PRESS RELEASE | Specialisation is Key for Salary Growth in Australia

Louise Langridge
February 2, 20165 mins read

Australian hiring organisations cautious yet flexible where there is a shortage of in-demand talent

2 February 2016, Australia – Leading global professional services recruiter, Morgan McKinley, has released its 2016 Australian Salary Guide, providing insights into hiring and salary trends over the past 12 months and forecasts for the current year. The guide covers Morgan McKinley’s specialist sectors and professional disciplines: Accounting & Finance, IT & Business Transformation, Risk, Compliance & Audit and Strategy.

Key highlights:

  • Overall salaries have remained flat across these core disciplines.
  • Those who have a track record in driving revenue growth and profitability, or achieving cost savings, will be able to command higher salaries.
  • Professionals who demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively outside of their core disciplines (“business partners”) are also in strong demand.
  • Change and project management specialists – in particular professionals with Lean or Six Sigma qualifications and experience in “Agile” software development are highly sought after.
  • Digital transformation is a current business priority for many organisations – therefore individuals with skills in big data analytics and mobile & online platforms are also in demand.
  • There is increasing pressure on Australian firms to reduce costs. One consequence is more outsourcing and offshoring of non-core business activities. Another is more hiring for fixed-term and temporary positions.
  • Given the expectation of low salary growth in permanent positions, longer term career progression is a primary concern for job seekers. Companies must address this to attract top performers.
  • Staff retention is also an issue for many organisations.
  • Businesses are striving for improved gender balance at leadership levels but progress has been slow.


“The slow recovery of consumer confidence, the slide in commodity prices and falls in the Chinese stock market have all contributed to lingering concerns about Australia’s economic growth prospects, despite the fall in the value of the Australian dollar and low interest rates,” comments Louise Langridge, Joint Managing Director, Morgan McKinley Australia. “Therefore it comes as no major surprise that our annual salary survey has revealed a trend of slow overall growth in salaries.”

Nevertheless there is a shortage of talent in some sectors and professional disciplines and strong demand for results-oriented individuals who can help move organisations to the next level, in terms of revenue growth, cost reduction and competitiveness.

“In disciplines such as Accounting & Finance, having the right professional qualifications will not necessarily land an exciting opportunity. As these disciplines become more highly specialised, the ability to communicate with other functions within the business is an important counter-trend. Demonstrable soft skills, such as the ability to present a business case to senior executives, or fluency in foreign languages, in particular Mandarin, can make all the difference."

“Similarly, as organisations face sharper competition to retain or extend market share and customer loyalty, they are putting a premium on change management and expertise in the newer information technologies,” she adds.

Here is a summary of the main trends that Morgan McKinley has observed in the professional disciplines it serves in Australia:

Accounting & Finance
Companies are tending to hire people who offer a combination of industry-specific skills and the ability to communicate with the wider business. We have seen a lot of project work, in particular linked to change management and new regulatory demands in the financial services sector. Permanent salaries are generally static but companies will pay over the average to attract professionals with these skills. Although there may be plenty of candidates in the market, it can still be talent short with organisations having very specific requirements.

IT and Business Transformation:The key word here is “and”: there is strong demand for candidates who can translate business objectives into IT solutions. Those with niche skills and experience, such as regulatory programmes, “Agile” software development and industry-specific customer experience projects, are in high demand and can expect to see a rise in salaries. Elsewhere there is some pushback on salaries and day rates and we expect this to continue in 2016.

Risk, Compliance & Audit: There is something of a mismatch between talent supply and demand for newer skills in audit (data analytics and IT), which is leading some companies to look overseas for talent. In the risk and compliance space we saw some significant increase in the regulatory burden which has driven recruitment. So there is growth, but it is not exponential and often involves moving resources across the three lines of defence. Generally we expect salaries to be stable in 2016. For audit, people with the Certified Information Systems Auditor qualification for IT audit roles can expect above-average increases, while in risk and compliance those with technology risk and financial crime compliance or direct relationships with the regulators will be sought after and well paid.

Strategy: This is the area where we saw most change in 2015. While there was little or negative growth in traditional strategy teams, there was a real focus on fintech, digital, online, innovation and big data as companies try to monetise their data assets. We saw upward pressure on salaries in these areas in the second half of 2015 but often not enough to attract the best local candidates. On the other hand, overseas candidates were more willing to compromise on salary for an opportunity to relocate to Australia.

To view the full salary guide, please click here.  


Further press information:
Louise Langridge
+61 (0)2 8986 3103  

Notes to editors:

About Morgan McKinley

Morgan McKinley is a global professional services recruiter connecting specialist talent with leading employers across multiple industries and disciplines.

With offices across Ireland, the UK, EMEA, Asia and Australia, the company’s professional recruitment expertise spans banking & financial services; commerce & industry and professional services. Morgan McKinley is a preferred supplier to many of the major employers in its specialist sectors and thousands of smaller local firms.

Morgan McKinley APAC provides specialist recruitment services across the APAC region, including Australia, Mainland China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, working with clients and candidates to deliver local knowledge as well as global reach.

Morgan McKinley has been awarded the following:

ACCOUNTANCY RECRUITMENT COMPANY OF THE YEAR in Japan at the 2015 Recruitment International Asia Awards

SEEK annual recruitment awards: Winner of Mid-Sized Recruiter of the year, 2015
Global Recruiter Asia-Pacific award 2015 for BEST MARKETING CAMPAIGN
Global Recruiter Asia-Pacific, highly commended 2015 for BEST IN-HOUSE TRAINING
INNOVATION LEADER in the China HR Industry, TOP HR awards 2015
BANKING & FINANCIAL SERVICES Recruitment Company of the year in HONG KONG at the 2015 (and also the 2014) Recruitment International Asia Awards
CANDIDATE CARE PROGRAMME OF THE YEAR at the 2014 Recruitment International Australia awards
BANKING & FINANCIAL SERVICES Recruitment Company of the year in JAPAN at the 2014 Recruitment International Asia Awards
Global Recruiter Asia-Pacific award 2014 for BEST IN-HOUSE TRAINING
Global Recruiter Asia-Pacific, highly commended 2014 for BEST MARKETING CAMPAIGN
TOP HR award: Best headhunter in China, 2013

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APAC Regional Managing Director