Financial Services Sector Projects Flat 2016 Performance Bonuses and Modest 2017 Base Salary Increases

  • Highest 2017 base pay increases projected in Asia and Latin America, followed by North America and Europe
  • Non-financial performance measures increasingly allowed to override financial outcomes among banks
  • About half of companies (48%) have increased fixed pay for control functions

NEW YORK--()--Salary increases are set to be modest in 2017 as financial services companies worldwide feel the impact of slow economic growth, low inflation as well as continued low interest rates, according to the latest data from Mercer. On average, 2017 base salary increases for all roles are expected to be between 1.9% and 2.4%. Mercer’s research finds that the majority of organizations predict 2017 annual incentive levels to remain similar or unchanged to 2016.

Mercer's Global Financial Services Executive Compensation Snapshot Survey was conducted in October/November 2016. The survey reviews the pay practices of 42 global financial services companies — banks, insurers and other financial services — based in 14 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, and South America.

Forecasted base salary increases are expected to be lower in Europe (1.4% to 2.0%) than North America (1.6% to 2.6%). Projections for India (6.0% average salary increase) are higher than any other growth market across Latin and South America (3.5%) and Asia (3.8%). Approximately two-thirds of organizations predict that the 2017 actual corporate incentive pools will be similar (within +/- 5% range) or unchanged to 2016 levels. Almost one-quarter of companies surveyed predict the actual 2017 incentive pool to be significantly lower than 2016 levels, while only 11% predict it to be significantly higher. A similar trend was observed last year.

“With compensation remaining relatively flat, firms are challenged to go beyond pay and emphasize their broader employee value proposition to continue to motivate and retain people,” said Vicki Elliott, Senior Partner and Financial Services Leader, Mercer Career. “To protect key talent, companies should also put more focus on recognizing and differentiating high performers.”

The most prevalent changes in remuneration policy and practices planned by organizations in the next 12 months are job evaluation/global levelling (63%), parental leave policies company-wide (38%) and flexible benefits (33%). Pay equity policies remain an area for change, particularly in European firms where 40% say they plan to make changes to their formal pay equity policy company-wide in the next 12 months.

Performance measurement

According to Mercer’s research, a growing number of organizations are implementing the use of non-financial performance measures as a way of aligning performance with sound risk-taking. Non-financial performance measures of conduct, compliance and risk management are increasingly being allowed to override financial outcomes. Approximately one-third of organizations allow for non-financial measures to override financial measures in their annual incentive plan (38%) and multi-year incentive plan (32%). This is more common in banks (55%) than insurance firms (15%).

Dirk Vink, Mercer Principal and Project Manager for the study, said, “Allowing non-financial measures to override financial performance measures provides greater emphasis on risk management, compliance and conduct, and thus, puts a lot more teeth into their effectiveness as performance criteria.”

Compensation for control functions

Organizations continue to respond to regulatory developments and talent shortages by increasing fixed pay in the compensation of control functions. Mercer’s data showed around half (48%) of companies had increased fixed pay for control functions, one-third had decreased variable pay, and 19% showed an increase in total compensation levels. On a regional level, far more European organizations reported a shift from variable to fixed pay: about half (52%) of European organizations reported an increase in pay linkage to function performance compared to 21% in North America. One-third of both insurers and banks reported that regulatory impact decreased the link between pay and business performance.

Mr. Vink said, “Compensation for control functions is usually linked to the performance of their function and overall corporate financial performance rather than line of business performance. This is to ensure there are no conflicts of interest in exercising their oversight role for specific business practices and decisions.”

Mercer’s research showed that less than 30% of banks overall report a linkage of compensation for control functions to line of business performance.

About Mercer

Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and careers of their most vital asset — their people. Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 140 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With annual revenue of $13 billion and 60,000 colleagues worldwide, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a leader in management consulting. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.

Contacts

For Mercer
Stacy Bronstein, 215-982-8025
stacy.bronstein@mercer.com

Release Summary

Salary increases are set to be modest in 2017 as financial services companies worldwide feel the impact of slow economic growth, low inflation as well as continued low interest rates, Mercer finds.

Contacts

For Mercer
Stacy Bronstein, 215-982-8025
stacy.bronstein@mercer.com