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Asia’s resilience drives salary growth in Hong Kong: Hays Salary Guide released

Updated: 01 Mar 2014
  • 56 per cent of employers in Hong Kong increased salaries between three and six per cent last year;
  • Looking ahead, 60 per cent of employers in Hong Kong intend to increase salaries between three and six per cent when they next review;
  • Fewer employers will award bonuses, with the use of benefits instead rising.
Hong Kong’s workforce can expect an average salary increase of between three and six per cent this year, according to the 2012 Hays Salary Guide.
Released today, the 2012 Hays Salary Guide reveals salary and recruiting trends for 1,100 roles across Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Japan and was based on a survey of over 900 employers as well as placements made by Hays.
It found that 56 per cent of employers in Hong Kong increased salaries last year between three and six per cent. A further 21 per cent gave an increase above six per cent. But 16 per cent gave increases of less than three percent, while the final seven per cent gave no increase at all.
China was the stand out in terms of salary increases in the region, with 51 per cent of employers reporting an increase of between six and ten per cent and 21 per cent offering an increase above ten per cent.
Looking ahead, 60 per cent of employers in Hong Kong intend to increase salaries between three and six per cent when they next review. A further 24 per cent will increase above six per cent. But 10 per cent of employers intend to increase salaries less than three per cent and six per cent intend to offer no increases when they next review.
Again China is the stand out, where over 80 per cent of employers expect to increase salaries above six per cent. By comparison, in Japan 98 per cent expect to offer six per cent or less. 
“Despite current global economic conditions, Asia’s economy remains resilient,” said Emma Charnock, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong.
“According to our survey of employers, in the next 12 months 64 per cent of employers expect business activity to increase and 41 per cent expect their permanent staff levels to increase. This means that those candidates with in-demand skills and realistic salary expectations can be confident that this year will provide them with the opportunity to secure a challenging career move and a salary increase.
“But skills shortages will remain an ongoing issue. According to our survey of employers across Asia, almost all (95 per cent) believe that skills shortages have the potential to hamper the effective operation of their business or department.
“Furthermore, in skill-short areas 66 per cent of employers said they would consider employing or sponsoring a qualified overseas candidate. Employers in Hong Kong are casting the net wide when a suitable local applicant cannot be located, although there has been a strong reduction in expatriate packages. Those that were on expatriate packages have been converted to local packages and benefits such as housing and living allowance have been incorporated into the base salary.
“According to our survey, 54 per cent of employers intend to award a bonus to more than 50 per cent of staff, down ten per cent year-on-year. Instead, the use of benefits is rising. They are now offered by 81 per cent of employers, up from 78 per cent year-on-year. Health, life assurance and pension are popular benefits.”
According to the 2012 Hays Salary Guide, trends for Hong Kong by sector are as follows:
·         Accountancy & Finance:
With the exception of the financial services sector, demand in Hong Kong remains high particularly in professional services, telecoms and the retail sectors. Many companies that postponed their IPO in 2011 are likely to revisit this in 2012 which will also impact on demand.
·         Architecture:
Vacancy activity will increase as China’s booming project market fuels demand locally. As a result, salaries have increased and employers are seeking candidates who can speak Mandarin who are also prepared to be stationed in China.
·         Banking:
The slowdown has been more gradual than in the past, and the early part of 2012 is expected to focus on advisory and wealth management as the market slowly gathers momentum.
·         Engineering & Construction:
Salaries in Hong Kong have increased slightly over the past year in line with the increase in demand for skilled professionals. Many developers based in Hong Kong want candidates with Mandarin fluency to work on projects in both Hong Kong and China.
·         Finance Technology:
There has been a sharp rise in demand for contract staff. Global systems continue to be built and exported from Hong Kong and pockets in almost all investment banks are taking the lead on global scale systems design, build and implementation.  Functionally, Software Developers, Project Managers, Business Analysts and change professionals are in short supply.
·         Human Resources:
Human resources professionals are in steady demand, especially talent and employee development professionals, skilled trainers and compensation and benefits professionals. Candidates with a stable work history are achieving salary increases, particularly at the junior to middle level. Higher increases of between 10 to 20 per cent have been noted at the senior level.
·         Information Technology:
Cloud technology remains a hotspot with roles available across business development, engineering and development.   A number of organisations are discussing aggressive growth plans, and some are using Hong Kong as their regional hub to expand into the rest of Asia.
·         Insurance:
Hong Kong’s insurance sector remains strong. While it is still dominated by the life sector, activity has risen within general insurance, specifically within health. Due to the shortage of local talent, hiring managers are searching further afield. We’ve seen a steady trend of salary increments but a strong reduction in expatriate packages.
·         Legal:
Solicitors with strong law firm experience in banking, finance, US capital markets and securities, corporate, funds, financial services, litigation, arbitration and IP law are sought. Candidates with mandarin language skills and previous experience in the region are preferred. Salaries were extremely competitive in 2011.
·         Office Professionals:
We’ve seen an increase in temporary assignments and temporary-to-permanent hiring, particularly in the financial sector for administration assistant and secretary roles. As competition increases for experienced contractors, salaries and benefits are becoming more attractive. Legal Secretaries with Mandarin fluency and EAs and PAs with English fluency are needed.
·         Property:
Salaries are rising, but given budgetary pressures roles will continue to be outsourced to property consultancies.  Hong Kong developers continue to build large mixed-use developments in China and need Project Directors, Quantity Surveyors and senior level Leasing/Asset Managers.
·         Sales & Marketing:
Following an active 2011, activity remains high in the financial sector for insurance and accounting firms. On the commercial side, we’ve seen peaks in luxury retail and FMCG food and beverage. Demand for quality employees will remain high. But given the candidate shortage, employers are willing to pay a premium to attract talent. 
Access the 2012 Hays Salary Guide at, by contacting your local Hays office or by downloading The Hays Salary Guide 2012 iPhone app from iTunes.
Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.
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For further information please contact Paula Tychsen,Marketing Executive – PR & Communications of Hays, on 02 8226 9739 or  
About Hays
Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide. It operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.
As at 30 June 2011, Hays employed 7,620 staff operating from 255 offices in 31 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2011, Hays reported net fees of £672 million and operating profit of £114 million and placed around 60,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 190,000 people into temporary assignments. 31% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific.
Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the United Kingdom and the USA.

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