NI professional salaries continue to perform strongly in the face of Brexit uncertainties

Investment in FDI driving growth across key sectors

Salaries for the professional services sector in Northern Ireland continue to perform strongly in the face of uncertainties presented by the UK’s exit from the European Union, reveals a regional Salary Survey Report from Abacus Professional Recruitment released this week.

Ongoing inward investments to NI have boosted the local economy and resulted in the growth and diversity of job roles. Enhanced remuneration packages within both FDI firms and home-grown businesses also continue to increase the attractiveness of the region to live and work for both local job seekers and the diaspora community.

The survey of 500 employees across 10 professional services segments highlights that almost 53% of employees working in law, accountancy, compliance, sales, HR, IT and insurance in Northern Ireland, received a pay increase in 2016.

Technology, accountancy and legal roles were among the top performing. Across each of the segments surveyed, the average salary increase in 2016 was 7.4%, with commercial accountancy averaging an 8.9% basic salary increase and insurance sector employees fairing lowest with an average increase of 3.7%.

Despite uncertainties around the current economic and political environment, the research demonstrates that 80% of Northern Ireland professionals expect to receive a salary increase in 2017 at least equalling or higher than the increase received in 2016. Those working in particularly buoyant sectors including law and technology have the highest expectations of salary increases of 6-10% in 2017.

The survey was undertaken by leading local professional services recruitment company, Abacus Professional Recruitment.

Director Justin Rush said: “This is one of the broadest ever surveys we have undertaken of the professional services sector in Northern Ireland. The research highlights that the professional service labour market in NI remains resilient and skilled professionals are in high demand within growing sectors.

“Total compensation packages including salary increases and benefits continue to perform strongly on the back of continued foreign direct investment from some of the world’s leading companies in areas including law, technology and finance.

“The prevalence and increased competition through FDI has meant that NI companies are increasingly under pressure to effectively attract and reward employees. We’ve found that salaries are being coupled with generous and creative benefits packages including flexible working, bonus, private medical healthcare, company car, study allowance, discount cards, wellbeing programmes and income protection.

“The results also reflect positive progress with regards to the diaspora in relation to increasingly diverse opportunities, competitive salaries and benefits within professional services. However attracting returners from the national and international labour pool remains a key challenge.”

Director Alan Braithwaite added: “Alongside organisations including InvestNI and over 20 global companies involved in our BelfastforLife diaspora initiative, we have significantly invested in efforts to encourage professionals to return home to take up opportunities here.

“With lifestyle often the key consideration, the expansion of professional roles being offered, alongside improved salaries and benefits, is enabling great progress in tackling the so-called ‘brain drain’. Another area that needs to remain a focus is the continuation of investment in higher education. We must encourage our students to complete their undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Northern Ireland.

“As the post-referendum picture and economic situation in NI continues to evolve, it is more important than ever that we showcase the attractiveness of Northern Ireland. Feedback from clients who have invested in NI in recent years has indicated a positive experience with recruiting employees from across the EU and they are keen to ensure the flow of suitably qualified candidates in the future.”

Abacus’ multi-award winning ‘Belfast for Life’ campaign encourages leavers to ‘bring your talent home’ and is supported by many of NI’s most successful local companies and international inward investors, including Allen & Overy, EY and Herbert Smith Freehills. Over the past 2 years, the initiative has successfully engaged with over 2000 highly skilled professionals to promote the attractiveness of NI to live and work.

The efforts of Abacus have been welcomed by many including Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive, Invest NI: “I was delighted to be able to contribute to the BelfastforLife campaign. Invest NI is wholly supportive of activity to attract skills and talent into Northern Ireland to take up opportunities here and fill any identified skills gaps. We are focused on growing the economy of Northern Ireland and the benefits that additional skills and experience bring in growing local businesses and in attracting foreign direct investment is not to be underestimated.”

To view the full salary results, visit

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