2017 India Salary & Employment Outlook

In-depth insights into employment conditions, skills in demand, sector trends and salary benchmarks for your industry

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Market Overview

India has enjoyed a good year and we expect the country to continue with its positive growth

Headcount increases

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60% of companies will add new headcount to their business

Hiring activity

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45% of new headcount will be middle management

Salary increases

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88% of employers are offering between 6-15% pay increments

Top 3 factors in talent retention

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44% of staff leave due to limited progression

Other Factors
- Salary increases
- Learning and development

Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)

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83% of employers say diversity is a priority and have active programmes in place

Work-life balance strategies

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55% flexible working hours

47% work from home and remote access

42% wellness programmes

Regional Insights

India

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India has enjoyed a good year and we expect the country to continue with its positive growth, largely unaffected by the global economic slowdown, due to the continued influx of foreign direct investment under the government’s “Make in India” campaign.

Manufacturing output has already increased, with new orders coming from overseas firms seeking to utilise India’s vast resources and labour pool. More foreign companies are also investing in India’s fast-expanding infrastructure and renewable energy sector. We expect this investment to increase as electricity demand in the city rises and as the government prepares to streamline the country’s tax processes.

Companies’ employment outlooks are also reflecting this positivity. A huge majority (80 per cent) of employers surveyed say hiring activity will range from steady to strong over the next 12 months — numbers that are higher than the Asia average.

Mumbai

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Employment activity in Mumbai has been largely positive, with demand from some sectors exceeding others.

One area of growth is financial services, as domestic banks expand their headcount and more non-banking financial companies — firms that provide banking services but do not hold a banking license — set up shop in the city. Mumbai is still very much India’s economic capital, retaining stability and resilience amid the current economic flux, and many conglomerates, including private equity and investment firms, have continued to build their headquarters in the city.

Though this trend is in its early stages, some tech firms that currently have bases in Indian cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore, have begun setting up corporate offices in Mumbai to take advantage of its proximity to investors and top talent.

Delhi

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Confidence across the board is high in the National Capital Region of Delhi (Delhi NCR), bolstered largely by the government’s push for jobs creation and foreign investment.

Already, we have seen positive results from these initiatives, including a significant increase in foreign direct investment inflows across most sectors. Earlier in March, foreign direct investment saw a 20 per cent jump to US$40.46 billion (2.7 trillion INR), compared with US$30.93 billion in the 2014/15 fiscal year, reported the Wall Street Journal.

In particular, overseas infrastructure and renewable energy companies, including those from Singapore and Europe, have started investing heavily in the country. Many have now established a strategic presence in Delhi NCR — the country’s political hub — for better access to key officials and regulators. They are also actively hiring talent for commercial roles like sales, business development and project management to drive growth.

We are also seeing a talent demand in shared services as more multinational companies are diversifying such operations to Delhi NCR, a trend driven by the region’s strong global connectivity as well as its competitive infrastructure costs.

Job Sectors

Finance


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Since its September 2014 launch, the nation-building ‘Make In India’ initiative has created more job opportunities, especially in the emerging manufacturing industry. Headcount has also increased in the healthcare and technology industries as well as infrastructure’s three specialised sectors: energy, power, and EPC (engineering, procurement and construction).

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The profitability and sustainability of e-commerce as an industry will be a hot topic for 2017. Consolidations and mergers in the e-commerce space may result in increased attrition as many candidates leave to rejoin the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), fast-moving consumer durables (FMCD) and telecommunications sectors. The challenge for recruiters will be to attract candidates to emerging or new e-commerce businesses.

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There is a general sentiment that the market is employer-driven with an oversupply of candidates. We have observed mostly replacement hiring in the FMCG and FMCD sectors and the retail industry. Hiring activity has also decreased in the real estate sector due to reduced consumer demand. The saturation — and hence, lower profit margins — in the telecommunications sector has also resulted in a recruitment slowdown.

