macdonald and company
macdonald and company

The RICS and Macdonald & Company Rewards, Attitudes and Salary Report

Posting date: 20 January 2021
Peter  Moore our consultant managing the role

Despite unprecedented times we continue to report our findings from our annual Rewards and Attitudes survey for 2020-2021. The annual survey remains the reporting benchmark of remuneration and attitudes across the international real estate industry, referencing over 8500 international salaries and over 7500 survey respondents. 

Now in its twenty-first year, I am pleased to be able to present insightful data collated with commentaries from our expert consultants and RICS representatives. I am also pleased to present the findings with our first fully digital and interactive report.

We are grateful for our participants taking their time to complete the survey and give their views on working in Real Estate during the global pandemic. The report offers a robust comparison of sentiments in the industry captured before and after the first Covid-19 restrictions, displaying the effects on professionals as organisations.

Current sentiments in Real Estate

Amongst the uncertainty, it is heartening to see 4 in 5 are still confident in the industry in the next twelve months and 58% are unlikely to leave Real Estate. Nearly a quarter may consider moving to another asset class or area of the industry where some sectors are struggling. This is most apparent for our Asian (30%) and Middle Eastern (38%) respondents who are the most open to moving within the industry compared to the UK (20%) who are firmly set in their field.

Results have shown that since the pandemic, one in three are considering obtaining a new qualification in the next year, and of those, two-thirds are looking at vocational studies. It is encouraging to see the continued commitment of individuals wanting to invest in themselves with further training and weighing their options in this challenging climate.

On another positive note, half of respondents agree that their organisation has a great workplace culture and the percentage of employees who report feeling ‘valued’ by their employer has remained level since the pandemic. We are pleased to report that it seems many leaders in our industry have successfully navigated the disruption caused by the pandemic and have succeeded in keeping teams engaged and together, even when apart.

Salaries and Rewards

Looking at some of the key findings, there has been a negative impact on salaries and bonuses, with 58% globally reporting no change to their pay and 62% of bonuses negatively impacted either by decreasing from usual levels or not being awarded. As reflected in the wider economy, the youngest age groups (18-26) have been impacted the most with rising unemployment, and those more seasoned in their careers having more likely to have faced pay cuts.

The minority (13%) that did receive a salary increase claim to have obtained them following an annual pay review, and some by moving jobs or having a new employer. 

More pressing than ever is reporting the diversity pay gap in Real Estate. For the first time, we have collated salary data in the UK to show the extent of the disparity that exists in our industry.

Peter Moore MRICS, CEO
Peter Moore

Salary has usually been the biggest driver for those looking at new roles; this year, for the first time in 20 years, salary has dropped from the top spot in place of professionals seeking work-life balance. A preference for work-life balance is reaffirmed by numbers doubling in favour of choosing flexible working over a 5% salary rise – if offered a choice - since the pandemic. 

Our biggest lesson from the pandemic is that the financial rewards are not the only drivers that can be used to keep professionals feeling valued and encouraged. After work-life balance (47%) and salary (42%), when ranking what respondents most value, appreciation from leadership teams (senior management at 36% and line manager at 31%) topped bonus and commission levels (23%). It is important to note the rankings vary according to seniority, which can prove a challenge juggling different wants whilst retaining some level of fairness.

Diversity: Gender and Ethnic Disparities

The diversity pay gap has always been at the forefront of our survey reporting, notably by keeping track of the gender gap since 2013 in some regions. In the UK, after steady progress, unfortunately we have seen the gap widen, now at 27% (up from 17% in 2019). We can point to the effects of the pandemic as to why progress has dampened, though we hope this is improved as we settle into a ‘new-normal’ of flexible working and ensure we get back on the right track.

More pressing than ever is the matter of pay disparity between different ethnicities and reporting on the diversity pay gap in Real Estate. For the first time, we have collated salary data in the UK to show the extent of the disparity that exists in our industry, with results showing the overall difference between the median salary for those from a white ethnic background and of those from a BAME background standing at 20%.

Salary differences by gender and ethnicity vary across the board, and notably, we’ve found sectors such as Asset Management come out on top in awarding the most equal pay remuneration, with Property Management and Corporate Real Estate showing some of the lowest rankings.

Base salary can only paint one half of the picture; reward packages are just as important for us to monitor. The report has shown a 26% work-benefits gap by ethnicity, particularly for financial-rewards (including bonus/commission, pension and professional membership fees) and alarmingly more disproportionate for those from black-ethnic backgrounds.

The industry is aware of its reputation and challenges, and as we address the lack of ethnic diversity in our organisations, we look forward to seeing salary and reward gaps narrow.

A message from RICS

2020 has been a year like no other. With significant challenges from a global pandemic, a change to the way that we work and increasing financial insecurity across global economies, it is sometimes difficult to look at pay in isolation to the experiences that professionals and firms have encountered. However, it is positive to see that professional standards and expertise still hold a valuable place and that being an RICS qualified professional continues to be recognised through being paid a higher salary.

During these unprecedented times, many of the flexibilities that were once considered aspirations have become the norm, overnight professionals learned to adapt and navigate a new set of challenges with home becoming the workplace for many. RICS is conscious of this shift and it is crucial that professionals take care of themselves and their mental health, and we continue to partner with and support the vital work LionHeart is undertaking in this space.

It is also positive to see that despite these uncertainties there is little desire to move from the industry largely due to confidence in recovery taking place in 2021.


Whilst progress is being made in the difference between women and men in the industry in terms of pay disparity, it is unfortunate to see that women’s rates of pay are lower than the 2019 average for all qualified professionals.

We know that the pandemic has disproportionately affected women and minorities in terms of pay due to furlough and redundancy. This year, in building back from Covid-19, a reduction in the pay gap between men and women must be a priority within the industry.

- Barry Cullen, Diversity Analyst - RICS

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