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Hong Kong bankers want higher pay; Singaporeans are less pushy

A new salary report suggests that a still-tight jobs market in Asia will favour professionals in Hong Kong over those in Singapore.

Professionals working in Hong Kong are confident they will earn more this year than they did in 2022 as an exodus of staff combined with job cuts gives employees the upper hand.

According to the annual 2022 salary survey from Morgan McKinley, almost two thirds (65%) of employees in Hong Kong SAR are expecting their salaries to increase in 2023, with 71% also expecting some form of bonus pay-out too.

This optimism seems well-placed. According to the survey, 69% of employers in Hong Kong also think that salaries in their specific sector will rise in 2023, with 40% planning on increasing base salaries across all teams.

By contrast, just over half (51%) of Singaporean employees are expecting their salaries to increase this year, with a lower 65% also expecting some form of bonus.

Singaporeans might be too pessmistic though. 75% of employers in Singapore think that salaries in their specific sector will rise in 2023, with a third planning on increasing base salaries across all teams, despite a sharp focus on costs.

In Hong Kong 60% of employees in Hong Kong are looking to move jobs in the first half of the year as they seek to earn more, while 64% of employees in Singapore want to switch jobs as they look to secure a higher salary.

The reasons for wanting to move are the same in Hong Kong and Singapore – the motivation to secure a bigger salary remains the primary driver, followed by career development opportunities, the desire for meaningful and impactful work, job security and better culture and leadership. The only difference in the ranking is the Singapore professionals prize better culture and leadership over better job security.

One of the most striking findings is that Hong Kong professionals want to buck the flexible working trend,  with half of employees saying they would prefer to be in the office for three or four days a week. This compares with a third of professionals  Singapore, where the majority (53%) prefer to work just one or days in the office.

One Hong Kong banker who was asked by eFinancialcareers about the findings of the survey, agreed “This doesn’t surprise me. After three years of lockdowns in a small flat,  people want to be in the office. Singapore hasn’t had the same restrictions.”

Overall pay in Hong Kong rose during 2022 due to a combination of factors that included fewer people coming to Hong Kong and more people leaving due to Covid restrictions and political concerns. 

Robert Sheffield, Managing Director of Morgan McKinley Hong Kong & Greater China, said:  “Until availability of talent returns to normal levels, and pay expectations level out again, there will be plenty of competition between hiring organisations, and the potential for significantly higher earnings when moving roles will still be there. Being able to match the expectations of professionals looking to move roles is going to be crucial to successful recruitment.”

Professionals in Singapore enjoyed high salaries last year as it opened up after the pandemic. But ‘stability’ will be the watchword in 2023 as companies look at costs and navigate uncertain markets.  Gurj Sandhu, Managing Director of Morgan McKinley Singapore, said : “As a result, there will be a slight recalibration of salaries. Whilst professionals will receive an uplift when moving externally, the increases are broadly not likely to be as significant as they were in 2022. Attempts to retain staff via increments, alongside managing inflation, will also have an impact on the salaries of those not looking to move.”

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AUTHORDavid Rothnie Insider Comment

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