What used to be a substantial gap between the pay of agency staff and client marketers has now narrowed to almost nothing.
The findings emerge in a salary and benefits survey carried out by the Marketing Communication Consultants Association and the media financial specialist Willott Kingston Smith.
The survey shows that an account director's average salary of £41,000 is now almost equal to that of a senior brand manager, who can now expect to receive just over £40,000.
The pattern is repeated further up the hierarchy where an agency board director earns an average of £84,000, just £2,000 more than a marketing director's average pay.
The news brought a warning from Matthew Hooper, the MCCA chairman, that, by driving down salary costs, agencies were in danger of turning off the brightest potential recruits and losing talent to alternative, less stressful, careers.
He said: "Of course it's important that agencies control their staff costs in a downturn, but it's equally important to ensure that we, as a collective, maintain the attraction and lever the benefits of working in this industry."
The research also exposed a contradiction where average staff pay in agencies with gross income of between £5 million and £10 million is higher than in those with gross incomes of more than £10 million.
The survey suggests agencies are producing benefit packages as a means of sustaining staff loyalty and rewarding hard work. These include offering dividends, gym membership and sabbaticals.