What do you want to be when you grow up? The answer to that question has changed drastically over the past two years. The newest research on university campuses around the nation says that this year, new graduates are more likely to be seeking audit jobs than just about any others. That shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that’s been following the news in economics and accountancy. Firms that do global business are increasingly concerned with compliance to international standards of accountancy. The need to comply with SOx and IFRS has opened hundreds of new positions in firms and offices throughout the country.
There’s also a change in where the most sought after audit jobs are. Over the past five years, the trend has been toward jobs with the BBC or in public service. This year however, the most desired positions are with the big accountancy firms. Those firms are offering excellent starting salaries – as much as 25% higher than a few years ago. Entry salaries at accountancy firms averaged £18,000 to £23,000 at the end of last year. This year, say audit recruitment firms, employers are seeing the need to offer higher salaries to attract the best new graduates to their ranks. An entry level auditor starting with one of the bigger accountancy firms could realize a starting salary as high as £26,000. A newly qualified auditor with certification from ACCA, ACA and CIMA can expect a starting salary as high as £47,000 by the end of 2007.
The top firms are doing all they can to retain the talent they have, and to attract new talent to their audit job openings, according to Accountancy Magazine. At least one firm offered a newly qualified employee a rise of 50% over his current salary to entice him into staying with them. That’s extreme, but it’s not been unusual this year for the Big Four accountancy firms to offer bonus payments of £5,000 to £10,000 to employees who pass the audit exams with flying colors.
Domestic talent may face some competition from outside our borders, though, according to a survey done by an audit recruitment firm. Many employers are open to hiring from outside the country to fill their vacant audit jobs, including candidates from Eastern Europe and other smaller markets. And London tops the list of desirable places to work, thanks to the high pay and glittering lifestyle.
The highest earning potential for new audit professionals is in the areas of specialisation, say other surveys. Again, it’s SOx and IFRS that are fueling the drive for specialised training. Graduates and newly qualified auditors with special knowledge in the areas of tax, forensic audit and consultancy can expect to earn about 10% more over the course of their first ten years in service than those who take general audit jobs.
These higher salaries for specialised audit jobs should lead to salary increases across the board, though, as most recruitment agencies advise employers not to neglect their more generalised audit jobs. Concentrating too much on auditors with specialised skills, they warn, could lead to a decline in candidates for the general audit positions which would drive salaries up to match those of the specialists.