Pay up, I work in HR

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Senior City HR professionals are taking home seven-figure packages. Not bad for a support function.

"A good head of compensation and benefits is now on 1m," says Sally Talbot, managing director of HR-focused headhunting boutique Redwood Search. "A global head of HR is on 750k to 1m, a European head of HR or a global head in a smaller set-up is on 300k to 500k, and director-level reports are on 250k to 300k."

How did HR get so rich? It's mostly down to the shortage of 'good' people, says Talbot. It's also down to the fact that people are moving out of the business into HR a little more frequently - and demanding front-office-style packages.

"The really good heads of HR tend to be able to do the numbers as well as the people agenda," Talbot says. The head of HR at one European bank came from a fixed income background at a rival, for example. Another has a background as a finance director.

The latest salary survey from recruitment firm Morgan McKinley cites some less impressive figures (admittedly, minus bonuses). According to Morgan McKinley, a head of HR is on an 80k to 180k salary, while a director in comp and bens is on 70k to 90k. Worst off are lowly HR administrators who scrape by on 20k to 35k.