The figures add up for number crunchers

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Demand for accountants is so strong that pay's going stratospheric and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia has reportedly relaxed its entry standards.

The Institute is vigorously denying this to be the case, claiming that "broadening the pathway to entry does not challenge the quality and standing" of its programme. However, a recent article in the Australian Financial Review claimed that a number of universities are now offering short courses to help students without accounting backgrounds prepare for the ICAA's exams.

In the meantime, recruiters say accountants are increasingly hard to come by and banks are more willing to compromise on candidates by letting inexperienced people 'grow into the role'. "It's very difficult to fill our clients' needs with the quality of candidates that they're looking for," confesses Cameron Fitzgerald of Hays Accountancy & Finance.

At the same time, Rick Jansz, managing consultant for BSI People, says strong demand for chartered accountants is pushing up salaries.

A chartered accountant with modest experience can expect a salary of AU$70k to AU$90k from within a bank, but some packages go higher depending on the speciality - a senior tax accountant will earn AU$90k to AU$120k, while an internal audit manager can earn AU$90k to AU$170k.

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