Dubai International Financial Centre. With the UAE’s fundamentals showing a positive outlook, those working in the financial industry will start to see better financial rewards. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archive

Banks and other financial institutions in the UAE may have shown strong performance recently, but those who work in the industry are not feeling any significant effects in their pay slips.
The latest report from specialist recruiters Robert Half showed that the accounting and finance professionals in the UAE are lagging behind their peers in other emerging markets when it comes to salary increases.
Finance leaders in the UAE intend to increase the base salaries for staff by an average of 6.1 per cent, which is lower than the pay adjustments planned in China (13.6 per cent), Brazil (10.8 per cent) and Singapore (6.8 per cent).
The planned increase for UAE’s financial staff, however, is three times higher than the inflation rate in the country and bigger than the 5.3 per cent increase that their counterparts in Chile are likely to get this year.
However, financial organisations in the country may need to rethink their salary packages, considering that sourcing the right talent remains a problem.
According to Gareth El Mettouri, associate director at Robert Half UAE, the job market for UAE accounting and financial professionals has tightened dramatically over the last couple of years, and companies are now paying a premium to recruit and retain top professionals.
“With organisations competing for a limited talent pool, finance professionals are in high demand, with many candidates receiving multiple offers,” he said.
“To retain business critical staff, companies need to pay competitively, as well as offer a host of other benefits, such as relocation assistance and schooling allowance. Businesses that are unsure about the different types of remuneration, benefits and/or salary bands, should look to industry salary guides as a benchmark,” El Mettouri said.
Not everyone in the financial industry, however, can expect some positive changes in their pay cheques, with only four in 10 (43 per cent) of UAE finance leaders saying they will increase base salary levels and over a quarter (27 per cent) eyeing bonus increase. Robert Half’s research showed that the majority, 51 per cent, intend to maintain current bonus offerings.
Behind peak levels
Other analysts said it is not surprising to see pay levels stagnating or lagging behind other countries, considering that the industry is still behind its peak levels seen in the mid-2000s.
“We’re not yet back to the euphoria of 2006 or 2008. People are much more sensible and employers are much smarter these days,” said Binod Shankar, managing director at the Genesis Institute.
But with the UAE’s fundamentals already showing a generally positive outlook, it won’t be long before those working in the financial industry will start to see better financial rewards.
“Overall, things are looking good in the UAE. The trade and tourism have always been strong in Dubai. The real estate construction is picking up. The property and stock markets are also doing well, while business conference activity is rising. The macro economic fundamentals of the UAE are very strong,” Shankar told Gulf News.