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Hong Kong Legal Salary Survey & Guide 2014

Hong Kong Legal Salary Survey & Guide 2014

almost 4 years ago by Aquis Search

We are pleased to announce the publication of our Hong Kong Legal Salary Survey & Guide 2013 - 2014.

Please click here to view the PDF version.

Introduction

Aquis Search is delighted to present our bi-annual private practice, in-house corporate and in-house financial Services salary surveys for Hong Kong 2014. Our aim in producing these surveys is to provide guidance to clients and candidates on current compensation levels post end of year reviews and predict how the market will shape up over the next six months. Our information has been researched and collated with the help of our clients and candidates and from our knowledge of the marketplace. As with all surveys, the ranges represent the mainstream view and there will be individual situations that fall outside the range published here so please use this survey as a guide and do not hesitate to call for further clarification on the compensation trends in the market.

 

Coverage

Our Hong Kong legal survey covers three distinct legal communities, private practice, in-house financial services and the inhouse corporate community. Information on each can be found below.
• Private Practice
• In-house Corporate
• In-house Financial Services

 

Private Practice

Trends

Despite a cautionary approach to hiring in 2013, we are pleased to note that the future commitment to Hong Kong from law firms remains solid and there is a continuing appetite to capitalise on the lucrative potential inherent in this key
legal hub. This is notably evidenced by the emergence of new law firm entrants in 2013, various high profile mergers and firms rebranding themselves to ensure they can retain their competitive edge. Some firms have been targeted in their approach, marketing themselves solely on one strategic area for which they can leverage their international strength. Other firms are diversifying their practice areas and delving into local markets with a view to establishing a sustainable Hong Kong practice. The forecast for 2014 is proving more optimistic and we are witnessing a marked increase in instructions fromclients. Candidates, previously cautious about the uncertain outlook are now coming forth with an increased confidence in the opportunities within the market.

The aftermath of mega-mergers has attracted substantial interest in the media. Global tie ups have seen key firms revolutionise themselves in terms of size, status and branding within the Hong Kong market. Law firms continue to develop relationships with China, a territory which has been treaded by many firms with varying degrees of success and in some instances, with some financial losses. Whilst some firms have retreated from China, we have recently seen US and UK firms launch representative offices in Shanghai. Some of the lawyers staffing the Hong Kong offices of these firms have been moved to China due to client demand on an either permanent or temporary basis to assist with the setup of these offices.

Speculation on Chinese globalisation has reached new heights further to the recent merger of a Sino-Austalian outfit with a leading UK firm. We have also witnessed rather unorthodox partner moves from international firms in Hong Kong to local Chinese firms and it is clear the potential in China continues to allure.


Notable areas of recruitment activity during the second half of 2013 in Hong Kong have been within the mid tier UK and US firms. Given that deal flow has proven mid market, it has conversely been these firms who have been offering cost effective rates to be retained on such work. They can offer clients the global platform but they are well-connected with domestic clients, accepting instructions which the global giants would deem incongruous to their business model. The preference amongst law firms is almost always for a Hong Kong qualified lawyer with fluency in Mandarin whilst Cantonese is often a ‘nice to have’. In niche areas where talent is exceptionally light such as project finance or construction litigation, firms can prove more flexible on the local qualification and language criterion.

Recruitment in 2013 has expanded outside the ubiquitous corporate roles with law firms beginning to invest more heavily in the regulatory and litigation space and we have noted a substantial increase in instructions across all levels. It would appear that certain US firms who have concentrated predominantly on developing their corporate/ capital markets offering have now identified the commercial value in such a strategy. A notable Wall Street leader made a powerful statement of its commitment to litigation with the appointment of two high profile litigation partners, which has triggered interest from other US firms. Litigation continues to be on the increase due to ever tightening financial services regulation and significantly, there has also been a change in legislation giving advocacy rights to Hong Kong solicitors with the potential for an additional revenue stream for the litigation practice of law firms. In addition to broad commercial litigation work, expertise within regulatory, arbitration and investigative work is proving particularly marketable in Hong Kong. FCPA and investigation practices have seen an upsurge in growth.

