Interest grows in interims

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Australia's M&A boom has been good for financial advisors and astute traders. It's also proving handy for finance executives who have chosen lifestyle over permanency.

According to Ian McAlpine, director of boutique search and selection firm Perceptor, the surge in M&A activity - which has reached record proportions in the country over the past 12 months - is creating strong demand for finance executives working on an interim basis.

"The M&A activity is creating a lot of uncertainty in the market because many finance candidates are not comfortable joining a company which is rumoured to be about to be taken over or is already subject of a takeover bid," he said in a recent article in CFO Magazine.

"In addition, there is a great deal of project work being undertaken at present requiring specialist external skills, or to backfill an internal secondment."

Perceptor specialises in the mid to senior market, where full time salaries are typically AU$100k to AU$350k. In this sector, McAlpine said there are two types of people who seek interim work - those who do it for lifestyle reasons and financial choice and those "sweating" on getting full time work because they are between jobs or returning from overseas.

Interim positions are well paid, commanding a premium over full time salary packages of 10% to 20% - and up to 30% for some specialist work.

"I've just seen that in reverse," McAlpine said. "Somebody actually took a pay cut to take a permanent role. It was a job he wanted, but he'll only be getting 75% of what he was earning on contract work."

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