November 21, 2018

The Going Concern Accounting Compensation Report Is Here


There’s been lots of talk this summer about compensation, as usual. It’s been a major part of Going Concern’s coverage since the site started in 2009. Over the years, one of the shortcomings of the coverage has been the focus on the largest accounting firms. And it’s true! We’ve focused on the Big 4 and second tier firms precisely because their employees have always sought and been willing to provide lots of insider information to us and gabbed about their pay enthusiastically. Trying to herd the rest of the accounting cats, whether industry folks or mid-tier/small firms, proved difficult and didn’t result in any meaningful coverage or discussion.

This year, we tried something new, surveying the Going Concern audience directly to collect thousands of submissions from accountants of all kinds about their compensation. We went through the responses, verified the good data, tossed out the bad, and slapped some words and pictures together. It took us awhile, but we’re happy with the result: The Going Concern Accounting Compensation Report.  Yes, there are other reports out there with larger samples, better data, more resources, etc. etc. but ours is built on information from the community of Going Concern, and we think that’s worth reporting and sharing.

Anyway, some of the topics covered in the report:

  • The balance between base salaries vs. bonus pay;
  • Earnings by title and how their compensation changed;
  • Which areas of the country pay the most and which regions had the highest raises;
  • Which industries pay the most;
  • Job satisfaction;
  • Concerns about the job market;

Plus, here’s a little insight from the executive summary:

75 percent of survey respondents expressed their optimism for a substantial increase in earnings this year. On average, accounting professionals are anticipating increases in total compensation of more than 7 percent. Equally encouraging was the response to questions regarding work/life balance. Only one in five survey participants rated their industry experience as below average or poor.

This year’s compensation report also identified a possible developing trend in bonus pay. Accounting professionals in many leadership positions experienced slight declines in base pay that were offset by substantial increases in bonus pay. The prospect of performance-based bonus pay is one that many professionals in the industry would welcome.

For those of you who prefer pictures to words, don’t worry; there are over 40 figures in the report.

One interesting finding was the earnings of respondents with master’s degrees versus those without.

GC accounting compensation report 1

The results that show accountants with master’s degrees earning only slightly more than those without them is consistent with what people in the Going Concern community have been saying for years.

Similarly, the results for CPAs versus non-CPAs is consistent with the chatter we’ve heard in the community and other studies:

GC accounting compensation report 2

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

If you participated in the survey, submitted verifiable information, and requested a copy of the report, you should’ve received it via email this morning. If you didn’t take the survey but would like a copy, you can buy it for less than your monthly Starbucks budget. And if you think that’s too much to spend, then just remember that it goes to a good cause. Okay, a fair cause. Okay, a cause.

Thanks to everyone to participated in the survey. If you have any feedback about the report or have suggestions on how to make it better for next year, leave it in the comments or email us at [email protected].

Now go get paid.

Image: iStock/Topp_Yimgrimm

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We’re not trying to ruin your Friday but at the very least, this might encourage some of you to get your drink on a little earlier than planned.
Rumor received late last night that a Big 4 CEO was asked about compensation and bonuses at some grin n’ grip and he responded that the compensation adjustment and bonus pools for all the Big 4 firms was going to be down 90%.
This fits together nicely with the rumors of freezing and/or cutting pay that have been going around. Okay, now try to get some work done or figure out where you’ll be having that three martini lunch.

E&Y Appreciates the Little People

E&Y’s Dallas office sure appreciates their new associates because they’ll be the only ones getting pay raises this year. It’s either that or they want to the put them in the position for additional ridicule until the fresh batch of new associates comes on.
According to the tip we received, the announcement was made at the townhall meeting today and this is first office of any firm that we’ve heard of to make an official announcement to employees that pay was being frozen.
Those being promoted to a new level (e.g. SA to Manager) will receive bonuses but no details were given. We’ll update as we learn more.