Future of Work

Job roles are up by 16% within the accounting & finance market, a sign that since a Brexit deal was signed-off business confidence has returned.

The same can be said for workers in the sector, with a third (31%) of accounting & finance professionals feeling ‘very confident’ about job opportunities within their field.

The findings come from the Robert Walters Salary Survey – for which 1,500 accounting & finance professionals were surveyed in order to find out current sentiment of talent within the market.


Three quarters (71%) of professional’s state that a competitive pay & package is a key factor in determining job satisfaction, however a third (33%) feel that their pay is not an accurate reflection of the work that they do.

Despite this, half of workers (49%) have never negotiated their salary – citing hesitation from management (30%), being unsure of how to negotiate (27%), and lacking in confidence (22%) as the primary reasons.

Whilst just 15% are not expecting a pay rise this year, it is a different story for the majority – with over half (54%) stating that they are likely to leave their job if they receive no pay increase or bonus.

63% of professionals are expecting an increase of up to 10% of their salary, with a further 10% expecting an increase between 11-20% of their salary.

Richard Boyd, Director of Commerce & Specialist Markets at Robert Walters:

“It is clear from the survey that pay and compensation is the key driver for accounting & finance professionals – and so it is important that employers don’t shy away from this fact.

“One thing that I haven’t witnessed enough of is companies training their management on the ins-and-outs of the compensation conversation – don’t assume a manager is ready to talk about such a sensitive topic without some help.

“To this effect, knowledge is key. If a higher salary elsewhere is how you will likely lose your staff, then get yourself in the know by finding out what other companies are paying and benchmark yourself competitively and fairly. Conversations are often made difficult when an employee is aware they are being heavily undervalued in comparison to industry standards.”

Salary increase expectations for accounting & finance professionals
 1 – 3% increase 26%
4 – 6% increase 22%
7 – 10% increase 15%
11 – 15% increase 6%
16 – 20% increase 4%
21 – 25% increase 2%
26% + increase 4%
Not expecting increase 15%


Bonus expectations for accounting & finance professionals
1 – 5% of salary 14%
6 – 10% of salary 16%
11 – 15% of salary 10%
16 – 20% of salary 4%
21 – 25% of salary 4%
26 – 30% of salary 3%
50% + 3%
Not expecting bonus 15%


Over half (54%) of accounting & finance professionals state that a clear progression path is a key factor for determining job satisfaction, with 66% stating that they would leave their job if progression wasn’t made clear to them. Despite this, 68% are yet to be offered a promotion at their current company.

What is particularly concerning is that a quarter (26%) are ‘not at all aware’ of how to get a promotion, with a further 21% stating that they are only ‘somewhat aware’ of what they need to do to get a promotion and ‘could do with more support from management’ to help with this.

Whilst the majority of workers (62%) feel that training would be a key route to helping with progression, over a third (34%) state that there are no relevant training courses made available to them at their company.

Habiba Khatoon, Director of Robert Walters Midlands:

“All too often, companies look at promoting staff as something that they ‘have to do’ rather than something they should do.

“Progression is as much a benefit to the employer than it is to the employee. Even with pay rises associated with a promotion; retaining staff saves more money in the long run, as well as boosts morale. Most importantly, a company is able hold onto the skills, knowledge and training that has been invested into staff during their employment.

“This survey highlights the importance of progression for accounting & finance professionals and so its important that employers work on this internally in order to reap the rewards.”

Biggest challenges to progression for accounting & finance professionals
Lack of opportunities made available to me 37%
Balancing work and family commitments 35%
Lack of training or development offered to me 21%
Lack of diversity in management or senior positions 21%
Lack of confidence 18%
Lack of experience 17%
High competition with colleagues for promotion 17%
Unsuited to company culture 13%
Lack of diversity in my industry 7%
Performance targets set too high 7%



In addition to competitive pay (71%); work-life balance (71%), challenging & interesting work (66%), company culture (54%), and autonomy (43%) are the top five drivers for job satisfaction for accounting and finance professionals.

However it appears that employers seem to be falling short of meeting these demands, with a third (34%) stating that their current employers’ workplace perks do not meet their needs.

Perks around work-life balance – such as flexi-hours (62%) and remote working capabilities (40%) – are top of the ranking for workplace benefits that accounting & finance professionals value the most.

Workplace perks that appeal to accounting & finance professionals
Flexi-hours 62%
Remote working capabilities 40%
Training opportunities 34%
Bonus schemes 32%
Private healthcare 20%
Travel opportunities (UK & abroad) 13%
Team socials 12%
Awards/incentive schemes 12%
Modern/contemporary office space 10%
Shares/investment opportunities 10%
Discounts (incl gyms, restaurants, fashion & leisure 8%
Subsidised travel costs (to work) 6%
Subsidised food options for lunch 4%
Mentor scheme 4%
Volunteer days 3%
Sabbatical 2%
Childcare vouchers 0%



A third of professionals feel ‘very confident’ about job opportunities within their field, and a whopping 87% would be open to a job approach when not actively looking.

Over a third (37%) of accounting & finance professionals have received counter offers during their job search, with a further 14% having accepted.

Career progression (40%) and pay rise (21%) are the main drivers in professionals choosing to switch companies.

Top motivation for moving jobs for accounting & finance professionals
Career progression 40%
Pay rise / change in compensation 21%
Improved work-life balance 10%
Change in role / responsibilities 9%
Better company culture 8%
Opportunity to work internationally 5%
Flexi-working 4%
Improved job security 3%



From gender parity to BAME representation, diversity within the accounting & finance sector continues to be an ongoing battle that is yet to be resolved – and is far off targets.

Lucy Bisset, Director of Robert Walters North West:

“The accounting and finance sector is still victim to holding traditional beliefs about the ‘ideal professional’ – such as the ability to work long hours and prioritise commercial relationship building – which has long isolated a more diverse workforce such as those with family commitments.

“Whilst work is being done in this area – companies need to continue to look closely at their progression structure to ensure it is fair and void of bias, assess company culture to ensure diversity groups are not being isolated or underrepresented, and work towards tailoring workplace perks away from a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Efforts to tackle exclusionary practices and improve representativeness with the accounting & finance profession are continuing. In fact, 54% of professional believe that their company is committed to being demographically representative – with 43% stating that their current company’s management is demographically representative.

Despite this, half of professionals (49%) have experienced unconscious bias within the workplace at the hands of their management or team.

Education, awareness and support is key, which is why it’s disappointing that over a third (36%) do not have a diversity network in place. What’s more, of those that do have a diversity network, only 14% of employees are members – with just a tenth (12%) believing this to have benefitted employees.

Engagement on this issue across the board is still relatively low, with almost half (40%) of professionals stating that they would not consider getting involved in their company’s diversity network in any way.


About Robert Walters

Robert Walters Group is one of the world’s leading specialist professional recruitment groups and focuses on placing high calibre professionals into permanent, contract and temporary positions at all levels of seniority. The UK business recruits across the accountancy and finance, banking, HR, legal, IT, risk, compliance, tax, treasury, procurement and supply chain and support fields. Established in 1985, the Group has built a global presence spanning 30 countries.

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