Liz Fisher, journalist

Professional accountants in the UK are more satisfied with their current salary and with the support they receive from their employer on mental health than those in any other country, according to a new survey from ACCA.

ACCA’s survey of almost 10,000 finance professionals in 157 countries, Global talent trends 2024, highlights the pressure on finance professionals and their employers worldwide as organisations continue to grapple with rapidly evolving technology, changing work practices and the rising cost of living.

71% of UK respondents said they would like to have more training on technology

Views on pay

The regional results from respondents based in the UK suggest that, despite the UK being hit hard by inflation, professionals here are generally more content about their current job and less anxious about the evolving workplace than their peers elsewhere in the world.

Globally, 55% of respondents said that they were dissatisfied with their current pay; in the UK only 46% agreed; 48% of UK-based accountants said they were satisfied with their current salary but, even so, 50% said they planned to ask for a pay rise in the next 12 months.

Hybrid vs home

This year’s survey shows a continuing decline in fully office-based working at a global level: 52% are working in the office, while 41% have a hybrid arrangement and 7% work fully remotely. However, in the UK it is clear that hybrid working has taken hold.

The global report notes ‘big mismatches between how employees want to work and how they are working’, but the disparity in the UK between what respondents want and what they get is much less marked than elsewhere.

In the Middle East, for example, just 15% of respondents say they want to be fully office based, but 78% are current working full time in the office. By contrast in the UK, 64% are currently working on a hybrid basis – which is very close to the 70% who say that is what they would prefer given a choice.

Globally, 78% of respondents say that they work mostly in the office because their employer requires it; this falls to 58% in the UK.

Mental health

Overall, UK professional accountants are lukewarm about the quality of their working life, although they are more content than in other countries and regions. More than a third said they want more support from their employer on mental health (in Asia Pacific this was wanted by 74% of respondents).

UK accountants are more inclined to believe that their employer sees mental health as a priority, but even so, 55% of respondents say that their mental health suffers because of work issues.

Tech impact

Professional accountants in the UK are less concerned than elsewhere about the rapid advancement of technology and its impact on their jobs. Globally, almost half of respondents said that they felt overwhelmed by the pace of change in the workplace; in the UK, only 22% agreed.

This suggests that UK accountants, along with those based in the Caribbean, are more comfortable with the pace of change than their international peers. But they are not complacent – 71% of UK respondents said they would like to have more training on technology and 42% are concerned about the impact of AI on their job.

Only half of UK respondents are satisfied with the career opportunities their current job provides

Looking overseas

UK-based accountants are also far less likely to want to work abroad. While many professional accountants in other regions identify the UK as an attractive possibility for an international career, respondents from the UK are far more likely to want to focus on a largely domestic career path.

While 54% expect their next career move to be outside their current employer, 65% don’t expect the move to be an international one. Even so, there are warning signs for employers – only half of UK respondents are satisfied with the career opportunities their current job provides, and 48% are concerned that they are not developing the skills they will need in the future.

More information

See AB’s overview of the report’s global findings; the global survey results are also available separately