Office Support 2016 Salary Guide

Andrew Kitchen 25.02.2016

At Morgan McKinley, we endeavor to provide up-to-date market insight and expert knowledge on your sector. Here we offer key recruiter information within the Secretarial and Support sector, covering permanent and temporary salaries across London, South West England and the Home Counties.

View our most up-to-date Office Support Salary Guide.

A steady increase in non-banking financial services

2015 witnessed the first steady increase in the number of permanent roles at more senior levels (PAs and EAs) compared to the previous five years. These have been focused primarily on sectors such as asset management, private equity and hedge funds rather than banking, with permanent headcount now seen as less of a risk. One significant change that we have noticed in the recruitment process is a greater focus on testing before the first interview stage (skills testing, psychometric testing etc.) as well as background compliance checks. 

Candidates need to pay particular attention to their CVs if they are to make it to interview. Secretarial qualifications (such as ILEX, Pitmans, Quest, RSA or equivalent) are gaining recognition and industry-specific qualifications will make a CV stand out. General organisational skills are in demand but what counts most, especially at more senior levels, is personality and cultural fit.

Salaries are fairly stable at £35-£40k for a general PA, depending on experience, but we may see rates increase marginally after bonuses are paid out in 2016. 

As busy as ever

The contract market is split between junior office support staff, who are looking to build up experience and explore different work environments, and more experienced staff who desire flexibility or who are supplementing household incomes. Much of the demand for contract hires is driven by maternity, absence and holiday cover.

Despite the growth in permanent headcount, the contract market is as busy as ever. The balance is still tilted towards temporary hires, although the split differs significantly by sector. Whereas the specialist finance and boutique firms are more inclined towards permanent recruitment, the banks are heavily focused on contract hiring. Hourly rates have not changed significantly since 2014, currently at around £18 per hour for a standard PA. The banks have nevertheless shown more flexibility on overtime rates in order to attract more interest in contract work, where longer hours are often the norm. 

The expiry of Tier 5 visas has brought about a reduction of the Commonwealth (primarily Australian) talent pool for contract and short-term hires. To a limited extent, this gap has been filled by UK-resident Eastern European nationals. 

Office Support - Non-banking Financial Services | London
Role Permanent (£ Salary per annum) Temporary (£ Rate per day)
Office Manager 38,000-50,000 19-24
Executive Assistant 38,000-45,000 19-22
Personal Assistant 35,000-42,000 18-21
Float Secretary 32,000-38,000 16-19
Trading Floor Secretary 36,000-42,000 18-21
Bi-lingual Secretary 35,000-40,000 17-21
Team Secretary 32,000-38,000 16-19
Research Assistant 34,000-38,000 16-19
Senior Administrator / Business Assistant 31,000-37,000 18-21
Administrator 24,000-28,000 12-16
Junior Administrator 18,000-24,000 11-14
Reception Manager 26,000-32,000 13-17
Receptionist / Switchboard 23,000-30,000 11-15

Commerce and Industry

Large uplift in demand

Demand for permanent office support staff has grown in the course of 2015, at all levels from office junior to senior EA. Many of the positions that were lost in the recession have been refilled but on top of this, up to 35% of the roles handled in 2015 were new additions to organisational headcount. We have seen particularly strong growth in  oil and gas and professional services companies, which cut back on non-fee earning headcount during the downturn. 

Selection is highly personality-driven but in recent years we have seen a much greater interest in degree-educated candidates for senior (PA and EA) roles. Although a solid CV is important, employers may need to accept that they will possibly miss out on a hire if they do not allow for the fact that many candidates dropped out of the market during the downturn.

As with banking and financial services, there is a greater focus on testing before the first interview stage (skills testing, psychometric and logic testing etc.) Generally speaking, companies are recognising the importance of reliable office support skills and candidates with secretarial qualifications (such as ILEX, Pitmans, Quest, RSA or equivalent) are very much in demand. Where there is a need for a foreign language or international exposure, we are seeing more non-British EU candidates apply, but these opportunities only account for a small proportion of hires.

Salaries vary significantly between the different industries in commerce and industry. A big brand name, especially a media or social media company, will have no trouble attracting candidates at a lower rate of pay than, for example, an oil and gas sector company. One sector where we have seen salary offers falling short of expectations is within professional services. Rates of pay are lower than in banking and financial services despite the similarity in responsibilities and hours. These companies will need to review salaries or improve their employee value proposition to compete in this market.

More subdued contract recruitment

Temporary and short-term recruitment has been somewhat quieter in commerce and industry in 2015, largely because organisations now have sufficient permanent staff in place to cover holidays, sickness and maternity leave. Office support is now seen as offering secure opportunities with a better work-life balance, so the attraction of contract work has diminished. 

Hourly rates are somewhat lower than in banking and financial services, but significant differences between the various sectors within the commerce and industry can also exist.

Office Support - Commerce & Industry |  London
Role Permanent (£ Salary per annum) Temporary (£ Rate per hour)
Office Manager 30,000-35,000 14-16
Executive Assistant 35,000-45,000 16-20
Personal Assistant 30,000-40,000 14-17
Bi-lingual Secretary 30,000-40,000 14-17
Team Secretary 25,000-35,000 12-16
Senior Administrator 25,000-30,000 12-14
Business Assistant 30,000-40,000 14-18
Administrator 20,000-24,000 10-12
Junior Administrator 18,000-20,000 9-10
Reception Manager 26,000-32,000 13-16
Receptionist / Switchboard 20,000-25,000 10-13
Secretarial & Support - Commerce & Industry | Thames Valley, Middlesex, Surrey & South West
Role Permanent (£ Salary per annum) Temporary (£ Rate per hour)
Office Manager 30,000-40,000 15-20
Executive Assistant 35,000-48,000 15-25
Personal Assistant 30,000-40,000 14-20
Team Secretary 24,000-35,000 12-16
Senior Administrator 24,000-32,000 10-13
Administrator 20,000-26,000 10-13
Junior Administrator 18,000-20,000 9-10
HR Assistant 20,000-28,000 10-14
Marketing Assistant 20,000-32,000 10-16
Sales Support 20,000-28,000 10-14
Customer Services 18,000-32,000 10-16
Receptionist 18,000-26,000 9-13
Facilities Assistant / Post Room 18,000-22,000 9-11
Andrew Kitchen's picture
Manager | Internal Audit
akitchen@morganmckinley.co.uk