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UK top managers (almost) the best paid in Europe

26 April 2005 - UK senior managers are beaten only by the Swiss when it comes to the highest pay levels in Europe, according to a Watson Wyatt on compensation trends in 17 Western European countries.

Watson Wyatt's Top Management Compensation Report for Western Europe shows that senior managers' pay in Switzerland is the highest in Europe at 200,524 euros. UK senior managers rank second at 195,879 euros. Among the lowest-paid Western European senior managers are those who work in Norway, Greece and Portugal.

However, changes are anticipated in 2005. Salaries of senior managers in Greece are expected to rise fastest in Europe at 5.4%. In contrast, the lowest expected increases are at 2.5% and 3.1% in Switzerland and Germany respectively. The expected average salary increase for senior managers in the UK in 2005 is 3.7%.

"Despite the increase top management in Greece still earns among the lowest salaries in Western Europe with those in Switzerland the highest," said Anne G Severeyns, a consultant at Watson Wyatt in Brussels. "This can be explained by the differing economic backgrounds and differing rates of inflation - around 3.5 per cent in Greece compared to 0.6 per cent in Switzerland. Nevertheless, the trend is clear with the differences between the pay of top managers across Europe slowly narrowing over time."

Watson Wyatt's Top Management Compensation Report 2005 for Western Europe includes data collected from over 2,700 companies and provides information on 23 executive roles across 13 job families - including chief executives and business unit managers, operations, project and commercial directors, and the heads of the various functions such as marketing, sales, business development, customer services, finance and administration, human resources, logistics and planning, manufacturing, quality, and research and development. It covers 17 Western European countries, including EU member states (prior to May 2004) plus Finland and Switzerland, and contains detailed information on gross and net remuneration, benefits and perquisites, and an analysis of current trends in compensation practices for this key group of executives. It also contains data on Israel and the USA.

A similar report - Top Management Compensation Report 2005 for Central/Eastern Europe - contains information on executive roles in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine. The two 2005 Top Management Compensation Reports are available from Watson Wyatt Data Services (

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