UAE employers need to boost salaries to retain audit and HR staff

Niche roles in accountancy and human resources command the highest premiums as employers struggle to fill roles.

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Employers in the UAE will need to increase the pay packages they offer for accountancy, HR and other managerial staff as the global economy picks up, according to recruitment firm Robert Half.

It said that as markets in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom return to pre-recessionary levels of employment, UAE companies “are having to compete on an international scale” to attract top candidates as the perceived benefits of relocating to the country have weakened.

A decline in all-inclusive relocation incentives, combined with higher living costs, means that businesses are having to increase pay to attract staff, as well as investing more in developing and training existing staff.

Finance professionals, specifically, are in short supply, with 93 per cent of the chief financial officers surveyed for the Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide stating that they are finding it difficult to attract skilled, professional employees.

About 48 per cent of CFOs said the greatest difficulty was in finding people to fill niche roles in disciplines such as auditing, compliance and in private equity and asset management.

Salaries for audit staff are likely to rise across the board, with compliance managers expected to achieve a 5.5 per cent increase in wages to US$134,500 to $189,500, while internal auditors should get a pay increase of an average of 8.9 per cent to $65,250 to $81,750 next year.

HR staff will benefit from the increased focus on staff development and retention, with learning and development managers likely to receive pay increases of 7.6 per cent to $80,500 to $110,750, while the average salary for an HR director is set to climb by 4 per cent to between $171,000 and $265,250.

Gareth El Mettouri, an associate director for Robert Half UAE, said: “As the region continues to compete for skilled professionals both locally and internationally, ensuring star performers are receiving competitive remuneration helps businesses remain attractive to both existing staff as well as potential new recruits.”

Despite concerns about the impact of the oil price on the region’s economy, the trade credit insurance specialist Coface said at its Country Risks conference in Dubai that growth in the UAE is likely to remain steady in the near term.

It is forecasting GDP growth of 3.1 per cent for 2015, with the chief economist Julien Marcilly stating that the UAE has “greater fiscal buffers” than many of its neighbours to withstand declining hydrocarbon revenues.

“The UAE’s economy is one of the most diversified among the GCC countries. Hydrocarbon revenues account only for 25 per cent of GDP and 20 per cent of total export revenues,” he said.

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