Financial sector salaries shooting up

Veena Venugopal

Mumbai, March 11

The soaring Sensex has not just helped more Indian entrepreneurs edge their way into the Forbes list of billionaires, it is also helping Indian professionals plump up their bank balances. Middle and senior level managers, especially in the financial services sector, are taking home never-before pay packages and bonuses that would have seemed incredulous even two years ago.

Human resource consultants say that while salaries, overall, are inching up, absolute salary ranges in the financial sector are at their highest ever and set to increase even further.

An annual study of salary levels by Hewitt Associates showed an average salary increase between 11.4 per cent and 15.4 per cent in 2005 for India. However, for those working in investment companies, brokerages and asset management companies, average salary increase has been close to 20 per cent. Currently, a senior position in a financial services company fetches between Rs 70 lakh to Rs 1 crore per annum. At the middle-management level, salaries range from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, annually. HR experts say that this is likely to continue for 2006, as well.

Added to this is also the fact that bonuses in the sector have been eye popping with most senior executives netting "stratospherically high" bonuses for their performance in 2005. "With the markets zooming up the way they did, it takes a lot for an investment banker to not make money. It has been an easy year of bonuses in the sector and several top level executives have pulled in high eight-figure bonanzas," said a senior HR executive.

"Salaries in the financial sector are shooting up. Bonuses are part of the incentive structure for salaries and forms a significant part of the pay package of executives above the Assistant Vice-President level," said an official from Ma Foi Management Consultants Ltd.

The high salaries and bonuses have also led to a virtuous cycle within the financial services sector. Highly paid investment bankers are signing up for wealth management services to help them manage their money better. The bull market has spawned many new millionaires and private banking services are helping them get richer. It has been a year of good cheer in all parts of the office, said the Vice-President of a large financial services company.

Several banks have started wealth management services recently in order to tap into the increased pie of `new money'. Asset Management companies have also rolled out their discretionary and non-discretionary advisory services for PMS (portfolio management services) clients. Fund management teams in the PMS area are being reinforced to tap into this potential.

Asset management companies' salary rise averaged over 17 per cent, according to the Hewitt survey. HR consultants say expectations for 2006 are even higher.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 12, 2006)
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