Salary Benchmarks 2021

Article Seldon-Rosser-Salary-Benchmarks-2021

We are happy to release our salary benchmarks for 2021 to help those of you approaching salary review time.

As well as providing the salary range tables, we are sharing our key takeaways which explain particular trends and movements.

The salary tables themselves articulate the advice we give clients around appropriate salary budgets when hiring. These bands are based on our industry knowledge, candidate interviews and placements across the region.

As with previous years, we haven’t published the range for Director/CMO roles as the salary band and advice would be nuanced for each opportunity. We have placed well over 100 of these roles in the region and have extensive knowledge of the factors affecting ranges. Talk to us over the phone to discuss salary expectations at this level.

General – Key Takeaways

The impact of COVID-19 was not what many expected

The pandemic and subsequent recession has not had a negative impact on salary bands. In fact, the ranges for certain role types have pushed upwards. Generally, the BD/Client/Sector Manager bracket has gone upwards, other ranges have held firm.

Creativity can win the day

In securing candidates, we have worked with clients to be creative in how they package offers to secure their preferred candidates. Examples include:

  • sign-on bonus
  • guaranteed salary increase post probation
  • out of cycle salary reviews
  • share options
  • reduced hours, e.g. 9 day fortnight

“As much as anything I wanted to feel valued by the firm and I was impressed by the way the firm engaged with me during the offer stage – I knew they really wanted me and it made a difference.”

Head of BD, Australia

Australia – Key Takeaways

BD Managers seeing enormous pay rises

For some BD Managers, this will likely be the biggest percentage increase they will ever see in their careers. We have seen candidates move from $135k – 170k, $130-165k, $150k to $180k – in most cases moving from their first to their second manager role.

This trend was beginning in early 2020, and initially reflected clients ‘buying’ specific sector and client experience at manager level. However, we’re now seeing these sorts of salary increases become much more commonplace even when changing practice or sector.

This is reflective of the number of firms hiring at this level and the huge competition in the market.

I’m being approached 3/4 times a week about new opportunities, all offering big pay increases, I like my current firm but I know I have to move for this sort of increase – they just won’t give it internally.”

BD Manager, APAC

Most BD Managers, having not had a pay-rise in 2020, are seeking an even bigger pay incentive to change firms than previous years to make up for this. It is possible at the manager level because of simple supply and demand. This can sometimes be frustrating for senior manager level candidates, perhaps also open to a salary of $170-180k, because they are not considered for these high paying manager roles as firms prefer managers with a bigger learning curve, and perceived greater potential for longevity in the role.

For the most part, BD Managers are very discerning about a move, many are not actively seeking a new role and needing more consultation and detailed information about the opportunity before they will consider applying. We have seen our retained search campaign service increase dramatically at this level.

“The Q&A with the CMO in your Opportunity Prospectus made the role come to life.  I was open to a move but only for the right role and I appreciated getting such a clear picture of the BD team strategy, vision and culture from the start.  It was obvious how much the firm values BD and this role which is so important to me in my next move.

BD Manager, Sydney

Clients more conservative with budgets when hiring at the senior end

This is pure supply and demand. There are a lot of senior candidates seeking a move – whether actively or purely speculatively (senior manager & ‘Head of’ level). And so whilst the market salary bandings have held steady, clients have not had to stretch as high as in previous years when going to market.

We’ve seen several ‘Head of’ roles come to market in the AUD$220-$260k range attracting excellent shortlists of highly experienced candidates (in contrast to a couple of years ago these clients would have had to pay AUD$240-$280k to secure interest from the same talent). This is driven by:

  • a larger pool senior level candidates not currently working
  • time of life meaning that salary is only one incentive for a move
  • a greater number of senior level talent actively looking or open to a move

Flexibility assumed and doesn’t differentiate

Pre-COVID, some clients were successful in attracting talent at lower salary levels due to extensive offering on flexible working. This is now assumed by candidates and so will no longer serve as a differentiator offering non-financial value. In fact, any client not offering this (eg 50/50, 60/40 guideline for work/office) will find it very hard to secure new employees and retain staff.

