Marketing directors, £477,000 and the great salary debate

High marketing salaries don’t mean the world has gone mad.

I read the debate/noise/nonsense/informed discussion (please delete as appropriate) the other week on the salaries of law firm marketing directors.

Well, one salary in particular (‘Marketing chiefs at City law firms pocket salaries of up to £477,000’). Here are a few thoughts around this broad area.

Quoting an ‘up to’ figure is so dangerous. I know from personal experience when posting job salaries that people are blind to the words ‘up’ and ‘to’. They only see the headline figure and assume the highest figure possible is the salary they will get (and are offended if they don’t).

It happens time and again to the point I won’t use ‘up to’ any more. So when the salary survey says law firm marketing directors earn up to £477,000, it means, in fact, that only one person earns that (allegedly) and everyone else gets less.

The headline figure is misleading too. Read on and you discover the £477,000 is actually a combination of the highest base salary awarded (£345,000) combined with the biggest bonus on offer (£132,000) – and across all the firms surveyed.

So we don’t actually know if any one person actually ‘pocketed’ that maximum amount. Quoting the highest figure is a great headline, though, I grant you that. 

Even if the odd person does earn in that top range, it doesn’t follow that, as one comment to the article put it, ‘the world has gone mad’.

So, all footballers earn €21m a year and we should be horrified? No, hang on, that is Cristiano Ronaldo and he is the very best. Every other footballer earns a lot less than that. Some partners at law firms have a share of the equity (allegedly) of over £2m a year. That doesn’t mean all lawyers or partners earn that.

If there is a firm that pays its marketing director £477,000, then I would assume it’s one with a £1m-plus profit per partner? They can probably afford it then. And I assume they think this person is worth it and paid this willingly and weren’t coerced? And I assume if they’re not worth it they will let them go?

Not that it’s anyone else’s business anyway. I watch the news and I totally agree that the world’s gone mad, but not because a firm has decided to pay someone a salary they think that person warrants for the job they have given them to do.

If my assumption above is correct, then the best paid marketing director earns about 40 per cent of the average equity partner at that firm. Is that right? Is that fair? No idea, but it makes for a more interesting debate.

And one that might just convince that commentator who thinks this is an ‘easy job’, that it’s anything but.

Gary Jones, director, Totum