UK money managers top pay scale worldwide

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A survey of over 15,500 asset managers shows UK and US money managers are paid the most, with Australians, South Africans and Swiss in the next league down.

The annual salary survey by the CFA Institute, the organization administering the CFA exam, reveals considerable discrepancies in money manager pay across countries. UK asset managers earn the most, with median total compensation of $217,048. US money managers earn a median of $170,000.

Swiss money mangers earn an average of $170,354, South Africans earn $134, 946, and Australians earn $131,291. Asset managers in Singapore earn a measly $79,592.

The disparity appears to be down to pay for performance. The survey showed respondents in high paying countries are more likely to be paid on the basis of individual or organizational investment performance than those in poor paying places.

Michelle Turner, a fund management recruiter at Hanson Green in London, says individual performance constitutes an increasingly important element of UK pay: "Pay has become more performance oriented as companies attempt to prevent exits to hedge funds and boutiques. There is a strong emphasis on retaining star fund mangers, and that's reflected in bonuses."

The CFA's historical figures for median US pay, adjusted for currency fluctuations, show it peaking at $182,000 in 2001 before sinking to $145,000 in 2003 and recovering marginally in 2005.

Kathleen Tompkins, head of asset management recruitment at Sheffield Haworth in New York, attributes the changes to September 11th and the market timing scandal: "Everything came to bear at the same time - there were the after effects of 9/11, market timing, and regulatory issues. Now that's past people are really focusing on paying for performance again."

A recruiter in Australia says pay for asset managers and asset management support staff is rising on the back of strong demand and consolidation. For example, HSBC Asset Management Australia was sold to Sydney-based Challenger Financial Services Group Limited last March.

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