They’re receiving job offers at their homes and being tantalized with referral bonuses. One local firm even plans to import as many as 20 of their ranks from its sister office in South Africa to fill a pressing demand.
It’s not news that auditors are in demand. Years after the dot-com bubble, accounting firms and corporations are still elbowing each other to entice talented auditors. It is a demand created by the heightened regulatory climate.
Those demands over the last four years have kept the pressure on The University of Tulsa to produce internal auditors, said Karen Cravens, Ph.D., CPA, CMA and Chapman Professor of Accounting. Cravens is the director of the TU School of Accounting and Management Information Systems.
“There has been a significant demand throughout the entire country for universities to produce more accountants of all disciplines-tax, auditing — internal and external — managerial and systems analysis,” Cravens said. “The demand doesn’t exist just for internal auditors.”
Scott C. McCallum, media relations manager for the Institute of Internal Auditors, agreed.
“Indeed, there’s a dramatic growth of the internal audit profession, and it can be demonstrated through many, many indicators,” he said.
Some quick numbers from the IIA reveal:
The number of people holding a Certified Internal Auditor designation (CIA) increased 80 percent over the past five years.
All of The IIA’s stats on membership growth, the number of CIAs, conference and seminar attendance, Web site usage, and career center job postings show record-breaking growth.
IIA membership increased 72 percent over the past five years.
The IIA currently boasts more than 150,000 members in 165 countries, and membership is expected to continue to grow to 200,000 by 2010.
In just the past two years alone average salaries increased by 18 percent, as derived through The IIA’s 2006 Salary Survey.
Robert Half International said in its 2007 Salary Survey that internal auditors are one of the Top 5 high-growth professions for the year.
Although internal auditing is a distinctly different profession from external auditing and accounting, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook it says that employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through the year 2014. The BLS anticipates employment to grow by at least 22 percent.
In its 2005 report, Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants estimated future hiring by public accounting firms of every size to remain high through 2009.
Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, corporate governance regulations, and an overall desire to serve clients better is prompting many publicly traded companies to increase the size of their accounting departments, adding positions that did not exist five years ago, said the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Individuals with solid accounting and finance skills and experience are in great demand but short supply, the Robert Half survey reported.
It is clear that the current market favors job seekers, especially in the accounting profession. More than 50 percent of 1,000 hiring managers said they faced a shortage of qualified workers, making recruiting a year-round necessity, according to the Robert Half and the Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations Report at Careerbuilder.com. As a result, many companies are rolling out the red carpet to attract the best and brightest, offering signing and performance bonuses, premium compensation, and in some instances, accelerated salary reviews.
Starting salaries for positions in public and corporate accounting are expected to see bigger increases than the overall national average of 3.8 percent for all industries, particularly at the senior level, according to the Robert Half survey. The upward trend in pay for accountants is confirmed by data gathered for the 2007 Salary Guide, which represents all three Robert Half financial divisions —Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources.
Employers are also focusing on improving popular benefits such as training and education, health plans and flexible scheduling.
Senior managers and directors of large public accounting firms (more than $250 million in sales) expected to see national average starting salaries between $92,000 and $141,000, an increase of 8.1 percents over 2006 levels. Similarly, those at medium ($25 million to $250 million in sales) and small firms (up to $25 million in sales) could see gains of more than 7 percent in base pay. Other positions in public accounting are predicted to grow 4 percent to 5 percent.
Within corporate accounting, compliance executives are likely to see the biggest gains. The average starting salary for a chief compliance officer at a large company is $132,500 to $181,250 — a 14.4 percent increase from 2006.
Meanwhile, at a medium-size organization, a chief compliance officer would typically earn a base salary between $111,000 and $145,500 — a 9.3 percent increase over last year.
Even small businesses are paying significantly more this year for executive talent: A chief compliance officer earns 6.3 percent more in base salary, or $90,500 to $116,000. Starting salaries in areas such as controller, internal audit, cost accounting, tax, financial analysis, and general accounting could rise by 5 percent or more.
Accountants who possess in-demand professional certifications, such as the CPA, an MBA or other pertinent graduate degree, can expect to earn up to 10 percent more in base salary than those who do not, according to Robert Half’s research.
The Salary Guide predicts the following types of accountants will see the most significant gains in base pay this year:
Public accountants, especially those with the CPA designation.
Compliance specialists with knowledge of SEC regulations.
Internal auditors, especially those who have earned the certified internal auditor (CIA) credential.
Financial analysts, particularly at the senior levels, who can assist companies pursuing new growth initiatives.
For some positions, certain professional certifications and specific types of knowledge are highly desirable and, as demonstrated above, can have a direct and positive impact on starting compensation. The CPA designation remains the most in-demand accreditation for a variety of public and corporate accounting positions. Other desirable credentials include the certified internal auditor, or CIA, certified fraud examiner, or CFE, and certified information technology professional, CITP.
In addition to raising base pay for certain positions and offering bonuses, many employers are enhancing compensation packages for accountants with an array of progressive benefits. The perks include on-site daycare services, health-club memberships and stock options. Based on anecdotal information gleaned from regular interviews by Robert Half staffing executives with companies and candidates, popular benefits include:
Training and education: Because certifications are particularly important to the career track of today’s accounting professionals, some employers are reimbursing employees for courses related to earning those credentials.
The Robert Half survey found that less than half — 46 percent — of companies provide reimbursement to employees for relevant continuing education, but this number could grow. Progressive organizations recognize that employees want to keep learning and that training and professional development programs can help motivate and retain workers.
Health benefits: While medical and dental insurance may seem like an expected part of an employee compensation package, the promise of quality and affordable health coverage remains highly valued. In fact, workers surveyed for the EDGE Report cited health insurance as the most important job benefit.
Flexible scheduling: Flexible scheduling is one of today’s most desired employment benefits. Many accounting professionals are being offered options such as telecommuting and compressed or flexible workweeks. Some employers are providing generous portions of paid vacation days, as well as time off following particularly stressful times of year, such as tax season.
With firms struggling to add enough staff to keep pace with business growth, it can be a financially rewarding time as well, especially for the most talented practitioners. Those who work to keep their skills current and take advantage of the best opportunities to use their experience will reap the greatest rewards. ?