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Overall, annual salary hikes are expected to be between 6 and 15 per cent across all disciplines. Start-ups will typically offer a 10 to 15 per cent increase in fixed salary to candidates from bigger organisations, but the actual cost-to-company could be higher with the inclusion of stocks. Switching between similar organisations brings a 15 to 25 per cent increase for candidates, depending on seniority levels.

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Tax remains a hot topic for 2017, specifically for indirect tax professionals. Despite a lack of clarity in the implementation of India's goods and services tax (GST), most employers want to be prepared by having the right candidates and leaders onboard.

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Organisations are moving towards implementation talks on Indian Accounting Standards (Ind-AS), which is a combination of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the Indian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (IGAAP). As a result, there could be a growing demand for IFRS experts, a role that was traditionally less sought after previously.

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Skills in demand include financial planning and analysis, with mature companies and start-ups looking to hire shared services staff and financial controllers. Companies within the e-commerce industry are also hiring vice-presidents of finance and chief financial officers.

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With more foreign infrastructure and renewable energy companies, including those from Singapore and Europe, investing heavily in India, there is now a considerable talent shift from local Indian companies to multinational corporations.

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While many employers expect to face minimal recruitment challenges, some companies will still have to undergo a long and thorough hiring process to find the right candidate.

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India is gaining prominence worldwide as a finance shared services hub. A growing number of multinational corporations now have offices in Gurgaon, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune.

Speed and efficiency in hiring is extremely important. With a limited talent pool, it is safe to assume that the same candidate would be exploring multiple opportunities at the same time. Hence, we need to be quicker than our competitors.

Head of Talent Acquisition,
Delhi-based tech start-up

Financial Services & Banking


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The corporate banking sector remains relatively stable in India due to the presence of strong clientele like established domestic firms and multinational corporations (MNC).

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Corporate banks have started to streamline their transaction banking teams in favour of payment and mobile-wallet friendly platforms to align with clientele preferences and activities.

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In terms of candidate movement, we have more senior executives who are leaving the sector to join non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) — firms that provide banking services but do not hold a banking licence. NBFC services are increasingly sought-after in India due to constraints in local banks’ lending abilities.

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Candidates that are in high demand include those who are adept in the digital banking, stressed assets and restructuring practice areas.

We do not foresee big increments in headcount. However, hiring activity would likely focus on areas like internal control and tax. I wouldn’t be surprised if these groups of people receive the highest increments while switching jobs.

Director, leading investment bank

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Candidates are still willing to change jobs, even moving across the country, given the right opportunity and compensation package. In particular, many professionals from the domestic banking sector are now attracted to organisations like NBFCs, microfinance institutions and payment banks.

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Recruitment activity in the investment banking sector has increased as more end-to-end work in areas like financial control and product control is being transitioned to India.

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Candidates with the technical expertise to support onshore and front-end businesses are particularly sought after. Returning Indians with overseas experience in investment banking are also in high demand.

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Salary bands have increased for professionals at the vice-president level and above, a result of increased demand for business-facing end-to-end skill sets.

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Hot jobs for 2017 include roles in product control, internal audit and compliance.

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Recruitment activity has increased in investment banking (IB), private equity (PE), venture capital (VC) and management consulting firms. We are also seeing new funds looking to attract talent from existing global and domestic PE & VC firms in the country.

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Front office salary bands have remained constant in global PE and VC firms. To control staff turnover, pay gaps between local PE and VC firms and their global counterparts have narrowed.

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Candidates from the PE, VC, IB and consulting disciplines are less keen to join newly created set-ups this year due to the recent volatility in India’s start-up ecosystem. IB and consulting professionals prefer, in general, to move into buy-side roles with PE and VC firms.

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With an increasing number of tech investors in the country, VCs and PEs are now scouting for investment professionals who have a strong understanding of Software as a Service (SaaS), big data and IT.

