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With 66% anticipating a rise in wages for their upcoming pay review, among job hoppers, more than half (51%) are expecting a 20%+ salary increment if changing jobs.

Although the fifth wave of the pandemic has landed a heavy blow to Hong Kong, executives still have high hopes towards the local job market as many across industries expect to hire more and see an increase in both salaries and bonus in 2022, according to KPMG China’s latest Hong Kong Executive Salary Outlook 2022.

KPMG commissioned YouGov to conduct an online survey between 3-16 January, 2022 and reached out to a total of 794 executives, finding that more than a third of the respondents (35%) spanning all sectors expect to increase hiring at their Hong Kong operations this year, mainly focusing on revenue generator roles, such as sales staff, fee earners and client relationship managers.

Among all the sectors represented in the survey, decision makers in professional services (44%) and financial services (39%) are the most eager to increase headcount.

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The survey also found that career moves returned during 2021, as 27% of respondents changed their jobs particularly at the assistant manager or below level (44%), a sharp increase compared with 2020 and 2019.

Salary and compensation package (71%), career progression and promotion (48%), and organisational culture (44%) are the primary motivations for respondents seeking a new job opportunity.

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Positive outlook on salary and bonus

About a third of respondents (36%) who changed jobs last year secured a salary increase of more than 20% salary while 19% secured a 30% or higher raise. They are continuing to be optimistic about their salaries increasing if changing jobs in 2022, with 51% expecting to get a 20%+ salary increment, while one in five (19%) expect their salary to improve by 30% or more.

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For those staying with existing employers, 50% of the respondents received a pay rise in 2021, 19% received a 3 to 5% raise while 20% got a raise of 6% or more. In 2021, increments were highest in the financial services and professional services sectors with 25% and 30% receiving a pay rise of 10% or more in 2021 respectively.

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In addition, nearly 70% of respondents were awarded a bonus payment last year, with 50% receiving a bonus payment equivalent to more than one month’s salary, compared to the pre-pandemic level of 2.23 months' bonus.

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The survey also foreshadowed wage inflation in 2022 with 66% of respondents anticipating a rise in wages for their upcoming pay review, while 48% predicting an improvement in bonus payment, significantly higher than 2021 (43% and 29% respectively).

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Murray Sarelius, Head of People Services, KPMG China, says: “The executive outlook in early 2022 was very promising when the survey was taken. Despite the short-term impact of the fifth wave of the pandemic in Hong Kong, recently announced relaxations will hopefully spark a return of the optimism in line with the survey.”

Employers need to be innovative to win talent

The survey also found that more respondents are willing to relocate to other cities in Greater Bay Area (GBA) for work, given the opportunities created by initiatives taken by nine Mainland cities in GBA, with seven in ten (72%) expressing their willingness to relocate from Hong Kong to other GBA cities.

The innovation and technology, financial services, and professional services sectors are believed to have created the most job opportunities in terms of developing the GBA including Hong Kong and Macau, while 'better career prospects', 'travel convenience', and 'higher income' are the top three drivers for such a move.

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With high demand on headcount from employers, high expectations on salary among candidates, as well as high attractiveness to work in GBA, KPMG China expected a competitive and fluid employment market in 2022.

Michelle Hui, Director, Executive Search and recruitment, KPMG China, says: “The competition for talent will drive innovation and force employers to look at alternative ways of recruiting and retaining talent. Meanwhile, the survey results suggest that an increasing number of employees are looking for a more agile and flexible working environment, which is a key to attracting and retaining talent.”

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Lead image / 123RF

Infographics / KPMG China’s Hong Kong Executive Salary Outlook 2022

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