Payroll professionals should enjoy impressive gains in 2008

Salary forecast by Robert Half shows almost 10-per-cent increase

Payroll professionals should be more than pleased going into 2008, with predictions of very healthy growth in base salaries.
The 2008 Salary Guide from Robert Half International shows people in payroll will see the biggest increases in base pay next year among corporate accounting and finance departments (in large companies with greater than $250 million in sales). The average starting salary is expected to rise 8.9 per cent for payroll, compared to the next highest increase, 7.6 per cent for vice-presidents of finance.

The gain for payroll is also significantly higher than predicted for 2007, when salary increases were forecast at 3.4 per cent last year.

“The big surprise is for payroll — the percentage change is higher than expected, it’s quite high,” says Mike Gouley at Robert Half in Toronto, a staffing services firm. “It’s very good news.”

Broken down by position, those forecast salary gains translate to 9.2 per cent for payroll managers (compared to 4.8 per cent forecast last year), 8.6 per cent for payroll supervisors (compared to 3.2 per cent), 8.1 per cent for payroll co-ordinators (compared to 2.5 per cent) and 9.8 per cent for payroll administrators (compared to 4.2 per cent).

Pushing the climbing numbers is sizeable demand, says Gouley.
“It’s a competitive hiring environment right now. You look locally there’s a 30-year low in unemployment, coupled with ongoing business expansion — that’s really increased demand for skilled payroll professionals.”

It’s a trend Robert Half has seen for a number of years, he says.

“Definitely when it comes to payroll, when we have an individual available, they don’t last long on the marketplace, not at all. It is a role that definitely gets a premium in salary and compensation… It’s always a very in-demand position, with both permanent divisions and temporary contracts.”

Calgary’s powerful reign might be one factor behind the gains but regional analysis shows the salary ranges are more affected by that region than salary increases, he says. For example, payroll administrators are projected to see a salary range of $34,250 to $41,500 for 2008 (compared to $31,500 to $37,500 for 2007) but by city, the index would be 106.8 for Calgary, 104.9 for Toronto or 88.5 for Quebec City, says Gouley. Those take into account elements such as demand in the area or cost of living.

Companies are offering enhanced compensation to attract and retain top talent with technical proficiencies, strong communication skills and industry expertise, he says, and attention to detail and accuracy are also valued.

“More and more accounting and finance professionals, including payroll professionals, are required to be involved in more projects and other endeavours that require them to have a broader skill base than technical proficiency,” says Gouley. “Strong communication skills will really differentiate people as they move up the corporate ladder.”

The survey is based on thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements managed by Robert Half’s staffing and recruiting managers across Canada.

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