Behind the scenes of the Salary Study with KBC Banking & Insurance

Hudson has been conducting a Salary Study in the Financial Sector for more than twenty years. The study enables companies to draw up a strategic wage policy based on the most recent market information. One of the sponsor banks of the study is KBC Banking & Insurance, a loyal partner acting in support of its organisation. Head of department, Marijke Pissens and her colleague, Wolfram De Ridder, Head of SAP Competence Centre, take us behind the scenes.

An interesting gauge for wage policy

As usual, Hudson will invite all organisations that are active in the financial sector in 2021 to participate in the Salary Study. A total of 42 organisations with activities in Retail Banking, Private Banking, Corporate Banking, Asset Management, Investment Banking, Insurance and Financial Consulting responded to our request. “KBC Banking & Insurance is one of the most important banks and has been actively involved in the study for a long time,” says Marijke Pissens. “Our Reward and International Mobility unit focuses on the wage policy of senior management to salaried staff, with the exception of top management. And this makes the study very interesting in order for us to be able to estimate the market’s view on remuneration.”

Internal job titles under scrutiny

The organisations participating in the study receive a Job Grading Guide. This contains an overview of reference job titles with corresponding job descriptions. Using the detailed job descriptions, they are able to match their own jobs with the reference job titles. “The study starts every year with a request for new positions,” explains Wolfram De Ridder. “Which ones are no longer needed, and which ones are we still missing? It’s important to get a good view on that. This is why we first state the numbers of those employed in each position by KBC Banking & Insurance. Only then can the matching meeting begin, a crucial moment in the process.”

The matching meeting: everyone on the same page

The matching meeting deals with a number of practical questions: how does the process work, the delivery of data, the structuring of files, and so on. However, efficient organisation of the Salary Study does not stop at making agreements. All the banks involved examine the details of the profiles. “This is an essential step,” says Wolfram De Ridder about the matching. “Many positions require some form of interpretation of the job description. It is necessary for everyone to have the same understanding for each job. This is the only way you can finally arrive at a situation in which the various jobs have been mapped correctly.”

Aha experience

With Hudson being used as a trusted partner in the collaboration between the banks, this creates an atmosphere in which the participants can confidentially talk about their HR challenges. “Speaking to colleagues from another sponsor bank is an “aha” experience every year,” says Marijke Pissens. “You tend to work around the same issues. So it is interesting to exchange experiences, even if it is otherwise quite a technical process. And of course, there are rules about what information you can exchange and what not. You can’t go into too much detail. Hudson monitors this and can make adjustments if necessary.”

What about data security?

After the matching meeting, the participants send in their data and Hudson can start the analysis. This is not a formality, but it is another important step that is carried out very carefully, explains Wolfram De Ridder. “It’s about entrusting the data with us, so data security is a must. Among other things, Hudson ensures the answers cannot be traced back to an identifiable individual. This is very important for any bank strongly committed to security.” “We try to encrypt the IDs in the same way every year,” continues Marijke Pissens. “We do this to ensure we can safely compare people who are still in the same job after a year. This again supports quality control. For example, Hudson can legally verify elements such as wages, but it can also examine whether increases are logical or erroneous. At the job level for example, questions may arise about the reason for an increase in the number of credit advisers. At KBC Banking & Insurance, we also carry out the necessary quality checks ourselves, but Hudson takes this a step further.”

Reporting using the Reward Architect Tool

And then we eagerly await the moment the report is published. KBC Banking & Insurance uses Reward Architect Advanced, a user-friendly web-based tool with which it can request market information for the selected reference job titles. “The target group selection helps us determine our sample in detail,” says Wolfram De Ridder. “It is then possible to analyse a specific job and benchmark it at a higher or lower level, or carefully look at the average between them.”

Anticipation in a fast-paced market

KBC Banking & Insurance can also easily consult its own data in the tooling. “We look up our data and develop graphs that can be used in internal presentations,” says Wolfram De Ridder. “An internal audit report immediately provides an initial high-level sanity check. However, we can then carry out additional analyse on our own data ourselves.” Marijke Pissens emphasises that the data is also often a starting point, and that Hudson is more than a data supplier from that point of view. She provides a real-life example: “When there was an increase in the demand for cyber security profiles, we did not have any reference job titles to map our remuneration. We needed more fine-grained benchmarking. Hudson sought job descriptions to respond to market trends and provided feedback on market pressures. They acted as a sounding board for profiles that we already had a feeling for but that were not yet in the benchmark.”

The annual Salary Survey is therefore not simply a purely transactional story of providing data in exchange for analyse, but rather a collaboration to align benchmarking with what is happening in the world. Marijke Pissens provides another example: the transformation from a brick office network to more digital services. “The benchmarks showed us where the centre of gravity lies in the market in terms of job types,” she explains. “When we were still working in offices and there was a lot of simple administrative work, the market had many lower-level jobs. If you now look at the benchmarks, you will see the job weightings getting heavier. The retail structures of the banking sector are shrinking, while automation is increasing complexity. Administrative tasks are disappearing from the branch network and are being replaced by more complex tasks. We can check this by using the Salary Study: is the complexity included in the benchmark, and is our cost model comparable to that of the market?”

Conclusion: more than a benchmarking tool

The job types and their complexity can tell us a lot about organisational efficiency, but the Salary Study is not limited to that dimension. “Looking at private banking, this can also be about how the market works.” Marijke Pissens provides a final example. “If you have an in crease of leavers, it can be useful to investigate what the share of variable remuneration in the market is. Do we have an increase or decrease of leavers; and how is our positioning in terms of payroll vehicles when compared to the market? The Reward Architect Tool also lets us compare major banks and niche players. This can paint a very different picture.” So is KBC Banking & Insurance responding to this by immediately scaling up budgets? “Not automatically,” says Marijke Pissens, “but it is possible, and it puts some business evolutions into the right perspective. The Salary Study is therefore not only a useful benchmark tool, it also gives you valuable insights that can be used to add nuances to wage policy communication.”

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