Salaries and demand on the rise for technical accountants

  • 26 Feb 2019

We are seeing a huge increase in demand for technical accounting expertise from a huge number of businesses. Once viewed as the slower moving, more compliance focused corner of accounting populated by a few intellectually interested accountants, more businesses are recognising the importance of technical accounting expertise , which is resulting in an increased number of vacancies at all levels across the market for technical specialists, and with this, salaries moving up to compete with other higher paying areas of accounting and finance.

Three key factors are driving this increase in technical accounting opportunities:

1.  New accounting standards are driving increased need for definition, assessment, and implementation.  To name a few:

  • IFRS 9 (defining the recognition and valuation of financial instruments) which is winding down in its focus following implementation had a huge impact on banks
  • IFRS 16 (new leasing standard) impacting leases and agreements for all businesses globally
  • IFRS 17 (redefining accounting for insurance contracts) has a broad impact but is most obviously felt by insurance companies globally

These changes to how numbers are reported for all companies, have huge impacts in terms of project manpower to implement (which is expensive), and if not implemented or adhered to correctly can have massive financial implications on top of these initial costs.  The complexity and interplay of new accounting standards and their implementation with existing reporting requirements; IFRS 15 (revenue to do with contracts with customers) for example, can also not be overstated.

2.  An increasing number of transactions
particularly throughout the financial services market?, [ZD1] The last few years have seen an increased number of transactions, especially in the wealth and life insurance sectors (CBA, AIA, ANZ, Zurich, IOOF (though uncertain now), AMP, Suncorp, TAL, and many more).  These are big transactions that will not only shape the landscape of businesses and customers alike for years to come, but also need an increased number of technical accountants to advise on the correct accounting treatment, structuring, and impacts of these transactions now.

3.  Increased focus on governance, risk, compliance and regulatory oversight
Across the board we are seeing an increased focus on governance, risk, compliance, and regulatory oversight, driven by the Banking Royal Commission,to the Australian Taxation Office increasing focus on company tax risk profiles and returns.  This means all companies are ensuring they have not only the right number of technical accountants to drive the relevant reporting and accounting treatment, but also the right type of technical accountant.

It is no longer good enough for technical accountants to simply “translate” accounting technicalities and what they may mean literally but must be able to “commercialise” these technicalities to allow businesses to use them advantageously.  This is the big trend in technical accounting.  While there are certainly an increasing number of technical accounting and advisory roles available in the market, the more commercially a technical accountant can apply various treatments for the business, the more sought after they will be.

While there are still fewer technical accounting specialists in a company than their counterparts in Financial Planning & Analysis, or financial reporting, their numbers are growing.  While the demand from corporates themselves is increasing, the chartered accounting firms and boutique accounting advisory firms are also rapidly increasing resources in this area, evidenced by the migration of auditors moving into technical advisory roles in these firms with between 12 – 24 months experience in their new specialisation.

Will we see technical accountants take over finance functions?  Who knows?  But for now, market conditions are ripe for commercially savvy technical specialists in accounting to reap the benefits of increased opportunities across the market and put their mark on transactions and businesses for years to come.

If you are working in the accounting field and would like to know what opportunities there are for you, please get in touch.

T+O+M Executive Finance specialties:

-          Technical accounting and advisory

-          Financial reporting and control

-          FP&A and business partnering

-          Finance transformation

-          Treasury

-          Tax

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