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Salaries accelerate, but top firms see slowdown in 2000-2001 Back  
Salary increases amongst most of Ireland’s top twenty accountancy firms have run in the 11 to 20 per cent range in the past year, an acceleration on the previous year’s already significant rate of increase. However the prospects are for a moderation in the rate of growth in the coming year, according to Finance’s annual survey of fee income in accountancy.

The survey shows that for the second year running, the gap between accountancy earnings in Ireland and other centres has narrowed. However there is beginning to be some moderation, prompted somewhat by a belief that further salary increases on the scale of the past two years cannot be sustained.

The survey (details on page 6) shows that 77 per cent of firms saw basic non partner salaries rise in the range 11-20 per cent in the past year, with 11 per cent seeing increases of between 6 per cent and 10 per cent. This compared with a half and half split between 10 per cent plus and below 10 per cent in the survey twelve months ago.

Last year’s survey shows that the acceleration in salary increases seen in the past year was correctly anticipated by the country’s large accountancy firms in the 1999 survey, so it is particularly significant to note the moderation being projected in earnings at this stage.

The survey also reveals an industry greatly increasing its productivity, with fees increasing by well into double digits, while aggregate employment numbers in the past year have risen by just 4 per cent.

This reflects the continued benefit of technology being applied to achieve efficiencies in professional services (not least the use of e-mail). In this context, employing firms have been able to afford to pay the increased earnings on offer to staff and new recruits.

It is not surprising therefore that the respondents to the survey plan to increase their recruitment levels in the coming year by even more than in the past year.

The survey, which covers companies employing 5,431 staff, reveals an 11 per cent increase in the projected numbers of new recruits in the coming 12 months, up by 11 per cent, from 988 to 1,097. The bulk of this planned increase is for graduates and trainees, with a projected intake of 653, up 15 per cent on last year.

Among the big firms, KPMG are planning to recruit 200 no professional graduates and support staff, while PricewaterhouseCoopers has 160 in mind.
(See also pages 6-8).

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