Cash is king as banks are forced to pay up

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There's nothing better than cash in the hand - or at least a big fat bonus.

A survey just conducted by Hays found that two thirds of respondents prefer a high cash component in their salaries these days over non-cash benefits. That compares with 42% who said they preferred cash when the survey was last conducted in April 2006.

Matthew Gowan, senior manager of Hays Banking, says the candidate shortage has resulted in salaries going up across the board, with employees not shy to ask for more cash.

"While candidates don't necessarily say that money is the most important thing, when it comes down to it there's not much else that interests them," Gowan says.

In the past few years there has been a good steady growth of bank salaries in Sydney, Melbourne and other cities. "It seems pretty hard to stop that trend and candidates just know, when push comes to shove, that if they've got the right mix of skills they can probably ask and they'll probably get what they're asking for," he adds.

Gowan says this isn't a particularly healthy trend, as it outprices some candidates and makes it difficult to maintain an equal playing field for existing employees when banks are hiking up salaries to attract new talent. "It's creating a quandary for employers."

Dianne Eiser of Horton International says her experience is that "more seasoned people" are after more sophisticated components than cash in their packages - such as options and deferred options.

"The deferred option is of greater benefit in terms of the cash flow they finally receive, but the youngsters want the cash in hand. The older people do understand the value of deferred options, and that if they do stay with the company a long time it's going to make more money for them."

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