How AAT members’ salaries have grown in 2021

The AAT Salary Survey 2021 is in, and it’s good news for vast swathes of members.

The Covid-19 pandemic meant a year like no other for AAT members. The 2021 Salary Survey finds many were furloughed, while others worked harder than ever to help clients with their own Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims, grant advice and payroll support.

Some members lost clients, while others gained customers. Among licensed accountants, for example, 41% have taken on more clients since March 2020, while 17% have fewer. It has been some ride.

How do you compare?

How do your pay, perks and prospects compare with other members? Check out AAT’s 2021 Salary Survey or use our comparisson tool to learn more.

Salary survey

Salary rises

Compared with the 2019 survey, basic salaries have risen at every level for non-licensed members. They range from a median figure of £21,000 for Foundation Certificate in Accounting (Level 2) and Advanced Diploma in Accounting (Level 3) students to £40,000 for FMAAT members. Student wages are up 10%, MAAT and FMAAT 9% and for affiliate members by 4%. Some 32% of members received a bonus last year (which is on par with the 2019 results), although the proportion of licensed accountants who received a bonus dropped by 3% to 23%.

When it comes to fees, after regular increases since 2013, licensed accountants who have a practice and work full-time experienced a 4% drop in average fee income. The survey reveals that more than half (53%) of licensed accountants who are employed and self-employed have seen their fee income decrease or remain the same over the last year. For those who are solely self-employed, 49% reported a fall. Much of this can be explained by the extra work members undertook as they responded to the impact of the pandemic on their clients.

The not-for-profit sector pays the highest salaries among AAT members, with an average full-time wage of £26,000. The biggest increase in average salaries was among members at micro-companies (those with fewer than 10 employees), while those working in London are the highest-paid. Accountants in the northeast are among the lowest-paid – but they have the highest job satisfaction.

Of course, not everyone was lucky enough to see their wages go up. In fact, only 47% saw an increase compared with 63% in 2019. Those working full-time are most likely to have more cash in their pocket. There was salary progression across all membership levels, with the greatest being 33% when moving from MAAT to FMAAT. What is clear is that those accountants with the greatest number of clients are enjoying a higher average fee income for individuals. Those with larger practices of 100+ clients have seen the biggest rises since 2019.

Gender pay gap

This is one area where the industry still has work to do. The gender pay gap among professional members working full time has gone up to 8%. There was a 5% gap in 2019. Yet the trend is reversed for students and affiliate members, where women earn more than men. When it comes to full-time workers, 54% of men saw a pay rise compared with 48% of women.

Among licensed members, the average fee income for males working full-time is almost double that of females. Almost two-thirds of men (64%) and 36% of women have more than 100 clients.

Career intentions

Job satisfaction

Despite the chaos caused by the pandemic, job satisfaction and job security levels remain virtually unchanged. Satisfaction is often linked to work/life balance.

Some 78% of members plan to stay where they are or seek promotion. More than three quarters (76%) are very or quite satisfied in their jobs and 85% feel secure, including almost three-quarters of those who were furloughed.

Among non-licensed accountants, the number who are very satisfied has increased from 21% to 24%. Licensed accountants who are self-employed and work full-time reported the highest job satisfaction and this group feels more secure in their self-employed work.

Bonuses

Fewer accountants are on a bonus scheme, down from 24% to 21%.

For non-licensed accountants, those receiving a bonus is on a par with 2019 at 32% (33%) and these gratuities tend to represent between 2%-3% of remuneration up to the age of 34 then 3%-4% for the over 35s. The UK seems less willing to offer bonuses than other markets such as the US or the EU. Those working in the private sector are the most likely to use a bonus scheme (25%), with bonuses higher for accountants working in private business rather than practice. Only 12% of those working in the public sector and 7% in not-for-profit are incentivised in this way.

Those in the private sector not working in accountancy practices did particularly well, with 28% on a bonus scheme. The figure is just at 17% for those working at accountancy firms.

Further information

You can read AAT’s 2021 Salary Survey for yourself – just go to our landing page to download it.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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