London Accountancy salaries compare with the rest of the UK

London Accountancy salaries compare with the rest of the UK

Accountancy salaries in the UK vary significantly between London and other regions, reflecting the broader trends in the cost of living, demand for talent, and economic opportunities across the country. Generally, London boasts higher salaries for accountancy professionals compared to the rest of the UK, but this is accompanied by a higher cost of living.

London vs. Rest of the UK: Salary Comparison

  1. Higher Salaries in London: Accountants in London typically earn more than their counterparts in other parts of the UK. This discrepancy is due to several factors, including the concentration of multinational corporations, financial institutions, and professional services firms in the capital. The demand for qualified accountants in these sectors drives salaries upward.
  2. Cost of Living: While accountancy salaries are higher in London, the cost of living in the capital is also significantly higher than in other UK regions. Housing, transportation, and general living expenses can consume a large portion of the salary premium that London offers. This factor is crucial for accountants to consider when evaluating job opportunities in London versus other locations.
  3. Variation Across Sectors and Experience Levels: The gap in salaries between London and other regions also varies across different sectors and experience levels. For instance, newly qualified accountants in public practice or those working in small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may find a smaller salary difference compared to senior roles in finance, banking, or management positions in larger corporations where the premium for London-based roles can be more substantial.
  4. Regional Economic Hubs: Certain cities outside of London, such as Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh, have strong financial and professional services sectors, offering competitive salaries for accountancy professionals. The difference in salaries may be less pronounced in these economic hubs compared to smaller towns or rural areas.

Salary Benchmarks

Average salary figures for accountants in London and the UK broadly looked something like this:

  • Newly Qualified Accountants: In London, newly qualified accountants could expect to start at around £40,000 to £60,000 annually, depending on the sector and company size. In contrast, the rest of the UK might see starting salaries from £35,000 to £50,000 for similar roles.
  • Experienced Accountants: For those with several years of experience or specialist skills, salaries in London could range from £60,000 to over £100,000, with top positions in finance and banking sectors reaching significantly higher. Outside London, experienced accountants might earn from £45,000 to £70,000, with variances based on location, sector, and role complexity.
  • Senior Roles and Specializations: Senior roles such as Finance Directors or specialists in areas like tax or audit can command high salaries across the UK, but again, these will typically be higher in London. In London, such positions might offer £100,000 to several hundred thousand pounds annually, while in other regions, the range might be slightly lower but still competitive for the top talent.

When comparing accountancy salaries in London with those in other major cities internationally, it’s important to consider various factors such as the cost of living, tax rates, demand for accountants, and the overall economic context of each location. Generally, London is recognized as one of the world’s leading financial centers, and this status is reflected in competitive salaries for accounting professionals. However, when placed in a global context, several nuances emerge.

Comparison with Major Cities Worldwide

  1. New York and San Francisco, USA: These cities are among the top competitors with London in terms of high salaries for accountants, especially given the presence of major financial institutions and a significant concentration of multinational corporations. However, like London, they also have high costs of living. Adjusted for living expenses, salaries in these American cities may offer similar or slightly higher purchasing power compared to London, particularly for roles in finance and technology sectors.
  2. Sydney and Melbourne, Australia: Australia offers competitive salaries for accountants, with Sydney and Melbourne being the primary hubs. While the cost of living is high, especially in Sydney, salaries in these cities are generally competitive with London, reflecting the demand for accounting professionals in a robust economy.
  3. Toronto and Vancouver, Canada: In Canada, salaries for accountants are generally lower than in London, but when adjusted for the lower cost of living and healthcare benefits, the gap narrows. Canadian cities offer a high quality of life, which can be an attractive proposition for many professionals.
  4. Singapore and Hong Kong: Both are key financial hubs in Asia, offering competitive salaries for accountants, often tax-free or at lower tax rates compared to London. The cost of living is high, particularly in Hong Kong, but these cities attract international talent with a combination of competitive remuneration packages and vibrant expatriate communities.
  5. Dubai, UAE: Known for tax-free income, Dubai offers competitive salaries for finance professionals, including accountants. The cost of living is high, but the lack of income tax can significantly increase net income, making it an attractive location for many.
  6. European Cities (e.g., Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris): In Europe, cities like Zurich offer some of the highest salaries for accountants in the world, adjusted for cost of living and taxes. However, the demand and specific qualifications required can vary. Frankfurt and Paris also offer competitive salaries, particularly in the banking and finance sectors, but typically lower than London when adjusted for the cost of living and taxes.

Factors Influencing Salaries

  • Cost of Living: High salaries in cities like London, New York, and Sydney must be viewed in the context of the cost of living, which can significantly impact disposable income.
  • Taxation: Tax policies greatly affect net income. Locations like Dubai and Singapore offer financial advantages through low or no income tax.
  • Industry Presence: The concentration of certain industries (e.g., finance in London and New York, tech in San Francisco) influences demand for accountancy professionals and salary levels.
  • Economic Context: Economic conditions, currency strength, and inflation rates can all influence salary comparisons year-on-year.

London’s accountancy salaries are competitive on a global scale, attracting top talent in the finance and accounting sector. However, when considering international opportunities, accountants should weigh not just the nominal salary but also the cost of living, tax implications, and quality of life in different cities. The dynamic nature of global finance and the varying demands for accountancy skills across industries and regions mean that opportunities for advancement and high remuneration exist across the globe, not just in London.


While accountancy salaries are generally higher in London than in the rest of the UK, this must be balanced against the higher cost of living. Accountants considering their career opportunities should weigh these factors alongside their career goals, lifestyle preferences, and the specific opportunities available in their area of expertise. The dynamic nature of the UK’s regional economies also means that attractive opportunities exist across the country, not just in London.

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