How do you choose a financial services job that pays well?

Which financial services job is the best?

Why exactly do people choose particular financial services career paths? For some it may be a sense of compulsion - they find themselves hugely talented in a specific area, or maybe they have a genuine passion for a particular field. Others may be drawn to the lifestyle offered by a particular job, or attracted by the career advancement prospects. Some take a fairly pragmatic approach - choosing a profession that promises secure and regular work.

Then there are those whose overriding concern is their wage slip - their annual salary and take-home pay. They are fully focused on maximising their earnings, whether in terms of basic wage, bonuses or other employment benefits. Organisations are happy to reward employees who add tangible value to the bottom line, and indeed many pay a premium for the best people. So if you’re prepared to study hard, work long hours and use your talents effectively, there's no reason why you won't be well-remunerated.

Earning potential in London

Where do you look for one of the top-paying roles? You might want to work outside the square mile or in London, where all the major financial services organisations have a base. You'll get to work at the very epicentre of the industry, and salaries are typically a third higher than in other parts of the UK. No wonder then that the City is a popular destination for Britain's brightest and best, and indeed talented professionals from around the world. Even in the mid and back-office, well away from the trading floor, there are many professionals earning six-figure salaries.

Of course, competition for the top financial services jobs is fierce. This means job candidates need something extra-special to offer prospective employers to ensure their selection. But at the same time, there are plenty of organisations looking to hire at present, in order to support their expansion plans. In niche roles in particular, demand for expertise continues to exceed supply.

The upshot of this is that firms are being forced to increase wages to retain their valued workers. In a study conducted by Robert Half, more than 55 per cent of financial services leaders said they are boosting pay in order to attract and retain skilled talent, while 28 per cent are offering more generous bonuses.

With 87 per cent of employers concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities, talented financial services professionals may have the upper hand. Those who are eager to maximise their earning capacity have two choices - they can either look for a new job that offers a more attractive rewards package, or they can attempt to negotiate a better deal with their existing employer.

Which financial services jobs have the highest basic salaries?

If you're eager to maximise your earning potential, which financial services jobs should you be targeting? The Robert Half Salary Guide offers an indication of what London-based professionals can expect to earn in terms of basic salary in 2014. Wages are rising year-on-year within the sector, at several times the rate of UK inflation for many roles.

In banking operations, a London-based chief operating officer can now expect to earn between £103,000 and £200,750+, depending on the organisation they are working for. A director or head of operations should take home between £70,750 and £131,500 per year, while operations managers can earn in the £69,000-£106,250 bracket. Trade support managers typically earn £71,750-£91,500, while wages for client support managers are in the region of £61,000-£92,250.

Some of the highest paying financial services jobs are in risk and compliance, where a London-based head of compliance is expected to earn £87,250-£202,500+ per year. Compliance managers should claim between £64,500 and £90,250 in 2014, while anti-money laundering managers are projected to earn £71,250-£121,750. Robert Half expects salaries for the head of market risk to be £110,000-£183,500 this year, while City-based risk managers (£60,750-£105,250), quantitative risk analysts (£58,750-£104,000) and heads of operational risk (£88,500-£168,750) will also be well-rewarded.

Salaries for City-based technology professionals

With IT so integral to financial services operations, it is little wonder so many technology professionals working in the City are claiming six-figure salaries. Demand for talent continues to exceed supply, helping to inflate earnings. The wages paid to chief information officers (£159,750-£239,000+), chief technology officers (£139,500-£193,000+) and chief architects (£126,250-£178,250) are understandably high, but you don’t need to be an IT executive to take home an attractive wage.

Enterprise architects can expect to earn between £78,500 and £134,500 per year, while technical architects (£79,750-£122,000), infrastructure architects (£79,250 - £109,750), development managers (£89,500-£125,750), lead developers (£60,250-£123,000) and quantitative developers (£70,500-£132,000) are all well remunerated. In addition, programme managers (£89,250-£126,500), senior business analysts (£74,000-£107,500), database managers (£57,500-£100,250), network architects (£79,000-£103,000) and information security managers (£75,250-£105,750) can all potentially earn six-figure wages.