Suddenly everyone wants to be an accountant

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New figures from Robert Half underscore the extent to which trainee bankers earn more than accountants. Accountancy is popular nevertheless, say recruiters.

New figures from Robert Half show that university leavers entering investment banking are the clear winners in the pay stakes, with City trainees typically starting on 30k, compared to 26k in the Big Four accountancy firms.

Investment banking is an undeniably popular career option, but accounting recruiters say recent redundancies at banks are making some graduates think twice about the profession and value the stability of a traineeship in the Big Four.

"There's been a noticeable increase in Big Four graduate applications, primarily because of the change in perception of accounting and the career path it provides," says Neil Owen, senior regional manager at the City office of Robert Half.

The Financial Times reported recently that Deloitte has seen a 22% increase in applications to its graduate programme this year.

Head of graduate recruitment Sarah Shillingford told the paper that many graduates are now applying early for jobs at the Big Four - rather than waiting for the traditional milk round season.

Robert Half's data indicates that the only place in the world where there's parity between starting pay for bankers and accountants is New York, where both professions pay $50k-$55k (26k-28k).

"Everyone's competing for limited supplies of candidates with accounting degrees," says John Landers, a manager at Robert Half's Wall Street office. "This is driving increased competition on campus; many firms are promoting internship opportunities with the hope of securing early commitments from the most promising students."

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