Author:Charles, Shannon

The world appears to be headed for turbulent times in 2019, with increased tariffs, looming trade wars, and strained international relations. Europe is in the midst of redefining the European Union with or without Great Britain. In the United States, unemployment has dropped, yet most of the increase in employment appears to be in low-paying jobs. Even with all the uncertainty about the future, the world gross domestic product (GDP) continues to rise.

Job security is destined to become a major concern for all in the coming years, with inevitable declines in regional economies and an increase in artificial intelligence (AI). Organizations like IMA[R] (Institute of Management Accountants) are concerned about how future events will impact their members, especially in terms of compensation. IMA's 2019 salary survey identifies trends in compensation and other career-related factors among the global IMA membership.


The number of usable responses in this year's survey totaled 5,208, which is more than double the responses of last year. Members from 78 countries around the globe participated-an increase of 16 from last year. Figure 1 shows the median salary and total compensation from countries with at least 1% of the survey respondents. (All monetary values are in U.S. dollar equivalents as of the time of the survey.) Last year, 50% of the respondents came from the U.S., with the next highest percentage of respondents coming from China (22.8%). This year, approximately 31.4% of the respondents are from the U.S., and 30% are from China. As you'll see, this and other changes in the respondents' demographics can impact some of the year-to-year comparisons.

The regions represented in the survey include the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Middle East/Africa. Table 1 summarizes select demographic information for each region. Overall, more men responded to the survey (60%), yet the number of female respondents continues to increase in all regions. Europe had the largest percentage increase in female respondents over last year (14%), with Middle East/Africa experiencing the lowest increase (2%). The Asia region, which includes countries such as China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, and India, was the only region that had more female respondents (56%).

This year's respondents are significantly younger across all regions. Their overall average age is 37 years old, which is three years younger compared to last year. Respondents in the Americas (primarily the U.S.) tend to be older (43 years old) compared to those in all other regions, which range from 33 to 35 years old. It's interesting to note that the Middle East/Africa region, which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, and others, has the youngest respondents, yet this region also has the highest percentage of respondents in senior or top management positions (39%). This suggests that promotions at an early age are common in this region.

The overall percentage of respondents holding the CMA[R] (Certified Management Accountant) certification has dropped to 37% in 2018, a decrease of 19% compared to last year. This result may be due to the younger pool of respondents this year. The U.S. has the highest percentage holding the certification (50%), while the Middle East/Africa region has the lowest (26%). The Middle East/Africa region also had the largest decrease (23%) in CMA respondents.


The mean and median annual salary and total compensation by region are presented in Table 2. Globally, average salaries and total compensation have declined. This year, the global mean and median salary are $54,401 and $40,000, respectively. This represents a decrease of 27% and 39% compared to last year, where mean and median salary were $74,344 and $66,000, respectively. Average and median total compensation for 2018 are $64,451 and $45,000, respectively, down from $95,368 and $73,000 in 2017.

Two factors contributed to the observed decrease in overall global salaries this year. First, the total percentage of younger respondents has increased for the second straight year. In 2017, the percentage of total respondents between ages 20 and 29 increased by 2.9%. This year, respondents in this age group increased another 7.3%. This trend holds across each major region, with Europe experiencing the largest shift (a 17.4% increase in respondents ages 20 to 29 in 2018). In addition, this age group had the largest overall decrease in average salary and total compensation (23% and 24%, respectively). Second, the total percentage of non-U.S. respondents increased significantly this year. Non-U.S. countries generally have lower salaries than the U.S. Readers should be cautious about making comparisons of their salary to the global results and focus more on regional or country results.

Annual salary and total compensation vary across regions, with each region experiencing a decrease in annual median salary and total compensation. The Americas region continues to have the highest median total compensation ($100,000) among the regions, although there's a 10% decrease compared to last year. The Middle East/Africa region has the largest decrease in median total compensation (30%), with Asia having the smallest decrease (5%).

Despite the decrease in the median total compensation for all regions, some countries within those regions remained steady or had slight increases. Within the Asia region, China's median total compensation held steady. While the Middle East/Africa region experienced a large decrease in median total compensation (30%), UAE had a modest increase in median total compensation (7%).


The percentage of women responding to the survey in 2018 increased by 3% overall. The good news is that the "salary gap"-represented by the percentage of women's compensation in proportion to men's compensation-also improved. Table 3 shows the median compensation by gender and age range. Globally, the salary gap is virtually nonexistent, with women's and men's median salary and total compensation being equal. This is an improvement from last year, when women's median salary and total compensation were both 90% of men's median salary and total...

To continue reading