Salaries for top Mideast bankers cut by 20-25 pct over slow­down

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - BUSINESS - By Matthew Martin

Salaries for top bank­ing and fi­nance pro­fes­sion­als in the Mid­dle East have been slashed by as much as a quar­ter over the past year as an eco­nomic slow­down hit cor­po­rate pay in most in­dus­tries, ac­cord­ing to re­cruiter Michael Page.

Pay for se­nior bankers fell be­tween 20 per­cent and 25 per­cent, while salaries for mid­dle-man­age­ment po­si­tions dropped 5 per­cent to 10 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the re­cruit­ment con­sul­tant’s an­nual salary sur­vey. Bonuses have also been cut with the av­er­age pay­out now equal­ing to one or two months’ salary com­pared with three to four a few years ago.

“Be­fore 2014 there was a lot of pres­sure on salaries and tal­ented can­di­dates were in high de­mand,” said Leith Ram­say, manag­ing di­rec­tor at Page Group. “Now you have the best tal­ent in the re­gion and out­side, and even if the salaries are 10 to 15 per­cent lower com­pared to those in the hey­day, it’s still tax free.”

Fi­nance ex­ec­u­tives have also had other ben­e­fits such as school fees – which form a sig­nif­i­cant part of over­all pay pack­ages – ei­ther cut or re­moved en­tirely.

Ex­pa­tri­ates work­ing in the Gulf re­gion aren’t al­ways en­ti­tled to free places at pub­lic schools.

A slump in oil prices has hit lo­cal economies across the Mid­dle East and forced many lenders to cut jobs.

Banks in the re­gion are also ex­plor­ing merg­ers to stay com­pet­i­tive. But Dubai, home to the Mid­dle East’s big­gest fi­nan­cial cen­ter, plans to triple the size of its bank­ing dis­trict, adding an area al­most the size of Lon­don’s Ca­nary Wharf, even as it faces slower growth and ris­ing com­pe­ti­tion from neigh­bor­ing fi­nan­cial hubs.

“To at­tract and re­tain top tal­ent in the re­gion, busi­nesses in the Mid­dle East had to com­pete with cities like Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore,” Ram­say said. “Since the last few years, this is no longer the case.”

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