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Financial Professionals’ Earnings Up Most in Decade, but Challenges Abound

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Financial professionals can be well-equipped to maximize their compensation. Professionals in finance, treasury and accounting saw their base salaries rise by an average of 4.4% in 2021, according to a compensation survey from the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), a professional society. That’s the largest increase in a decade.

To learn more, the AFP looked at earnings, bonuses, benefits, employee satisfaction and retention, among other things. While many financial professionals seem to be doing well amid the pandemic, not everyone reaps the benefits equally. That means that while larger enterprises may be able to meet the demands of their employees and adapt to recent shifts in attitudes toward work, small businesses may not be so lucky.

It can be good to be a financial pro

Working with money can pay. That 4.4% jump in base salaries among financial professionals is a 1.5 percentage point increase over the previous year. And 69% of these financial organizations awarded bonuses to employees in 2021 — the same as in 2020.

But that doesn’t mean all industry employees receive equal bonuses. The bulk of these bonuses are awarded to executives. On average, executives receive a whopping $68,494, or 35% of their base salary. That compares with:

  • Management: $24,131 (19% of base salary)
  • Staff: $7,037 (9% of base salary)

The industry also offers some benefits almost unanimously. For example, 98% provide health insurance and 95% provide dental insurance. And 58% offer paid paternity leave — the same rate as those that offer paid maternity leave.

For smaller financial companies, these trends may prove more difficult.

Industry challenges still a concern

Although there are many advantages to this industry, it’s not immune from workplace issues. For example, recruiting, personnel issues and staffing (44%) are cited as the greatest challenge faced in workers’ current roles. The next most commonly cited obstacles are the volume of work (40%) and limited resources (39%).

With all these issues having a clear impact on many financial professionals, it makes sense that resignation is common. In fact, more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents say employees at their organizations resigned from their jobs in the past six months. One of the primary factors driving these resignations is dissatisfaction with compensation and benefits (51%). And nearly as many respondents say employees resigned due to experiencing burnout and seeking work-life balance (47%).

This doesn’t seem to be slowing either: Financial professionals expect these resignation trends to continue in the next 12 months.

All that aside, businesses seem to take these concerns seriously. Nearly two-thirds (67%) of respondents report their organizations are taking steps to curb staff attrition. One of the most important actions that employers can take to do that, and build loyalty, could be to offer a flexible work environment. This could be, at least partially, due to the workplace shifts brought on by the pandemic. Whatever the reason, financial companies large and small should be prepared to factor in that preference if they’re going to keep employees happy.

Methodology: The AFP compiled compensation data on 3,352 finance, treasury and accounting professionals across 1,910 organizations — across 19 job titles — in February 2022. Base salary figures are effective Jan. 1, 2022.


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