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How did financial services salaries stack up in 2023?

By Rhea Nath
4 minute read

Salary increases in financial services, alongside industries like technology media and gaming, were higher than the general industry benchmark last year, according to research.

A remuneration survey of more than 700 companies across various industries found some of the highest salary competitiveness in 2023 from the financial services industry.

The research by WTW was based on a market competitive index where the annual base salaries of jobs across industries were ranked against the base salary of jobs from the general industry. In financial services, salaries were some 20 per cent above the general industry benchmark in Australia, while technology media and gaming came in second at 9 per cent above the benchmark.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical and health sciences were 2 per cent and 4 per cent below the general industry benchmark, respectively.


Interestingly, financial services also took the lead in terms of actual total annual incentives at 48 per cent above the general industry benchmark. In comparison, technology media and gaming in Australia was 20 per cent above the benchmark and retail was 7 per cent above.

In the year ahead, WTW research suggested companies in Australia continue to project an overall salary increase of 4 per cent, with the backdrop of a high inflation rate of 5.7 per cent. Historically, salary increases of 3 per cent has been common practice with an inflation rate of below 2 per cent.

For financial services, insurance, and retail and manufacturing, 2024 projected salary increases stand at some 4.2 per cent, followed by real estate, construction and engineering (4 per cent), biopharma and life sciences (3.9 per cent), and energy and natural resources (3.8 per cent).

“Last year was tough for most companies in Australia as the country steered through soaring inflation rates and high cost of living. At the backdrop is the HR program to encourage the workforce back into the office, not long after having firmly established a work-from-home culture,” said Evangeline Daquilanea, head of work and rewards, Australia and New Zealand, WTW.

“We have interestingly noted for the first time in many years, an uptick in the number of companies that have started getting creative in their pay design. More companies are introducing a transportation allowance, to help ease the cost of commuting as companies slowly mandate in-person work. There is also a renewed interest in salary packaging to help employees cope with soaring costs.”

The executive observed that largely, employers will continue to face challenges in terms of attracting and retaining key talent.

“The voluntary attrition rate last year was 14.3 per cent, expected to normalise at around 10 to 11 per cent levels in the next couple of years. It is important that companies look at ensuring a holistic view of the entire package of rewards they offer, both monetary and non-monetary, to be able to remain competitive,” she said.

Last year, research undertaken by global talent services company Morgan McKinley, as part of its 2023 Salary Guide, revealed 7 per cent of employers in Australia expected salaries to increase across their sector of operation in 2023.

Around 36 per cent planned to increase base salaries across all teams.

It observed that almost 60 per cent of employees in Australia were looking to secure new jobs over the first half of the year and of those searching for greener pastures, 39 per cent said they were motivated by the potential for a “higher salary”. Meanwhile, 15 per cent cited “better career growth and development opportunities”.