H1 Salary Guide UAE Accounting & Finance 2017

Accounting and Finance

The Finance industry has experienced minimal changes in remuneration packages. Salary levels have either remained the same or marginally decreased, mainly among smaller business and in the Oil and Gas industry. The most pertinent change in salary packages would be that of CFOs, decreasing by 5-15% in comparison to 2016. On the other hand, salary compensation for low to mid-level finance jobs is more stable. 

The industry experienced a lower volume of finance jobs in the second quarter of 2017 which was linked to the prevalence of Ramadan. As a result, the volume of finance jobs is forecasted to advance in the third and fourth quarter of 2017. Moreover, the demand for senior-level positions has decreased as there has been a notable trend of companies restructuring and consolidating their workforce in order to improve operational efficiencies. As a result, employees are being terminated and their positions aren't being refilled. This has also led to a decrease in the number of newly created finance jobs by 10-15%.Additionally, persistently low oil prices have fueled the ripple effect of declining finance job opportunities across the retail, hospitality, leisure and baking and banking sectors.

Continuing from January's report, VAT has remained a key development in the Finance industry and has been the main facilitator for newly created roles in the VAT sector. The Middle East still lacks sufficient knowledge skills and expertise pertaining to VAT jobs and has resulted in the need to source new international talent.

Audit and Risk 

The Audit and Risk and sector have experienced an increase in salary figures at Director and Partner level by 5% accompanied by fixed/guarantee bonuses being common, while salaries from mid to senior manager levels have shown little movement. As a result, consulting firms have regressed to relying on annual performance bonuses, career development and reputation as key drivers for retention and attraction of candidates. 

The sector has also seen an increase in the demand for certain roles by more than 10% with a particular focus on commercial capability, market penetration and market growth. There has also been an increase in roles within the Risk and Audit Advisory sector as budgets from both the public and private sector have started to expand. These budgets are driving initiatives based on healthcare, infrastructure, education, financial regulations and critically corporate governance across all sectors particularly within family holding groups. Consulting firms are also highly interested in attracting professionals who are highly networked with technical and commercial capabilities. Additionally, Financial Services and regulatory bodies been driving an increase in risk advisory professionals. Primarily at mid-management levels with specific skill-sets and experience across financial risk management within retail and investment banks, asset management firms and insurance organisations. 


Overall, there have been no significant changes in salaries for Management Consulting professionals across the GCC. However, there has been a notable increase in consulting firms, such as the Big 4, offering senior candidates significant sign on and guaranteed bonuses to incentivize moves from top talent. This shift is correlated to candidates being more cautious when considering new career opportunities due to the state of the current market. 

There have been no changes in hiring trends in the UAE, however, within the Middle East, there has been a significant increase in hires of Saudi nationals in Advisory firms in Saudi Arabia. Advisory firms in Saudi have experienced an increased need to place Saudi national in Senior “ Account Director” or Business Development Positions due to the 2030 Saudi vision. This trend is accompanied by the fact hiring Saudi nationals is beneficial business development and closer governmental relations.

This has resulted in more Senior Ex-Consulting professionals, specifically Saudi nationals are starting their own consulting practices in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, qualified Saudi nationals who have studied MBA’s from top university abroad, working for small tech startups in Saudi are taking preference over top-tier firms such as Mckinsey, the Boston Consulting Group and Bain. 


Following January's report, professional services firms were the most active in regards to Tax recruitment, however, industry firms and the public sector have been increasingly active in 2017. The high demand for indirect tax professionals has caused a disruption in the talent market in the UAE, adding up to 1, 200 new VAT jobs in the region by the end of 2017. 

A considerable number of professional services candidates are joining the Big 4 firms and others with the aim of moving into industry firms shortly after as the industry firms typically provide more lucrative packages and shorter working hours. Such actions undermine the workflow of the professional services organisations who are having to consistently engage in the recruitment of new talent. Moreover, candidates are now receiving multiple offers from various organisations, forcing companies to be more proactive when it comes to offer negotiation for premium talent, especially at mid-senior level. 

Although industry firms have an option of recruiting GCC based candidates from the professional services firms, the choice is still limited given the demand for highly qualified and experienced candidates. For the most part, industry firms have been giving preference to candidates with mature jurisdiction experience. 

The competition for talent will only increase, accounting for the number of GCC businesses who still don't have resources to prepare for VAT. Additionally, the GCC governments will shortly start recruiting thousands of indirect tax specialists to manage and audit VAT activities in each country. Those organisations who have not started to recruit relevant talent may end up in an unfavourable situation and pay premiums in order to recruit the required talent. 


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