Banking teams within Hong Kong have remained steady throughout the course of 2013. The UK firms continue to hold dominance with longstanding relationships with many of the key global Banks. The most common reason for a banking lawyer to move is to take an in-house role. Such roles are relatively rare and as such, disgruntled banking lawyers are tending to shift to a banking practice at a peer private practice firm. Given the prevalence of lawyers qualifying into banking teams during the boom years of 2006/2007 and to a lesser extent 2008, there is a notable over-crowding within banking teams at the senior associate level and a glass ceiling in terms of career progression.

In terms of corporate roles, M&A practices have been unpredictable. The IPO market notably slumped during the first half of 2013 but since mid-year, we have noted that the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has steadily picked up with our clients seeing an uptick of sorts in terms of IPO work flow. The increase in IPO instructions has been steady throughout the second half of 2013 and now clients are seeking out lateral support to service the work. Although very early days, the introduction of tougher listing rules in October of last year should give investors renewed confidence that work will be carried out properly. The rules raise the responsibility for those involved in the listing process and sponsors are obliged to complete all due diligence before a draft prospectus is submitted to the public. It is anticipated that this will mean more companies listing on the stock exchange, in turn boosting work flow for law firms.

The latter half of 2013 saw an increase in the demand for funds lawyers, particularly lawyers specialising in private equity funds. This is largely in response to the change in law, allowing private equity firms to enjoy the same tax exemptions as offshore funds. Other key areas of growth within funds include fund formation, infrastructure funds, real estate funds retail and PRC-related funds. Demand for funds lawyers is strong and in light of the shortage of talent, firms are willing to consider lawyers at the junior level with no existing funds experience. We have seen some instances where junior lawyers have retooled to undertake a funds role. We are continuing to see a steady flow of funds lawyers leaving private practice to assume an in-house role. The in-house roles are typically awarded to the lawyers from the select top few funds practices in Hong Kong. Offshore firms, who are traditionally strong in funds continue to grow in Hong Kong and as such, we anticipate funds to be an area of sustainable growth.

Other notable areas of interest have been private client, project finance shipping, real estate, intellectual property, shipping, insurance, arbitration and construction law. Such hires tend to move at a moderate pace and are often mandates from new firms entering the market with a specialism within this area. Clients tend to hire from a peer firm with a strength in that particular practice area.

The newly qualified market has shown signs of improvement with the UK firms in particular citing strong retention rates. Such firms invest heavily in trainee talent and are keen to retain home grown trainees. Notably, graduate recruitment has seen an increase this year with firms taking on more trainees, commencing in 2015 which we regard as a meaningful statement on market confidence from law firms.

 

ASSOCIATE LEVEL COMPENSATION

As cited in our mid year salary survey, firms on average increased salaries amongst associates by approximately 5-8% across the board, although the percentage increment tends to be higher at the lower PQE range. In reflection of these higher trends, compensation for litigators standout amongst the others. Top performers have received up to 10% increment. Alternatively, some firms paid three months plus bonus. 

A select few US law firms in Hong Kong continue to pay NY rates plus COLA to their Hong Kong qualified corporate lawyers. In order to retain the best talent, US law firms have continued to review their benefits and we expect to see more coming out with across the board decisions on additional benefits for these lawyers.

Salaries at US firms have increased within their standard lockstep as associates matriculate into their next year and bonuses continue to be competitive and in line with the market, similar to last year. For those who have met billable hours targets, bonuses tend to start around 10,000 US$ for juniors and move up to 15-20,000 for mid levels and going up 35,000 plus for senior levels. Additional bonus is available to lawyers who exceed target although with deal flow being conservative throughout the course of 2013, we consider that few lawyers have been the beneficiary of such a bonus.

