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UK firms shrug off Brexit as salaries set to increase for the first time in two years

Professional salaries in the UK are expected to increase by at least 3% in 2020 – following two years of pay freezes.

With over half of UK professionals believing that their pay is not an accurate reflection of the work they do – news of salary increases above 2020 inflation rates (1.94%) will be warmly welcomed.

The biggest pay increases for white collar professionals will be in The Midlands (+4.46%), The North (+3.31%), followed by South East (+2.90%) and Merseyside (+2.86%).

Whilst business confidence returns to most regions within the UK, the capital London will experience the slowest growth in salaries at +2.15% - that is less half of the increase expected in The Midlands.

The findings come from the Robert Walters Salary Survey 2020 - the biggest research piece of its kind, reviewing over 100,000 roles and the views of over 9,000 UK employees.

Professionals working in legal, marketing, procurement, accounting & finance and tech-based roles will see their pay increase above the national average. Whereas salaries within HR, banking, and logistics will remain static – at most receiving a 1 - 2% increase.

For contractors, the most lucrative day-rate increases will be in procurement (+8%), supply chain (+5%), and marketing (+4%). Not surprisingly it is again in HR, banking, and logistics where contractors will be receiving the lowest day-rate increase in 2020. 

Predicted salary increase for professional services:


Job vacancies on the rise as business confidence returns

Chris Hickey, UK CEO at Robert Walters commented on the last 12 months:

“While the UK was defined by a year of political and economic instability due to Brexit, the hiring market performed better than anticipated.

“There were pockets of hiring activity within sectors that received notable VC funding such as technology and fintech. Other areas of positive recruitment in 2019 were property, professional services and specific areas within banking such as hedge funds performed better than anticipated.”

the UK will continue to be a global hub for professional services – from legal, HR, accounting, marketing, tech and business support – the UK continues to have some of the best skilled talent in the world.


According to Robert Walters data, professional job vacancies increased by 17% in 2019 when compared with the previous year – with the most notable hiring activity taking place in Birmingham (+26%), Belfast (25%), Manchester (+24%), Glasgow (+23%), and Nottingham (+23%).

In most cases, regions outside of London had almost double the job growth than the capital.

Chris Hickey comments:

“The nearshoring of roles – in particular back-office and operations – to other regions in the UK (namely the Midlands and North West) is something that has been on the agenda for some time and in fact is not Brexit related, but is a decision based on cost-saving. From a London perspective, nearshoring has had more of a significant impact on hiring activity than Brexit.

“What the data in the Robert Walters salary survey highlights is that the UK will continue to be a global hub for professional services – from legal, HR, accounting, marketing, tech and business support – the UK continues to have some of the best skilled talent in the world.” 

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