The only way is up for salaries in finance

By Stef Scott, CA Today

4 December 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, indications are that salaries for finance professionals are on the upswing.

The Office of National Statistics has released its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings for 2015, which lists the top 10 best paid jobs in the UK. The top jobs list includes an enviable roll call of finance posts including stockbrokers, finance managers and directors of financial institutions.

It appears that salaries in the finance sector have now weathered the recent global financial storm. With average salaries for finance brokers tipping the scales at £130,000 per annum and Finance Director salaries hitting £80,000 per annum, 2015 has certainly been a good year to work in finance for many.

Insight from leading recruitment specialists

We asked some of the industry’s leading recruitment specialists to comment on these findings. Ian Wilkinson, Managing Director and owner of specialist recruitment consultancy Wilkinson and Associates, said: “Finance Directors and senior finance professionals are certainly worth their weight in gold.

"They perform two critical functions of equal importance for any business. Firstly they are responsible for all aspects of the financial stewardship of a business, including statutory and regulatory returns, compliance with financial regulations and managing risk. Secondly, they have a key role to play in influencing and shaping the strategic direction of a business.

"The best FDs are those that add value by working in partnership with the CEO and the wider senior management team, to look at and execute a variety of 'what if' scenarios that will impact on growth and profit.

Finance Directors and senior finance professionals are certainly worth their weight in gold.

Karen Young, Director at Hays Senior Finance, said: “Today’s Finance Directors are far from just responsible for transactional finance, they are now key business advisors supporting the CEO or Managing Director in business development and significant change projects."

Steve McCutcheon, CEO of recruitment company PRG adds: “Finance Directors have always been key to commercial success, job creation and economic growth. Never more so than today – limited availability of finance, ever-more demanding customers and increased burdens from regulation all mean that the role of senior finance professionals is central to the success of all substantial businesses.

"At PRG, we see first-hand how important it is for our clients that they have skilled and very effective finance practitioners at the table when it comes to running and developing their businesses, providing safe hands and maintaining standards whilst ensuring profit delivery and sound cash management.

"Also, increasingly, they assume additional responsibilities in other functional areas such as HR and IT (and/or playing a key part in winning and pricing new business) – not only keeping the scores but playing a full part in winning the game.”

Now more than ever, a good FD is a must-have for all but the smallest businesses.

Finance salaries set to increase

The ONS findings are in line with the CA Magazine’s annual salary survey for 2015, based on responses from more than 1,100 ICAS members. It revealed how 38% of respondents said they had received an above-inflation pay rise in the past 12 months. Furthermore, 28% said they expected to receive an above-inflation increase in their basic salary in the coming 12 months.

This survey also suggested that in the UK, the highest salaries in the accountancy and finance professions were found, not surprisingly, in London and the south east of England (averaging £140,718). Salaries for finance professionals in Lothian and Borders, Central and Tayside (Scotland) averaged £72,294 and the west of Scotland averaged £68,746.

However, as salaries have continued to rise in the financial sector, this raises questions around how sustainable this will be in future.

Ian Wilkinson said: “The best companies strive to employ the best people. Given that salary levels are subject to prevailing market forces of supply and demand in more upbeat bullish markets, where confidence levels are rising, then salaries will usually rise to reflect the desire both to hire and also retain the best people. At the moment, confidence levels remain relatively high hence salaries are on-the-up.“

Steve McCutcheon added: “Now more than ever, a good FD is a must-have for all but the smallest businesses. And the corresponding investment should be seen as just that – an investment without which revenues, margins and profits just can’t be delivered. Now more than ever, a good FD is a must-have for all but the smallest businesses.”

Karen Young said: "Organisations that have their sights set on growth in 2016 are looking for Finance Directors that can manage change and support strategic business development to achieve this, so FDs with strong commercial awareness, excellent communication skills and leadership potential are in high demand. As long as the demand for these skills remains, organisations will seek to attract talented finance professionals with competitive pay and benefits packages and continue to push salaries upwards.”


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