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Senior agency staff salaries rising to levels enjoyed by CEOs

Creatives continue to command the biggest salaries in the industry, according to a study by The Longhouse.

Salaries for senior planners in advertising and communications agencies are increasing to levels enjoyed by chief executives and executive creative directors, research by headhunter firm The Longhouse has found.

This is due to agencies increasingly recognising the growing importance of data planning, ROI and effectiveness case studies, the firm asserts.

The pay disparity

Its annual Salary Survey revealed that salaries for chief strategy officers now range from £180,000 to more than £250,000 per annum – equivalent to some CEO and chief creative officer roles. Moreover, the survey suggests that an increasing number of strategists are being headhunted into CEO roles, which is balancing the pay disparity.

Creatives continue to command the biggest salaries in the industry, though they are more varied than ever before. According to The Longhouse, briefs for ECDs vary from £150,000 to £200,000 for up-and-coming undiscovered talent, while established chief creative officers – particularly those working on global business – can earn upwards of £500,000.

The survey also highlights changes in the ways that agencies configure their creative departments; many agencies are separating teams at senior levels, while the need for individuals and teams to have demonstrable experience in social and content led-campaigns is present in 90 per cent of briefs.

Within client service roles, The Longhouse identified extremely broad salary bands under the same title. Business director briefs, for example, can span from £65,000 to £120,000. This can lead to a disparity of skills and experience across businesses and therefore affect what is expected of individuals and, in turn, by clients.

The Longhouse also noted that salaries have been fairly static for several years, which is a growing issue agencies will to manage carefully in order to retain existing talent, while attempting to balance continual macro-economic pressures such as investment in training or mentoring schemes.

Helen Kimber, managing partner at The Longhouse, said: “Our findings are in turn exciting and worrying. Investment in strategic thinking at a senior management level is testament to how our business is evolving and changing; how we can be genuine partners to commercial businesses and less of a service industry.

“The flip side of this is the stasis of salaries over time, we are losing the incentive to move up the career ladder and become future business leaders. Businesses must foster nourishing cultures, committing time and energy into the development of employees, resulting in increased loyalty, stronger commitment and individuals taking greater responsibility, thereby delivering more for our business and ultimately saving money on the constant churn of talent.”

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