Starting salaries for accounting and finance professionals are projected to increase an average of 3.7 percent next year, according to staffing firm Robert Half’s 2017 Salary Guide: Accounting & Finance.
That’s down from the 4.7 percent increase projected for this year and more in line with the 3.5 percent projected salary increase for 2015.
The 2017 average is for salaries in all of the guide’s categories, which include 63 positions in various-sized companies in corporate accounting, 14 in health care, 10 in public accounting, and four in financial services. Corporate accounting’s projected average salary increase is 3.7 percent, while the average in the other three categories is 3.8 percent.
But salaries really aren’t decreasing, said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.
“After last year’s gains, it’s not surprising to see the rate of increase normalize,” he told AccountingWEB. “This year’s average projected increase is still the highest, outside of last year, since the 2008 salary guide.”
In 2008, average salary increases were projected to be 4.3 percent.
Last year’s increase reflected employers’ attempts to catch up with the market, Hird said. While companies thought it would be easier to find professionals with the skills they wanted, they discovered shortages of candidates and multiple choices for those at the top of their game. Hence, higher salary offers.
“Where organizations then had to race to get their compensation levels up to speed quickly, most are now in line with – or at least closer to – market standards,” he said. “Employers are still upping their salaries but are no longer playing such a dire game of catch-up.”
According to the guide, companies are considering other measures besides higher salaries in the face of increased competition. Those include work-life initiatives (flex schedules and work-from-home arrangements), succession planning, and flexible staffing.
Other key takeaways from the salary guide include:
11 “Hot Positions”
Business and business systems analyst
Internal and IT auditor
Advanced Excel skills.
Knowledge of enterprise resource planning systems.
Experience with data analytics and database management software.
Proficiency in Hyperion (for financial analysts).
QuickBooks know-how (in small and midsized businesses).
Oral and written communication skills.
Adaptability and flexibility.
Ability to collaborate with several departments.
Ability to speak more than one language.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
Certified Payroll Professional (CPP)
Another recently released salary forecast by Accounting Principals indicated that accounting and finance professionals can expect a 2.8 percent salary increase in 2017, up from the projected 2.4 percent rise this year.
Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.