Accountants are expecting their salaries to rise this year as a growing skills shortage means employers are fighting increasingly hard to retain key staff.
The latest salary guide from recruitment firm Hays shows that two-thirds expect their pay to increase – 7 per cent more than last year.
Almost one in five is banking on an above-inflationary rise as Hays says finance professionals in Scotland can expect to receive more than one job offer in 2014, as the market sees sustained growth for the first time in five years.
Keith Mason, director of Hays senior finance in Scotland, said some firms were resorting to “lucrative counter-offers” to persuade staff to stay after they have found another job.
He said: “Finance professionals in Scotland with business management skills and commercial know-how are particularly in demand, and competition has already intensified to the extent that many routinely receive more than one job offer.
“From blue-chip multinationals to small-and-medium enterprises [SMEs], companies of all sizes have lifted headcount freezes to ease the burden on existing finance teams.
“However, employers are also increasingly being trumped by lucrative counter-offers, as companies try to hang on to their existing staff.”
He said counter-offers occur when an employee is offered another position, but their existing employer is prepared to pay a higher salary or enhanced benefits to persuade them to stay.”
He said it will be important for employers to make sure they hold on to key players this year, ideally without having to make counter-offers.
“Decision-support, financial control and internal audit and risk teams are likely to be the most actively recruiting areas of finance and some of the most sought after skills as the year progresses,” he added.
Hays is already seeing an increase in the level of activity in the jobs market, as finance professionals who had put their next career move on hold during tough economic times are now being more proactive, in another sign of a return to confidence in the UK’s recovery.
The salary guide follows recent evidence from surveys that business confidence in the accountancy profession is at record highs in Scotland.
And there have been warnings that the UK government’s recent attempts to cut immigration will exacerbate the skills shortage by making it difficult for professionals from outside the European union to come to Britain and seek work.
However the confident mood is also attracting more recruits to the profession. The Association of Chartered Accountants last month announced a record number of students had completed their final courses. Almost 8,000 students around the world completed all the exams needed to enter the profession.