Scottish tech chiefs see double-digit salary hikes amid investment boom

Scotland’s technology bosses enjoyed double-digit hikes in pay last year amid a surge in investment into the sector.

Carlyle’s salary survey, conducted in partnership with digital industry trade body ScotlandIS, focused on the remuneration of “C-suite” executives in high-growth technology businesses in Scotland, comparing base salary and equity levels at various stages of funding.

Its results reveal that while an average base salary increase of 16 per cent was achieved across all areas, the figure rose to 23 per cent within scaling technology companies.

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Within every aspect surveyed, there was a strong correlation between base salary and the stage of funding achieved. Of those surveyed, the average base salary for a chief executive was £71,000 at seed investment, £111,000 at series A funding, £164,000 at series B and £172,000 at series C.

Fraser Lyle and Fiona James-Martin of Carlyle Associates. Picture: Stewart Attwood
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Bosses surveyed didn’t always have the highest salary in their respective organisation but consistently had the most equity.

The survey also researched annual base salaries and equity holdings of chief financial officers (CFOs), chief technology officers (CTOs), chief operating officers (COOs), and chief commercial officers (CCOs).

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Fiona James-Martin, a partner at Carlyle, said: “2021 demonstrated that there were encouraging levels of investment in innovation during pandemic times, and in Scotland we are seeing increasing levels of investment into the high growth technology sector from regions like North America, Europe, and Asia.

“These dynamics, coupled with increasing demand for skillsets in this area, are contributing towards increases in salaries across the board.

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“These findings are not a surprise to us, given the influx of investment we have seen in technology over the last year with larger exit multiples and larger funding rounds being achieved.”

Karen Meechan, chief executive of ScotlandIS, said: “The data shows that we have a maturing tech ecosystem that is competitive against other tech hubs - in London, the rest of the UK, and internationally - in terms of attracting and retaining C-suite talent.

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“There is now a genuine network of like-minded peers for C-suite execs to tap into. We can’t afford to be complacent though, as leadership talent will always have the option of working elsewhere, particularly with hybrid working models.”

The survey findings are aimed at supporting current and future investment in the tech sector. It is estimated that some £650 million of investment was secured by Scottish fast growth technology companies in 2021.

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In relation to equity, the survey found that CEOs are the most likely C-suite executives to have equity (89 per cent), followed by CTOs (72 per cent), COOs (50 per cent), CFOs (44 per cent), and CCOs (39 per cent).

The chief executive is also the founder of the companies surveyed in 71 per cent of cases, while in relation to gender balance, 81 per cent of CEOs are male compared to 19 per cent being female.

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With regards to gender diversity, the survey found that 80 per cent of COOs and 67 per cent of CFOs are male, while only 9 per cent of CCOs and 6 per cent of CTOs are female.

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