The latest Robert Half Financial Services Salary Guide reveals that pay rates for middle and back office staff in the sector are set to rise significantly during the first half of 2014.

Over half (55%) of the financial services CFOs and COOs polled for the report said they will increase base salaries for existing staff. This is a clear sign that the market for skilled financial professionals, including Umbrella Company Employees contracting in the sector, has tightened discernibly.

Companies fearing a talent drain are gearing up to retain their most skilled professionals, the report suggests, with many already paying a premium to attract the best candidates in the market. The change follows years of pay and bonus restraint in the sector.

While the pay rises indicate a welcome recovery, anxieties are growing amongst a majority of executives (87%) that they may lose their top performers to rival firms. 37% reported that employee resignations increased following last year’s first quarter bonuses, and many anticipate a similar rise this year.

The global practice director of Robert Half Financial Services, Neil Owen, said that last year’s increase in resignations was “significantly less than we would have seen in previous years”. Nonetheless, he added:  “As employees’ remuneration expectations increase, businesses must re-evaluate their compensation programmes, ensuring they are competitive on both a local and global scale. Consulting industry resources, such as the Robert Half Salary Guide for financial services, will help companies benchmark salaries and tailor a benefits programme, presenting them as an employer of choice.”

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