Archives for September 2009

Accountants’ Salary Guide 2010 by ICPAS & Partners Robert Half

ICPAS has partnered with Robert Half International to launch the 2009/2010 Global Financial Salary Guide.

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According to the Global Financial Salary Guide 2009/2010 and inaugural Asia Pacific Banking & Financial Services Salary Guide 2009/2010, salary levels of finance and accounting professionals are holding steady in 2009 and 2010 while demand for banking and finance talent remain strong in Asia Pacific despite ongoing economic challenges, Launched by Robert Half International (“Robert Half”), these salary guides offer interesting insights into the hiring environment and average salaries for finance professionals globally and in Singapore.

The Global Financial Salary Guide 2009/2010 provides data on starting salaries for finance and accounting professionals. Currently in its third year of publication, this guide is launched by Robert Half in partnership with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (“ICPAS”) for the second year running. According to the guide, average salaries for finance and accounting professionals in 2009/2010 remain comparable to that in 2008/2009, in spite of harsher economic conditions. This underscores the heightened importance of finance and accounting roles today, triggered by a renewed emphasis on financial management and cost control in light of the collapse of major financial systems, which led to the global economic meltdown over the past year.

In Singapore, certain accounting positions are seeing slight increases in salary levels, including the roles of Chief Accountant, Internal Auditor and Assistant Accountant with three to five years of industry experience. Increasingly stringent financial regulatory and compliance standards have given rise to the need for more rigorous audit and accounting practices. The trend towards standardised accounting and reporting systems has also led to a higher demand for audit and accounting professionals.

Said Dr Ernest Kan, President of Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS), “We are happy to partner Robert Half again on the global salary guide, which serves as a fundamental guide for the recruitment of accountants in the current economy. With calls for greater accountability and transparency in financial reporting from authorities and stakeholders alike, companies are requiring more competent candidates to effectively manage their finances and business risks as well as optimise costs and processes. The guide serves to underscore the fact that demand for audit and accounting expertise, typically from qualified accountants like CPAs Singapore, is now greater than ever.”

Agreed Mr Tim Hird, Managing Director of Robert Half Singapore, “While it is interesting to note that salary levels of finance professionals are bucking the economic trend, this is in fact a simple function of market demand and supply. As organisations continue to grapple with the challenges of the downturn, the increasing need for highly skilled finance and accounting professionals have lent stability to salary levels for these roles. However, while demand for these talent remains strong, many employees are hesitant to leave their jobs in this current market, preferring to take a risk-averse approach to their job searches. This has created a distinct supply gap, even in these difficult times.”

These views resonate with the data from the inaugural Asia Pacific Banking & Financial Services Salary Guide 2009/2010, which provides insights into the recruitment competitive landscape and job prospects for banking and financial services professionals in the region.

In Asia Pacific, employers continue to be cautious about recruitment decisions. With decreased access to credit, businesses are focusing more on cost reduction and short term hiring measures. Project-based and temporary roles are gaining popularity as companies seek to ensure completion of work on lower budgets and without significant additions to permanent headcount. Contract staffing is particularly preferred for the flexibility it provides. The impact of hire and departure on staff morale is also lower compared to permanent job losses when the time comes for temporary staff to leave the company.

In Singapore, the key hiring trend is that of steady optimism. Financial services institutions are still hiring, albeit at slower rates than prior to the global economic downturn. Companies remain cautiously optimistic of their prospects, with a desire to gain a competitive advantage during these tougher times. In particular, small-medium enterprises are focused on growing by expanding their front office teams, accessing a pool of top finance talent previously inaccessible but now made available to them due to redundancies and prolonged hiring freezes at larger banks.

Back office functions are also in demand as larger multinational companies move their operations to Singapore from higher cost regions. With more bank mergers, opportunities for project-based integration work across finance, operations, risk and technology functions are on the rise.

Similar trends are present elsewhere in the region. In Australia, companies are seeing a talent shortage in finance and accounting due to lower hiring confidence levels and employees’ reluctance to change jobs. Hiring and job hunting in Hong Kong have also become more selective, even as firms become more upbeat about growth amid the downturn. The situation in Japan is slightly different: while layoffs in Japanese firms have remained low due to Japan’s corporate culture, there is greater emphasis on bottom-lines and employees are now more accountable for their contributions to corporate growth.

Companies typically go through four key employment stages when coping with a recession, observed Mr Hird. Firstly, non-critical contracting employees are released. Secondly, headcount for permanent and fulltime roles is frozen, followed by a reduction in existing headcount. Finally, contract workers are rehired when the economy recovers and business stabilises. This reflects the tremendous potential of temporary and contract positions as viable options for candidates in a tighter job market. For businesses, contract staffing brings about potential cost savings, new skills and abilities, greater flexibility in the workforce, and acts as a manpower supplement during peak periods.

Added Mr Hird, “As the both Salary Guides reveal, finance professionals with specialised skill-sets remain well sought-after by businesses, with particular hiring interests in the areas of internal audit, operational risk, credit risk, compliance and financial governance, and mainstream financial and management accounting.”

“We are heartened that employers recognise the necessity to retain their best talents, who will be instrumental in taking businesses to the next phase when the market turns. This also reflects that highly qualified talents with relevant skills will always be in demand, regardless of the economic and job market conditions. At the same time, it would serve finance and accounting job candidates well to fully utilise available market knowledge and resources, such as Robert Half’s salary guides, to remain updated about their options and make well-informed choices to thrive in the market”, Mr Hird concluded.

The third Robert Half Global Financial Salary Guide 2009/2010 provides comprehensive research data on average starting salaries for 16 key accounting and finance positions across 21 countries, spanning Singapore, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), United Kingdom and the United States. This annual guide aims to help both companies and employees make better employment and hiring strategies through a comparative salary guide across these countries in the country’s corresponding currency value. The information provided is based on extensive research from global job placements by Robert Half, ongoing surveys of senior executives, and the accumulated expertise of Robert Half’s staffing professionals worldwide.