Business expansion and ongoing compliance requirements will continue driving demand for accounting and finance professionals -- intensifying recruitment challenges next year, according to the 2007 Salary Guide from Robert Half International.

The study found that salaries for many specialties are on the rise, with a national average increase in base compensation of 3.8 percent projected for 2007. The greatest gains in base pay are expected for compliance professionals, internal auditors, financial analysts and public accountants.

Chief compliance officers with large companies (more than $250 million in sales) can expect the largest percentage increase in base compensation of any position next year, with average starting salaries forecast to rise 14.4 percent, to between $132,500 and $181,250. Internal audit managers in large companies will see base compensation in the range of $77,500 to $101,500, up 5.8 percent from this year.

The survey also found that the competitive hiring environment is prompting public accounting firms of all sizes to make recruiting a year-round priority in areas such as audit, corporate governance, tax and risk management. In 2007, average starting salaries for senior manager and director positions at midsize firms ($25 million to $250 million in sales) are projected to climb 7.6 percent, to between $82,000 and $120,000 annually.

Entry-level professionals at small firms (up to $25 million in sales) can anticipate a 5.1 percent increase in average starting salaries, to within the range of $38,000 to $44,000 per year. Firms have also raised salaries and signing bonuses for new recruits and existing staff, and options such as flexible scheduling, part-time work and telecommuting have become increasingly common.

Nationwide, demand for accounting and finance professionals is expected to be particularly strong in the financial services, manufacturing and commercial real estate sectors.

"The 2007 Salary Guide" is based on an analysis of the thousands of job placements managed by Robert Half’s U.S. offices.

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