By Max Clarke

Finance professionals in Greater London are enjoying a rise in demand for their business management skills and commercial know-how, according to research from the leading recruiting expert Hay Senior Finance.

Two-thirds of employers say retention of qualified accountants will be a key priority in 2011, with four in 10 worried they won't be able to hold onto their star players. The research suggests they may have good reason to worry, with two-thirds of senior finance professionals saying they intend to look for a new job in the New Year.

Paul Thomas, regional director of Hays Senior Finance in London, said, "Companies of all sizes, from blue-chip multinationals to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), have been lifting headcount freezes to ease the burden of existing finance teams. Employers are also making more use of interim appointments, with some companies paying interim chief financial officers (CFOs) up to £1,200 a day."

In London, chief financial officers (CFOs) and group finance directors in large corporate organisations can expect to earn £200,000-£500,000, with many employers paying more to fill their most senior finance jobs than they typically did prior to the economic downturn. Competition has already intensified to the extent that senior finance professionals routinely receive more than one job offer.

Thomas continued: "Employers are increasingly being trumped by lucrative counter-offers, as CEOs and board directors attempt to hang onto their finance chiefs. Talented qualified accountants are increasingly being sought-after for financial analysis roles, or to help mitigate operational or business risk.

"Accountants played key roles for most organisations during the recession. They implemented painful but necessary cost-saving drives, and identified areas of business with the greatest revenue-earning potential. Today, as companies look to safeguard rising revenues and find new markets in a fragile economic climate, those same senior finance professionals are now helping them plot and steer a path to sustained growth and financial strength."