Go local for the right salary expectations

Paul Buchan, Eden Scott By Paul Buchan, Principal Consultant, Accountancy and Finance at Eden Scott

14 October 2016

It won’t be long before appraisals hone into view and it’s time to think about your salary expectations. Think micro as well as macro to get the right picture.

It’s that time of the annual cycle when the year-end is complete, annual appraisals are a distant memory and in most cases the very serious business of second half-yearly results is honing into view. However it‘s also a time for reflection on your professional existence and a natural time to ask some searching questions around your remuneration.

Salary surveys

You can bet there will be a glut of salary surveys, employment data and market insights coming your way to help clarify this often murky subject. The findings from ICAS, and other accounting bodies, will prove especially interesting set in the context of Brexit; the continued difficulties in the oil and gas sector and other factors such as FRS102. The overall the message seems to be is one of cautious optimism in contrast to last year’s confidence.  

The accountancy industry in particular tends to see a rise in these publications both for employers and employees. I’ve found them very insightful and informative at a macro-level, however, I would urge caution in how both employees and employers use them.

Macro vs micro

Most of these surveys are a very reliable source of information for business leaders and the recruitment industry. Equally for employees they can prove useful at a macro-level, however they should be used as an aid to effective decision making, along with other factors.

The vast amounts of data analysed for these reports provide a great industry overview. However, if you’re a Financial Accountant working in manufacturing in East Central Scotland an online calculator could throw up results ranging from £40K – £70k. Therefore, you’re left with an impossibly broad range to present to your employer as evidence of what constitutes a fair level of remuneration.

For employers this is equally unhelpful, can you imagine trying to specify a role like this with a salary range as broad as that?

For employers

In my experience the best route for employers would be to ask the opinion of three peers within your industry. Where possible try to keep this within a comparable geographic area. If you’re recruiting for a CFO in the technology sector in Edinburgh then try and compare with those within the region rather than perhaps London, or even Glasgow. This might seem obvious however the remuneration, package and work/life balance demands across these cities can be vastly different.

For employees

For employees I would encourage a similar approach; ask your peers, old university friends, leave no stone unturned to understand your market worth. You can use all of this information to help negotiate with a current (or prospective) employer.

Ask your recruiter

Of course you can always ask your recruiter what they think. Don’t forget, recruiters are talking to these people all day, every day, and a reputable search consultant should be able to instruct you on current trends affecting your particular needs.


In assessing market conditions for salaries and other rewards, there is a rich tapestry of information available and you need to look at as much as you can. Understanding the macro-level is important but knowing what is happening at your micro-level is more important. Speak to your recruitment consultant, compare with qualified peers and combine them with the macro surveys to find the right value for the job.

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About the author

Paul Buchan is a Finance & Accounting recruitment specialist with over 10 years’ experience of delivering solutions for C-Suite, Senior Management and Qualified Accounting appointments. Paul’s experience covers a period of immense change from the end of the New Economy to the end of the Great Recession and beyond. Paul offers advice and insights to candidates and clients alike in making hiring decisions.

This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.


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