Buyers get more to spend

4 July 2007
More news

05 July 2007

Purchasers are better paid than ever, the gender pay gap is closing and salaries are outstripping those in sales. But can this continue? Paul Snell reports

Just like the booming housing market, there seems to be no stopping the growth of buyers' salaries.

Purchasers are better paid than ever before and wages continue to rise. According to the CIPS/Croner Reward annual salary survey, a senior procurement manager can now expect to earn, on average, around £60,000 a year, an increase of almost 7 per cent compared with 2006. Wages for purchasing directors have grown even faster, by more than 14 per cent (see news).

Recruitment firms are also seeing a growth in pay. Hays Purchasing & Supply Salary & Benefits Guide 2007, published last month, said purchasing managers can expect to earn between £40,000 and £43,000 depending on the sector, an increase of about 2 per cent since last year.

The gender pay gap is also closing, with salaries for women now equalling those of men at some levels. Average pay for men increased at all ranks, except for senior managers, where the average annual salary was £930 less than the previous year, and for senior middle managers, where it remained the same. This has allowed average female salaries to catch up with their male counterparts at these levels.

"There is a very small gap in purchasing," says Vivienne Copeland, director at Croner Reward. "It is a good sector for women if they want equality with men."

However, no female purchasing directors replied to the study, so the difference in pay at the highest level of the profession remains unclear.

Pay increases in the profession are not only beating national averages, but also outstripping those in professions such as sales and marketing, which have traditionally been better paid than procurement.

The main reason for the growth remains the massive demand for skilled and qualified purchasers. Firms continue to pay premiums in London and the south east, and are also having to pay more to attract the best staff, particularly specialist buyers.

But rising salaries do not necessarily mean growth is at its strongest, according to Pat Law, national director at Hays Purchasing & Supply: "In a time of real demand you might expect to see double digit growth in salaries. That was the case two years ago, but it was unsustainable and has slowed. It has not retracted."

He thinks the slight slowdown is due to many purchasing departments having completed their aggressive change programmes of the past few years, so they are now simply doing business as usual.

Not only are buyers well paid, they are enjoying themselves. The CIPS/Croner Reward study reported 59 per cent had "good" or "excellent" job satisfaction. And the Hays Purchasing & Supply survey found 70 per cent of buyers would recommend their employer to a peer.

Yet only 30 per cent of buyers believe their work/life balance is "very good or excellent".

Law says this comes down to expectations: "Procurement has been a relatively traditional profession, and there has not been an expectation of work/life balance. It is hard to define and difficult to judge. Maybe people's expectation of the balance is higher."

So can buyers look forward to ever bulging bank balances in the future? Yes, say recruiters, but don't expect to see the growth of recent years. "Firms are more selective of candidates as they have a better understanding of the market and what they need to pay," says Mark Peasley, compensation and benefits consultant at Purcon. "But there are firms, in financial services and pharmaceuticals, still willing to pay a premium."

SMjul2007

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