For most of us, there is only one answer to the question 'Are you getting paid enough?' and it's rarely in the affirmative. Even the current slowdown, which threatens to make the world economic climate cooler than an Arctic penguin's backside, is not enough to stop the average wage slave from chasing a bigger slice of cake.
Even our own prime minister wanted more. His recent pounds 50,000 pay hike marked a dramatic end to four years of fiscal abstinence, an admission that Government attempts to set UK plc a good example of pay restraint have been abandoned. When it comes to salary negotiations, it seems that the famous British stoic reserve has been replaced by something more grasping.
In recognition of that fact, we decided it was time for another MT global salary survey. This is our attempt to assess objectively the value of what people do, where they do it and whether they would be better off doing it somewhere else. We've also tried to answer some of the broader questions about quality of life, looking at the trade-off between money and standard of living.
Starting at home, the first MT survey, published in April 1999, revealed that Napoleon's famous verdict on us as 'A nation of shopkeepers' could do with updating. Judging by our pay packets, we'd become a nation of accountants. Two and a bit years on, we're still valuing that profession more highly than any other developed nation. Qualified accountants with five years in the business earn about pounds 76,000 a year in the UK, a whopping 55% more than their closest rivals, now just a train ride away in France.
These grey-suits may have been hard at work, but - appropriately enough for a country that favours those who count the beans over and above the people who design, make or market things in the first place - we now have the lowest-paid manufacturing employees as well. They may be skilled, but at pounds 20,475 their earnings are below the national average wage for all full-time workers. The cost of firing someone is less here than anywhere else, too. With British manufacturing output continuing to fall, it must be cold comfort to the workers in troubled mobile phone and microchip factories across the land that the bullet with their name on it is the cheapest one in the world. To cap it all, the high price of British beer will soon eat into the meagre pay-offs of those who seek to drown their sorrows.
But it's not all doom and gloom in Blighty, especially if you are the boss. Our CEOs' salaries outstrip those of every other European country by more than pounds 100,000, and their remuneration packages have increased in value by 29% since our last survey. And the bigger you are, the better it gets - John Sunderland of Cadbury Schweppes and John Lomax of Misys were among the lucky band of top Brits to trouser more than pounds 2.5 million last year.
On the other side of the world, big Aussie earners can now afford to throw plenty of prawns on the barbie. They have beaten the French to third place at the top table, thanks to an eye-popping 73% rise over the past two and a bit years. And there are glad tidings for the Swedes too, who are probably still weeping into their soused herring after a dismal performance in our last round-up. Their CEOs, accountants, manufacturing workers and IT and marketing personnel all came at, or near the foot of, every MT list in 1999. But in 2001, Swedish heavy hitters are no longer at the bottom of the pile and now earn a modest but significant pounds 13,000 more than those surprise laggards, the Germans. Top salaries in the Federal Republic, traditionally the economic powerhouse of Europe, have risen by a modest 22%, although the weakness of the euro against the pound will have depressed this result.
Two years ago, the jury was out on whether there really was a worldwide market for business talent. Despite the much-used buzzword 'globalisation', the number of companies actually headed by a non-native was pretty small. Now we have a few more - Luc Vandevelde in charge of ailing but still oh-so-British Marks & Spencer, Welshman Lindsay Owen-Jones at French cosmetics giant L'Oreal. More significantly, after years of our utilities and technology businesses being plundered by French and German corporate raiders, the Brits are biting back. Vodafone's takeover of Mannesmann takes Chris Gent and his cohorts right into the once-sacrosanct heart of Deutschland AG.
Tony Goodwin of pan-European recruitment company Antal International sees this as part of an adjustment in attitudes towards working abroad and exploiting foreign talent. 'Working abroad used to be seen as career-limiting,' he says. (Goodwin founded his business in Hungary in 1994 and now lists Coca-Cola, Nokia, IBM and Dell among his clients.) Returning expats would receive long sideways glances from potential employers back home, suspicious of their globetrotting past, he recalls. 'But that's changing. In 10 years' time you won't be able to get on the board of a FTSE company without having spent time overseas.'
Such a philosophy might have spared some blushes at McDonald's earlier this year, when its Indian offshoot received an international flame-grilling for inadvertently selling fries treated with animal products to the nation's devoutly vegetarian Hindus.
If you really want to see megabuck salaries, there's only one place to go - the US, home to the biggest cheeses of all. The pay package of the average American CEO, replete with share options and bonuses, is now worth very close to the magic pounds 1million a year. Even more striking is the fact that, tech boom fallout notwithstanding, the gap between Old Glory and the rest of the world is still growing. In 1999, the captains of US industry earned about two-thirds more than their nearest rivals. Now it is 95%.
