If you’re considering a move into – or within – the accountancy field in 2020, then you might be wondering how much different roles pay. While there are many variables that can affect salary ranges, we’ve drawn up a guide to the sort of pay levels you’d expect to see for various roles. Whether you’re just starting out as an Accounts Assistant or looking to move to a Financial Director position, here are the pay brackets you’ll be looking at.
Salaries for Accounts Assistant roles will vary depending on location, experience, and whether or not you’re studying or qualified. The salary range can be anywhere between £16,000 up to £30,000, with qualified, experienced candidates working in London seeing the higher end of the scale on average. If you’re looking for positions further north, you’re more likely to be commanding something around the £17,000-£20,000 mark. Scotland averages out at about £20,000 a year, with Wales coming in lower at around £16,500. In some exceptional cases, London salaries can be as high as £40,000. Firms looking for Accounts Assistants will also often consider offering study leave and/or study support for those working to complete accountancy qualifications.
Assistant Accountants can expect a similar pay range to Accounts Assistants, with the overall range being between £16,000 and £30,000. Averages are pretty much the same too, with London-based Assistant Accountants at the high end on £30,000, while those in Wales are more likely to see just over £16,000. Assistant Management Accountants, however, can expect a higher pay range – between £22,000 and £34,000, with those based in London often on anything up to £38,000. Assistant Management Accountants are in demand at the moment, particularly in London, the West Midlands, and the North, meaning candidates can hope to see the higher end of the range more often.
Big 4 Accountants
Salaries for Accountants working for one of the Big 4 – Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers – vary depending on experience. While the accepted lore tends to be that the Big 4 pay more than other firms and industries, the reality often doesn’t bear this out. Tax Accountants with a couple of years of experience can expect a salary of around £30,000 at the big 4. Corporate Tax comes in slightly lower at £29,000, with Financial Accounting on £31,000. Once candidates have around 5 years of experience, however, salaries increase to around £56,000 for Tax Accountants, with Corporate Tax at £47,000 and Financial Accounting on £40,000.
Candidates at Finance Director level can command anything from £80,000 to more than £200,000 depending on experience, location, firm size, and industry. For those fairly new to the role, the pay is likely to be in the £80,000-£85,000 range, with mid-level Finance Directors at anywhere between £90,000-£120,000. Senior-level professionals can earn up to £160,000 before other bonuses and benefits, and for those with specific niche experience in certain industries – for example, fintech – this can be considerably higher. Finance Directors working for London firms can enjoy a higher range of anywhere from £106,000 to over £200,000 with average salaries coming in at £120,000. The Midlands average is considerably less at £86,000 but slightly higher than Wales which is around the £83,000 mark, with Finance Directors in Scotland likely to be looking at a salary of about £92,000.
Finance Managers are much in demand in the charity/not-for-profit sector at the moment, particularly those with Big 4 experience. In general, salaries range between £35,000 and £80,000, although this can rise to above £100,000 for London-based roles. On average, however, London Finance Managers are taking home £58,000 with their Northern counterparts pulling in £41,000. Scotland averages are £45,000 with Wales at the lower end of the scale on £40,000.
If you’re looking for Group Accountant roles, the salary range you can expect is between £52,000-£90,000 or over £100,000 if you’re based in London. The top end of the scale is usually reserved for those with both formal qualifications and over 5 years of experience in the role. Average salaries vary depending on location, with Group Accountants in London getting around £77,000. The South East averages £63,000 and the North £55,000. In Scotland, Group Accountants earn just over £59,000 and in Wales just under £54,000.
The salary range for Management Accountants differs depending on whether you’re fully qualified or part-qualified. Part-qualified Management Accountants can expect anything from £27,000-£43,000 while those who are fully qualified are looking at £40,000-£65,000. Management Accountants in London pull in just over £58,000 on average, while in the West Midlands they get £42,000, and in the North £42,000. Management Accountants based in Scotland are likely to receive a salary around the £45,000 mark.
Public Sector Accountants
Public sector accountancy roles vary depending on the level you’re at. Trainee Accountants can expect a starting salary of £19,000 up to £26,000 with Graduate Trainee Accountants on £23,000-£28,000. Qualified Accountants are paid anywhere from £26,000 to £50,000 with Senior Managers on £40,000 to £80,000. And those who reach Financial Director level can expect anything up to £100,000.
Industry v Practice Salaries
Accountancy salaries also vary from public practice to industry. On average, industry-based roles pay 24% more than their practice equivalents. The average industry Accountant salary is £68,000 with practice Accountants getting paid £55,000. However, the range is broader overall in practice, with roles paying anywhere from £12,000 right up to £400,000. Industry has a more balanced range, usually from £20,000 to around £225,000. Financial benefits other than salary are also higher in industry, with the average value being £13,500 compared to just over £4,000 in practice.
While this can differ depending on location and industry, unsurprisingly, bigger firms tend to pay their Accountants more than smaller firms overall. The average salary for an Accountant at a firm with less than 50 people tends to range from £51,000 to £54,000. Larger firms, on the other hand – those with hundreds or thousands of people working for them – pay their Accountants between £73,000 and £77,000 on average.
Know Your Worth
While each position will come with its own specific set of circumstances that influence the salary on offer – location, firm size, industry type, qualification/experience requirements and so on – hopefully, this guide will give you a good idea of what sort of salary you should be able to expect when you’re applying for your next accountancy role.
Emma Ireland AIRP is a failed novelist and accidental poet who writes mostly about politics and social issues. She’s either a bloody commie or a bourgeois sell-out depending on whether you listen to her Dad or those who strongly disapprove of Waitrose trifles. After studying law at university she chucked it all in to move to Italy and teach Italian business people how to do their jobs in English. After ten years of wine and sunshine, she returned to the UK and is now a recruitment consultant and freelance writer. At least until that unfinished novel makes her a millionaire.