On the frontline: Mr Average

It’s not a great deal of fun being an accountant right now – what with the economic slowdown, the Enron effect and the war. Oh, and then there’s this week’s Budget. More red tape? Surely there’s none left in the Treasury’s stationary cupboard.

You might wonder what impact all this national and international intrigue would have on the financial controller of a fairly small company based in the outskirts of London. But I can assure you, in the two years I’ve been here, I’ve felt the chill winds every bit as much as those in their Big Four and multi-national company ivory towers.

That said, it’s not been all bad. It was the working conditions that attracted me to this place, there was plenty of training on offer (albeit mostly of the on-the-job kind) and the salary and benefits package was decent if not earth-shattering.

Like most other accountants, I sort of fell into my career. It was the money, the job content and the chance to get a good business qualification that persuaded me it would be a good idea. And it was the latter that tipped the balance in favour of CIMA training.

Regrets? Perhaps a few, if I’m honest. Since joining, my employer’s profile has suffered, like so many corporates. Not all the promised training materialised, and sometimes a little more personal recognition would go a long way.

As would more money. There was no bonus last year – just like the year before. And the 4% salary rise didn’t exactly set my world on fire.

Still £40,000 a year keeps the wolf from the door – it’s a couple of thousand more than that all-in.

Thanks to Gordon, I now take the cash rather than the car, and while I don’t think too much about them at my age (early thirties, though not as early as I would like), the life assurance, pension and healthcare are a nice cushion.

So where next? Well my FD seems to have been here forever and shows no signs of moving on. He fancies the chief executive’s job, but he’s going nowhere either. Words like bottleneck leap to mind.

Anyway given the state of the economy, I don’t expect to be going anywhere in the next year or two. But equally, I doubt I’ll be here in five years’ time.

If I’ve not left in 10, you have my permission to shoot me.

What I do fancy is something a bit more vibrant – perhaps involving new technologies. If it was outside London, so much the better. I’ve had enough of my hour-long commute. And if something came up in the US, I’d certainly consider it.

But I’m skirting round the issue. What I really want to do is devote more time to sport. At my age, I’ve almost given up on a career as a professional footballer, but I know a few clubs who should be looking for an experienced financial controller. So I won’t give up hope.

  • David Johnson is a fictional, but typical, UK accountant according to a loose interpretation of this year’s Accountancy Age / Robert Half Accounting & Finance salary survey. He was ‘speaking’ to Damian Wild.

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