MENLO PARK, CA -- Compensation for accounting and finance professionals will remain little changed from 2001 levels, according to the just-released Robert Half and Accountemps 2002 Salary Guide. Starting salaries for financial professionals are expected to increase by an average of 1.5 percent in 2002, compared to the 6.9 percent increase that was forecast this time last year.

Robert Half and Accountemps are the full-time and temporary placement divisions, respectively, of Robert Half, the world?s first and largest staffing firm specializing in accounting, finance and information technology. The annual salary survey is based on an analysis of the thousands of job orders managed by the company's U.S. offices.

"The conservative compensation outlook is a reflection of today?s business environment," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half. "While for the most part starting salaries should remain stable, declines are anticipated in some specialties as companies reassess their pay structures. Many employers have less flexibility with compensation plans due to cost-controlling measures."

With a growing pool of qualified candidates, organizations are more selective when making hiring decisions. "Firms are seeking accountants who not only meet the basic job requirements, but also can contribute to the company?s strategic business goals," Messmer said.

Public Accounting Firms Continue to Increase Salaries

Average starting salaries will remain strong at public accounting firms as they continue to compete with private industry for top applicants. Senior accountants in public accounting will see the greatest increases in base compensation in 2002. Starting salaries for these professionals are expected to rise by an average of 4.2 percent at medium-sized public accounting firms ($25 million to $250 million in sales), 3.7 percent at small firms (those with up to $25 million in sales) and 3.4 percent at large firms (more than $250 million in sales). Accounting managers also should see gains in average starting salaries, with a projected increase of 3.2 percent at medium-sized public accounting firms and 3.1 percent at large firms.

In corporate accounting, base compensation for general, audit, tax and cost accounting managers is forecast to rise 3.4 percent at small companies and 3.1 percent at medium-sized businesses. Accountants with up to one year of experience will see a 3.0 percent gain in average starting salaries at medium-sized firms, while senior accountants at large companies can expect a 2.8 percent increase.

Specialties with Above-Average Salary Growth

Financial, budget, treasury and cost analysts will see the most significant starting salary increases in 2002, according to the research. Analysts with one to three years of experience should see a 5.2 percent gain in base compensation at large companies, with an average salary range of $42,250 to $53,750. Similarly, analysts with one to three years of experience are expected to see average starting salaries of $38,500 to $49,000 at medium-sized firms, an increase of 5.1 percent over 2001. At medium-sized companies, average starting compensation for managers in these specialty areas is projected to rise 4.8 percent to the range of $58,500 and $73,250 annually.

"Financial analysts are in demand as companies adapt to changing market conditions," Messmer said. "These professionals are needed to evaluate business trends and identify strategies that will reduce costs and increase operational efficiency."

Purchasing managers at medium-sized businesses are expected to see the greatest percentage gain in starting salaries of any single job category. Base compensation ranging from $39,750 to $48,000 is expected, a rise of 6.7 percent over last year. In banking, stock record and transfer specialists will see a starting salary increase, bringing them to the range of $32,500 to $41,500 annually. This is a 6.5 percent gain, the second highest in the survey.

While overall increases in starting salary are moderate compared to last year?s projections, some of the specialty areas most in demand should still see notable gains. According to the Robert Half and Accountemps 2002 Salary Guide:


  • Directors of finance at companies with less than $50 million in sales will see a base compensation increase of 3.8 percent, bringing them to the range of $75,000 to $104,000 annually.

  • Starting salaries for assistant controllers and treasurers at companies with more than $250 million in sales are expected to be between $74,750 and $95,000, an increase of 3.7 percent.

  • Assistant credit managers at companies with more than $250 million in sales will see starting salaries increase 4.3 percent to between $43,000 and $54,750 per year.

  • Tax managers at large companies will see a 3.5 percent increase in starting salaries. Base compensation will range from $78,500 to $123,250 per year.

  • Public accountants with one to three years of experience will see starting salaries increase 2.9 percent at firms with $25 million to $250 million in sales, with base compensation ranging from $35,750 to $44,500.



Demand for accounting and finance professionals is expected to be strongest in the health care, real estate and financial services industries. However, hiring activity varies significantly by geographic region. (All salaries listed are national averages. A regional analysis of hiring trends and compensation variances is included in the Salary Guide.)

Information in the Salary Guide is derived from the thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements conducted each year by Robert Half recruiting managers. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported because too many external factors -- such as seniority, work ethic, job performance and training -- impact the salaries of full-time employees as work histories develop.

Companies nationwide have consulted the Robert Half and Accountemps Salary Guide for decades to determine salaries for all levels of employees. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor?s Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the guide in the preparation of its comprehensive Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Robert Half has more than 330 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at

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