Every current or incoming RSM UK audit employee will be interested in how their career and salary will progress over time. An Audit role at RSM will involve a competitive opening salary and a career, structured progression to more senior roles in the audit department.
A first-year audit assistant at RSM in the UK can expect to earn around £30k per year which will rise by a few thousand per year until qualifying as an Accountant. Upon qualifying, an Auditor at RSM will be earning between £45k and £50k which will continue to rise depending on role and performance.
So whether you are a current RSM employee curious about how long it will take to progress to a certain level or are applying for an audit role and wondering how much you would be paid, the below comprehensive guide should help clear up all questions you may have over the typical career and salary progression while working as an auditor at RSM UK.
What is the normal career progression in RSM UK audit?
A typical audit career at RSM UK will involve 3 years as an Audit Assistant whilst studying towards an Accountancy qualification, 2 years as an Assistant Manager, 3 years as a Manager, and 5 years as a Senior Manager before reaching either the Director or Partner level which will depend on performance.
Whilst many RSM employees join the firm somewhere along the firm hierarchy, many start at the base level i.e. on a graduate or apprenticeship scheme. A graduate scheme will typically involve a three-year program where time is split between studying towards a professional qualification like the ACA and working as an audit associate.
Similarly, it’s possible to join as an apprentice or a ‘school leaver’ whereby the candidate would embark on a two-year apprenticeship program in lieu of pursuing a University degree.
Going down this route allows RSM employees to have their professional qualifications funded by their employer and allows them to understand the processes and culture of RSM as they progress in seniority.
How long does it take to qualify as a Chartered Accountant in Audit at RSM UK?
To qualify as a Chartered Account in Audit at RSM will typically take three years in the graduate program providing the trainee passes the professional qualification exams and performs to the minimally accepted level.
These three years will typically involve pursuing the ACA qualification – for more on this qualification, check out my post on How hard are the 15 ACA qualification exams? Exams ranked by difficulty
It is generally advisable to study an Accountancy related degree at University or a related discipline prior to studying for the ACA, which is a demanding and tricky qualification. For this reason, those who didn’t study Accounting at University often choose to undertake a preliminary qualification like the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification to ease the transition.
How much can a first-year graduate trainee earn in audit at RSM UK?
Following the recent inflationary changes, a first-year graduate trainee in audit at RSM UK could expect to earn approximately £30,000 per annum plus a small year-end bonus of around £1,000 depending on the firm and individual performance.
This salary doesn’t include the costs borne by RSM to cover the tuition and exam costs of the professional accountancy qualification which can be significant.
This is a strong starting salary in the grand scheme of things, particularly given much of the first-year trainees’ time will be spent away from the office studying.
How much can a second-year graduate earn in Audit at RSM UK?
A second-year graduate working in Audit at RSM UK can expect to earn around £33,000 per year reflecting an annual increase of £3,000 or 10% to reflect the increased responsibility and complexity of the work being taken on.
Similarly to first-years, a second-year will likely earn a small annual bonus of around £1,000 again depending on the wider firm’s performance and the individual impact in the role.
Whilst the first year in audit is seen as the period where new hires ascend up the learning curve, there is a greater expectation on second years to be more self-sufficient and to bring a greater contribution to the team. This tends to be a big factor in performance reviews and resultant salary and bonus conversations.
How much can a third-year graduate earn in audit at RSM?
A third-year graduate in Audit and RSM UK can expect to earn approximately £38,500 reflecting a large jump of £5,500 or 17%. This substantial yearly increase reflects the far greater responsibility a third-year auditor would take on which may often involve managing other team members.
At this point, the annual bonus is likely to increase slightly and may reach the likes of £2,000 per year. Typically the bonuses in audit are nothing to write home about and don’t compete with other professionals’ bonuses like those in the investment industry.
It is typically at this point that an audit professional will being to consider their career options, i.e. to stay and forge a long-term career in audit or to leave once qualified at the end of the three-year training contract.
For more on this consideration, have a read of my post on: When is the right time to leave Big 4 audit in the UK?
How much can a newly qualified Accountant (Assistant Manager) earn in audit at RSM?
A newly qualified Accountant (referred to internally as an ‘Assistant Manager’) will typically earn around £48,000 per annum which begins to represent a high salary.
The jump from a third-year associate to a fully qualified accountant is significant with a yearly earnings increase of £9,500 or 25%. This substantial increase reflects the established skills of the auditor which are now proven through a professional qualification.
