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Old 07.07.2021, 01:36
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Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

Hello everyone,

I am in the process of negotiating a permanent role in Bern. The interview process just finished and I am yet to hear from HR so I started to put together a salary justification. I am really struggling to get an accurate figure and I don't want to sound greedy by demanding too large a number. My salary expectations around Cambridge in my field are around £90k pa.

Has anyone moved from the UK recently and can you recommend an accurate calculation for equivalent earnings? I have used a a variety that I found online including the ones I found elsewhere on this forum:

Salarium

Salarie-uss

The best estimate I have found is from an MIT code (http://salaryconverter.nigelb.me/) using purchasing power. This gives me a ballpark figure of 160k chf. Does that sound reasonable? It is lower than the median wage for my field in Bern but is somehow significantly higher than the Swiss databases suggest. Some other calculators which suggest up to 190k chf.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07.07.2021, 09:10
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

I think you might get more accurate replies if you give a bit more detail like which sector it is, your age and experience etc. I was on 70k in the UK and got 125k when I moved to Zurich.
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Old 07.07.2021, 09:35
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

Based on cost-of-living and salary equivalence, multiplying by 1.8 is about right.

But if they ask then aim for 2x giving room to negotiate.
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Old 07.07.2021, 09:46
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

I don’t know what it is that you do or what skills you are bringing so I can’t really judge

But anything in that ballpark is very high by Swiss standards . That would place you in a very high percentile of the population .
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Old 07.07.2021, 09:57
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

Either I have poor friends, I and my friends are doing somethin wrong with Salarium, or we are doing something wrong with HR, but we can confirm you should ask what is given in Salarium as a median value, then they will offer you 15-10% less.

... then good luck with the annual bonus: they can range from 0 to 25% of your annual income.

Actually these bonuses may be the origin of discrepancies between payslips and salaries data, now that I think of.
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Old 07.07.2021, 10:20
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

As discussed in may threads, the Swiss seem to low ball the immigrants.
I'm not saying that is the case here.
£90k in the UK outside of London is a very good salary.
CHF160 in CH is a bit higher than average for some more specialist IT roles.

Without further details from the OP, I'd be aiming at the 190k.
(obviously many other factors at play with regards to career, family, location, quality of life etc etc etc).
Changing jobs is one of the few opportunities to get a pay rise, no need to waste it. Also as we know, once you join you're then into the measly @1% a year pay rises.
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Old 07.07.2021, 10:25
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

You should also take into account the difference in tax rates between the UK and CH. Further healthcare can be very expensive. Basic insurance for man +wife and 2 kids can amount to +- CHF 1,200 a month whereas in the UK it's a fixed percentage deduction including disability etc.
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Old 07.07.2021, 10:50
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

£90k per annum puts you in the top 5% of income earners in the UK, according to HMRC. And, to have that kind of income outside London (tbh £90k is nothing really in London) means you probably have a very high standard of living relative to the average person in the UK.

Below you can see the income distribution (net wages) in Switzerland.

https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/en/home...net-wages.html

I would be looking for around CHF 190k. Deducting 25% for taxes and other deductions (old age insurance/disability) leaves you with around CHF 12k net every month.

As others have said, the Swiss are funny in that, despite having a skills shortage and needing to import talent, they have a "you're lucky to be here" mentality which means you will likely get a low-ball offer at first to see how badly you want to come here.
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Old 07.07.2021, 10:55
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

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This gives me a ballpark figure of 160k chf. Does that sound reasonable?
No idea since we have no idea what your field of expertise is nor the position you are considering....

As someone who lives in Kt. Bern, is that high salaries are taxed disproportionally to other kantons and it is a known problem that high earners are exiting the kanton and it is having an impact to tax revenues etc.
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Old 07.07.2021, 11:01
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

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£90k per annum puts you in the top 5% of income earners in the UK, according to HMRC. And, to have that kind of income outside London (tbh £90k is nothing really in London) means you probably have a very high standard of living relative to the average person in the UK.

Below you can see the income distribution (net wages) in Switzerland.

https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/en/home...net-wages.html

I would be looking for around CHF 190k. Deducting 25% for taxes and other deductions (old age insurance/disability) leaves you with around CHF 12k net every month.

As others have said, the Swiss are funny in that, despite having a skills shortage and needing to import talent, they have a "you're lucky to be here" mentality which means you will likely get a low-ball offer at first to see how badly you want to come here.
Note that "net wages" in the quoted statistics means gross after deductions of social security but before tax. So if 12k net after tax is ca. 16k or more gross, this safely puts you in the top5% here as well.

Last edited by komsomolez; 07.07.2021 at 11:14.
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Old 07.07.2021, 11:43
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

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I think you might get more accurate replies if you give a bit more detail like which sector it is, your age and experience etc.
Apologies, to provide a bit more clarity it is a specialist role within the pharma industry. I would be leaving a middle management role I like for a purely technical expert role. Moving with a wife and young child. My wife is on maternity leave but would be leaving her job as a doctor here in the UK if we do move. Plan is to train up German and apply for jobs or fellowships in Bern if we do go.

