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Talent salaries rise as family office recruitment rebounds

By David Morel

After months of uncertainty and suspended recruitment plans, family offices are hiring again. For many, the inability to meet candidates face-to-face to check for value alignment has been a deterrent. But with life slowly returning to “normal” and in-person meetings now possible, they are starting to consider the talent they need for the future.

The pandemic has given wealthy families time to reassess their way of life, their goals and where in the world they want to live, and many are now looking for a different kind of lifestyle and administrative support. Similarly, candidates tell us that their priorities have changed and what they want out of a role today is not necessarily what it was before.

So, what are the key trends principals hoping to attract the brightest and best administrative support staff should have on their radar?

The evolving chief of staff

Whilst the chief of staff has always played a vital role in family offices, acting as a professional gatekeeper for the principal, they have assumed an even greater importance. They typically look after extensive diary and travel management, large event planning, and often overall management responsibility of staff in addition to, in some cases, overseeing a property portfolio. However, since the pandemic, their remit has extended. Many of our family office clients are restructuring their administrative support staff for optimal efficiency. And principals, in their quest for a healthier work/life balance, are increasingly looking to their chief of staff to manage and motivate them.

The best chiefs of staff have always had multi-faceted capabilities, but now the skillset required of them is even more diverse as they take on an ever more hybrid role. They are not only a trouble shooter but also a manager of people, property, renovations, staff recruitment, art and AV, and much more.

The good news is there is a rich pool of quality candidates able to meet family offices’ evolving requirements; they have impressive qualifications in areas ranging from financial modelling to property finance and equally impressive contact books.

Salaries on the rise

However, the talent pool is not limitless and employers should expect to pay a premium for the right person. Chief of staff salaries have increased in the past year, despite the pandemic, to reflect their expanding role. In the UK, starting salaries have risen by at least 15%, with the most experienced chiefs of staff now commanding salaries of £160,000 ($226,496), sometimes more—a 30% increase on pre-pandemic compensation levels.

Salary ranges and employee expectations can vary from one jurisdiction to the next, so family office principals should consult salary benchmarking data in the country where they are looking to hire. 

Candidates want flexible working

Salary is clearly important, as are bonuses; a bonus of up to 30% of base salary is not unusual. However, today’s candidates are looking for more than financial reward, with flexible working emerging as the new benefit of choice.

In the past year, people have realised that with the right technology they can be just as productive working from home as in the office and they are reluctant to give up their newfound flexibility.

Due to the confidentiality aspect of working within a family office, remote working isn’t always possible. However, when the role allows, offering flexible working options will go a long way to attracting top support talent in a competitive market.

In many ways there has never been a better time to hire support staff. There is currently an abundance of talented candidates on the market. And family offices that embrace remote working and offer prospective hires the flexibility they are looking for will be able cast their net wider to attract the creme de la creme.

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