Accounting professionals are commanding higher salaries and other perks as they continue to be in high demand, according to a survey by Robert Half.

The staffing services provider reports in its 2016 Salary Guide that average starting salaries for U.S. accounting professionals will increase in the coming year between 4% and 5.3% over the previous year, depending on the job position.

Many companies are adjusting compensation to make sure their offers are in line with or above local averages, Half says. They’re also enhancing bonuses and perks to retain valued employees, including offering telecommuting, flexible hours, additional vacation days, tuition reimbursement, and relocation assistance.

The bottom line is that qualified accounting professionals are hard to find, and those with the most sought-after skills are often already employed.

“Many firms have found that turnover, too, is on the rise as financial professionals realize they have a greater number of job opportunities,” the report says. “This is especially true for workers who may feel they’re overdue for a significant raise or promotion. If they leave, employers have to staff their positions at a time when they must draw from an increasingly shallow talent pool.”

 

The demand for skilled accounting professionals is even greater now as companies bounce back from the recent global recession, Dan DeNisco, vice president of Robert Half Management Resources, told the Journal of Accountancy.

“They’re hiring at rates we hadn’t seen since pre-2008,” he said. “The whole supply and demand scale has been tipped now in the other direction, and you tie that in with some specific industry demands such as those in financial institutions with the compliance [requirements] that are hitting them, it’s just created a huge shortage of good, solid talent.”

For 2016, starting salaries in public accounting are expected to rise slightly more than those in corporate accounting. Twenty-six of the 46 public accounting positions listed in the Salary Guide are projected to have increases of 5% or more. The overwhelming majority of the corporate accounting positions listed in the guide are projected to have increases of between 4% and 4.9%.

According to DeNisco, high-demand skill areas for accountants include a combination of audit/compliance and IT skills; senior accountant skills, such as the ability to do reconciliations and monthly closes; and financial analysis skills, such as budgeting and variance analysis.

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