But before you start planning your move stateside, beware. There are signs that American business' love affair with some of its most outrageously well-paid figureheads is cooling. The discontented grumblings of investors have been getting louder, and Fortune magazine recently ran a damning indictment of salary inflation under the headline 'The Great CEO Pay Heist'.
It's not hard to see why. Celebrity bosses such as Disney's Michael Eisner and Steve Jobs of Apple Computer Inc each earn enough to run a small country.
Eisner - the fat cat who runs the mouse factory - was for some years the best-paid boss in the world, but his dollars 194 million salary-plus-bonus now puts him back in joint third place. Even Jobs' dollars 381million is only enough for the number two spot on salary alone, but he probably finds consolation in his record-breaking dollars 872 million options deal. If the Dow keeps heading south, however, those options will soon look more like a lead balloon than a golden egg.
Spare a thought for the struggling Japanese economy. For so long a byword for international corporate success, the land of the rising sun has been stuck in its worst recession since the war. Our survey hints at the reason why - it is woefully lacking in the spirit of enterprise. Only 1.3% of the population is involved in entrepreneurial business, the vital bedrock of the capitalist machine, compared with 12.6% in the US and 11.9% in Australia. As a nation, the Japanese may be great at taking other people's ideas and making money from them, but it looks as though they don't have enough of their own to keep things moving. On the other hand, those who bemoan the increasing distance between the boardroom and the shop floor in the West will be happy to see that Japan's blue-collar workers are still the best paid in the world. Their pounds 36,779 salary has risen 44% since the last MT survey. Japanese bosses still earn a relatively modest 10 times more than those on the shop floor.
A final development that promises to make a big impression on the way we do business in future has come from a region that until recently wasn't even a blip on the economic radar - eastern Europe. Instant communication via the internet and the increasingly deregulated labour market have opened up countries such as Hungary and even Russia to Western business eager to set up shop there. And when you compare the relative employment costs it's not hard to see why. A personnel manager who would cost you pounds 45,000 in the West can be had for as little as pounds 11,000 in Poland or Hungary.
A Czech IT network analyst will happily sign up for about two-thirds of the pounds 38,000 commanded by his western equivalent. And these are good, well-trained people. So look to your laurels, accountants. There could be a pack of well-qualified Slovenian number-crunchers heading this way, ready to do a month's work for less than you spent at Harvey Nicks last week.
Additional research by Victoria Hoban
THE GLOBAL MARKET PLACE
CEOs who fancy their chances should head for the US and double their money. But they may have to put up with investor flak - and just two weeks' holiday. Accountants remain best off in Blighty
< THE PACKAGE (pounds PA) CEO US 992,974 UK 509,019 AUSTRALIA 457,139 JAPAN 385,645 FRANCE 382,128 SWEDEN 311,400 GERMANY 298,223 SOURCE: TOWERS PERRIN WTR 2000 MANUFACTURING WORKER JAPAN 36,779 US 31,603 GERMANY 26,124 FRANCE 24,574 SWEDEN 23,034 AUSTRALIA 21,010 UK 20,475 SOURCE: TOWERS PERRIN WTR 2000 HR DIRECTOR US 216,585 UK 189,791 JAPAN 166,613 AUSTRALIA 166,461 FRANCE 158,536 GERMANY 134,252 SWEDEN 117,654 SOURCE: TOWERS PERRIN WTR 2000 ACCOUNTANT UK 76,288 FRANCE 49,204 US 46,960 GERMANY 43,421 JAPAN 41,817 AUSTRALIA 40,417 SWEDEN 30,733 SOURCE: TOWERS PERRIN WTR 2000 WHAT THE TAXMAN TAKES MAXIMUM INCOME TAX RATE SWEDEN 55.0% GERMANY 54.0% FRANCE 54.0% US 50.9% JAPAN 50.0% AUSTRALIA 48.5% UK 40.0% SOURCE: TOWERS PERRIN WTR 2000 BE YOUR OWN BOSS THOSE INVOLVED IN ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVITY US 12.6% AUSTRALIA 11.9% UK 5.2% GERMANY 4.8% SWEDEN 3.9% FRANCE 2.2% JAPAN 1.3% SOURCE: GEM 2000 THE PRICE OF SUCCESS MBA GRADUATES' SALARIES BY SECTOR (pounds 000s) US EUROPE ASIA CONSULTING 53-142 37-83 50-92 INVESTMENT BANKING 63-85 42-67 57-85 FMCGs 45-70 30-57 28-64 GENERAL INDUSTRY 60-102 38-67 35-85 TECHNOLOGY 60-127 26-57 35-64 SOURCE: TOPMBA.COM EUROPEAN DIS-UNION RELATIVE SALARIES IN EASTERN AND WESTERN EUROPE (pounds 000s) WESTERN CENTRAL & EUROPE EASTERN EUROPE IT SALES MANAGER 48-64 28-35 FINANCE DIRECTOR 40-50 23-37 PERSONNEL MANAGER 32-45 11-14 NETWORK ANALYST 30-38 23-26 SOURCE: ANTAL INTERNATIONAL SALARY INDEX
IS THE GRASS GREENER? ...
