Salary growth in Hong Kong remains strong: Hays Salary Guide

Updated: 01 Mar 2014

The majority of employers increased salaries last year and intend to do the same when they next review highlighting the country has weathered the global economic storm, according to the 2013 Hays Asia Salary Guide.


The 2013 Hays Asia Salary Guide, out now, reveals salary and recruiting trends for 1,200 roles across Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan and was based on a survey of 1,200 employers, as well as placements made by Hays.


The Salary Guide found 48 per cent of employers in Hong Kong increased salaries last year between 3 and 6 per cent. A further 13 per cent raised salaries above 6 per cent, and 4 per cent gave increases of more than 10 per cent. Increases of less than three percent were given by 21 per cent of employers, while the final 14 per cent gave no increase at all.


Looking ahead, 52 per cent of employers in Hong Kong intend to increase salaries between 3 and 6 per cent when they next review. A further 17 per cent will increase above 6 per cent, while 3 per cent of employers will raise salaries by more than 10 per cent at their next review. Meanwhile19 per cent of employers intend to increase salaries by less than 3 per cent and 9 per cent will offer no increases.


“While these figures are slightly down from the previous year, we are still seeing strong salary growth in Hong Kong despite difficult economic conditions in other parts of the world,” says Marc Burrage, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong.


Meanwhile, almost three quarters of employers across Asia, or 72 per cent, believe the economy is likely to remain stable or strengthen. 65 per cent of employers in Asia also say their business activity increased in the past 12 months and 66 per cent envisage it will increase in the next year. 26 per cent indicated business activity would remain the same in the next 12 months while 8 per cent said they expected a decrease.


“This is expected to put greater pressure, on not only sourcing the right skills to manage increased business but also potentially the package on offer to prospective employees,” says Marc. “Our Salary Guide revealed 93 per cent of employers believe skills shortages will hamper their business operations.”


More than half of employers (52 per cent) also tell us they have used a flexible approach to staffing over the past year, either temporary or contract employees or the employment of part-time staff – in fact almost a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents say they use temporary or contract staff on an ongoing basis.”


According to the 2013 Hays Asia Salary Guide, trends at a glance for Hong Kong by sector are as follows:


·         Accountancy & Finance:

The retail and IT and telecommunications sectors were the stand out performers for accountancy and finance recruitment in Hong Kong over the past year. Driving this trend in part was the removal of travel restrictions for PRC tourists, which led to a number of new high end luxury retail businesses establishing new stores.


·         Architecture:

Developers in Hong Kong remain active, both in the Hong Kong as well as China markets. As a result, we are seeing ongoing high demand for Architects to design and implement new construction projects, and in some cases entire cities, as well as Architectural Project Managers.


·         Banking:

Activity in Hong Kong’s financial job market in 2012 was sporadic, with some sectors experiencing a down cycle while others grew. Growth was perhaps most obvious for traditional products, which banks returned to in order to grow lifeline revenue streams. As a result, we saw strong and steady demand across the commercial banking space and a high volume of new relationship and product vacancies.


·         Engineering & Construction:

Hong Kong’s construction market is relatively healthy and is supporting high demand for experienced professionals in the infrastructure and civil engineering sectors. Upcoming announcements of high profile civil engineering contracts in quarters two, three and four will ensure this demand continues over the year ahead.


·         Finance Technology

2012’s Chinese New Year brought with it steady demand for technical candidates in Hong Kong, which lasted throughout the year. Given the high demand and short supply we saw some instances of candidates achieving a slightly higher salary increase than the standard, which for most candidates remains 10 to 20 per cent.


·         Human Resources:

With the financial industry in a holding pattern in 2012, its been encouraging to see the positive impact HR professionals have had. They have moved into more strategic business partner roles within organisations, and communication and talent development have remained key factors.

Significant salary increases were seen at the senior end of the market and ranged from five to 15 per cent.


·         Information Technology:

Hong Kong’s infrastructure, development and business markets remain active with certain skilled professionals in high demand. Looking first at the infrastructure market, the issue of outsourcing and using systems integrators and vendors versus supporting an internal team remains a key consideration. However, the major trend has been the ever-growing popularity of cloud computing and the use of data centres. This has seen demand rise for professionals skilled in cloud computing and working within data centres, including virtualisation. We expect salaries to also increase in the year ahead.


·         Insurance:

Hong Kong’s insurance industry remains strong despite the global economic climate. Key players from both life and general insurance are targeting Asia for growth, with the majority of foreign insurance companies identifying clear strategic plans to expand their business across key markets in the region.


·         Legal:

As was the case last year, the Hong Kong market offers some great opportunities particularly for those in corporate counsel. Firms have become more creative with the way they structure remuneration packages in order to retain their key talent.


·         Office Professionals:

This sector has remained pretty stable. As was the case last year we have seen an increase in the use of temporary and contract staff and there are an increasing number of roles for bilingual Personal and Executive Assistants, particularly those with trading floor experience.


·         Property:

Hong Kong’s property market improved in 2012 and while it has not returned to 2006 levels, hiring activity is positive. Land prices are at a premium and many developers are competing for various sites. There has been an increase in hotel and retail projects as developers and operators push for market share.


·         Sales & Marketing:

Retail, financial services and FMCG are the active sectors in Hong Kong – high quality candidates are able to command a 10 to 20 per cent increase in salary to move, although employers are increasingly asking for more accountability form new employees


Access the 2013 Hays Asia Salary Guide at, by contacting your local Hays office or by downloading The Hays Asia Salary Guide 2013 iPhone app from iTunes.


Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.


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