Firms Use Cash to Lure Accountants, CFOs

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The offers get sweeter for CFOs and accountants in financial services.

With salaries on the rise in the New York metropolitan area, CFOs and controllers, especially those working in financial services firms, are able to command larger salaries, bigger bonuses, and more job guarantees than in the past, says Jeanne E. Branthover, managing director and head of the global financial services practice for search firm Boyden. Although bonuses generally come in February, many have been able to get a guarantee of a partial position after about six months on the job, along with a raise, as well.

"Even those in middle-level positions are seeing greater increases, with pay up some 20 percent and more in the package deals," Branthover notes. There are now upfront guarantees and more offers of business equity, though she adds equity isn't the big lure that it used to be. "People want to know about the cash," she says.

Multiple Offers

On top of that, accounting professionals in the area are finding more than one employer is vying for their talents, says Richelle Konian, a partner at New York City-based Careers on the Move, an executive recruiter serving the financial services industry.

"Firms are paying more, since most people are getting more than one offer. This means that companies need to commit to an offer quicker, and they are being a bit more flexible on the qualifications, as well." In the past, she says, employers weren't satisfied with accountants who might possess most of the skills sets for the position. "They wanted people with 100 percent of the skills."

Today, however, with the area market tight, "they are willing to take someone with 85 percent of the required skills, and are ready to train them in the rest."

Branthover agrees. "People now have a choice of where they want to move and what they want to make," she says. "It's becoming harder and harder to recruit."

Still, Branthover cautions to look before you leap, and to think twice before accepting any counteroffers your current employer might make. "We're finding that when clients are telling their current employer that they are leaving and that they have an offer, they are getting large counteroffers - larger than we have seen in some time - to stay," she says. "We've seen people tell their employer that they are leaving and the firm's partners simply won't accept the decision. They're then wined and dined and descended on with nice lunches and more."

Before you accept the counteroffer, consider why you thought about leaving in the first place, says Branthover. "Money is wonderful, (but) you need to make sure the role or the situation that made you want to leave is going to change for the better," she suggests. "Most of the time people are looking to change jobs because they're unhappy with the conditions, and not necessarily the cash."