Despite Michael Caine's famous observation 'I've been rich and I've been poor, and believe me rich is better', quality of life can't simply be extrapolated from your bank balance. So how do the countries in our survey stack up when it comes to lifestyle?
The Brits still put in more desk time than most of Europe, but things are looking up. Our 40-hour week is down from 43.9 a couple of years ago and puts us on a par with Germany and slightly behind France (39.6). Easy-going Spaniards manage only a shade over 38 working hours before hitting the tapas bar on Friday night and really getting down to business. Hong Kong's Chinese masters continue to work their new territory hard, maintaining a punishing weekly average of 46 hours. Corporate America has done a good job of convincing the rest of the world that it runs 24/7, but our figures show that workers stateside do 40 hours, just like us.
But factor in holidays and you find that America starts to deserve its long-hours reputation. You might earn big bucks, but could you survive on as little as nine or 10 days off a year? On the other hand, even a generous 25 days of 'vacances' (plus public holidays seemingly every week in spring and summer) don't stop the French being the most suicide-prone.
The spirit of Jean-Paul Sartre still looms large in the angst-ridden Gallic soul. Spain confirms its place as the laid-back leader of Europe, devoting a lavish 30 days a year to R 'n' R. In Britain, we allow ourselves a mean 20-odd days, but must be getting something else right. Despite a so-so climate, a lumbering rail network and expensive beer, uncomplaining Brits are easily the least likely to top themselves.
Japan is probably the most costly place to live, while Vancouver and Zurich both regularly head the quality-of-life surveys - but don't expect either city to make your heart beat faster.
Sydney might be a better choice - vibrant, exciting and still way ahead of London, New York and Los Angeles for standard of living.
MORE THAN MONEY
Brits are at last easing off on their long working day, down to French levels. But where's that Gallic joie de vivre? The French have the worst suicide rate
< WORK/LIFE BALANCE HOURS WORKED PER WEEK/ PAID ANNUAL LEAVE (DAYS) HONG KONG 46.0 7-14 GERMANY 40.0 30 UK 40.0 20-25 US 40.0 9-20 FRANCE 39.6 25 SPAIN 38.4 30 SWEDEN 37.9 25 SOURCE: VARIOUS THE GOLDEN YEARS CEO RETIREMENT INCOME (% OF FINAL PACKAGE) SWEDEN 60% US 59% UK 56% GERMANY 50% FRANCE 40% HONG KONG 33% JAPAN 32% AUSTRALIA 30% SOURCE: TOWER PERRIN WTR SURVEY 2000 HOW HAPPY ARE WE IN THE UK? CEOs/MANAGERS IN RELATIONSHIP WITH PEERS: 81%/68% IN RELATIONSHIP WITH BOSS: 65%/49% IN JOB SECURITY: 53%/10% IN REWARDS AND REMUNERATION: 41%/10% SOURCE: INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT REDUNDANCY PAY (% OF FIXED SALARY) HR DIRECTOR/MANUFACTURING WORKER JAPAN 170/120 SWEDEN 150/50 AUSTRALIA 94/30 GERMANY 62/63 FRANCE 56/24 US 37/30 UK 4/21 SOURCE: TOWER PERRIN WTR SURVEY 2000 TECHNOLOGY TALKS PCs/MOBILE PHONES PER 100 INHABITANTS US 51.9/31.7 SWEDEN 39.6/57.9 FINLAND 35.0/66.8 GERMANY 27.9/28.6 UK 26.2/40.4 JAPAN 23.8/45.0 ITALY 17.4/52.6 SOURCE: EUROSTAT PRICE OF A PINT OF LAGER SWEDEN pounds 3.00 UK pounds 2.00 JAPAN pounds 1.70 GERMANY pounds 1.60 FRANCE pounds 1.10 US pounds 1.05 AUSTRALIA pounds 1.00 SOURCE: BACKPACKER.NET SUICIDE RATES (PER 100,000) MEN/WOMEN FRANCE 28.4/10.1 JAPAN 26.0/11.9 GERMANY 21.5/7.3 SWEDEN 20.0/8.5 AUSTRALIA 19.0/5.1 US 18.7/4.4 UK 11.0/3.2 SOURCE: WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION
SEX AND SALARIES
It appears that the gender gap is closing, but beware! Although comparison with the 1999 figures show a smaller pay difference at management level, by the time you reach the top, the gap has widened again. Overall, only a fifth of managers are female, and this figure drops to a tenth at director level.
