I feel worse off…is it just me?

Simon RoderickMarket updates, Research, insights & industry news

Ban on salary history questions in interviews

A recurring theme of the conversations we’re having with candidates is that they feel worse off than they did a number of years ago. At the same time, they often point out that unlike their pay, their personal lives haven’t stood still and their costs have gone up. What often strikes me about these conversations is that those we talk to often think that it’s just them who have seen their pay frozen, or that it is only them worrying that their career hasn’t accelerated at the speed they would have liked. Everyone is aware of what has happened in the global economy, everyone is aware of the changes in financial services, and how many people have been affected by redundancy, but it still worries many. Nobody is going to feel sorry for City professionals, and nobody is asking for sympathy, but with the economy in recovery many worry that they have been left behind.

In some of the areas we focus on, we have seen little or no pay growth for a number of years. The majority of experienced private bankers still fall within the £70K – £100K salary banding. Most private client portfolio managers still fall into the £65K – £85K banding, which isn’t too dissimilar to the salaries being paid in 2007. We’ve seen salaries remain broadly flat for financial advisers, and many advisers became self-employed to increase earnings or to just find employment post RDR. We’ve also seen real salary pressure in the area of fund sales. Whilst still generally a high paying role within the asset management industry, there has been real salary pressure as a number of people came onto the market and undercut and reduced their salary expectations. People who were once on a basic salary of £150K accepted roles at £100K.

For many though, it’s not just about the money. They worry that they haven’t improved their CV by getting that all important promotion, or that their sales figures haven’t been great. However, they neglect the fact that a number of firms haven’t grown and as there hasn’t been exceptionally high volumes of recruitment, removing the option to move to a competitor. This creates a bit of a logjam, where people grow faster than their company. In terms of sales figures, until recently many have struggled to emulate their pre-crisis figures.

The encouraging thing is that things are improving and have been for some time now. Since the beginning of 2013 we have seen a real upturn in the market, and salaries are slowly starting to creep upwards. We are also seeing willingness from those working in larger firms to work for a medium sized business, who often have more competitive remuneration structures.

If it’s any comfort, everybody has had a hard few years, but in short things are getting better.

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