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Implementing a benefits package to attract and retain staff Back  
Increasing competition for financial services professionals means that companies have to up their game when it comes to offering benefits. Barbara Donnellan examines what’s on offer for prospective candidates.
As a whole, the financial services industry is well ahead of other sectors for salaries and benefits package on offer, which are very competitive and attractive. Salaries continue to increase across the board. Most graduates entering into financial services can command a base salary of ?25k, with an attractive benefits package, while experienced staff still continue to see increases, especially for the more sought after skills such as funds people, accountants, legal & compliance, pension & insurance specialists, project management, and sales people. We have seen increases in salaries of 5 - 15 per cent and more across some of these areas from last year.

There has also been a huge shift in benefits packages in recent years, with employers now offering a wide variety of benefits.
With regard to pensions, the average employer pension contribution is somewhere between six and eight per cent. Some employers offer full healthcare cover, while more offer a negotiate discount rate with a preferred provider.

Bonuses are generally paid annually, and are dependent on individual performance, but can also be linked into the company’s and team’s performance. The average can be from 10 to 30 per cent of salary. With more senior or sales positions, bonuses can be awarded in stock options.
Educational assistance is also offered by many employers, with some employers paying upfront course and exam fees, including days off, while some other employers pay 50 per cent at the start of the course and 50 per cent on successful completion.

Other benefits include life assurance cover, where the norm is four times gross salary, and subsidised canteen and luncheon vouchers; gym membership; professional bodies’ subscriptions; travel assistance programme; and mortgage allowances. Share options, car allowance, parking, company lap-top, and mobiles tend to be more available for senior positions.

In the past while, newer incentives have been introduced within financial services companies. These include flexi-benefits, which allow the employee to choose the benefits package that suits them best. There has also been an increase in holiday allowance with more companies moving from the statutory minimum 20 days. Other benefits which have become the norm are paternal leave, employee referral bonus program, free stock options, child care assistance, health screens, flexi hours, accommodation allowance and casual dress down days.

But is all this enough to reward your employees? For most employees this is probably a very good deal. However, recent experience has shown that more and more employees are looking beyond the monetary benefits and are striving for a fuller quality life style than ever before. So what is it that will really keep your valuable employee satisfied? Over the past twelve months we have seen a greater number of employees place greater emphasis when making their employment decision based on the company’s location and its balanced working hours. With location, this is always going to be problematic for some employees due to available commuter access. However, some employees feel if there was more flexibility around their working hours this could encourage them to reconsider companies outside their commuter zone.

Moreover, companies who have a good work-life balance in place do well in attracting staff, while employees are not long in finding out which companies do not pursue such a philosophy. Therefore it is important for companies to continue publicising their work-life balance environment if it exists, as employees tend to have a habit of sticking with recommendations from friends even if it was back two or three years ago!

We all appreciate that there are greater demands been put on companies within the financial services industry, and as a result this will inevitability affect the employee. So perhaps it may well be worth taking further stock of what your company is actually offering to employees and being aware of the changing demands on its employees may go a long way in keeping that valuable employee satisfied.

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