Professional hiring returns to pre-recessionary levels

23 October 2014
  • Salaries rise by an average of 2.6% across all professional roles in finance and accounting, financial services, information technology and administration
  • Salaries not enough to retain top performers: candidates look for flexibility and extra perks and benefits
  • New roles and above average salaries reflect need to rebuild business growth rather than just cut costs
  • Renewed need for decision makers to be involved in recruitment process to speed it up and secure chosen candidates

London, 23 October 2014 – The UK employment market continues to improve and demand for specialist occupations far outweighs supply, resulting in talent shortages in niche areas, according to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide.  Salaries for professional roles in finance and accounting, financial services, information technology and administration rose on average by 2.6% over the past 12 months, compared to the current rate of inflation of 1.2% (September 2014).

The Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide is the most comprehensive and authoritative resource on starting salaries and recruitment trends in finance and accounting, financial services, information technology and administration.  For the first time this year, Robert Half has included all four sectors in a single Salary Guide, which enables employers and employees to benchmark salaries for different roles on a national and regional basis.

Research for this year’s guide shows that the north-south divide is narrowing in terms of salaries and hiring.  While London still boasts the strongest economic performance, further hiring across the UK has created opportunities for businesses and professionals alike.  Many London-based businesses are expanding their operations outside the capital, bringing corporate services functions as well as commercial focus into the regions.

Accountancy and finance

Business partnering is now the most sought after role in the accountancy and finance sector, reflecting the need to build commercial growth rather than just focus on ‘bean counting’ or regulatory risk management.  Business partnering has also prompted a need to derive better insights from financial data in order to improve business process efficiency. 

However, finance professionals need to ‘have it all’ to secure the best roles: strong communication and analytical skills alongside sound technical competence around transitions to FRS 101/102/IFRS and UK GAAP.  Software knowledge is also important as confidence in the economy is rekindling stalled IT projects including investments in Oracle or SAP upgrades.  According to UK CFOs, 51% plan to increase finance team salaries for existing staff by an average of 7%, while 35% will increase bonuses.

Finance and accounting roles with highest and lowest growth between 2014 and 2015, based on increases for new, starting salaries

Top three 2014 UK average 2015 UK average % change
Financial business partner (SME) £42,500 - £52,500 £45,250 - £53,750 4.2
Commercial Finance Controller (large company) £70,500 - £84,250 £74,750 - £86,500 4.2
Commercial Finance Controller (SME) £67,500 – £78,750 £70,000 - £82,250 4.1
Bottom three 2014 UK average 2015 UK average % change
Cost accountant (SME) £38,000 - £42,750 £38,250 - £43,500 1.2
Tax specialist (large company) £41,000 - £61,500 £41,250 - £62,500 1.2
Tax specialist (SME) £36,250 - £56,250 £36,500 – £57,000 1.1

NB: users of the Salary Guide can calculate average salaries for local markets by applying a regional variance to the UK average, for example 98.4% for Scotland or 129% for London. The full list of regional variances is listed in the footnotes.

Financial services

Financial services hiring has gained strong momentum, with new roles being created along with greater market fluidity as employees start looking for new roles.  Competition for skilled candidates to drive new initiatives is intensifying, with nearly all (97%) of financial services leaders citing challenges sourcing skilled professionals.  There is an ongoing tension between the adoption of a risk culture, where risk management is an endemic part of day to day operations and the need to grow: 81% of financial services leaders said that risk culture is impeding growth.

Cybersecurity is at the top of the agenda for financial services companies, with 39% of organisations hiring permanent staff to manage cybersecurity initiatives.  But the financial services sector as a whole is increasingly competing for the best candidates with the technology and start-up communities, which can offer a seemingly more exciting and challenging work experience.

Entry-level recruitment has returned to finance and accounting roles within the financial services sector, with preference given to candidates with strong degrees and internship/placement experience.

Financial services roles with highest and lowest growth between 2014 and 2015, based on increases for new, starting salaries.

Top three 2014 London 2015 London % change
Regulatory accounting manager £79,500 - £112,250 £83,250 - £119,750 5.9
Management accounting/financial planning and analysis manager £75,500 - £98,250 £79,750 - £104.000 5.8
Head of Credit Risk Management £94,800 - £185,500 £95,500 - £200,000 5.4
Bottom three 2014 London 2015 London % change
Manager, Collateral Management £67,500 - £96,000

£68,500 - £96,750

 

1.1
Product control accountant (4-7 years PQE) £64,500 - £97,500 £65,250 - £98,500 1.1
Technical accounting manager £82,500 - £99,250 £83,500 - £100,000 1.0

Note, the above represents the average for London-based financial services salaries.