 

UK Firms

Level

Monthly Salary (HK$)

Average Salary (HK$)

Newly Qualified

65,000 – 75,000

70,000

1 year

73,000 – 83,000

78,000

2 years

80,000 – 91,000

86,000

3 years

85,000 – 97,000

91,000

4 years

88,000 – 108,000

98,000

5 years

95,000 – 120,000

108,000

6 years

100,000 – 128,000

114,000

7 years

110,000 – 135,000

122,000

8 years

120,000 – 155,000

138,000

 

 

US Firms

Level

US$ per annum

1st

160,000

2nd

170,000

3rd

185,000

4th

210,000

5th

230,000

6th

250,000

7th

270,000

8th

280,000

 

Given the marked disparity in salary levels between US and UK firms, the question invariably arises in terms of the capacity of UK firms to retain its people. We are keen to caveat that UK firms and US firms vary and we discourage candidates from making assumptions and generalisations but we can highlight that a number of candidates are reticent about US firms. 

Broadly speaking, the perception we receive from candidates is that UK firms invest more in knowledge development, offer greater secondment opportunities, place greater focus on ensuring associates have high quality work and vitally, there is a notion that UK firms are a more stable platform for associates, preferring to redeploy resource and weather quiet periods rather than making wide scale redundancies. In contrast, US firms are often renowned for having a ‘hire and fire’ culture, for offering minimal support with brutal hours and for having a poor understanding of the local Hong Kong market with the reins of control firmly held in the US headquarters. The stereotypes/ perceptions are often difficult to counter-argue but as the Hong Kong market matures, we have seen vastly different cultures in the US firms.

 

SUPPORT ROLES

We have seen an increase in support roles mainly within the paralegal and business development/ marketing space.  In particular, the US and UK law firms have seen the value in embedding such staff within their business, supporting fee earners and partners and releasing time to dedicate to current client matters and further client development. Litigation paralegals have proven very popular especially in assisting in disclosure exercises for high value claims. We have found that paralegals have an existing legal background, having completed legal studies or completed an internship within a law firm. We have also witnessed PRC admitted lawyers relocating to Hong Kong and taking paralegals roles within law firms. We have noted an uptick in PSL roles towards the end of 2013. PSL corporate roles are particularly prevalent and our clients are stringent in requirements around technical excellence, strong academics and credibility in their choice of candidate.

 

PARTNERS

Partner level hiring remains steady. Most firms have ongoing mandates and as long as partners have a sufficient business following and their client base is synergised to their existing business plan, they are open to consider such a hire. Various mergers have seen the landscape dramatically change for some partners and this has prompted exits to a more suitable culture. Lateral senior associate to partner hires are exceptionally rare although by dint of compromise, of counsel lateral promotions do occur. Firms are willing to put lawyers on track to partnership but this is always subject to stringent performance objectives, ongoing favorable market conditions and the overall performance of the firm. The risk very much falls on the lawyer joining in this instance and detailed due diligence is required to drill down on how credible prospects really are. The bulk of partner mobility remains within corporate and capital markets practices. Litigation practices tend by their very nature to be less portable but in light of our comments above, we have seen further fluidity within the litigation space and we anticipate a continuation in this regard. Parachuting partners from offices in the UK and US is proving less common in a market where local language skills and legal knowledge are paramount. With the partnership ladder at Magic Circle firms appearing increasingly elusive and with the sheer number of strong associates at a comparative level vying for this advancement, lawyers are looking laterally to developing their careers. We predict that mid-tier US/UK firms with a promising practice and some of the most established off-shore firms will prove an attractive platform for career progression for such talent in 2014.

 

OUTLOOK

The outlook for 2014 is notably more positive based on financial predictions for the market, increased work flow as indicated by our clients and consequently, the increase on mandates we have received. Lawyers are finding themselves to be better utilised and they have greater confidence about lateral opportunities. As mentioned above, 2013 has revealed itself as a year of change for many law firms and we envisage the first half of 2014 to be a more stable period for firms with a healthy recruitment forecast. We look forward to updating you further later in the year. Please do feel free to contact one of our consultants listed below for a more detailed confidential discussion on the market.

