Wednesday, 06 February 2019 13:58

Specialist professionals across South Africa can expect an average of 7% salary increase in 2019

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Robert Walters had released its annual Salary Survey showing salaries across South Africa will increase by 7% on average in 2019.


Salaries will see modest rises in line with inflation around 7%. However, top performing professionals with highly sought-after skill sets can expect to see rises of 10-15%.

To meet workplace diversity and inclusion targets, employment equity professionals will remain in high demand.

Nic Sephton-Poultney, Robert Walters South Africa Managing Director comments;

“It will be another challenging year for the South African economy in 2019, as the pending election will bring about some level of uncertainty leading foreign firms to take a cautious approach to investing in the country. We expect that organisations will take a careful approach to growth and hiring strategies. Professionals with a combination of strong technical skills and industry experience will remain sought after in the private sector.”

“Top performers will continue to be looked after and can expect a salary increase ranging between 10-15%; other professionals can expect inflationary increases of around 7%.”

“With competition for professionals extremely high, securing top talent will require employers to operate swift hiring processes, as well as offering clearly defined career paths and opportunities to satisfy the needs of employees

seeking both reassurance and variety.”


Demand for top previously disadvantaged talent resulted in salary increases of 15-20% in 2018. Specialists with high levels of technical financial competency, industry knowledge and expertise in data, AI and BI were also able to command premiums.

Nic Sephton-Poultney continues:

“With the Finance Charter, BBBEE legislation changes and general lack of top EE finance talent; successful EE candidates are being remunerated accordingly and this has increased top end salaries in this category.”

“Regulatory demands that came with IFRS meant that demand was high for strong technical accountants but this was met with an acute candidate shortage. “


The banking industry became increasingly competitive as we saw the introduction of new players in the market who sought to disrupt the way traditional business is done, by using technology and data analytics.

As such, candidates who can demonstrate value-add such as process optimisation, high-level understanding of technology, systems expertise and stakeholder engagement were highly sought after.

Nic Sephton-Poultney continues:

“Boutique to medium-size businesses in the finance sector will continue to develop and grow their teams. This will further increase competition for finance talent with technology expertise.”

“Demand for specialist skills and sector experience will continue to rise. As time and cost are at a premium, the need for ‘new starters’ to hit the ground running without a development runway is important to organisations.”


Private practice was the most active in hiring, with many top-tier international and 'Big 7' local law firms recruiting for various teams and practice areas. Hiring levels were especially prominent within transactional practice areas, followed by general commercial litigation and dispute resolution. The drive for top-tier candidates in private practice will likely continue in 2019 with international firms setting the standard in terms of salaries, with the 'Big 7' following suit to remain competitive. Premiums to be paid for transactional skill sets such as M&A and banking & finance, in particular EE professionals within these areas of specialisation. The market can expect salary increases of 10-15%.

Nic Sephton-Poultney continues:

“This will be particularly true for local firms, as top-tier candidates are drawn to international firms offering international brand exposure, the potential for secondments overseas, higher salaries and more flexible working conditions. We expect salaries to increase in private practice, with local firms attempting to keep up with international firms in order to retain and hire top-tier professionals.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 February 2019 15:09