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All things Pharma

Money matters

 Are the best things in life ever free? Not according to our recent survey amongst sales professionals in pharma. So who is enjoying the best remuneration package? And which roles secured the best pay increase over the last year? Diana Spencer reports.

Salary was voted the most important work motivator out of 18 factors in the Pf Company, Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey 2009. It was ranked more important than your working relationship with your manager, the culture of the company you work for, your work-life balance and job security.

Given the economic climate, it is unsurprising that the average salary for many people in the industry decreased between 2008 and 2009 and that many pharma sales professionals are less happy with their remuneration than they were a year ago.

But who has suffered most from the wage cuts? And do age and gender have an impact on the salary you receive? Let’s take a closer look.

 

Show me the money

 

Primary roleMedian salary  Median bonus  Remuneration appropriate?  
 200720082009200720082009200720082009
1st Line Sales Managers£55,007£56,000£55,000£8,000£7,000£6,00067%67%59%
NHS Liaison/HCD£45,000£47,000£48,200£3,000£6,000£3,22552%59%59%
Hospital Specialist£42,000£44,000£43,000£4,000£5,000£4,00072%74%69%
Medical Representatives£32,000£33,000£32,000£2,500£3,330£2,50062%64%62%
Key account manager£40,900£43,000£44,000£5,187.50£4,150£5,00070%58%60%

 

The salary picture is quite varied across different roles in the industry, but the most notable feature of Figure 1 is the drop in bonus rates across all job titles. This decrease was especially significant for healthcare development managers (HCD), after quite a dramatic boost to their bonus rates in 2008. People in these roles have enjoyed a slight, but unusual, increase in their basic salary, however, this could go some way to easing the pain of lower bonus pay.

The exception to the rule is key account managers (KAM), who saw an increase in both pay and bonus in 2009, implying that these roles are increasing in significance as account management becomes the dominant sales model for the industry.

After a slight boost to remuneration in 2008, those in representative roles (either both primary and secondary care or just primary) have experienced a return to 2007 bonus and salary rates.

When asked if they feel their remuneration is appropriate, the majority have agreed that their wage is fair, though still an average of around 40% feel they are not getting just rewards for the work they do.

First line managers are one of the least happy roles, and are significantly less satisfied than they were last year, no doubt due to cuts to salary and bonus rates. HCD managers are also feeling under-appreciated, but their satisfaction with their remuneration rate is still a vast improvement on 2007. Hospital specialists remain one of the happiest roles in terms of the compensation they receive.

Mind the gap

No discussion of industry salaries would be complete without a quick look at that age-old issue: the ‘gender pay gap’. High profile cases, such as the recent Novartis trial in the US, have drawn attention to discriminatory behaviour in pharma, demonstrating that perhaps gender bias isn’t as dead as some would like to believe.

This is a complicated issue and many factors could influence pay scales for the different genders, however, analysis of responses from the Pf Survey does indicate a slightly higher average salary for men in certain key roles. For example, while the average salary for a female sales representative is £32,000, a man in a similar role is taking home £34,000. This same £2,000 disparity is also found in KAM roles and first line management.

This is an interesting finding, however, it is only with further investigation into experience levels etc that any discrimination could be proved. The survey also revealed that of those working reduced or part-time hours, 92% were women, and so it could be that these reduced salaries are impacting on the final result.

Age before beauty

Another topical area of discrimination is that based on a person’s age. Government intentions to remove the compulsory retirement age have been both welcomed and criticised, and the issue of ageism remains a pertinent one for many. The demographic of respondents to this year’s survey imply that the UK pharma sales industry is made up of a relatively young workforce with just 8% of respondents over 54 years of age.

Perhaps the more pertinent age issues within the industry are around how your level of experience within the industry impacts your salary and whether you are discriminated against for wishing to continue in a representative role throughout your career, rather than moving into sales force management.

An analysis of certain key roles by age and salary indicates that experience is certainly highly valued and rewarded within pharma. However, those wishing to stay within a representative role for eight years or more can only expect to earn an average of £36,000, while someone who has moved into first line management can expect a salary of around £56,000. Interestingly, every one of the first line managers who responded to the survey had more than four years experience in the industry, demonstrating that fast-track routes to management are extremely rare.

Figure 2: The value of experience

Job role

Years of experience

Median salary (£)

Medical representative

0-4

27,000

Medical representative

4-8

31,750

Medical representative

8+

36,000

KAM

0-4

28,000

KAM

4-8

40,000

KAM

8+

46,000

First line manager

0-4

N/A

First line manager

4-8

45,000

First line manager

8+

56,000

Figure 3: Salary in different age groups

Job role

Age group

Median salary (£)

Medical representative

>25

23,500

Medical representative

25-34

29,600

Medical representative

35-44

34,000

Medical representative

45+

36,000

KAM

>25

N/A

KAM

25-34

40,500

KAM

35-44

45,500

KAM

45+

45,000

First line manager

>25

N/A

First line manager

25-34

50,400

First line manager

35-44

53,900

First line manager

45+

59,050

Tough times

With ever-increasing pressures on our finances, mounting bills and the cost of living soaring, how much you earn is becoming more important a question than ever. However, many people appreciate that these pressures are felt by businesses too, even in an industry as secure as the pharmaceutical industry. The boom times, for both the industry and its sales force, came crashing to an end with the large-scale redundancies that took place at the start of this decade.

Now, as the decade draws to a close, a new model for the pharmaceutical industry is emerging. With a shift in focus to account management and partnership with the NHS, every member of the pharma field force needs to know their stuff and know it well. It is hard to predict what impact the events of the coming year will have on the industry, but for those prepared to meet this challenge, the rewards could be great.

About the survey

The Pf Company Perception, Motivation Satisfaction Survey has been conducted annually by Health Sector Publishing, publishers of Pf, since 2002. It provides a benchmark of field force remuneration, motivation, satisfaction, perception and recruitment. As the survey is managed by Dr B Payne of Conker Statistics (a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society) and respondents are anonymous, it is able to provide a unique and impartial snapshot of workforce attitudes at the time the research is conducted. These latest results were gathered in early 2010, but relate to 2009.

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