Navigating Salary Expectations in Financial Services

Are you guilty of leaving salary discussions to the very end of the process?

Working with professionals and clients within the Financial Services industry on a daily basis, we are seeing a recurring trend of late: client and candidate expectations when it comes to salary are, more often than not, out of line with one another.

While this may not sound like a huge sticking point, the fact of the matter is that a lack of communication around these crucial points can be a major disruptor to hiring, resulting in a disjointed interview process, slower offer acceptance rates, and, in worst-case scenarios, counteroffers from their original firm being accepted. So, to avoid this happening, we’re going to cover why it’s important not to let salaries become the elephant in the room.


1. Set expectations from the outset.

For any position you’re hiring for, it’s important to cover salary expectations and motivators for a move as early as possible when meeting with a candidate. In order to save time and effort for both parties in the long run, it’s important to set expectations early. If you’re utilising an agency, they will be able to probe the candidate on your behalf to find out exactly what they are looking for, and to make sure it is an ideal match: so, ensure you have conversations with the agent you are working with about what the candidate’s expectations are. If there is no scope for you to be able to offer the candidate in question the salary they’re looking for, and if this is a dealbreaker for that individual, then there is no real purpose in going through the interview and offering process. Be transparent about the offer you are able to make, whether this is to the agency you are working with or to the individual in question, to ensure you are being respectful of both their time and your own.


2. Find out the candidate’s key motivators for making a move.

When it comes to making a career change, it’s very rare that an individual would be happy to ‘side-step’: everyone is looking for something more to motivate them to move. Whether it’s a promotion to a more senior position, the opportunity for greater work-life balance, a better commute, a better bonus, or a better salary, everyone moves for a reason. Finding out exactly what it is that is motivating the desire to move is an important step in determining your offering as a business, and helping forestall any issues with counteroffers for their current business; for example, if they value job security but are looking for a higher salary, and their current business is able to counter them to match your offering, it’s important to be aware of this. Having these discussions ensures you have all the relevant information, and you can decide what you are willing to do to secure the candidate’s loyalty, reducing the risk of a counteroffer swaying their mind.


3. Is your offering in line with market averages?

As recruiters in our industry who work with firms on their hiring process day in and day out, we tend to have a very clear idea of the market averages and norms when it comes to salaries and benefits packages. However, firms who hire only occasionally may be less aware of what the norm is and are unlikely to have a clear picture of what level of package is in line with the current market. This is where working with a recruiter can be extremely valuable, as they will be able to work with you on a consultative basis to advise you on what is a realistic and competitive offering. If you aren’t sure where to start, have a look at the Financial Services Salary Survey to start benchmarking the position you’re hiring for more accurately.

Although this is something we are unfortunately seeing increasingly more frequently within the Financial Services sector, it is worth highlighting that it is very poor practice to lowball a salary for an individual that you know has recently been made redundant. Not only is it insulting to the individual in question, but it is also a ‘quick win’ that will only work to your detriment in the longer term. Taking advantage of a prospective candidate’s out-of-work status to offer them a salary that is wildly below what they are worth will undoubtedly breed ill-feeling between the individual and the business as time goes on, and they will soon realise just how undervalued they have been. Then, when they are no longer in the position of needing to secure a position hastily, they will feel no loyalty to the business that offered them a salary far below what they are truly worth and will likely look to move on from them very quickly.


4. Communicate the reasoning behind your offering.

Sometimes it’s simply impossible to match a candidate’s salary expectations, no matter how much you’d like to. But one of the most crucial things you can do is actually explain to the candidate why you are offering the salary you are offering. If you can communicate this effectively, you may still be able to entice them to interview despite your offering not being what they had initially sought. Candidates appreciate the honesty and transparency that these explanations allow for, and being open about this can help build rapport. In addition to this, it is often the case that there are other factors that can still persuade individuals to consider the opportunity, such as a strong EVP, benefits on offer, the possibility for progression, or the nature of the work itself.


So, with honest communication, transparency in your offering, and a little research ahead of time, you will be in a much better position to make an offer that will secure the best talent for your team.

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