Accountants: soaring salaries, bottoming bonuses

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Research from international recruiter Robert Walters reveals middle office specialists in Australia are hot to trot in 2008.

The report says product control is in red hot demand and that a Sydney-based product accountant/controller with three to five years' experience can earn AU$125k, compared with AU$105k last year. Likewise, financial accountants can currently earn AU$125k, compared with AU$100k in 2007.

Neil Dyball, associate director of the banking division at Robert Walters, says controller demand is being driven by multiple factors including a number of new market entrants, increased internal compliance requirements, and the migration of experienced controllers to Asia.

The bad news? Accountants' salaries may be up, but their bonuses aren't. "Bonuses don't reflect salary growth and were relatively flat or back slightly on 2007," says Dyball.

Recruiter Adam Kolokotsas, general manager of Tanner Menzies' Sydney, says good product controllers in Australia are hard to find, but bonuses are still tied to the performance of the company and business unit rather than the endeavours of the individual.

Accountants looking for a bigger pay rise may need to walk (or at least threaten to). "If there is a chance of losing a controller, the banks will often throw big counter offers to tie them up," says Kolokotsas.

Away from the middle office, relationship managers are also enjoying good times, with Perth-based professionals earning AU$180k in 2008, compared with AU$140k last year. James Wilkins, banking and finance consultant with Robert Walters in Perth, says the shortage of candidates and the mining boom is pushing up salaries and bonuses, which are no longer capped.

Sydney

Financial accountant CA/CPA (3-5 yrs' exp.)

2007: AU$70k-AU$100k

2008: AU$80k-AU$125k

Product controller CA/CPA (3-5 yrs' exp.)

2007: AU$70k-AU$105k

2008: AU$80k-AU$125k

Perth

Relationship manager (institutional)

2007: AU$110k-AU$140k

2008: AU$140k-AU$180k

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