The Cooper Fitch Salary Guide for Banking represents the predicted market-rate salary ranges for new recruits across the UAE for 2020.
The UAE banking industry has faced significant challenges in the past few years, including economic shifts, technological advances, and new competitive economies of scale. However, with healthier liquidity levels and a rallying local economy, financial institutions are positioning themselves for renewed growth.
For this report, banking and financial services roles comprise of front-office and back-office roles across retail, wholesale and investment banking. The study focuses on placement trends within corporate and institutional banking and asset management and targets both revenue-generating roles (relationship management) and non-revenue generating roles, with an emphasis on compliance, risk, and finance.
Front-office roles have seen a stagnation in marketrate salary ranges compared to the start of 2019 due to the conservative nature of the market, while back-office functions report a decline on average by -2.5%. We expect 0% increase in salary ranges in 2020. Potential recruits are expected to be flexible in their salary expectations following a spate of restructurings, redundancies and mergers in the industry.
Amid uncertain conditions in the past year, offers of temporary rather than permanent roles became common in the UAE’s banking industry. While this is likely to change in 2020, other factors will continue to impact recruitment trends in the years ahead.
For example, technological innovations in digital and mobile banking have changed the requirements of support functions, shifting the focus away from manpower to technology-based skills. Technology may now have replaced employees in some customer relationship officer positions, while regulatory technology is starting to replace the ‘Know your Customer’ function for larger corporate and retail banks. Increased automation, in general,
has improved the channels linking front- and backoffice functions, reducing the need for core operational staff.
However, our experts predict higher levels of recruitment activity in 2020. In particular, ‘replacement hiring’, as opposed to hiring from within or merging existing functions into the same role, is likely to pick up as banks become more aggressive in achieving long term goals, for instance, expanding into international markets as economic conditions improve globally.
At the same time, mergers completed in 2018 and 2019 will reduce competition among banks as the industry becomes leaner. We predict a promising environment for financial institutions to further generate new business, invest and grow, resulting in forecasting higher profit margins.
With an oversupply of candidates, a fierce competition is increasing demand for candidates with substantial levels of experience, and firms are applying increased due diligence in selection processes, with enhanced stress testing and background checks.
The most in-demand roles in 2020 will be digital banking professionals, senior relationship managers, credit risk specialists, corporate governance professionals, strategic leaders and regulatory compliance policymakers due to stricter controls enacted by the UAE Central Bank.
In 2019 offshore UAE banks have recruited more heavily than their onshore counterparts, and this is expected to continue, our experts say. Global banks with high levels of capital are scaling up their market share and recruiting widely. Meanwhile, financial free zones such as Dubai’s DIFC and Abu Dhabi’s ADGM account for an increasing share of recruitment activity as they issue new licences to firms setting up in the emirates.
Download the full Banking Salary Guide 2020 here
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