25 February 2020
Demand for finance professionals remains strong in Hong Kong, pushing salaries higher in the sector. Photo: HKEJ
Demand for finance professionals remains strong in Hong Kong, pushing salaries higher in the sector. Photo: HKEJ

HK finance professionals seen getting bigger pay hikes in 2015

Finance professionals in Hong Kong could see their compensation levels rise 5 percent on average next year, up from the 4.5 percent increase this year, as demand for talent remains strong, especially for those involved in risk management work, according to consultancy firm Towers Watson.

“Compensation at financial institutions has become a major concern for governments and the public as a consequence of the recent global financial crises,” said Sambhav Rakyan, data services practice leader, Asia Pacific at Towers Watson.

“Discussions have been raised to regulate bankers’ compensation, especially for those whose daily job tasks include risk taking that can have a significant financial impact on the bank,” he said in a statement after his firm released the results of a survey.

Elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region, financial services staff in Singapore could get 4.5 percent salary hikes in 2015, compared to 4.2 percent this year, while those in mainland China could get as much as 8.5 percent hike. 

Apart from the finance sector, the pharmaceutical industry is expected to continue to have the highest salary increase in the Asia Pacific region at an average of 6.7 percent next year, with China at 8.9 percent — the highest pay increase among the region.

“Asia’s ageing population, patent expiries, increasing demand and encouragement for genetics have continued to put pressure on companies to attract and retain talent, particularly for jobs such as in regulatory affairs, clinical strategy, project management and qualified researchers,” Rakyan said.

While high-tech companies are emerging from the cost pressures of the past, new-age technology companies are wooing the top talent with high salaries, flexible and “cool” work environments, he noted.

“However, only in China will pay increases in this sector be lower in 2015 at 8 percent from this year’s 8.3 percent, suggesting an oversupply of talent in this sector or that the sharp increases we’ve seen in recent years are beginning to slow down,” Rakyan said.

“It also reflects the efforts of companies to move manufacturing and research and development deeper into China’s hinterland, such as Chengdu, Zhengzhou and other such cities, where salaries lag those of the eastern seaboard.”

Overall, Hong Kong and Singapore are expected to stay at 4.5 percent increase in 2015, unchanged from this year, while China will see a 8.3 percent increase if the country’s inflation stays at about 3.1 percent, Towers Watson said. 

A draft for salary adjustment of senior management in China’s state-owned enterprises has been concluded, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Ministry of Finance has started consultations, Tencent finance portal reported Wedensday.

One of the proposals is to reduce salary of the senior management by as much as 30 percent, rendering them unable to earn more than 600,000 yuan (US$97,683) a year, according to the report.

– Contact the reporter at [email protected]


Ayishah Ma is a financial reporter on Greater China issues.