How To Secure An Above Market Rate Salary In A Tax Practice
Published over 5 years ago by Medet Ali
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
When we enter the profession we may imagine that within a few years we will be at the top of our game and earning a huge salary that will continue to rise. For many of us that isn't necessarily the case and that can be demoralising when we feel that we deserve to be recognised for our hard work.
Most employers will let the market dictate – in other words, they judge the job being done on other similar roles and then take into account the person they are trying to attract to that role. If they want someone with plenty of experience they will offer a premium on the basic market rate.
This market rate is influenced by a number of factors including the location, the size of the employer organisation, the “perks” that come with the role and of course the industry. The large accountancy firms (Big 4 etc) use a tiered salary system that sets limits within each tier – moving into another bracket will usually mean that you will need to get a promotion or apply internally for a new role.
So how do you ensure you set yourself up for a promotion or a pay rise that will ensure you get above your firms “market rate”?
Have you actually asked for a pay rise, or are you just waiting for that offer to come? Few employers will offer a pay rise, unless they have very good reason or it is a basic yearly percentage rise.
You will need to do your research and present your case for why you think you deserve a pay rise – but the act of asking will reveal a number of things to your employer.
- You are not entirely happy in your role
- You may be thinking of leaving
- You are feeling under-appreciated
- The pay structure of the business may not be keeping up with the industry
These are all important lessons for your employer and may result in promises of a future pay review or even a great offer then and there. If it doesn’t, you may want to question whether you have a future at your current firm.
(If you wish for further advice on asking for a salary rise, then please feel free to call me on my direct line 0207 464 4243 – I have negotiated countless increases for people that I have represented and given good advice - I am told! - to former candidates looking to negotiate a better deal for themselves)
Make a 12 month plan
There are very few people who actually sit down and put their professional vision down on paper. If you want to improve your prospects, lifestyle and salary, then I strongly recommend you join the ranks of the few.
Ask yourself where you want to be in a 12 month time frame (what will you be earning, doing etc) and what changes you need to make to ensure this happens. There are plenty of self-help books that can give you a guideline/plan on how to do this and what to ask yourself. I have one that I created for myself and would be happy to send to anyone who is interested (e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org) in improving their professional prospects.
Present yourself as an expert in your field
Whether you are looking for a new role and hoping for a better salary or are still with your current employer – you can influence your salary outside of work. You could present yourself as an expert by developing your own website ( or adding a new area to your employers), offering yourself as a consultant, writing guest blogs or presenting You Tube videos that pitch yourself as the go to person for tax expertise in your sector.
Develop a new niche
If you see a problem within your tax specialist area and have thought of a better way of doing things – think about developing that idea. Of course this sets you up as the expert on this issue and gives you a salary boosting specialism that sets you up for future employment. You could consider other areas of taxation that are profitable but underutilised in your firm. I know a manager who set himself up as his firms R&D specialist and generated a significant amount of income for his firm.
You may even be able to train your colleagues on this new area or even grow and develop a team – further boosting your ability to earn more money and influence your employer to offer you a good raise.
Sometimes it is the simple things that have the best gains. Most tax positions in the profession will usually require that you hold a tax qualification like the ATT or CTA. A great way to get to a higher salary level is to simply study the right courses to achieve higher qualifications. This can be done while you are working and can be offered by your employer as part of your employment package. Passing the CTA can mean a significant pay rise for a lot of tax professionals.
When deciding on the best course, try to set yourself apart from the rest. Choose those qualifications that will lead you towards the highest paying roles, but also those that are specialist and niche. The more people graduating with your qualification, the more competition you have and the lower the market rate will be for your potential role. Yes the CTA is a tough exam, but it does make you significantly more marketable and ensures you get an immediate pay rise with a lot of employers?
Make yourself indispensable
Getting a better salary when you ask for one relies on your employer needing you more than the savings they would make from saying no. They are aware that a request for better pay might lead to you leaving, so you need to make sure that you are one of those workers who excels and who would leave a gap if you walked away.
One of the best ways of making yourself a recognised asset is by taking on a leadership role within ongoing projects. If you were to leave with the job half done it would impact on the business. And while pointing this out isn't generally recommended if you want to maintain good relations with your employer, it can offer some leverage. But being a leader will allow your employer to see your special skills - employers pay a premium for the leaders of tomorrow.
Learn to network
These days a knowledge of how networking and marketing works is essential to the commercial viability of any business. Improving and developing these skills could make you invaluable for your employer. Not only will they have a worker who brings along a ready-made pool of potential clients, but you will also be able to build that database using the skills you have.
Any employer would be willing to pay more for the business building attributes of a socially connected employee. You can achieve this status by indulging in social media. Joining networking groups in your area associated with your industry will also help to build your social connections. Your employer will appreciate the new clients, the increased fees and the improved status of their organisation.
Find a new job
It is a fact that the best way to get a pay rise is often to simply find a new tax position that offers more money. In the tax market right now, this is not as hard as you might imagine, as there is a demand for your skill set. Taking that step up the ladder can result in impressive salary increases and is a simple way improve your experience and future earning potential. If you employ the services of a recruitment agency you should be able to negotiate the best possible salary – something that can be a challenge to do on your own.
From the very obvious through to the slightly less obvious – these tips are designed to help you think outside the box and consider the many ways that you can prove your worth to your employer – current and future.
Be the person that gets to the top and do it based on your ability, your individualism and your drive to succeed. I guarantee you that a good employer will recognise all of those qualities.