Asia (Hong Kong & Singapore focus) – Key Takeaways

Language skills highly valued

In Hong Kong particularly, a greater percentage of the manager and senior manager level roles we’ve been engaged on have required native Mandarin skills. Most international law clients have been happy to be market led on salary expectations to secure the right person with the strategic, commercial BD skills coupled with native Mandarin.

BD Managers are being hired at the top of the band

In both Hong Kong and Singapore, we anticipate BD Managers will continue to be hired at the top end of the band with supply and demand putting upwards pressure on the band over the next 12 months. As clients start to invest and hire in Hong Kong, competition for talent is driving the salary band upwards. In Singapore, extra rigour around hiring anyone on an Employment Pass as well as the difficulty relocating anyone into the region, means that the talent pool is often very small. This means clients rely more on salary to attract talent.

Clients looking local to source talent pushing up salaries

In general, across the globe as well as the APAC region, clients are focused on sourcing local talent for roles rather than considering candidates wanting to relocate. The reason is pretty self-evident with the effects of the pandemic on borders. In Asia in particular, which has long relied on importing talent to cover the growth in the region, this decreases the talent pool. It also takes away highly experienced professionals who were happy to look at the lower end of the salary band to get their first gig in Asia.

New Zealand – Key Takeaways

Clients investing to secure the best people

There has been organic growth in salaries in New Zealand. The ranges may look very familiar however, most leading clients are happy to invest in the higher half of ranges to secure the best people from a small talent pool. This is likely to continue as several clients also invest with newly created growth roles.

NZ returners highly valued

The increase candidates returning to work in NZ from around the world has created a larger talent pool of sophisticated global BD experience which is valued at the higher end of salary brackets.

Salary Benchmarks

The salary tables below articulate the advice we give clients about the appropriate salary budgets for hiring.

These bands are based on our industry knowledge, candidate interviews and placements across the region. The emphasis is on large national and international brands across legal, accounting and engineering. Job titles do vary and we have used the most commonly understood titles in these tables.

Get in contact with us if you need assistance applying these salary bands to your team.



Executive (inc BD, marketing & bids)$85,000$135,000
BD Manager (inc sector, clients & bids)$140,000$180,000
Senior BD Manager (inc sector, clients & bids)$170,000$250,000
Communications/Snr Manager$130,000$180,000
Head of Communications (internal/external)$180,000$240,000
Marketing Manager/Snr Marketing Manager$120,000$190,000

Note: salary bands are inclusive of superannuation, pre-bonus.


Hong Kong

JOB CLASSIFICATIONLOW (per month) HIGH (per month)
Executive (inc BD, digital, marketing & bids)$40,000$60,000
BD Manager (inc sector, clients & bids)$65,000$90,000
Senior BD Manager (inc sector, clients & bids)$90,000$130,000
Communications Manger/Senior Manager$65,000$90,000
Marketing Manager/Snr Marketing Manager$55,000$80,000

Note: 13th month and/or bonus anticipated on top of bandings.



JOB CLASSIFICATIONLOW (per month)HIGH (per month)
Executive (inc BD, marketing, digital & bids)$5,500$10,000
BD Manager (inc sector, clients & bids)$10,000$15,000
Senior BD Manager (inc sector, clients & bids)$13,000$20,000
Communications Manager/Senior Manager$10,000$14,000
Marketing Manager/Snr Marketing Manager$9,000$13,000

Note: 13th month and/or bonus anticipated on top of bandings.


New Zealand

Executive (inc BD, marketing, digital & bids)$80,000$110,000
BD Manager (inc sector, clients & bids)$120,000$150,000
Senior BD Manager (inc sector, clients & bids)$150,000$200,000
Communications Manager/Senior Manager$130,000$170,000

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