Chartered accountants, famously lampooned in Monty Python sketches, are laughing all the way to the bank, according to a survey that shows that UK beancounters are the best paid in the world.
A UK accountant with five years’ experience typically earns £72,000 a year, against £42,000 in America, a country more often associated with bank-busting salaries. Those who are promoted to partner at one of the Big Four accounting firms see their pay rocket to about £250,000 — or £13,000 a month after tax.
Mike Rake, the chairman of KPMG, was paid £1.7 million last year. Nick Land, UK chairman of Ernst & Young, took home more than £1 million. It is thought that some individuals earn more than £2 million a year, although not all the big firms disclose details of pay.
Andrew Saunders of Management Today magazine, which publishes an annual global salary survey, said: “It’s widely assumed that US accountants earn more than the rest of the world, but this is not borne out by the figures. UK accountants are consistently more highly paid.”
The tables are turned when it comes to boardroom pay, however, with the typical US chief executive earning £1.2 million a year compared with a miserly £409,000 for their UK counterparts. Company bosses in Sweden scrape by on £250,000 a year.
Other research published today reveals the UK accounting profession remains overwhelmingly male. As few as one in 11 partners at the big firms are women. The biggest UK firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, has 734 male partners and 63 female partners.
Rewards for those who make it to the top of the greasy pole are substantial. Damian Wild, editor of Accountancy Age magazine, said: “Fee income growth may be slowing, but we shouldn’t feel too sorry for accountants. Senior accountants are still earning significant sums of money, in six or even seven figures.”