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There is increasing demand for Indian candidates with overseas IB/PE experience to fill junior level roles in India’s PE and VC firms.

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Hot jobs for 2017: analysts, associates, vice presidents (for PE, VC and IB firms).

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Due to challenges in sustaining business growth, MNC private banks in India are facing high attrition rates in the range of 20 to 30 per cent. As a result, many private bankers from MNCs have moved over to local private banking firms.

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Investors' appetite in wealth management setups, including start-ups, in India has increased.

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To differentiate themselves from competitors, more companies in the sector have adopted a more open-minded outlook, with family office concepts — where firms oversee day-to-day administration and management of a family’s wealth — are gaining acceptance.

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Firms are also more receptive to team recruitment, where at least two private bankers from the same team in a competitor bank are hired. Such moves help firms to quickly scale up their teams as these bankers come in with solid market reputations and existing books.

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Remuneration-wise, private bankers are increasingly interested in having employee stock ownership plans and greater profit-sharing schemes as part of their compensation package.

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Bankers who have at least six years of experience are preferred over junior counterparts given their established reputation and books. Those who have demonstrated employment stability, rather than job-hoppers, are also preferred.

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Analytics, as a discipline, has been expanding in India’s financial services and information technology enabled services sector in recent years. More organisations, including well-established firms and start-ups, have been building up their analytics capabilities from scratch and existing analytics service providers have also put expansion plans in place. Candidates are now required to be domain agnostic, possessing the ability to work across systems and firms are looking to hire professionals with good academic background and sound technical knowledge.

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Despite recent volatility in the start-up ecosystem, confidence and interest remain high in the sector. Most of the senior analytics candidates in the banking, financial services and insurance (BSFI) sector continue to seek stability and a strong brand position over high salary increments.

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Advanced analytics skills such as natural language processing, deep learning, and the Internet of Things, have gained significant traction and are set for exponential growth.

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Skills in demand include data sciences and machine learning. Many organisations are venturing into open source and big data technology to handle the increasing amount of information that requires analysis. This trend is more apparent in consulting and start-up environments.

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Hot jobs for 2017 include positions across data sciences, machine learning, digital analytics, risk modeling and risk strategy.

Human Resources


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Despite an employer-driven market with strong availability of talent, companies still experience post-offer acceptance uncertainties from candidates, especially from top talent who receive multiple offers. Providing opportunities for internal movement, the flexibility to relocate to cities of choice within India, and overseas transfers for high potential employees are strong retention strategies.

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In-house HR professionals will be sought after in 2017. Local organisations are looking to institutionalise their HR function and are investing more in it by creating new roles. This is specific to Indian organisations that have historically run their businesses without any HR professionals or have only had an administrative and payroll function.

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Hot jobs for 2017 include total rewards and TM specialists. Specialists should ideally know how to implement innovative compensation and benefit structures that include long and short-term incentive plans such as employee stock options (ESOPs). TM specialists are also needed to initiate learning programmes for high potential employees as more companies focus on retaining top talent.

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Employers are now more attracted to candidates who have led initiatives and produced quality work. We have observed a clear preference to hire competent business school graduates over traditionally sought-after experienced leaders.

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We also see a greater demand for HR professionals who possess regional and global exposure in talent acquisition. With the growing global economy, more companies are looking to create recruitment hubs in India, which requires such experience.

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The good news is that we are starting to see the market pick up, with 65 per cent of candidates securing interviews with at least two employers concurrently.

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Established organisations in India are mostly hiring for replacement roles, with few new roles created for specialist positions in human resources self-service, compensations and benefits, and talent management (TM).

The market is better compared with previous years but internal salary increments are still on the lower side and will stay at around 10%. Hiring at the junior and mid-levels has picked up and candidates with niche skills will command a premium in salaries while switching jobs.