Some have mentioned the Swiss "you are lucky to be here mentality".

I am on the fence at the moment, if they don't make a decent offer I am happy where I am.. so hopefully that strengthens my negotiating position.
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Old 07.07.2021, 11:54
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

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Apologies, to provide a bit more clarity it is a specialist role within the pharma industry. I would be leaving a middle management role I like for a purely technical expert role. Moving with a wife and young child. My wife is on maternity leave but would be leaving her job as a doctor here in the UK if we do move. Plan is to train up German and apply for jobs or fellowships in Bern if we do go.

Some have mentioned the Swiss "you are lucky to be here mentality".

I am on the fence at the moment, if they don't make a decent offer I am happy where I am.. so hopefully that strengthens my negotiating position.
I don't know about a "lucky to be here mentality" but in companies that are majority Swiss there is often an attitude of "foreign qualifications and foreign universities don't measure up to our Swiss ones". But seeing you are being hired on the basis of your experience and knowledge rather than your qualifications, I don't think that will be such a problem. Also pharma tends to be pretty international anyway.
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Old 07.07.2021, 12:12
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

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Apologies, to provide a bit more clarity it is a specialist role within the pharma industry. I would be leaving a middle management role I like for a purely technical expert role. Moving with a wife and young child. My wife is on maternity leave but would be leaving her job as a doctor here in the UK if we do move. Plan is to train up German and apply for jobs or fellowships in Bern if we do go.

Some have mentioned the Swiss "you are lucky to be here mentality".

I am on the fence at the moment, if they don't make a decent offer I am happy where I am.. so hopefully that strengthens my negotiating position.
So you would make a "downward" move and your wife would give up a very decent job? I would be on the fence as well.

Individual contributors have a lower ceiling on salary unless you are a super expert. I have no idea about pharma though.

In my experience the main factor in lowballing foreigners is the very high salaries on paper when comparing to other countries without properly factoring cost of living. And cost of living is not only food and housing, but also ability to afford childcare vs second income.
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Old 07.07.2021, 13:02
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

So your wife is a GP? Probably making close to £100k as well if she was working.....makes zero sense to move here given that your wife will struggle to work here with all the medical regulation around qualification recognition and lack of language skills. Cambridge is a lovely city and an easy commute to London for day trips/visits, not really sure why you would swap that for Bern....
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Old 07.07.2021, 13:27
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

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Apologies, to provide a bit more clarity it is a specialist role within the pharma industry. I would be leaving a middle management role I like for a purely technical expert role. Moving with a wife and young child. My wife is on maternity leave but would be leaving her job as a doctor here in the UK if we do move. Plan is to train up German and apply for jobs or fellowships in Bern if we do go.

Some have mentioned the Swiss "you are lucky to be here mentality".

I am on the fence at the moment, if they don't make a decent offer I am happy where I am.. so hopefully that strengthens my negotiating position.
In Pharma there are many middle management jobs paying 200k plus bonus plus options, which is approx where you are in (equiv) UK at the moment. I guess you get a car or allowance as well?

I can't see a technical expert role paying off for you (but Pharam pays really well here in general), especially if your wife won't be working, not to mention the 10 years hard graft becoming a GP in the UK.

Good luck, and make sure to give them a hearty laugh if they offer 160k
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Old 07.07.2021, 13:39
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

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In Pharma there are many middle management jobs paying 200k plus bonus plus options, which is approx where you are in (equiv) UK at the moment. I guess you get a car or allowance as well?
We need more salary / job discussions here. I am getting tired of the covid / politics threads.
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Old 07.07.2021, 14:34
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

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We need more salary / job discussions here. I am getting tired of the covid / politics threads.
But they always end up with SFr120k being the official EF poverty line
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Old 07.07.2021, 14:44
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

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But they always end up with SFr120k being the official EF poverty line
Inflation is back. We need to revisit this number.
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Old 07.07.2021, 14:46
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

I agree that 160k in Pharma would put you in a pretty junior position (probably snr manager)

I would think: associate director 180-190k, director 210k-230k and so on. Do you know the level being offered? Bonus and other compensation items will vary based on level. What exactly is the role?
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Old 07.07.2021, 15:40
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Re: Salary conversion from Cambridge UK to Bern

When I moved it was 1.5 CHF to the GBP and I numerically doubled my UK gross salary, but that was a contractor income (both there and here). Since Brexit GBP is on the up again from the pre-brexit lows. Decades ago it was 2.5CHF to the GBP. 90k GBP back then would have been 225k CHF.

At that level it's no longer about what you can afford to live on but simply market forces. The high valued Swiss Franc has somewhat diluted salaries for immigrants.
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