The pensions industry hasn’t escaped the pressures that the recent economic climate has forced on most employers, but it has continued to be a thriving and exciting industry to work in.

Employers actively seek to attract high-calibre graduates through the offer of structured training, enhanced benefits and incentives schemes. There are tangible long-term job prospects for those with the skills required to succeed.

Financial rewards vary according to a multitude of factors including: geographical location (salaries are invariably higher in the South East, particularly in London); the sector the employer operates in and size of company.

The pensions industry will continue to experience growth and need talented people at all levels to develop and deliver economically viable, effective solutions, against a backdrop of increasing legislative demands: the introduction of auto-enrolment of workers onto employer pension schemes in 2012 means that pensions impact has never been so far-reaching and challenging.

Pensions salaries: starting rates

Starting out as a pensions administrator is the most typical route to begin ‘learning the ropes’. The national UK average for entering this type of role ranges from a basic salary of £14,000–£25,000.

These can be a springboard to more senior, or specialist roles, from administration management, systems, accounts communications to technical and compliance/governance, secretariat and pensions management and consultancy focused roles (to mention but a few). Therefore you should seek out entry-level opportunities that are likely to give you as broad a range of experience as possible.

Pensions salaries: senior earnings

Some employers offer fast-track programmes, but even without this opportunity, graduates willing to commit and put in the required effort can progress through administration to management level, commanding salaries up to around the £80,000 mark. Progression through consultancy leads to similar salary levels.

More senior positions, of which there are a considerable number across the various sectors, typically offer extremely attractive six figure packages.

The future of pensions salaries

The Sammons Pensions Annual Salary Survey 2011 observed an increased percentage of respondents reporting pay rises compared to the previous year. The average rise was 3-3.9%, with 83% of respondents confirmed receiving a bonus in 2011. Whilst market conditions are continuing to impact on this at least in the short term, it is expected that increases will continue as they have year on year as will bonus payments.

Pensions can offer a multitude of opportunities, and is not typically restrictive at all in career opportunities, whether you work within a niche field, or more generalist. Whilst many pensions professionals readily admit to ‘falling’ into the industry, they rarely leave, as it draws on so many skills and offers so much potential exposure and personal reward.

Benefits

Data collated from the Sammons Pensions Annual Salary Survey 2011 revealed the types of benefits most commonly offered to employees include: pension schemes; life assurance; private health insurance; sharesave schemes; interest free season ticket loan; and gym membership as well as company discounted products.

Study support/leave for professional qualifications rated well on the list of benefits people valued most highly. Whether working for an in-house scheme or in consultancy, the focus on professional accreditation has never been greater, from the Pensions Management Institute’s (PMI’s) qualification in Pensions Administration (QPA) at entry-level through to its Advanced Diploma in Retirement Provision for more senior individuals.

The increase in technological capabilities has seen opportunities for job share, or working partly from home and hot desking which employers can potentially offer to retain staff increasingly seeking that positive balance between work and home life.

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