High-flyers: Are you getting buck for your bang?

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What type of professional are you? Someone happy to keep their head down and simply follow instructions, or one who leads from the front and actively drives your organisation forwards? Are you happy to be a member of the general workforce, or do you have the ability, ambition and drive to rise to the top?

Not everyone can be a business high-flyer, as we all have different skills, capabilities and mindsets. What's more, there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around. Everybody wants to progress in their career - one way or another - but naturally the higher up you get, the more the pyramid begins to narrow. Only the very best ever reach the pinnacle of their company or industry, and get to make the decisions that really matter in the boardroom.

Of course, aspiration and ambition will only get you so far in business. In order to be identified as a major player and potential leader, you need to have a spark - a special quality that sets you apart from the rest of the field. This doesn't mean you have to necessarily shout the loudest, work the longest hours, or be the most ruthless self-promoter. It is more a case of being naturally great at what you do, and wishing to make the most of your obvious talent.

If you've made it into the big league and have secured an executive role or other leadership position, then in one sense, that is part of the battle won. But of course, you now have to perform - proving the decision to hire or promote you was the right one. Should you excel in in your leadership role, new opportunities should start to open up; not least in terms of pay and benefits.

If you are working in a senior role - making decisions that affect your organisation on a daily basis - this should be reflected in your remuneration package. Executive jobs can be highly pressurised, stressful and time-consuming, and should things go wrong, responsibility may ultimately fall on your head. As such, you deserve to be well-paid and incentivised to perform; a few of life's little luxuries are the least you deserve.

  • Why are high-flyers well-paid?

Of course, business high-flyers are not well paid simply because they have that all-important spark. The fundamental reason why professionals in the top jobs command the highest salaries is because of supply and demand economics. Essentially, there are only a few individuals capable of leading organisations, and delivering the growth and profitability demanded by their shareholders. Suitably skilled and experienced individuals are very much in-demand, as employers recognise the value they can bring to all concerned.

Naturally, organisations have to pay a premium to secure the best people,particularly if talented professionals have a number of employment options. Further along the line, they may have to offer even more to keep the same employees onboard. Should an individual perform well for your organisation, there will inevitably be no shortage of suitors looking to tempt them away.

The offer of a higher salary package may be enough to encourage them to move, costing you a valued employee and hitting productivity rates within your operation. So in order to prevent them from moving, it may be necessary to make a counter-offer. This sees the professional offered an even more attractive remuneration package, pushing them further up the pay scale.

Unless there is a surplus of talent in the market, salaries will inevitably be subject to the forces of inflation. Organisations are looking to hire the best people, and this costs money. They are also looking to keep the best people, and this costs even more. The bottom line is, if your skills are much in-demand among potential employers, you have a strong negotiating position.

  • Are you earning as much as you should be?

The question every top professional should be asking themselves is: am I earning as much as I should be? Depending upon their view of their current job, and the personal value they place on salary, there may be another question: am I earning as much as I could be?

Salaries are influenced by a variety of factors, including the size and sector of the organisation, the city or region in which they are based - with London-based employers typically paying around a third more - and demand for the skills offered by each individual employee. But there is a common reality; that employers will pay more to hire the best people, and to prevent them from leaving.

In order to establish whether you are receiving a suitable income, you need to know what the average earnings are for professionals working in your role. This allows you to gauge whether you are an average, above-average or below-average earner. Consulting the Robert Half Salary Guide offers insight into pay levels across a number of professional sectors, showing how much the best-paid employees in your industry can command.

If you are currently receiving a below-average salary for somebody working in your role, it may be time to consider opportunities elsewhere, or at least negotiate a better deal with your existing employer. Relative to other industry operators, your efforts - and the star quality you bring to the organisation - are not being fully recognised.

However, if your current wage puts you among the top earners in your industry, it may be more difficult to secure a significant increase in pay. The fact you have risen to this level may suggest you are ready to move up another level on the career ladder - if there is another natural step - and take on additional responsibilities. Moving to a larger organisation may also enable you to earn more, particularly if you have been employed by an SME. Small companies typically pay lower salaries than bigger organisations.

  • What are the top leaders earning?

So what are the high-flyers earning? To find out how much the average employee in your profession took home in 2013, and benchmark your own pay, it is worth consulting the Robert Half Salary Guides. These offer insight into the salaries paid in the technology, finance and accounting, financial services, and administration sectors, while also projecting wage inflation for 2014.

In the technology sector, chief information officers across the UK are projected to earn, on average, between £120,500 and £230,000 this year, up 2.3 per cent from last year. Chief technology officers are expected to command between £79,750 and £150,250 (up 1.5 per cent), while chief information security officers should earn between £75,000 and £134,500 (up 3.5 per cent). The pay scale for an average IT director should be £89,250-£120,750 (up 2.2 per cent), and for an IT manager, £77,000-£108,500 (up 1.9 per cent), although as with these other roles, the London average will be as much as 30 per cent higher than the national.

In finance and accounting, salary inflation is also expected for the top leadership roles, with the national average for chief financial officers being £78,000-£132,500 in 2014 - an increase of 1.7 per cent. Wages for finance directors - up 1.2 per cent to £70,000-£123,500 - financial controllers - up 2.8 per cent to £55,000-£83,250 - and group accountants - up 1.4 per cent to £41,250 £65,000 - are all expected to rise. Qualified management accountants are set to be in particular demand this year, with wages projected to rise by 4.1 per cent to between £42,500 and £64,750 as a result. Like with technology roles, London-based accountancy and finance professionals can expect up to a 30 per cent uplift on the national averages.

Pay inflation is also being seen in financial services leadership roles, with London-based chief operating officers expected to command basic salaries of between £103,000 and £200,750 - up by three per cent on last year. Professionals working in head of operations roles could benefit from a 1.1 per cent rise to £70,750- £131,500, while operations managers may earn between £69,000-£106,250 in the City this year, up 3.7 per cent.

The OfficeTeam Salary Guide offers insight into remuneration for the top administration jobs, such as senior executive assistants, who are expected to earn £33,000-£44,250 this year (up 2.0 per cent) and executive assistants, who may see a 2.2 per cent rise to £25,250-£33,750. The national average for personal assistants is predicted to rise 2.6 per cent to £19,500-£30,250, while office managers may see a 1.4 per cent increase to £21,500-£33,500.


Professionals working in leadership roles need to remember that not everyone can do their job; they have unique skills which allow them to thrive in the most challenging of situations and environments. Having worked so hard to rise to the top, it only makes sense to reap the rewards through a fair wage for a difficult job well done.



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