Annual Hays salary survey says cost of poaching big hitters from rivals has gone up £10,000

Quantity surveyors in London looking to bring in new partners and directors can now expect to have to shell out more than £100,000 to do so.

Cost consultants working in the capital have traditionally been among the best payers in the industry although last year most were forced to cut pay packets or impose salary freezes as the cost of the covid-19 pandemic began to bite.


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London’s streets have been deserted during the latest lockdown but for those directors and partners of QS firms contemplating a move in the capital it can mean they are paved with gold

But, according to the latest Hays consultants’ salary survey, those QS firms in London with cash to spare will have to part with £110,000 – a rise of 10% over the year – to bring in senior figures.

One partner at a London firm said: “I think we’d be looking to pay between £85,000 and £120,000, somewhere in that ballpark. That [£110,000] figure feels about right.”

But he said partners and directors across all firms had been forced to take salary cuts to preserve cash as the pandemic put the brakes on clients’ spending plans and saw jobs temporarily grind to a halt.

“No one at a senior level has had a 10% pay rise. It’s been all about keeping your job.”

> Also read: Consultants’ salary survey 2021

One firm, with offices in the capital and elsewhere, said: “£100,000 is about right. I would say £110,000-plus is there but the person has to have something to bring to the table like clients.”

He added that quantity surveyors were still making money but it was what to do with improved profit that was causing debate among leadership teams.

“Many have seen an increase in profits, even with a decrease in turnover, due to reduced overheads and so on,” he said. “It is then about what you do with these profits – hand them out as earnings to the top table or reinvest them in the business?”

Another London QS added: “That [£110,000] rate for partners doesn’t surprise me, albeit they are possibly catching up from the year before.”

But he said: “We froze pay last year with the exception of graduates and trainees, promotions plus one or two increases to mitigate some pay disparities. We also didn’t pay a usual bonus. This was delayed until December this year and it’s only likely to be modest pay rises this year.”

Gleeds executive director Douglas McCormick, who is in charge of its near 900-strong UK business, said the firm put staff on a four-day week to look after cash when the pandemic first struck.

“When [covid] fell last March, nobody knew what to expect. It was all about making sure we preserved the business and not throw money around. It was more important to preserve jobs than bump salaries up.”

The firm has begun recruiting again and has already brought in 40 people since the start of the year and others said businesses might have freed up resource to target particular people.

One said: “Some will have seen this [pandemic] as an opportunity to do some trimming, which has created space to try and target stronger individuals to the business.”

Meanwhile, directors and partners at building surveying firms in London earned an average of £100,000, up just 0.5% from £99,500 last time, while other roles, such as newly qualified building surveyors and associate architects, saw their pay packets squeezed.

But the survey found 54% of businesses plan to recruit in the next year, though this is down on 74% from the year before.

The survey found 47% of employees plan to look for a new job but stay within the same role or industry, while 13% plan to set up their own business or become self-employed.

Gaelle Blake, director of Hays Construction and Property, said firms needed to step up their efforts to keep staff – not just through bumping up wages.

She added said: “Many professionals either feel disengaged because they feel they’re being overlooked and undervalued in their current capacity. This has been exacerbated during covid-19. Employers need to be able to identify and express where staff have gone above and beyond, ensuring praise is objective.”

The survey, which ran for three weeks until the middle of last November, had 435 responses from those working or employing professionals in consultant roles.