HK will again attract finance professionals if govt can chart a path out of the pandemic, salary increment can reach 30% in the short term


29th March 2022 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong’s strict anti-epidemic policy has caused some financial companies to decide to move to other places. Meanwhile, the competition for talents in Hong Kong remains fierce. At least in the short term, there are still many opportunities for financial industry talents who have not left the city to obtain substantial promotions and salary increases. “They’re more in-demand than they were a year ago,” said Christine Houston, managing director of executive search firm ESGI, and people are taking advantage of the talent shortage to demand higher salaries. In the past, in order to prevent employees from switching jobs, Hong Kong employers generally increased the salary of financial employees by about 15%. The current increment will definitely reach 20% to 30% in the short term.

She predicts that Hong Kong will once again attract finance professionals if the government can chart a path out of the pandemic with infrequent policy changes that bother locals and expats alike. For example, she said, if there is a roadmap, Hong Kong will attract more talents again.

“Pay increases in the financial industry have been a significant issue for the past 15 months, and have accelerated again this year as a wave of departures sparks a scramble for remaining talents,” said John Mullally, Robert Walters’ regional director in Hong Kong.

He went on to say that in the future, once Hong Kong starts to attract overseas talents to return or companies start to distribute jobs overseas on a large scale, those who are now receiving excess pay raises may face the risk of a major reversal of the situation. Another problem is that some people are overpaid right now. In the short term, there is definitely an opportunity for employees to take advantage of this dislocation in the market, but in the long run it’s not a healthy situation.

The report quoted top Hong Kong bank executives saying that since June, the wave of departures has meant that mid-level employees in the sales and trading departments have risen by 25% to 35%. Staff turnover has slowed slightly over the past few months due to market turmoil and the Russian-Ukrainian war, but job-hopping is expected to pick up again this year as transaction revenue rebounds. At the same time, with the booming cryptocurrency industry in Hong Kong, the industry has also joined the hunt for more talents.

Olga Yung, managing director of Michael Page Hong Kong, said that at least 10% of new jobs in the financial services industry came from the industry itself. Crypto trading platform  Amber Group raised HK$200 million last month at a $3 billion valuation, with an investment from Singapore’s Temasek. Its global workforce has tripled since February last year, and it is looking for employees with backgrounds in traditional finance, human resources and legal services in Hong Kong. Michael Wu, co-founder and CEO of Amber, said that given the company’s profitability, even if the pay did not outperform other companies, it could keep provide some competition in talent recruitment.

Meanwhile, the number of new visas issued to foreign financial services workers fell to 2,569 last year, nearly halved from 2018, according to government statistics.