Professional salaries in Scotland set to rise in 2017

Salaries for professional roles in Scotland expected to increase by an average of 2.5% next year.

  • Salaries for professional roles in Scotland expected to increase by an average of 2.5% next year
  • Highest salary rises in financial services roles in Edinburgh include senior operational risk managers and qualified accountants

Edinburgh, 10 November 2016 – According to the Robert Half Salary Guide1, Scottish average starting salaries for professional roles are expected to increase by 2.5% in 2017.

The Robert Half 2017 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. The Salary Guide enables employers and employees to benchmark starting salaries for more than 275 different permanent professional roles on a national and regional basis.

Kris Flanagan, Associate Director – Scotland, Robert Half UK, commented: “Productivity and growth are today’s mantras for Scottish businesses and the growing skills shortage is one of the the key challenges for any organisation to overcome. While Edinburgh has one of the strongest economies within the UK, competition for the best people is intensifying. As this year’s guide demonstrates, salaries for hard to fill roles continue to rise and outpace the average salary by a significant margin.”

Accountancy and finance

The most difficult areas to recruit for according to Scottish CFOs are business and financial analysis (cited by 28%), financial planning and analysis (28%) and compliance (25%) and this is reflected in higher than average predicted salary rises for Scottish based chief financial officers (8.8%), financial planning and analysis managers (7.7%) and project accountants (6.8%).

Salaries are predicted to continue rising for finance and accounting professionals across the board and businesses are eager to hire candidates with the right cultural fit along with technical expertise and experience. Part-qualified candidates looking to advance their careers with the same company are seeing their starting salary offers increase.

Table 1: accountancy and finance highest salary rises by role

Top three

2016 Scottish average

2017 Scottish average

% change

Chief financial officers (Large company)

£93,500 – 148,800

£100,200 - £163,300


Financial planning and analysis manager (Large company)

£62,700 – £73,100

£64,100 – £82,200


Project Accountant (SME)

£40,600 - £49,900

£45,100 - £51,600


Financial services

The emergence of the challenger banking sector and fintech in general is creating strong opportunities for professionals with retail banking skills. This is putting further pressure on the ‘traditional’ financial services sector when competing for new employees.

Solvency II came into force at the beginning of 2016 and has changed the way European insurers do business. It has also sparked a wave of strong M&A activity in the market. This churn in the marketplace has created more demand for insurance professionals who can help companies achieve compliance and manage risk.

Consequently, the highest salaries in the financial services sector in Edinburgh include those for risk and compliance with salaries for senior operational risk managers commanding salary increases of 11.7% and operational risk managers seeing increases of 9%.

Table 2: financial services highest salary rises by role

Top three

2016 UK average

2017 UK average

% change

Senior operational risk managers

£59,900 - £87,600

£68,200 - £96,600


Operational risk manager

£42,900 - £72,600

£49,700 - £76,200


Accountant with three years post-qualified experience

£36,500 - £50,900

£41,100 - £51,900


Administration and office support

The need for more clearly defined administrative roles is set to continue in 2017 with specialists in telemarketing/telesales expected to reap the highest salary rises at 5.1%, while customer services supervisors (4.5%) and administrative assistants (4.4%) will be rewarded for the part they play in retaining happy customers and driving new business. Over two in five (43%) of Scottish HR directors expect to increase salaries for professional level employees in the year ahead.

Table 3: administration and office support highest salary rises by role

Top three

2016 Scottish average

2017 Scottish average

% change


£16,500 – £21,600

£17,000 – £23,000


Customer services supervisor

£19,900 – £27,000

£21,000 – £28,100


Administrative assistant

£15,300 – £24,100

£16,300 – £24,800


Kris Flanagan continues: “Scotland, and Edinburgh in particular, is an attractive environment for skilled professionals and currently has an unemployment rate of just 4.6%, just below the UK average of 4.9%2. This environment exacerbates the war for talent in the country, driving salaries higher and resulting in businesses struggling to recruit candidates with the skills and experience they need.

“As these businesses undergo their planning and recruitment strategies for 2017, they can turn to the latest Salary Guide to ensure they know where the salary hotspots are likely to be and whether they are paying top performers the salaries that competitors are likely to offer in the year ahead.”

- ENDS -

About the Robert Half 2017 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 Salary Guide to determine appropriate remuneration for accounting and finance, financial services, technology and administrative professionals at all levels.

Information in the Salary Guide 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, non-monetary benefits, job performance and training – impact the salaries of permanent professionals as work histories develop.

Access the Robert Half Salary Guide

Notes to editors

1 The annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 200 interviews with senior finance executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.


About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at and