Hiring finance professionals: Is it time for a salary increment?

By Robert Half 5 April 2019

If you are searching for finance or accounting talent in Singapore this year, offering a salary increment will be crucial for attracting talent in a competitive market.

As the skills shortage and technological disruption continues to impact the hiring of professionals in Singapore, hiring managers will need to place more emphasis on remuneration.

Here are a number of salary trends that will impact finance and accounting candidates this year, and why organisations need to prepare a robust hiring and retention budget in 2019.

Top certifications means top salaries

Finance and accounting professionals in Singapore with the right certifications and qualifications are at an advantage when it comes to asking a higher salary, and companies intent on securing talent will need to respond with an appropriate offer.

As the demand for hybrid controllership positions increases, jobseekers with Chartered Accountant qualifications are in demand as more and more companies are searching for talent who are knowledgeable of finance regulations.

Finance and accounting professionals with certifications in data analytics tools that include Microsoft-based platforms using data query, Power BI and ERP systems are equally in a position to look for a salary increment. Competition is high for experts with an in-depth knowledge of such technologies to identify key trends from big data and enhance data analytics capabilities – a skillset in high demand.

ACL certifications are also hot in Singapore, regarded as the only software that brings together all the critical functions of governance in a cloud-based platform powered by automation. Professionals with competence in ACL Analytics can help businesses drive efficiency and eliminate risk, and are more likely to earn a higher salary as a result.

Attracting expert contractors

More companies are expected to turn to short-term contracts to address the current skills shortage that Singapore is facing.

During peak financial times, professionals in the fields of accounts payable and receivable for example can become highly sought-after as the competition for skilled and experienced workers rises in a candidate-short market.

Finance and accounting professionals who can demonstrate industry knowledge and offer specialised skills are in a prime position to negotiate a salary increment for contract roles, especially where companies are looking for solutions to alleviate current productivity losses created by unfilled jobs.

Tech-savvy finance professionals

Jobseekers with technology-based skillsets are expected to be rewarded with substantial salary increments as finance roles with a higher dependency on robotics and automation continue to make a powerful impact on company growth.

In 2019, 86% of CFOs have already or are planning to implement AI programs within their organisation, which is expected to have a major impact on traditional job roles in the finance sector, particularly for accountants as companies navigate the era of cloud-based accounting. Financial analysts and internal auditors are amongst the roles that will be impacted by AI through enhanced AI-based software such as Computer Assisted Audit Techniques (CAAT).

As a result, professionals who can demonstrate expertise in financial and business analysis, and enhanced strategic decision-making are well placed for higher 2019 salaries in Singapore, and thus will need to be remunerated accordingly.

How to respond to a salary increment request

There are a number of strategies you can employ when approaching this conversation with a candidate. Remember that preparation is key, so take the time to consider these options:

1. Treat the pay rise request seriously

Many employers’ initial reaction to a pay rise request for a salary increment is to say ‘no’. However, even if the question comes as a surprise to you, it doesn't mean you should act on impulse.

A useful tip is to hear the reasons why an employee thinks they deserve an increase to their salary package. Additionally, establish the parameters around the role and your own expectations, making sure the employee understands what is required to earn higher pay.

2. Diffuse the stress of the situation

Asking for a wage increase is a stressful event for a candidate or employee. For both the employer and employee, it’s best to conduct salary negotiations when neither party is emotional.

To help remove the emotion, many organisations offer regular performance-monitoring systems, such as a six-month performance review, where both employers and employees can discuss salaries in relation to work. Alternatively, granting annual bonuses in return for completed KPIs is another way the employees can feel rewarded financial for the work they have performed.

3. Consult a Salary Guide

Make sure you understand what the standard for the employee's role is in terms of pay before entering into negotiations. Compare the position against a relevant Salary Guide. Often an employee does not know what they are worth and they may already be receiving a wage above the industry midpoint.

Using a Salary Guide can help leverage your argument. Likewise, contact a recruiter or your HR representative for advice on the competitive salary benchmarks before making a decision.

4. Offer an alternative to more money

Often a candidate or employee asks for more money because they feel they are worth it or feel they have not been recognised for their hard work. If the company is not willing or able to provide more budget, then offering the employee non-monetary perks could be a better option.

These could include allowing the employee more flexible working hours, training and development, or a new position where they feel their skills can be better developed.

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