Technology

Technology hiring continues its upward climb, with employment within the industry forecast to grow at 2.19% a year1, nearly five times faster than the UK average.  The market is being driven by the end of years of under-investment in IT systems plus technology advancements that are driving huge business change and new ventures.  IT upgrades are the most common drivers for increased headcount, particularly of programme and project managers who are strong communicators and who can deliver large technology initiatives on time and within budget. 

There is also a significant growth in the number of risk consultancies and third party IT outsourcing services companies which is creating more demand for IT skills.  Contract work in the technology sector is another important trend, as companies aim to fill the skills gap to keep new initiatives on track.

IT roles with highest and lowest growth between 2014 and 2015 based on increases for new, starting salaries.

Top three 2014 UK average 2015 UK average % change
Chief .information security officer £95,250 - £134,500 £97,500 - £145,250 5.7
Data architect £57,750 - £70,500 £58,500 - £76,750 5.5
Software developer £31,500 – £66,500 £31,250 - £72,000 5.4
Bottom three 2014 UK average 2015 UK average % change
Project management office analyst £16,750 - £36,750 £17,000 –  £37,250 1.4
Web designer £38,500 - £52,500 £38,750 - £53,500 1.4
Senior applications/production support £43,000 - £59,500 £43,250 - £59,750 0.5

Note, the above represents national averages. The full list of regional variances is included in the footnotes.

Administration and office support

There is a growing demand for entry-level people to join firms that are increasing headcount and want to grow skills from the bottom up.  In these cases companies are clearly looking for candidates with the right attitude and are who are driven/business oriented and don’t necessarily have huge amounts of experience.  Competition for these individuals is increasingly robust, so there is a strong need for clear hiring criteria and streamlined evaluation processes.  Skills and attributes in demand include Microsoft Office, Apple Mac OS (for creative industries) and social media savviness. HR managers say the hardest positions to fill are HR assistants (cited by 30%), office management (27%), logistics support (25%), project administrative support (22%) and executive / personal assistance (22%).

Administration and office support roles with highest and lowest growth between 2014 and 2015, based on increases for new, starting salaries.

Top three 2014 UK average 2015 UK average % change
Executive assistant £27,750 - £35,750 £28,500 - £37,750 4.3
Senior executive assistant £33,000 - £44,250 £33,000 - £47,250 3.9
Marketing assistant £17,500  £25,500 £18,000 - £26,500 3.5
Bottom three 2014 UK average 2015 UK average % change
Customer help desk £17,500 - £20,250 £17,750 –  £20,500 1.3
Medical secretary £17,750 - £23,500 £18,000 - £23,750 1.2
Paralegal £18,250 - £28,250 £18,500 - £28,500 1.1

Note, the above represents national averages. The full list of regional variances is included in the footnotes. 

Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director, Robert Half UK commented: "With hiring returning to pre-recessionary levels, businesses are recognising that the available talent pool is shrinking, with the best candidates receiving multiple offers and counteroffers.  It is therefore crucial that the remuneration companies offer is competitive with other businesses in their industry and region.

“It’s also important to remember that remuneration includes more than just salary – in demand professionals are looking for a range of benefits as well as flexibility in their work/life balance.  We are seeing a definite rise in the number of candidates turning down job offers, particularly when firms are slow to act and get their offers out of the door.”  

- ENDS -

 Notes to editors 

1www.e-skills.com/research/research-themes/employment-and-recruitment/

About the 2015 Salary Guide

Since 1950, Robert Half has produced Salary Guides to offer business owners, hiring managers and professionals information on prevailing starting salaries in their geographic areas and insight into the latest employment trends. Companies consult the annual guides to determine appropriate remuneration for accounting and finance, financial services, technology and administrative professionals at all levels.

Information in the salary guides is based on the thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements managed each year by Robert Half's recruitment consultants, along with the company's ongoing surveys of executives. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported because many external factors -- such as seniority, work ethic, job performance and training -- impact the salaries of permanent professionals as work histories develop.

Customising salaries for local markets

The regional variance is supported by data from HM Revenue & Customs, the Office for National Statistics, our local offices and ongoing surveys of senior executives. National starting salaries can be localised to your market using the variance index numbers below. The average salary index for all 11 regions is 100.

The index figures serve as a guide to determining average starting salaries. Factors such as company size, employee benefits, the candidate’s skills and current market conditions can affect actual starting salaries.

Regional variances

UK

100.0%

Scotland

98.4%

North East England

90.0%

North West England

92.9%

Yorkshire

91.9%

East Midlands

91.8%

West Midlands

92.8%

East of England

97.9%

London

129.0%

South East England

106.0%

South West England

92.3%

Wales

89.5%

 

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide and 18 in the United Kingdom providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.