The demand for new employees in the financial sector has dropped 25% since the beginning of March, compared to January and February.
Most of the drop has come in the past two weeks, and even the first two months of 2008 saw a 5-10% fall in demand for workers compared to last year, according to Ehud Cohen, the CEO of Starting Point, the largest placement company in the financial sector.
"Investment houses are still not planning to fire workers, but they have held their horses," said Cohen. The firms are waiting to see which way the wind is blowing before making any decisions, he added, saying the real test will come in the next quarter.
The global financial crisis has yet to affect salary scales in this sector, which are among the highest in Israel. For example, an investment manager with five years' experience makes between NIS 20,000 and 30,000 a month gross - usually depending on the size of the organization, the amount of money they manage, and their professional level. Senior analysts make NIS 20-25,000.
Salaries are about 10% higher than at the beginning of 2007, he said.
Cohen expects that the first group of workers to suffer pay cuts will be sales and marketing representatives for investment houses, whose job it is to go out and bring in new customers - and their money. Their salaries come mostly from commission and a small fixed salary.
The accounting sector will be less affected he said, as it includes workers in industry, high tech, services and commerce - and not just finance. Cohen said he expects demand for accountants and economists to be similar to last year.
Salaries for bookkeepers are in the NIS 10-14,000 a month gross range, while the wages for a CFO can reach NIS 30-45,000 a month, depending on the size of the company.
One senior investment house executive said they were in no rush to fire, but instead would prefer to cut benefits and perks before salaries - if there is a need. The next stage could be wage freezes, but firing employees before taking efficiency measures would harm the company's image with both employees and customers.
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