News & Insights

A tight and resilient labour market — Finance & Accounting Salary Guide 2023-24


Australia’s labour market has been tight following the end of the pandemic, and it looks to continue on this trajectory. Interest rate hikes, increased cost of living and reduced borrowing capacity have all contributed to a challenging period for the economy. Despite this, the outlook for jobs and salaries in finance and accounting in Australia remains good. Unemployment, despite edging up slightly, is still very low by historical standards. At Moir Group, we are optimistic about the employment outlook into 2024.

In this article, we share the current state of employment in Australia, our salary guide for 2023-2024 and our predictions for 2024-2025.

Download our 2023-2024 Finance and Accounting Salary Guide

Resilience during tough times

The Australian market has seen the highest rate of wages and earnings growth in Australia in over a decade. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that Australian wages have grown by 4% in the past year to the September quarter of 2023. Following a period of low growth during the pandemic, wage rates have been consistently rising since late 2021. The current rate of wage growth is the highest since 2012, and is above the long-run average of 2.3% per annum (ABS, 2023).

According to Mark Thirlwell, Chief Economist at Australian Institute of Company Directors, the latest set of Labour Force numbers prove that labour market resilience remains strong and hiring conditions tight. “This is despite the impact of higher interest rates on demand and rapid growth in net overseas migration on labour supply.”

When the borders were closed, Stephen Moir, Director of Moir Group, commented that we had a candidate-driven market. “We saw candidates being offered big salary increases to remain in their jobs or when taking on a new role,” he said. “This was still very much the case 12 months ago, however, employers currently are taking a more cautious approach… salaries are unlikely to continue to rise at the rate they have for the past two years,” he added.

Job vacancies and turnover

The unemployment rate was 3.7% in October 2023, and has been around the mid-3s for the last 12 months (ABS, 2023). Prior to 2022, unemployment had not consistently been under 4% since the early 1970s.

While vacancies have declined over the last year, the level remains double that prior to the pandemic. In fact, 2.7% of all jobs in Australia are currently vacancies.  “Unemployment is ticking up very slightly; however, good finance and accounting people are able to pick up a job relatively quickly. We see this continuing into the foreseeable future,” commented Stephen.

“The market is especially tight for mid to senior level finance and accountancy professionals including Commercial Managers, Financial Controllers and Finance Managers. They can be over-worked and feel the pressure. Executive roles like Chief Finance Officer (CFO) are also tight, particularly those CFO’s who have experience in leading other functions like Technology, Procurement, Human Resources, Sustainability and ESG. Interim technical roles are also in high demand, including interim Financial Controllers. We are also seeing that staff want security from their employment. They are looking for safer roles. This is a noticeable change from 12 months ago” he added.

Mental health and ‘silent pandemics’

Mental wellbeing and psychological safety remain a priority for employees when looking for work. For some, COVID-19 exacerbated ‘silent pandemics’ such as mental health, domestic and family violence and racism. “People are resilient, but their resilience also relies on the support employers can provide,” said Stephen.

Care for employees should be the driving force behind mental health and wellbeing strategies. But it’s also good for business, and can lead to increased employee trust, loyalty, productivity, and retention.

Highly desired skills

The current market is calling for finance professionals with:

  • Commercial skills for business partnering
  • Drive, rigour, and the ability to “get stuff done” (this is particularly key)
  • Strong Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) knowledge
  • Highly capable technical finance skills
  • Interest in high-in-demand interim positions
  • Skills for the Not-For-Profit sector, combining head and heart

As for accountancy and finance, Australia is presently experiencing a shortage of accountants. Charted Accountants ANZ reports that almost half (46%) of accounting teams had a shortfall of accountants, with 6% being significantly short-staffed. “In the absence of change, shortages will not only persist, but grow,” CA ANZ warned.

Working Future, a white paper by the Treasury, has found that almost 80% of skilled migrants who are accountants fail to find work with their chosen skill in Australia. CPA Australia senior manager Gavan Ord said: “Employers can benefit greatly from the experience of new migrants, even if they require a little more time to adapt to the Australian market.” Moir Group is very committed to this and ran a powerful session with Deakin Centre for Refugee Emplyment, Advocacy, Training and education (CREATE) during the year. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch.

ESG is here to stay

The push for organisational commitment to ESG is getting stronger. The finance function remains centrally positioned to drive the direction of sustainability and ESG. “Some companies are putting their heads in the sand while others are leading in the space. ESG is not going away — the need will only intensify with increasing responsibility falling to the CFO for ESG reporting responsibilities,” stated Stephen. If you want to know more about ESG roles, contact our ESG Manager Lisa Tracy. She is highly experienced in recruiting ESG roles and is very well networked in this area.

Looking ahead to 2024

Next year may be slightly tougher than the past 12 months. Rising interest rates will continue to impact the economy and there may yet be another hike to come. Stephen commented that despite this, the Australian economy is very resilient and will not go into a recession. The accounting and finance function will continue to play a central role in every organisation. “Accounting is a fabulous career choice and offers so much career diversity, as well as really interesting opportunities. It has changed so much over the past ten or more years and we feel it is only going to get stronger in the years ahead,” Stephen shared. Interestingly, we have seen many CFO’s step into the role of CEO in the past year. This is a trend that is set to keep growing.

Both the Treasury and Reserve Bank of Australia forecast that wage increases will peak at around 4% in early 2024, before easing slightly towards 3.5% in 2025.

Final word

If you’re looking to negotiate your salary, take a look at the tips in this article. Remember to value yourself, come to the conversation with evidence and to have confidence.

At Moir Group, we believe that a satisfying job leads to a fulfilling life. For more advice about finance and accounting sector salaries, or for help in making your next career move, contact our team or browse our latest jobs. 

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