Date posted: 15/02/2024 5 min read

What chartered accountants are earning: 2023 survey findings

CAs reported more modest remuneration growth in 2023, strongest among those in their early career.

Quick take

  • The job market is buoyant and recruitment experts say salaries for chartered accountants are expected to grow modestly again in 2024.
  • Both benefits and non-remuneration factors remain important recruitment and retention tools for employers looking to secure top talent.
  • The gender pay gap has narrowed for CA ANZ members for the second year in a row.

After a surge in salaries in 2022 due to labour shortages caused by the global pandemic, CA ANZ members’ salaries rose again in 2023 but at a more modest level, with a median total remuneration increase of 3%, and 60% of members reporting a pay increase.

The results from the 2023 CA ANZ Member Remuneration Survey Report show that a range of benefits are also contributing to attraction and retention rates.

Almost 6,000 CA ANZ members took part in the survey, sharing information and perspectives about their remuneration and the gender pay gap. The 3% remuneration increase, compared with the 11% increase recorded in 2022, equates to total full-time median remuneration of A$155,000 in Australia and NZ$140,000 in Aotearoa New Zealand, putting it well above the average salary in both countries. (In Australia that sits at A$67,600 and in New Zealand the figure is NZ$66,196.)  

Salary growth rates and roles

The survey showed that member respondents’ median full-time remuneration – from a provisional member to a CEO – ranged from NZ$76,000 to NZ$357,800 in New Zealand, and A$84,000 to A$325,000 in Australia. 

It also reveals, once again, that salary growth is the fastest in the first 15 years of members’ careers and particularly for early-career CAs, moving from A$81,000 (0–5 years’ experience) to A$140,000 (11–15 years’ experience) in Australia, and from NZ$79,000 to NZ$132,500 in Aotearoa.

“There’s huge competition for young talent and this latest survey shows that the profession is willing to compete on pay for top young talent, which is a great sign for those starting out,” says Ainslie van Onselen, CEO of CA ANZ.

These early-career respondents revealed that many expected a larger pay rise than they received, according to the survey findings.

“That presents a challenge for employers,” says van Onselen. “The survey’s insights into additional benefits will be valuable for employers looking at recruitment strategies beyond simply increasing base salary.”

Ainslie van Onselen, CEO of CA ANZPictured: Ainslie van Onselen, CEO of CA ANZ. Image credit: Christopher Pearce

“The survey’s insights into additional benefits will be valuable for employers looking at recruitment strategies beyond simply increasing base salary.”

Non-salary benefits

While pay rises may be back to pre-pandemic levels, the survey data also shows the range of benefits on offer to bolster remuneration packages.

The three most common benefits received by CA ANZ members in 2023 were free/subsidised CA ANZ or other professional membership, free/subsidised personal development or education, and personal use of a company phone/allowance. Health insurance was another popular benefit although, according to the survey data, more commonly offered by New Zealand employers than those in Australia.

In 2022, the survey asked members about non-remuneration factors valued in the workplace. The most important non-remuneration factors reported by members across both Australia and New Zealand were flexible working, the quality of leadership and meaningful work.

Both benefits and non-remuneration factors remain important recruitment and retention tools for employers looking to secure top talent in a highly competitive labour market.

Megan Alexander CA, director at recruitment specialists Robert Half New Zealand, provides some additional context for the remuneration differences and the value of benefits and non-remuneration factors: “In 2022, significant pay rises happened, which is when CAs reported an 11% average increase,” she says. “As companies went into 2023, they felt that they’d readjusted their salaries but obviously the inflation rate had risen. So, there has been a normalisation of salary increases, back to being more consistent with prior years.

“2022 was the anomaly year, post-COVID, and now we are seeing pay increases are happening but they're not happening for everyone because of the cost structure that businesses are facing. A lot of companies are becoming less profitable because their costs – not only salary costs but their overall cost structure – have increased. There’s a disconnect between what some employees are asking for and what employers can really offer. But essentially, salary increases have normalised: that's the key.”

Employees have other levers to pull to attract and retain staff, says David Cawley, NSW regional director at recruitment company Hays Australia.

“Because employees don’t have the leverage they had in 2022, they are often staying with a company and looking for benefits such as health insurance, flexible working options and personal development opportunities,” he says.

Apart from free or subsidised parking, another benefit highly valued by members is additional annual leave, with 19% of members in Australia and 33% in Aotearoa New Zealand receiving this as part of a remuneration package.

Alexander says there are some creative ways extra annual leave is presented as a benefit across many industries, with some offering the option to purchase extra leave and others providing it as a bonus if all leave is taken.

“Companies are offering extra leave because they want to create a good culture around work-life balance and make sure that people are actually using their leave, rather than just banking it up,” she says. “It’s an attractive benefit to a lot of people.”

What about the gender pay gap?

The survey also shows the gender pay gap for CA ANZ members has narrowed for the second year in a row, with Australia showing the biggest movement in reducing the gap from 19% to 13%. In New Zealand the difference is smaller: a drop from 23% to 22%.

Compared with Australian workplaces more broadly, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) reported the average total remuneration gender pay gap dropped 1.1 percentage points from the previous year to 21.7% in 2023. In New Zealand, the 22% gap for CAs is above the industry average for professional and administrative services, which sat at 18.7% in 2023.

Reflective of broader society, the gender pay gap starts at the beginning of CA ANZ members’ careers and increases as members progress, until it drops again after the age of 60 in Australia, and evens out in Aotearoa. For someone aged 20–29, the gap in 2023 was 4% for Australian CA ANZ members and 6% for New Zealand members. Jump forward to the 50–59 age bracket and the difference increases to 19% and 28% respectively in each country. 

2024 salary expectations

So, what’s the salary outlook for CA ANZ members in 2024?

Cawley says the modest salary growth is typical of the broader market, with 2022’s higher rate a result of labour shortages caused by the pandemic.

Things have now steadied and, as employers try and prepare their businesses for the future, people should not expect huge pay increases to be on offer.

“The job market looks buoyant, with a lot of projects that have been on hold now coming through, but the general salary outlook at the moment is a very marginal increase to just holding steady for the year ahead,” Cawley says.

It’s a similar situation in New Zealand.

Alexander says there are still very big skill shortages in the country which have been exacerbated by the smaller market. As a result, some roles can demand more generous pay increases but it’s not across the board.

“We are still seeing companies prepared to pay quite big salary increases for some roles, but it's more targeted and so not everybody is getting these increases. Despite this, people expect a pay rise as their own costs go up,” Alexander says.

Negotiating that pay rise without a CA designation would be a challenge, says Cawley.

“There is no doubt the value of holding a chartered accountant designation is still very strong because it shows ongoing learning and strong ethical standards. I have spoken to several CAs recently who also expressed how the designation opens doors globally and provides excellent networking opportunities,” he says.

Have you read the full survey findings?

Download the 2023 CA ANZ Remuneration Survey for more details and insights.