Auditors and HR professionals expected to see highest salary rises in 2016

27 October 2015
  • Audit managers expected to receive the highest salary increase of 8.9% in 2016 with higher than average pay rises within accounting and finance for roles in large companies (2.9%)
  • Learning and development manager role set to receive the highest raise (7.2%) within the HR function 
  • Within financial services, roles within compliance, and private equity and asset management to receive salary rises above 3%, with compliance managers set to receive the highest increase of 5.0%

Dubai, 27 October 2015 – Starting salaries for professional occupations are expected to see modest rises over the next 12 months, according to the Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide. Across professional occupations including finance and accounting, financial services, information technology, legal, and human resources and administration, salaries are expected to see an average rise of 1.7%. The roles that are the most difficult to fill are predicted to see salaries rising the most quickly in 2016, including internal auditors (8.9%) and learning and development managers (7.6%).

The Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide is the most comprehensive and authoritative resource on starting salaries and recruitment trends in finance and accounting, financial services, IT, legal, and HR and administration. The Salary Guide enables employers and employees to benchmark salaries for nearly 200 different permanent professional roles in the UAE.

Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director, Robert Half UAE commented: “Businesses are actively seeking skilled professionals for new roles and to fill open vacancies which is driving salaries rises well above average for in-demand roles, despite the region’s outlook facing some uncertainty. Hard-to-fill roles are experiencing higher than average pay rises due to the increased competition for these candidates.”

  • Accountancy and finance

Starting salaries for accountancy and finance roles in large companies (>250 employees) are predicted to rise at a faster rate than SME companies. There are higher rises on offer for roles within compliance and audit, reflecting the ongoing importance being placed on meeting regulatory and reporting changes. Overall, roles within accounting and finance can expect an average salary increase of 2.3%.

Table 1: accountancy and finance highest by role

Top three 2015 average (USD) 2016 average (USD) % change
Internal Auditor* $60,000 - $75,000 $65,250 - $81,750 8.9
Audit Manager* $132,250 - $237,500 $141,000 - $253,250 6.6
Compliance Director* $127,500 - $179,750 $134,500 - $189,500 5.5

*Salary ranges and percentage changes mentioned above are for roles in large companies.

  • Financial services

With increased spend on revenue generation being balanced against the need to remain compliant, skilled financial services professionals are in high demand. As such, the vast majority (93%) of finance directors reported that they are challenged in finding skilled financial services professionals. Average salary increases for financial services professionals are predicted to rise by 1.5%, while roles within compliance, and private equity and asset management are expected to receive salary increase above 3% on average. 

Table 2: financial services highest rises by role

Top three 2015 average (USD) 2016 average (USD) % change
Compliance Manager $94,000 - $147,250 $98,750 - $154,500 5.0
Anti-Money Laundering Specialist $65,750 - $115,000 $68,500 - $120,000 4.2
Assistant Vice President in Private Equity and Asset Management $126,250 - $167,500 $132,750 - $173,250 4.2


  • Technology

Systems architecture and networking are expected to see higher than average salary increases within the technology functions. Roles expected to receive the highest raises include network architects (2.6%) and highly experienced enterprise architects (2.1%). Overall, technology roles are set to receive a modest average increase of 1.1% in this year’s Salary Guide.

Table 3: technology highest rises by role

Top three 2015 average (USD) 2016 average (USD) % change
Network Architect $120,500 - $223,500 $126,500 - $226,500 2.6
Senior Business Systems Analyst $91,740 - $142,750 $93,750 - $145,750 2.1
Enterprise Architect (16 years’ experience) $182,750 - $254,250 $184,750 - $261,250 2.1


  • Human resources and administration

Businesses are enhancing their talent pipeline by investing in the development of existing staff to support their medium to long-term growth goals. Senior learning and development professionals who are able to drive the programmes required for staff are in short supply. Average starting salaries for these roles are seeing higher than average rises, included learning and development managers (7.6%) and heads of learning and development (5%). Roles across HR and administrations are expected to see an average rise of 2.4%.

Table 4: human resources and administration highest rises by role

Top three 2015 average (USD) 2016 average (USD) % change
Learning and Development Manager $78,250 - $99.500 $80,500 - $110,750 7.6
Head of Learning and Development $114,000 - $170,000 $119,700 - $178,500 5.0
HR Director $164,500 - $255,000 $171,000 – $265,250 4.0


  • Legal

With increased construction taking place in the UAE, firms are increasing their in-house legal teams. Businesses are actively strengthening their legal teams with paralegals who have local market knowledge and are able to assist with the review of contracts and legal documents in Arabic, resulting in professionals with these skills receiving above average salary increases. Roles within the legal function, both in-house and private practice are predicted to receive an average starting salary increase of 1.4%. 

Table 5: legal highest rises by role

Top three 2015 average (USD) 2016 average (USD) % change
Regional Legal Counsel $202,500 - $252,750 $213,750 - $253,500 2.6
Paralegal (3–5 years’ experience) $68,250 – 104,750 $69,250 - $107,500 2.5
Paralegal (6–9 years’ experience) $95,750 - $131,500 $96,250 - $136,250 2.3

El Mettouri added: “As the UAE economy continues to rely on specialist professionals who are able to add value from day one, business need to offer candidates competitive market salaries to attract to the region.” 

“As businesses balance the need to deliver efficiencies while achieving their growth goals, proactively benchmarking salaries could provide businesses clarity in meeting their retention and hiring needs. As the region continues to compete for skilled professionals both locally and internationally, ensuring star performers are receiving competitive remuneration helps businesses remain attractive to both existing staff as well as potential new recruits.”


Notes to editors 

About the 2016 Salary Guide

Since 1950, Robert Half has produced Salary Guides to offer business owners, hiring managers and professionals information on prevailing starting salaries in their geographic areas and insight into the latest employment trends. Companies consult the annual Salary Guide to determine appropriate remuneration for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal, and HR and administration professionals at all levels.

 Information in the Salary Guide is based on the thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements managed each year by Robert Half's recruitment consultants, along with the company's ongoing surveys of executives. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported because many external factors – such as seniority, work ethic, job performance and training – impact the salaries of permanent professionals as work histories develop. Download the Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy; a member of the S&P 500 and #1 in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World's Most Admired Companies” list (2015). Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide, including the UAE, providing recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal, human resources and administration professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at


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