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Salary trends in Malaysia for 2018

Malaysia salary trends for 2018

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The latest annual Robert Walters Salary Survey revealed that Malaysia has experienced steady hiring activity in 2017. In fact, candidates with high potential or niche skills can expect increments* of between 25-30% when they move jobs in 2018. 

Some other key findings include:

  • HR professionals can expect up to 20% salary increases.
  • Accounting and finance professionals can expect up to 20% salary increments.
  • Salary increment for sales and marketing roles in FMCG and the industrial sector remained at between 15-20% in 2017 – these levels expected to continue in 2018.

In the report, Sally Raj, managing director, Malaysia, Robert Walters, said: “As an attraction strategy, companies should work on building their employer branding initiatives, so that they are seen as an employer of choice by candidates.”

“Employees are increasingly looking for greater engagement with their organisations, and hiring managers will need to facilitate a higher level of workforce engagement to retain talent,” she added.

[*All salary increments mentioned are for professionals switching jobs.]

Human resources salary trends

Hiring remained steady for HR professionals throughout 2017 – with a slight spike in the first half of the year due to standard bonus cycles. Activity focused predominantly on replacement roles across all seniority levels. For that, organisations optimising their costs in 2018 will look at their internal pool of employees before filling positions with external candidates. The report stated: “To attract the right talent, hiring managers will need to be mindful of the scarcity of niche skills and be flexible in their remuneration offers.”

“Salary limits may need to be stretched to attract top talent, as counter-offers by other prospective and current employers will be common.”

In fact, the findings showed that companies had offered salary hikes of 15- 20% to attract the right talent in 2017 and this is expected to continue in 2018. On that note, HR directors in KL can expect an annual salary of RM300k – RM720k next year. However, HR directors in Penang can expect an annual salary of RM168k – 456k.  

Human Resources RW_PN HR

Accounting and finance salary trends

Hiring demand for accounting and finance professionals was modest this year; as companies focused on streamlining costs and outsourcing accounting functions. Most hiring activity was for replacement roles, with many organisations preferring to promote internally before considering external candidates.

Meanwhile, more organisations will be looking to automate key finance processes in 2018. This will allow employees to concentrate on activities that add value, such as strategic planning, business partnership and business analysis.

According to the report, salary growth varied in 2017. Professionals with unique skill sets and those who were pursued by multiple organisations could negotiate decent increments of more than 20%. On average, internal increments ranged from 3-5%, while people who changed jobs received raises of 15%. On that note, salary increases of 15- 20% expected to remain the norm in 2018.

In Kuala Lumpur (KL), accounting and finance CFOs can expect to earn an annual salary of RM420k – RM720k. Meanwhile, finance directors can expect an annual salary of RM300k – RM456k (for MNCs), and RM240k – RM300K (for SMEs).

Accounting and finance

In comparison, finance directors in Penang can expect an annual salary of RM336k – RM480k.

Accounting and finance (Penang)

Sales and marketing salary trends

There was strong demand this year in Kuala Lumpur for sales and marketing professionals in the e-commerce, retail and industrial sectors. As online spending continued to grow for personal care, fashion, beauty and fresh food products; candidates with experience in merchandising and digital marketing were highly sought after.

Employers who focus on finding the right cultural fit will reap the benefits in staff retention. Additionally, transparency and clear communication on potential career progression will have a significant impact on employees’ decisions to stay or leave, offering opportunities to move vertically or laterally.

According to the report, candidates for niche positions, or with specific skill sets in the professional services and digital industries, commanded salary hikes of up to 25%. On the other hand, the salary increment for sales and marketing roles in FMCG and the industrial sector remained at between 15-20% in 2017 – these levels are expected to continue in 2018.

On that note, managing directors can expect an annual salary of RM360k – RM600k (consumer) and RM360K – RM550K (industrial) – as per the report.

Sales directors can expect an annual salary of RM300K – RM504K (consumer) and RM240K – RM360K (industrial) annually.

Meanwhile, marketing directors are expected to earn RM312 – 480K (consumer) and RM240 – RM360K (industrial) annually.

Sales and marketing
[*All salary increments mentioned are for professionals switching jobs.]

Lead Photo / 123RF

Table / Robert Walters 

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