At RSM, it is typical to work two to three years as an Assitant Manager before being promoted to a Manager and in this position, you would be responsible for leading the on-site audit fieldwork at a client.
A second-year Assistant Manager could expect to earn £53,000 per annum and a third-year Assistant Manager £56,000 per annum reflecting gradual increases. Significant salary bumps tend to come when moving between levels i.e. associate to Assistant Manager or Assistant Manager to Manager.
How do post-qualification audit salaries at RSM compare to the Big 4 firms?
Post-qualification audit salaries at RSM compare reasonably well with the Big 4 firms (KPMG, EY, Deloitte, and PwC) as RSM uses these large competitors as a benchmark. However, RSM is a smaller firm with a much smaller client and revenue base than the Big 4 so is more limited in what it is able to pay out to its staff.
For more on the salaries at the Big 4 firms, check out my below series of posts by clicking on the hyperlink.
How much can an Audit Manager earn at RSM?
An Audit Manager at RSM could expect to earn around £60,000 per annum in the first year of the role. An Accountant as young as 25 or 26 could find themselves in this role with good performance, so this is a good salary for someone of that age.
At the Manager level, the responsibility level goes up once again with these Accountants typically reporting directly to the Audit Director or Audit Partner. An Audit Manager will be the one who is ultimately responsible for the smooth operation of the audit.
At the Manager level, the bonus and salary increases become far more variable and much more closely tied to performance, impact, and the individual’s client portfolio. As a rough estimate, an Audit Manager could expect to earn a bonus of around £5,000 per year with salary increasing incrementally over time.
How long will it take to become an Audit Manager at RSM?
At RSM, it would typically take five to six years to become an Audit Manager. This would involve three years in a graduate program and further two to three years as a fully-qualified Assistant Manager. However, it has been known to be done in less.
This is highly dependent on the individual’s skills and the amount of responsibility they are willing to take on.
For a school leaver apprentice, it may take seven to eight years to progress to the Audit Manager position, however, that would still allow school-leavers to ascend to this role by age 25 or 26 and to be earning £60,000 per annum plus.
How much can an Audit Senior Manager earn at RSM?
An Audit Senior Manager at RSM will earn approximately £70,000 per annum when new to the role. At this senior level, this figure can vary greatly and is influenced by the following factors:
- Salary negotiated if joining from another firm
- Performance and Impact
- Client portfolio and importance to the audit department
- Leverage (i.e. how badly the department is in need of the Senior Manager’s services)
- Other roles within the department (i.e. head of people or head of quality etc.)
How long will it take to become an Audit Senior Manager at RSM?
It will typically take around eight to nine years to become an Audit Senior Manager at RSM. This can be thought of as the five to six years required to become an Audit Manager (as outlined above) plus a further two to three years at the Manager level.
Again, things become much more variable at this stage and a Manager who is performing excellently could find themselves promoted to Senior Manager after a year.
How much can an Audit Director earn at RSM?
An Audit Directors’ salary is far less easy to predict and is highly dependent on the salary negotiated and performance. However, as a rough guide, an Audit Director at RSM could expect to earn around £100,000 per year.
In all likelihood, Auditors would need to reach the Director level to begin earning a six-figure base salary. This is reasonable given the Accountability Audit Directors take on e.g. being the responsible individual who signs audit opinions for clients.
How much can an Audit Partner earn at RSM?
An Audit Partner at RSM’s remuneration works differently than the other job roles covered throughout this post. Most Partners will have a base salary in the six figures which can vary considerably but the main part of their income will be part of a profit-sharing arrangement.
At the Partner level, the individual typically agrees to buy into equity at the firm and then gets a share of the profit each year, which can result in much larger total incomes than at any other level.
How long will it take to become an Audit Partner at RSM?
For those who successfully make Partner, it will typically take 12-15 years which will be split between the above roles mentioned in this post. However, not everybody can make Partner as it becomes more political and more of a question of whether the candidate would bring in as much money as they would take out.
As such, a lot of audit professionals top-out at the Director level.
As always, please remember I am an Accountant, but not your Accountant. In this post (and all of my others) I share information and oftentimes give anecdotes about what has worked well for me. However, I do not know your personal financial situation and so do not offer individual financial advice. If you are unsure of a particular financial subject, please hire a qualified financial advisor to guide you.
This article has been written by Luke Girling, ACA – a qualified Accountant and personal finance enthusiast in the UK. Please visit my ‘About‘ page for more information. To verify my ACA credentials – please search for my name at the ICAEW member finder. Please comment below or contact me here to get in touch with questions or ideas for future posts.