Head of HR, medical devices company

Legal


Overview


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More multinational corporations (MNCs) are entering the Indian market, creating a demand for highly qualified and experienced lawyers. Overall, recruitment activity in the country is relatively healthy, with the main challenge being matching the right skill sets to market demands.

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Indian companies are moving towards having more balanced, diverse teams and hiring of female candidates is on the rise. This openness to workplace diversity is most prominent in the fast-moving consumer goods, financial services and infrastructure sectors.

Private Practice


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Top-tier law firms are reported to be the highest paying employers. MNCs also offer higher salaries to their in-house legal teams compared with local firms.

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Private law firm employees have shown an increasing preference for in-house roles which offer better work-life balance. Another push factor is the increasing pressure on senior private practice lawyers, such as partners, to focus on business development.

In-House Corporate


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Emerging sectors like financial services and e-commerce are offering more competitive salaries to attract top talent in emerging markets, compared with infrastructure, manufacturing, energy and other core sectors.

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Across industries, candidates with dual specialisation of legal and company secretarial (CS) skill sets are in high demand as companies seek to streamline teams and be more cost-efficient. More senior-level candidates are being sought after to lead legal, CS and compliance functions.

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Demand for compliance officers in the healthcare and financial services industries has increased as companies now need to work closely with regulators.

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In-house legal teams, being smaller in size, tend to hire more mid to senior-level legal professionals.

Procurement & Supply Chain


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Over the last 12-18 months, e-commerce has driven the increasing popularity of third-party logistics (3PL) and last-mile delivery vendors. Such vendors provide capital and labour-intensive services such as transportation, warehousing, inventory management, freight forwarding, cross-docking and packaging.

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With the Indian government approving pro-foreign direct investment (FDI) policies, demand for professionals with global logistics experience (including import/export, customs clearance and trade compliance) will increase.

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The concept of a “Lean Supply Chain” has also gained popularity in recent years. To develop a lean supply chain, companies are looking at adapting technological improvements across the entire organisation.

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Due to the fluid external environments that are dependant on consumer spending patterns and government policies, talented strategists rather than pure play execution-oriented staff are being courted for their ability to lead key initiatives and projects leading to operational efficiency.

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We have witnessed an increased demand for candidates with deep experience in planning functions (demand and supply, sales and operation planning) across different levels. In particular, we see heavy demand in the business to consumer space (consumer products, retail, e-commerce).

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Matrix structures within supply chain set-ups have seen a rise in popularity as well. Candidates with experience in such environments, especially with exposure to global stakeholders, are heavily in demand.

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Average salary increment when switching jobs is approximately 18 per cent.

Sales & Marketing


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Organisations are investing a substantial amount of time and money into employee retention strategies, particularly targeting the retention of sales and P&L heads. Talent attrition has a huge impact on businesses because demand for the top 20 per cent of sales professionals is strong across most industries. Retention bonuses, employee stock ownership plans, internal transfer opportunities, and improved training and career path mapping are being widely adopted as strategies.

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Large pharmaceuticals, medical devices and healthcare providers are increasingly hiring professional senior consultants to replace external consultancy firms to cut costs. Senior strategy consultants, particularly professionals with industry expertise in both consulting and commercial roles, are in high demand. There is a conscious move towards hiring high-calibre professionals to fill sales roles in the medical devices sector.

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Rural businesses are experiencing aggressive growth in the FMCG and pharmaceutical industries, leading to increased demand for go-to-market professionals. In the urban sector, there is less scope to increase the number of touch points hence the major focus is to increase the sales from existing touch points by using activations, trade marketing & shopper marketing initiatives.

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Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and pharmaceutical companies are launching different "Alternate Channels" to reach out to the consumer even though traditional trade still accounts for majority of the business. Demand for digital marketing skills has substantially increased due to this rising trend.

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Noticeable growth in the local chemical industry has created a strong demand for senior professionals with multinational working experience. The overall growth of the industry creates a strong demand for senior sales and business professionals with a strong track record.