance profession are projected to increase by 3.4 percent across the board in 2014, with financial and business analysts, internal auditors, and entry-level accountants among the positions that are most in demand, according to 2014 Salary Guide: Accounting & Finance from staffing firm Robert Half.
The comprehensive, thirty-page salary guide features starting compensation and hiring trends in the accounting and finance fields. Included are salary ranges for more than 350 positions in corporate and public accounting, finance, banking, and financial services.
Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, told AccountingWEB that regulatory demands, the need to mine financial data to guide business decisions, and the urgency to replace finance and accounting positions that were eliminated during the economic downturn are driving salaries higher for in-demand professionals.
"Companies also are commonly finding a dearth of candidates for highly sought roles, and they need to enhance their compensation offerings to attract – and then retain – top performers", he said. "The addition of new accounting and finance positions will help support organizational growth and bench strength given impending Baby Boomer retirements. Companies that want to prevent the 'brain drain' should prepare now for future staffing needs."
Robert Half found that experienced professionals with analytical skills, such as financial and business analysts, are key to corporate accounting and finance employers' plans.
"With the big data push, companies are looking to hire accounting and finance professionals who don't just analyze the data, but who can tell the complete story behind them and make strategic recommendations to the organization", McDonald said.
Starting wages for financial analysts at large corporations ($250 million or more in annual sales) are projected to increase 4.3 percent over 2013 for professionals with up to one year of experience (salary range of $45,250 to $59,000) and 4.2 percent for those with between one and three years of experience ($56,000 to $75,500).
Financial analysts with one to three years of experience can expect a 4.3 percent rise in starting salary compared to last year at small (up to $25 million in annual sales) to midsize (between $25 million and $250 million in annual sales) corporations, with salary ranges from $47,250 to $62,250 at small businesses and $52,500 to $70,000 at midsize companies.
The highest projected starting salary increases for business analysts at large corporations are for managers ($86,000 to $119,000) and senior analysts ($73,750 to $97,250), both at 4.3 percent compared to 2013. At midsize companies, starting salaries are expected to go up by 4.1 percent for managers ($86,250 to $117,000) and for analysts with one to three years of experience ($56,750 to $77,000).
Starting salaries for internal auditors at large and midsize corporations have also seen significant increases over the last year. At large companies, 4.1 percent increases are projected for internal auditing managers ($96,500 to $138,000) and for internal auditors with one to three years of experience ($59,000 to $80,250). Professionals with one to three years of internal auditing experience can also expect a 4.2 percent starting salary increase at midsize companies ($55,000 to $75,250), while those with up to one year of experience can expect a 4.1 percent increase ($47,500 to $60,500).
The market for degreed entry-level accounting professionals has also strengthened, according to Robert Half. Starting salaries for general accountants with up to one year of experience are expected to go up 4.3 percent at large ($43,250 to $53,500), midsize ($40,000 to $51,500), and small ($38,000 to $46,500) companies.
At public accounting firms, professionals who specialize in audit and tax, specifically in high-demand industries, such as insurance and real estate, are being sought out. Starting salaries within firms' core audit and tax businesses are increasing to attract that new talent.
For example, starting salaries for senior managers/directors of tax services at larger public accounting firms are expected to be 3.6 percent higher than last year ($115,000 to $190,750), while senior tax specialists can expect a 3.5 percent increase ($76,250 to $101,750).
Senior managers/directors of tax services can expect a 3.4 percent starting salary increase ($104,000 to $161,500) at midsize accounting firms and a 3.3 percent increase ($92,500 to $131,250) at smaller firms. Tax services managers at small firms can anticipate a 3.5 percent increase ($77,000 to $101,750).
For audit and assurance services, the highest starting salary increases can be found for senior managers/directors at large firms (3.3 percent; $114,250 to $184,750). Senior managers/directors for midsize firms will see a 3.2 percent increase ($102,500 to $159,250), and senior managers/directors at small firms can expect a 3.2 percent increase ($91,250 to $129,500).
Robert Half also provides resources, such as a salary calculator, hiring trends, and videos, on a webpage devoted to the 2014 Salary Guide.