Diversity Discussions: Gender pay disparity in the finance industry

Matthew Wilcox our consultant managing the role

The finance industry has made some small strides to improve the gender pay disparity over the past five years, but there is still a long way to go. We have already talked about the rise of female talent in the private equity market. But private equity is only a small part of finance, what about the wider financial services market and those in commercial finance functions?  

The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) latest report on the state of gender diversity disclosed that:  

  • There is greater gender diversity in firms that are larger, but less in customer-facing roles  
  • The number of organisations with female senior managers has grown rapidly since 2005 
  • There is a wide variation across firms with gender diversity at management level ranging from less than 5% to over 40% 
  • Large investment management institutions have more gender diversity at senior management level; by contrast, institutional brokerage is the least gender diverse subsector 


Gender pay gap or equal pay?  

The gender pay gap is different from equal pay. Equal pay is about a man and a woman receiving equal pay for the same or similar job. Fundamentally, people should be paid equally for doing equivalent jobs across all businesses.  

The gender pay gap is calculated as the difference between average hourly earnings of people as a proportion of men’s average hourly earnings. It is a measure across all jobs in the UK, not of the difference in pay between men and women for doing the same job. 

To this backdrop, we have reviewed the last twelve months of finance placements across the UK to discover how prevalent and persistent gender pay disparity is across finance and accountancy.  

Our candidates and the gender pay gap 

It goes without saying, that we always want to achieve the best compensation package possible for all our candidates. But how do some of the core finance roles stand up under the glare of gender equality?

Management Accountant

  • Average Management Accountant salary in the UK is £37,755
  • Male Management Accountants candidates achieved an average salary of £38,714 
  • By comparison, female Management Accountants achieved an average salary of £36,212  

This is an annual difference of £2,502. Which means male Management Accountants are paid 6.7% more than their female counterparts.  

Assistant Management Accountant / Assistant Accountant  

At the more junior end of the scale, we can reveal that the average Assistant Management Accountant achieved a salary of £27,809. However, unlike Management Accountants who tend to have either completed their accountancy qualifications or are nearing completion, we can reveal that: 

  • Male Assistant Management Accountants achieved an average salary of £26,592  
  • Women achieved an average salary of £29,027 

This means women we place in these roles are earning 8.8% (£2,435) more than their male counterparts.  

Chief Financial Officer  

At the very top of the finance food chain, we have the CFO. According to our internal data, the average CFO achieved a base salary of £152,282. However, less that 5% of the CFOs we placed in 2022 were women.  

Finance Director  

In terms of other senior finance roles, we placed double the number of women in FD roles compared to men, but how do their salaries compare? 

  • Men on average £121,666 
  • Women on average £98,800 

Reviewing our data, 30% of the female FDs we placed last year achieved a basic salary of over £100,000, compared to 66% of men.  

Finance Manager  

  • Our internal data achieve an average basic salary of £53,841. In terms of the gender gap, we can reveal that:
  • Male Finance Managers achieve an average salary of £55,960 
  • Whereas women achieve average of £51,407 

  • This means that men earn £4,553 (8.5%) more than women in comparable Finance Manager roles.  

What does this mean?  

It is clear from these numbers that there is a long way to go to ensure that both genders are paid equitably for similar work. Moreover, whilst it is heartening that women are achieving more than men in certain roles, there is a gender imbalance in terms of the number of women breaking into the industry. 

 So, whilst it is great that in some sections of the finance discipline women are achieving higher average salaries than men, there are fewer women at the senior end breaking through into CFO and FD roles. However, even if we were to achieve gender balance at all levels, will the real battle for equal pay will get underway. 

 So, what can we do as talent consultants to close the inequality in gender pay in finance?  

Asking about salary 

Firstly, we can flip the salary question, instead of asking candidates about their current salary, we should ask them about their salary expectations and work towards achieving the uplift they want. Salary conversations should always be based on experience, ability, and skills. A women’s age, marital status or motherhood should not be a barrier to achieving an equal salary.  

At Marks Sattin, we believe that to truly champion women’s rights in the workplace we must break down systemic barriers and taboos by focusing salary conversations on ability. A recruiter's negotiations for a candidate’s new opportunity are the first step in breaking a cycle which has allowed the gender pay gap to reinforce the glass ceiling.  

 Anonymised CV screening  

Whilst many businesses claim to be impartial, including personal details such as gender, name, age, and location on a CV can influence hiring manager’s first impressions of recommended candidates. Recruitment consultants can hold back these details to ensure every applicant is judged purely on their skills and experience. 

Lead from the front  

However, true change comes from within. It is essential that recruitment consultancies, led by example and pay all employees fairly– no matter their gender. This allows us to educate clients and prove the positive impact of closing the gender pay gap.  

In 2022, we launched our Let's Get Even campaign. The goal of this campaign was to ensure our business achieved gender balance in the work force and at management level. A key by-product of this is that our gender pay gap is naturally closing. In January 2022, only 32% of our workforce was formed of women, by December it was 49%, and our highest earner for 2022 was female. We are also actively training and promoting talented women to management and senior management level. 

We are also about to kick off a specific women’s leadership programme and we recognise that men are essential in championing this and we will be doing sessions to educate them on allyship. 

How we are helping support closing the gender pay gap 

Organisations partner with Marks Sattin not only to tap into the ability we have built over the last 30 years but also because of our commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

 It is more difficult than ever to attract the best finance talent, and that challenge is only exemplified when trying to recruit diverse talent. This is where we step in. As specialists in finance recruitment, we have grown an extensive network of clients who trust us to help them build a diverse team. 

If you are looking to hire for your within your finance team, we have you covered from PQ level right up to CFO, then submit a brief and we will be in touch for a chat. 



03/03/23
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