Qualified chartered accountants (CAs) in the UK are on average better paid when working in businesses rather than in accountancy firms, according to a survey by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).

The survey revealed that the median salary of a qualified CA in an accountancy firm ranges from £40,000 ($66,752) to £60,000 per annum. While the median salary for a qualified CA in the industry ranges from £41,000 per annum in a small business, up to £70,000 in a public listed company.

The survey also revealed that firms are relaxing their austerity measures as the economy shows signs of recovery. For example, more CAs have seen an increase in basic salary this year compared to last year, with 26% of respondents saying they have had no increase in salary in the past year, against 34% reporting a pay freeze the previous one.

However, almost half of respondents, 43%, said their salaries didn’t keep pace with the cost of living, the same answer as in previous surveys.

The survey, entitled The State of Play, was conducted by The CA magazine, the membership magazine for ICAS, in association with recruitment consultants Wilkinson & Associates and looked at the latest trends in salary on a population of 1,500 CAs in Scotland, England and Wales.

"The mood of cautious optimism appears to be reflected in employers’ remuneration policies. Even so, more than four in ten of CAs in the survey believed their pay has not kept pace with the cost of living, so if growth does match expectations there will be pressure to improve packages or risk losing staff," The CA magazine editor Robert Outram said.

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The State of Play