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What does this year hold for the world’s leading net exporter of professional services?

Over a third (34%) of employees in professional services – banking & financial services, accounting & finance, legal, technology – will receive a pay increase this year, illustrating the economic value of the sector during the crisis.

In contrast, salaries will remain flat for professionals in sales, hospitality and leisure, high street retail, tourism, and travel.

The findings come from leading professional services recruiter Robert Walters annual Salary Survey 2021 – which surveyed 2,000 working professionals and reviewed 100,000 job roles advertised in the UK over a 12-month period.

Demand for talent in the leading professional services sectors is anticipated to grow this year, further pushing up salaries as companies compete for staff. Job vacancies are expected to increase within technology (+7%), accounting & finance (4%), procurement, supply chain & logistics (+3.5%), banking & financial services (+3%), manufacturing & engineering (+3%), legal (2.1%), business support (+2%) in this first half of the year.

Chris Hickey – UK CEO at Robert Walters comments:

“It has certainly been a year of upheaval and disruption, with the Covid-19 pandemic having a profound effect on both the UK and global markets. Added to that, people’s lack of clarity around Brexit further compounded uncertainty.

“Even with the broader market challenges, there has been positivity in some sectors – namely professional services although this has been countered by substantial difficulties in others – such as retail, leisure, travel, and hospitality.

“Areas that have done notably well out of the disruption have been those that are aligned to technology, supply chain & logistics, healthcare, and financial services – particularly in areas that rely on volatility such as hedge funds, broker-dealers and the trading arms of investment banks.”


39% of professionals in the professional services sector state that they feel confident about job opportunities in their sector – with many overcoming any negative impact to their career plans by upskilling in their current area of expertise (39%), entering a new industry that compliments their transferable skills (26%), undertaking contract or temporary work (20%), or learning entirely new skill sets (18%).

Chris adds: “With a number of moving parts from the last year expected to settle within the first quarter of 2021, a higher level of certainty will become more apparent in the UK market for the year ahead.

“Macro-factors such as Brexit being concluded, the newly elected US President starting his term, and Covid vaccines being administered in a number of countries, will provide a positive springboard for the rest of the year.

“Whilst this first quarter may seem like a bridging point for the UK hiring market, for the remainder of the year we anticipate seeing a pent-up demand for talent across a number of sectors, similar to what the likes of Asia and Australasia have seen in more recent months.

“This pent-up demand will also see the return of broader salary inflation. As result, we anticipate that this salary inflation will be at a higher relative rate than the past 4 years since the Brexit vote was passed.”