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Pay Increases and Rewards Increase in NI Professional Services Sector


With strong FDI investment and expanding home-grown businesses in competition for top professional talent, new research shows Northern Ireland companies are delivering increasingly competitive workplace packages including salary increases, flexible working, bonuses and professional membership.

A regional Salary Survey Report from Abacus Professional Recruitment revealed that over half of professional employees received a pay rise in 2017, an increase in the percentage from the previous year. This was highest in sectors including accountancy and technology with 61% and 58% receiving salary increases.

With overall NI unemployment rates close to a record low, those in high demand areas are benefitting from increasingly attractive benefit packages offered by businesses here to attract and retain recruits.

Approximately 43% of professionals now avail of flexible working in NI, with the analytics and technology sectors leading in this area with an average of almost 70% working flexibly. Financial services and insurance roles were least likely to include flexible working at 29%, with the legal sector averaging at 49%. Flexible working includes working from home, receiving time in lieu for working overtime and flexible working around contracted hours. Additionally, over 55% of all those surveyed received a bonus last year.

Commenting, Justin Rush, Director at leading local recruitment company Abacus Professional Recruitment, said:

“Demand is peaking for professionals across a range of areas and the benefits they are receiving have risen in tandem. There is an increasingly rich diversity of professional job roles in Northern Ireland. These offer not only competitive salaries, but highly rewarding career paths with companies also investing significantly in skills development. Benefits in Northern Ireland are moving towards cities like London or Dublin, emphasising how the local employment market is progressing at a fast pace, despite current political concerns, including Brexit and a lack of Executive.”

“However, as demand is beginning to outstrip supply, many sectors are concerned about skills shortages and the so-called ‘brain-drain’, and what the market can do to avoid it. In our view, businesses must be aware of the needs and desires of the talent emerging from our educational establishments including schools, colleges and universities, so that young people can realise their career aspirations without leaving NI. We have invested in international initiatives such as ‘Belfast for Life’ to encourage the diaspora community to return home to take up the competitive opportunities here.”

The survey encompassed 1,000 employees across 20 professional service disciplines such as law, accountancy, IT, sales, analytics, financial services, insurance, compliance, office support, HR and marketing.

In light of the research, Abacus is recommending professional service businesses currently recruiting should:
• Make learning and development central to your employee retention strategy
• Provide flexible work arrangements wherever possible
• Benchmark salaries for each individual role and pay top talent above the market

For those professionals considering changing job, Abacus has also outlined the following recommendations:
• Don’t move job solely because of today’s salary, think about where you want to be in the medium term
• Look beyond the salary figure and consider all aspects of reward and satisfaction on offer before applying
• Gain advice and perspective from trusted advisors during the process

In addition to investing in research and international diaspora initiatives, Abacus is hosting Northern Ireland’s largest talent and engagement summit on the 14th June at Belfast Waterfront. Powered By Talent is a first-of-its-kind event, bringing together businesses from the professional services sector to highlight best practice in the attraction, development and retention of a company’s main asset, its people. For more information or to book tickets visit

To view the full salary results, visit or contact one of the Abacus team.


Chris is a digital marketing and publishing whizz by trade, having worked alongside the Automotive, Information Security and Software Asset Management sectors.

Specialising in data analysis and social media, he combines an analytical approach with a creative flair to achieve the best results. With a keen interest in Technology and Politics, Chris is constantly on the look-out for the latest stories around change and innovation.

As a lover of all things innovative, he has developed a keen eye for spotting the latest trends and hot topics. He sources and reads the latest news and thought-leadership articles from the world of recruitment before sharing them with the social media population.


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