The Cooper Fitch Salary Guide for Advisory represents the predicted market-rate salary ranges for new recruits across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 2020.
The kingdom’s advisory market is set to continue expanding in 2020, with fresh business activity across all service lines including audit, risk consultancy, deal advisory and transaction services. We anticipate a further increase in consulting work in the year ahead, especially in disputes and investigations, public sector, infrastructure and finance advisory with a prediction that market-rate salary ranges will increase by 3% in 2020.
The biggest growth driver is the Vision 2030 roadmap, which has significantly impacted the Saudi employment market in 2019. An increase in merger & acquisition (M&A) activities, the development of super-scale, or ‘giga’, projects and the privatisation of some government companies have increased demand for advisory professionals and is expected to continue doing so in 2020. Although we do not expect any significant increase in salary ranges for 2020.
In recent months, there has been a marked push among firms to build advisory teams in Saudi Arabia, as opposed to flying specialists in and out on a project-by-project basis, and this is likely to gather momentum in 2020. Organisations are increasingly investing in operations on the ground, with a positive impact on recruitment and relocation activity. Meanwhile, the growth of non-oil industries means higher demand for new skill sets and strong consultancy support for emerging industries.
In terms of candidates, the most significant demand in the coming months will be for Saudi national talent due to the government’s Saudisation agenda, especially those with specialist expertise, resulting in fierce competition among firms and public sector bodies. Such competition is keeping fixed salaries in the advisory sector steady, although clients expect an increase in the frequency of sign-on bonuses in 2020.
Geographically, Riyadh is still the largest market. However, Jeddah has continued to grow its advisory base with an increase in large family holding groups undergoing structural transformations and is, therefore, becoming a busier spot for consulting services. Firms are mainly recruiting from within the Saudi market, with the rest of the GCC, Lebanon and Jordan as the principal secondary markets. In some limited instances, firms are seeking unique international talent from major global markets such as Europe, for advice on public-private partnership (PPP) schemes. Last year there was a skills gap relating to debt restructuring consultancy, but this should close in 2020, our experts say.
Advisory professionals in Saudi Arabia are increasingly seeking career growth and exposure to broader and more exciting clients as the market matures, and they crave higher levels of responsibility and engagement with clients. Firms should think about offering a clear career path with formal learning and development programmes to retain new recruits and existing employees.
A flexible working environment, diverse client base and the opportunity to work with new technologies are other important factors in securing and retaining talent in this sector.
Download the full Advisory Salary Guide 2020 here
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