Salaries set for double-digit growth

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Average pay packets were up 5.3% on six months ago, bringing the average salary of an accountant to £44,240. Recruitment experts were predicting a similar rise in the next six months, raising the possibility of at least 10% growth over the year.

The results of the survey, based on feedback from more than 2,500 accountants across the UK, found that one in three partners at accountancy firms takes home at least £81,000 a year, compared with just 20% of finance directors.

Warnings of a skills war between talent-hungry employers were borne out by the survey as individuals look to cash in on the salary boom, with 37% admitting their company struggles to find staff with the right skills.

Phil Sheridan, regional manager of Robert Half Accounting & Finance, described the pay rises as a ?knee-jerk reaction? to an upturn in the economy and a huge increase in recruitment activity. ?Suddenly there?s more confidence but many companies have been caught napping. Big firms and corporates have not done enough to look after the interests of their staff.?

Firms are having to see off further threats, as investment banks look to poach from their accountancy rivals to plug skills gaps, particularly in IFRSand Sarbanes-Oxley.

But the survey revealed an alarming increase in disparity between the genders. Women in the profession earn an average of £10,750 less than their male counterparts, compared with a £8,800 pay gap just six months ago.

Ernst & Young chairman Nick Land said the recruitment market was becoming more competitive as the economy picks up and the governance burden increases. ?Corporates are recruiting very, very actively because they all have to deal with this stuff,? he said. ?And then you?ve got the investment banks.?

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