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Life is sweet for PQs

13 February 2019

We live in turbulent times, but it appears there is no let-up in the demand for PQ and NQ accountants, says Hays Accountancy & Finance’s Karen Young.

In fact, it appears PQs have never been happier with their lot! Some 60% of respondents to the Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trend 2019 guide said they were ‘satisfied’ with their salary. This compares with just 42% in the survey a year ago. Some 58% of PQs also rated their work-life balance as good or very good, similar to the results seen last year. They were also planning to use 2019 to rejig their working hours and reduce commuting times. Employers who want to get ahead of the game should be looking to offer flexi working here.

The survey found the average UK salary for a trainee PQ now stands at £21,000. That’s a jump of 2.9% year-on-year. PQs at semi-senior level are, on average, taking home £27,635 (up 2.5%) and finalist £32,198, which is a yearly rise of 2.1%.

However, there are some marked differences when it comes to PQs pay packets around the UK regions. The top salary went to CIMA finalists in London, who are on average being paid £43,000. This was closely followed by ACCA finalist in the capital – who are on average receive £42,000. Some may be surprised to see that ACA finalists in London are paid £38,000 at the final stage of qualification.

Some of the lowest salaries can be found in Northern Ireland and the North East of England, where the costs of living are lower. For example, an ACA trainee can expect a starting salary of £17,000 in the North East. And in Northern Ireland CIPFA trainees ‘average’ is £17,000.

Young stressed that PQs need to be aware of the demand for shifting skills sets. And, that doesn’t just mean IT. She said candidates’ need to be developing the ability to interpret, provide insight, and analysis of data. Creative and critical thinking skills are also key to future success.

Employers need to be aware of what attracts PQs when considering a new role too. Top of the list (at 61%) is more than 28 days annual leave. Next is financial support for professional studies (52%), followed by health insurance or private medical cover (51%), pension provision above the legal minimum (50%), and training/professional certification support (41%).

* Check out the Hays salary check and more insight on page 21 of the February issue

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