What salary should you be earning?

Knowing how much the average salary is for a trainee in your country is vital in determining whether your earnings are up with market rates or not. We bring you a salary snapshot from around the world and several of the global pay trends and benefits. Alex Miller reports

Part-qualified accountants were in short supply in 2013 due to the large numbers of trainees who preferred to stay with their current employer. This was particularly evident at companies that provided financial study support.

For a part-qualified accountant, the motivation to move has been particularly low during the economic downturn, due to the insecurities that can go with being the latest in the door of at an employer.

According to Hays Accountancy & Finance, trainees who did move jobs in 2013 found themselves in high demand with some good career opportunities to consider as a result.

But whether you are currently looking to make a move or not, knowing your worth is absolutely crucial in determining whether you should be asking for a pay rise.

Exceptional packages

While the salary and packages on offer to trainee accountants, generally speaking, reflect the cost of living in any given country, it is also worth considering that there are quite a few countries that offer exceptional salary packages due to their generous tax benefits.

Ellis King, manager of the part-qualified and transactional team at Morgan McKinley, says: ‘As an example, the top 100 accountancy firms tend to offer salary packages that are reflective of the country in which an employee is working, in line with factors such as living expenses.

‘However, countries such as Gibraltar and Dubai are crying out for new talent and the massive tax benefits on offer mean they can often be an appealing option for accountants seeking their first professional position.’

In the UK, part-qualified accountants have been in short supply in past years. This has created some good career opportunities for those who have decided to change jobs, although salaries have generally remained fairly stable across the country and onwards.

Karen Young, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, says: ‘The average salary for an ACCA trainee is currently around £19,300 per annum, while an ACCA part-qualified can expect to earn £25,800 per annum. ACCA finalists are commanding an average salary of £30,700 a year.

‘There has been particularly strong demand for trainees studying for professional qualifications as companies and organisations are beginning to invest in their future talent pipeline again. Many part-qualified candidates are also landing the role of a business partner as there are not enough available qualified accountants to fill all the vacancies that exist.’

Irish eyes

A Robert Half survey of over 500 part-qualified accountants in the UK and Ireland reveal that, on average, the highest salaries are offered in Ireland (£33,830) and London (£33,120), with Scotland a little further behind (£29,690). According to Forbes, the average management trainee in the US is currently paid a little over £16,000.

The most popular benefits being offered to trainees in the UK and similarly in the US are pension (71%), healthcare (34%), bonus (33%), life assurance (25%) and leisure facilities (12%). These benefits are in line with those that trainees stated they most wanted to receive: bonus (29%), pension (27%), flexible hours (16%) and extra holidays (12%).

Phil Sheridan, UK managing director at Robert Half Finance & Accounting, says: ‘Employees are now looking to achieve a greater work/life balance as indicated by their desire for alternative benefits such as flexible hours and flexi-time. While traditional benefits such as pensions and bonuses remain popular, employers need to engage with trainees and closely assess what they are offering employees to ensure they attract and retain the most suitable candidates for the job.’

Australian change

In Australia a number of large blue chip and listed companies have undergone restructures over the past few years, resulting in senior finance performers to move up the hierarchy to more senior management roles. This has created a void at the newly qualified through to four or five years’ post-qualification experience (PQE) level.

In New Zealand, quality graduate level assistant accountants with a stable work history and studying for their professional qualifications also continue to be sought, particularly as many newly qualified accountants have been leaving the country to gain overseas experience.

Young adds: ‘A graduate diploma qualified assistant accountant in Australia and New Zealand with no experience can expect to earn an average salary of £21,400, while an assistant accountant with two to four years of experience can earn on average £27,900 a year. Those with more than four years can expect to command a salary of £32,000.’

The average salary in Hong Kong, depending on your area of expertise (management or financial accounting) and levels of experience, junior accountant salaries tend to range from around £12,000 to £24,000 a year.

In Canada accounting graduates with up to three years of experience can expect to earn somewhere between £19,200 and £41,000 – depending on the role, whether it is in the public or private sector and the size of the company.

Toronto pays an average 4.8% higher than the national average, while Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa are other cities that tend to pay higher than the national average.

CountryAnnual salaryAdditional


£32,400 – £40,500 
France£23,100 – £31,400

Plus some extra packages

Germany£23,100 – £28,900 

Hong Kong

£18,600 – £21,400

Big Four professional services:

£25,100 – £27,000

Singapore£24,000 – £30,000 
Switzerland£47,400 – £61,000

Plus bonuses

UK£28,000 – £40,000

Full support package and benefits

Source: Page Personnel Finance

"There has been particularly strong demand for trainees studying for professional qualifications as companies and organisations are beginning to invest in their future talent pipeline again."

Karen Young - Hays Accountancy & Finance