For Hong Kong’s specialised and skilled, there’s money in staying mobile
While hiring in Hong Kong remains tentative, the market is still “talent-driven”– which means good financial opportunities for specialised professionals looking to change jobs in key sectors.
This is according to the Robert Walters Global Salary Survey 2016, which highlights notable rewards for mobility in a number of local professional sectors. Those changing jobs within their sector can expect an average salary increase of 10-15 per cent, with “in-demand areas” – including legal and compliance, banking and financial services, and IT – offering rises of up to 30 per cent.
Legal and compliance roles that involve AML and control room will see the highest salary increases for job-movers, with tightening regulation in global financial services being the driving factor.
“There is a shortage of compliance professionals in Hong Kong,” says Matthew Bennett, managing director for Greater China at Robert Walters. “Financial services firms are facing increasing regulatory burdens, with tightening regulatory SFC and HKMA requirements, and they need to expand their compliance team to ensure they comply with these requirements. As the demand for such talent far outstrips the supply, compliance professionals can command large salary increases when moving jobs.”
The establishment of a new regulatory body – the Independent Insurance Authority (IIA) – will further spur demand for legal and compliance professionals.
“As the market anticipates tighter regulations for the insurance industry, insurance companies will likely expand their compliance teams, making the competition for talent more fierce,” Bennett says.
He adds that it is the financial services sector that is the most active in hiring compliance professionals, with employers adapting its recruitment strategies to address the talent shortage.
“Banks are more flexible and are willing to consider professionals from ‘big four’ backgrounds with experience in AML, fraud and investigation for junior-level roles, as well as provide on-the-job training,” Bennett says. “Candidates with a legal background or lawyers with exposure to conflicts, AML, FCPA, the UK Anti-bribery Act or financial services litigation will also be considered.”
Increased regulation is also creating opportunities for middle- and back-office workers in banking and financial services. This area will see an ongoing demand for compliance and audit professionals, as well as a need for know your customer (KYC) specialists – especially with heavy fines being doled out to banks for contraventions in governance and due diligence. Job-switchers such roles can expect an average salary increase of 20-25 per cent.
Bennett says that the continuing IT talent shortage is due to several factors. “Some roles, such as IT support, have a high demand for candidates, but junior candidates are not that willing to take up these positions as they are more interested in other areas that are deemed more exciting, such as mobile application development,” he says.
“IT is not a very popular subject among local students when they choose their university majors, and not every IT student stays in the industry when they have graduated – some will try to find jobs in other functions such as business due to various reasons, such as IT being too much of a desk-based job.”
“Also, IT candidates need to constantly keep up-to-date with the latest technologies. Although there is a high demand for IT professionals, there are also candidates who have been unemployed for quite a long period of time since they do not have the experience or knowledge of the latest technologies or systems that companies look for.”
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as There’s money to be made in staying mobile.