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Demand for highly-skilled IT professionals means that those in the technology sector are set to experience the most significant starting salary increases, compared to other professional occupations. According to the Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide, specialised IT and technology staff, such as  junior developers (4.5%) and senior business analysts (4.4%) will be awarded the greatest pay rises in 2018, well above the national average of 1.4%. This is followed by experienced fund accountants (4.2%), chief financial officers (4.0%) and financial controllers (4.0%) as the competitive market for high-performing talent within technology as well as accounting and finance, drives salaries higher.

“In the year ahead, businesses will be navigating a number of local, regional and international factors, such as Brexit, automation, digital transformation and meeting data regulations” explained Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at Robert Half UK, South America and the Middle East.“However, one of the biggest challenges plaguing all UK businesses is the shortage of specialist skills. In an effort to win the war for top talent, organisations are willing to pay a price for those with the right skills to support their business goals.”

Table one: average salary increases, by professional occupation in 2018

IndustryAverage starting salary increases
Administrative and office support1.85%
Accounting and finance1.40%
Financial services1.22%
National average1.40%


A high value is being placed on IT professionals with the skills to support digital disruption. Analysts who can support the business by improving processes and performance have a specialised skill set that is in short supply, while front-end developers and full stack developers with knowledge of programming languages like .NET, SQL and Java are also in high-demand. IT professionals with a specialised skill set tend to start on a higher salary when starting new roles and employers are using a combination of pay, bonuses, strong pension offerings and flexible working arrangements to attract technology candidates.

 Table two: technology highest salary rises by role

Top three2017 UK average2018 UK average% change
Junior developer£19,500 – £30,000£19,750 – £32,0004.5%
Senior business analyst£42,500 – £71,500£46,500 – £72,5004.4%
Data analyst£23,500 – £56,500£24,500 – £58,5003.8%

Administration and office support

In line with growth plans, businesses are recruiting mid-level administrative and office professionals with the industry experience and systems knowledge in areas such as Microsoft, SAP and CRM to provide specialist support. Permanent, professional-level employees can expect to see a salary increase and often a bonus structure linked to the success drivers of the position.

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

Top three2017 UK average2018 UK average% change
Executive assistant£29,000 – £39,000£31,000 – £39,5003.7%
HR business partner£31,500 – £50,250£33,250 – £51,5003.7%
Senior administrative assistant£18,000 – £30,000£18,500 – £31,0003.1%

 Accounting and finance

Financial controllers and risk associates who can combine technical skills with commercial awareness and business acumen are sought after as firms focus on improving the overall productivity of the finance function. There is also growing demand for CFOs who can transform finance and introduce greater automation. On the whole, starting salaries within finance and accounting will increase over the next 12 months and those professionals with specialist skills or industry-specific experience are likely to benefit from the greatest increase.

Table four: accounting and finance highest salary rises by role

Top three2017 UK average2018 UK average% change
Chief financial officer/
Group finance director (SME)£86,000 – £100,000£86,500 – £100,0004.0%
Financial controller (SME)£41,500 – £53,250£44,500 – £54,0004.0%
Risk Associate (large company)£47,000 – £58,000£48,000 – £60,5003.3%

Financial services

Given the skills shortage of junior professionals within the financial services market, newly-qualified (NQ) accountants can expect to see an increase in starting salary over the coming year. The demand for high-performing talent within accounting and finance in financial services, particularly for professionals with post-qualification experience (PQE), is seeing an increase in starting pay. Overall, the majority of financial services firms plan to award salary increases over the next year, which will be prioritised over standard benefits.

Table five: financial services highest salary rises by role

Top three2017 UK average2018 UK average% change
Fund accountant (NQ – 3 years’ PQE)£52,000 – £61,500£52,500 – £65,7504.2%
Regulatory accountant (4-7 years’ PQE)£65,000 – £95,000£70,000 – £95,0003.1%
Finance director£90,000 – £174,500£95,000 – £176,5002.6%

 “In the face of an expanding skills shortage, organisations are thinking about what they can offer alongside competitive salaries to attract new staff and entice experienced professionals with the right skills to join the business,” concluded Sheridan. “Rather than just competing on salary alone, many businesses are looking beyond pay to the full package they can offer to keep staff engaged, motivated and happy.”