Recent research at the University of the West of England found that many women feel male mentors block their development. The high-profile case of City shares analyst Julie Bower in April highlighted the problems that women encounter in traditionally male areas of the private sector. The Equal Opportunities Committee (EOC) found her employer, Schroder Securities, guilty of sexual discrimination following her measly pounds 25,000 bonus - 26 times smaller than that of her male peer.
The fact that less than 10% of managers in engineering are female also confirms that women are struggling to rise to the top in male-dominated sectors. Compare this with the 50-50 male/female split in the public sector - perhaps because it is more visibly accountable for sex discrimination and has more structured pay scales.
Earlier this year, the EOC claimed that Britain is more 'sexist' that any other European country. This is not simply because only 15% of managers have access to creche facilities, or that paid maternity leave - currently 18 weeks - looks stingy next to Italy's five months or Finland's nine.
It also points the finger at our inflexible attitude to working hours and career development.
The University of the West of England's research also found that women are sidestepping obstructive traditional career paths and carving their own new routes to the top, a trend that is sure to benefit men as well.
In return, women can learn the power of networking and self-promotion from their male counterparts, rather than underplaying their achievements and risking losing out on career opportunities.
THE BRITISH PICTURE
London and the South-east top the boss' earnings scales. Northern Irish directors and managers are still the worst off
< LEVELS OF REWARD AVERAGE AGE AVERAGE SALARY (INCLUDING BONUS) CHIEF EXECUTIVES 50 pounds 197,590 DIRECTORS 47 pounds 121,011 MANAGERS 41 pounds 38,939 SOURCE: INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS DOING THE BUSINESS SALARIES BY SECTOR DIRECTOR'S/MANAGER'S FINANCE: pounds 122,714/pounds 43,883 MARKETING: pounds 121,542/pounds 40,974 IT MANAGEMENT SERVICES: pounds 114,629/pounds 45,310 MANUFACTURING & PRODUCTION: pounds 74,393/pounds 36,826 SERVICES: pounds 62,688/pounds 35,445 SOURCE: INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT, REMUNERATION SURVEY 2001 AROUND BRITAIN DIRECTORS' EARNINGS (pounds PA) SOUTH-EAST 66,900 LONDON 65,460 NORTH 61,410 SCOTLAND 61,080 WEST MIDLANDS 60,000 SOUTH WEST 58,920 EASTERN COUNTIES 57,840 NORTHERN IRELAND 55,140 SOURCE: REWARD GROUP, DIRECTORS SURVEY 2001 MANAGERS' EARNINGS (pounds PA) LONDON 43,883 SOUTH-EAST 39,208 SCOTLAND 36,080 NORTH 35,906 WEST MIDLANDS 35,663 EASTERN COUNTIES 35,595 SOUTH-WEST 35,587 NORTHERN IRELAND 31,307 SOURCE: INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT, REMUNERATION SURVEY 2001 GENDER GAP AVERAGE BASIC SALARY MALE DIRECTORS pounds 59,500 FEMALE DIRECTORS pounds 46,000 SOURCE: INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS WOMEN AT THE TOP % FEMALE/% OF EQUIVALENT MALE SALARY DIRECTORS (excl board directors) 10.3%/85.8% SENIOR FUNCTION HEAD 12.6%/96.8% DEPARTMENT MANAGER 20.3%/98.8% SECTION MANAGER 20.5%/96.3% SECTION LEADER 26.8%/91.8% SENIOR STAFF 30.6%/85.8% SOURCE: INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT FEMALE MANAGERS BY SECTOR ALL 24.1% PUBLIC SECTOR 43.6% FINANCE AND BUSINESS SERVICES 30.3% ENGINEERING below 10% SOURCE: INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT IN THE CITY BASIC SALARY FUND MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR pounds 144,800 HEAD OF EQUITIES pounds 123,400 CORPORATE HEAD OF FINANCE pounds 115,800 CREDIT HEAD pounds 102,500 CHIEF FX DEALER pounds 102,100 HEAD OF MONEY MARKET pounds 78,500 SOURCE: MONKS PARTNERSHIP