Accounts Clerk (Purchase/Sales Ledger)
In smaller organisations Ledger Clerks are utilised for accounts administrative duties and data processing. Candidates are expected to be able to input accurately and to understand the basis of purchase and sales ledgers in order to be able to identify data which needs to be flagged up for further investigation. Individuals at the higher salary levels are either able to process large volumes of data accurately or have the understanding to resolve minor queries by checking supporting documentation, reconciling ledger accounts back to statements and contacting suppliers/customers directly. Task orientated supervision is required for those with 1-3 years of experience, the greater the experience the less supervision required.
Those with 4 years + experience would typically have a wider range of duties, either dealing with both sales and purchase ledgers for smaller organisations or in larger organisations by taking on duties in addition to processing such as; cash book control, processing expenses, petty cash and credit control. Candidates at this level would be expected to have a basic understanding of the nominal ledger. Those at the top end of the salary level will have several years’ experience and would be expected to be able to provide reports on the ledgers and manage their own monthly routines, including closing down the ledgers at month end.
Within smaller companies Accounts Assistants can be used to process all the daily ledger work and monthly routines such as bank reconciliations, ledger correction journals, and with supervision, accrual and prepayment journals, taking the accounts to the first draft of the trial balance. In larger organisations Accounts Assistants are often utilised to work supporting the qualified accountant in performing specific nominal ledger analysis work, or VAT return preparation.
Usually only required in larger organisation, the majority of Accounts Supervisors will not be qualified, but they will have learnt their skills through years of on the job training. The Accounts Supervisors primary objective is to supervise colleagues and ensure deadlines are met. They will have thorough experience of their field, be responsible for workloads within the team and deal with escalated queries thus reducing the amount of input required by those at management level.
Credit control positions based within a call centre environment i.e. making outbound calls to a list of unknown customers, normally warrants a lower salary scale than a credit controller who has the knowledge and skills to negotiate terms and make recommendations about credit facilities. Credit controllers can only expect to be earning the top level if they have the experience and ability to develop customer relationships, ultimately obtaining payment to agreed terms whilst keeping the customers contented. These credit controllers must also be able to identify problems at an early stage, advise senior managers on situations and make recommendations to resolve them. The upper salary levels are usually offered in conjunction with bonus schemes which reflect the achievement of reduced debtor days. Credit Control Managers are rewarded with substantially higher salary levels as they manage staff, initiate targets, set credit policy, make decisions relating to the supply of customer accounts, meet customers and negotiate. Their salary increases depend on the number of staff to manage or the complexities of the credit terms and customer relationships.
Payroll is a somewhat underrated specialist skill. At a primary level, Payroll Administrators are responsible for processing payroll figures onto an allocated software system. They will have a rudimentary understanding of payroll but the majority are not able to process details manually or deal with large complex payrolls. Payroll Controllers invariably possess far more technical knowledge, especially if they have several years of experience. They are better able to deal with the complexities of: statutory payments, P11ds, pensions, overseas employees, benefits control and year end procedures. Candidates with specific sector experience will often be paid a premium to retain them, i.e. manufacturing sector with experience of shift systems, time and attendance etc.
Assistant Accountant/Assistant Management Accountant/Assistant Financial Accountant
Assistant Accountant is a job title which is often used and can cover a huge range of skills sets and experience levels. In the context of our Salary Survey an Assistant Accountant is a number two to a qualified or senior accountant, responsible for preparing the first draft of the trial balance, including accruals, prepayments, depreciation schedules, Fixed Asset register, reconcile the balance sheet control accounts and produce profit and loss variance to budget reporting. This is an ideal role for a candidate studying for professional qualification but study is not essential.
Accounts Managers are typically responsible for the production of the profit and loss and balance sheet to either an owner managed business, where they will be reviewed annually by the company’s external accountants, or to a senior qualified Financial Controller or Finance Director. They will often have a number of staff reporting to them and they will be required to be self-sufficient in producing monthly operational accounting reports, covering budgets variance analysis and cash flows. Most often Accounts Managers are AAT qualified, but this is not essential.
Bookkeepers are most commonly utilised for small to medium sized companies to fulfil the roles of: accounts clerks, accounts assistants and payroll controllers. They will have the experience of producing the trial balance and the first draft of a profit and loss account. At the higher end of the salary scale they will also have some balance sheet skills such as fixed asset control and balance sheet control reconciliation. In a larger organisation they can be utilised to produce profit and loss accounts for a smaller subsidiary.
Newly & Part Qualified Accountants
There has been a steady increase in the salary levels for part and newly qualified accountants, which has principally been driven by a decline in the number of students undertaking professional study within the area. The lack of candidates at this level has led to employers entering bidding scenarios to attract or retain staff in response to a very unpredictable “stop start” market. The majority of the newly qualified candidates are now being offered salaries well over the £27,000 mark.
Non-Qualified Financial Controllers
Candidates who are qualified by experience or who aborted their professional studies generally still suffer from a salary imbalance within the area. There remains a predilection by most business owners and directors to employ only full qualified accountants, unless the individual in question possesses specific industry experience.
Candidates taking up their first Financial Controller posts in industry are currently receiving between £35,000 - £45,000 depending on the size of business and how practiced the individual is. With many businesses operating leaner finance teams it is a pre requisite to recruit candidates with broad based hands on skills, businesses seeking to appoint at lower salary levels are struggling to attract and retain.
There is still a considerable shortage of Finance Director vacancies within the region and equally the market is short of high calibre candidates. Many clients and candidates remain cautious and this has led to market inertia. Vacancies being advertised in excess of £60,000 start to attract a considerable amount of national interest, which potentially offers local employers far more options, but there remains a high failure rate in terms of potential re-locaters taking up appointments. Industry specific experience will always remain a high priority at this level.