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Following a relatively quiet period, the demand for personnel in the capital markets soared during the first quarter of 2006 by more than 50 percent over the 2005 parallel period. Demand grew by 20 percent over the last quarter of 2005, according to a survey by employment agency Starting Point (Nekudat Pticha), which specializes in employee evaluation and outsourcing to the financial sector.

Starting Point CEO Ehud Cohen said yesterday that the growing shortage of experienced workers in the capital markets drove up average salaries in the first quarter of 2006 between 10 and 15 percent above the 2005 average. Demand in the accounting field grew by 25 percent between first quarter 2005 and first quarter 2006. The primary targets were bookkeepers, accountants and economists. Accounting salaries are up about 10 percent.

Cohen said the growth in demand for positions such as analysts and financial advisers, stems from the accelerated growth in the economy in general and in the banking sector in particular. The bullish stock markets have also contributed. According to him, the banks indeed put into operation during the last year early retirement plans for hundreds of workers, but in parallel they are absorbing an even greater number of new workers.

Insurance companies are also undergoing an expansion phase, picking up new employees along the way.

The survey indicated that the highest salaries in the financial sector go to research department managers, who gross NIS 22,000-NIS 30,000 a month. Investment advisers and senior investment managers come close, earning NIS 20,000 and NIS 30,000 per month. Mid-level advisers and managers bring in NIS 12,000 to NIS 20,000 per month, with entry-level workers in these positions starting at NIS 8,000 to NIS NIS 12,000 per month.

Analysts start at NIS 7,000 to NIS 12,000 per month, while senior analysts can command monthly salaries of NIS 17,000 to NIS 22,000. Finance VP's start at NIS 25,000-NIS 40,000.

Economic deparment managers earn NIS 18,000-NIS 25,000 monthly, while senior economists fetch between NIS 13,000 and NIS 18,000 per month.

Entry level economists start out at NIS 5,000-NIS 7,000. Bookkeepers start at or below NIS 5,000 but can work their way up to the NIS 10,000-NIS 13,000 range.