 

In-house Corporate

YEAR IN REVIEW

The changing nature of Hong Kong’s employers best reflects the opportunities available for lawyers in the city. With an increasing number of listed Chinese companies, lawyers with Greater China experience have been in demand. In contrast, as US and European multinationals have relocated to China and left Hong Kong, many lawyers have had to consider relocating to China with them or re-evaluate their ambitions to move in-house. Replacement roles with a Greater China or North Asia remit tended to be most common with clients looking for well trained lawyers with previous in-house commercial expertise in addition to top law firm training. A steady flow of opportunities also emerged from the local Hong Kong blue chip companies, many of these were replacement roles with a domestic focus. Lawyers from the leading local firms were also well positioned to take up these roles.
 
Salaries remained constrained as the supply of talent in the market kept up with demand, however those with compliance experience proved the exception. Employers sought qualified lawyers with strong regulatory experience from both inside and outside the market.
 

SKILLS IN DEMAND

We saw numerous briefs from clients mandated to hire compliance and regulatory lawyers. Hands on experience in the function remained most marketable although private practice candidates with relevant experience were considered. Often these roles took an unexpectedly long time to fill and managers had to compromise or pay above market to secure talent.

Candidates with general commercial in-house experience and the ability to manage the business confidently were most in demand and for those at the 6-12 + PQE range with good private practice training were most marketable. In-house lawyers at this level often switched industries as skill sets were seen as transferrable. Those with fluent Mandarin including Chinese drafting skills were best placed to take advantage of opportunities. When positions arose in specialist areas such as TMT, a search often extended across the region as the Hong Kong market is vastly overpopulated with capital markets practitioners. Internationally oriented PRC lawyers have also proven to be marketable and have taken up roles in the city bringing with them hands on experience of the China market.

Lawyers with strong listing rules and mergers and acquisitions knowledge continue to be sought after by a growing number of Chinese listed companies. These employers continued to strengthen their legal and compliance teams in Hong Kong and have provided opportunities for locally based lawyers with strong Mandarin capabilities. Lawyers with strong company secretarial experience were also in demand, and quality individuals are likely to be able to choose from competing offers. A number of paralegal and support roles also came up in the market, these were new and replacement positions that can be instrumental in the general running of an in-house legal department. Interestingly many PRC admitted lawyers have also taken up such positions.

 

RECRUITMENT CHALLENGES

Personality and cultural fit remain an important factor when employers consider a match for in-house roles. Private practice lawyers with secondment experience often have an edge when interviewing for in-house roles but employers continue to prefer candidates with previous in-house experience and sound commercial acumen. Often in-house legal teams in the corporate community in Hong Kong are quite lean and hiring managers generally look for senior lawyers that can work independently.

The international law firm market remains a fertile hunting ground for in-house employers offering a different career trajectory and a perceived better work life balance. However given the transactional nature of work, high salaries and expectations of ambitious lawyers, a match is not always found in-house. Often well rounded lawyers with strong client
exposure can be found within the leading local firms and this experience has proven valuable to the in-house community. These lawyers tend to work more on the advisory side, they have regular client contact and their salary expectations are typically more in line with the market. Companies with tighter budgets prefer candidates from smaller law firms which is why we see a select number of local law firms producing suitable in-house talent.

Leadership positions remained relatively scarce and internal candidates represented the obvious choice before an external search was conducted. Likewise, at the junior levels there was little demand as teams are typically small and General Counsels are not able to provide the level of training and support needed for junior lawyers to move in-house, despite the availability of talent and interest.

Hong Kong remains the headquarters for the luxury industry in Asia facilitated by the growing spend of the Chinese consumer. Fashion and consumer brands continue to have a certain aurora and prestige attracting talent to the industry. However, packages are often less than stellar, with many European brands paying below market which is reflective of their heritage. The nature of the work tends to be general corporate commercial with a heavier focus on advisory in contracts, compliance and general problem solving. Teams have slowly expanded reflecting the conservative nature of management despite the general growth in HK headcount. The Hong Kong construction industry continued to grow, spurred on by a number of large scale infrastructure projects undertaken by the government. Consequently demand for construction lawyers remains high and we have had a number of mandates for both contentious and non-contentious lawyers. In addition, several large hotel chains based in Hong Kong have also sought construction, property and real estate related lawyers to work on projects across the region.


COMPENSATION

Salary in the Hong Kong in-house corporate community has remained stable with many employers offering modest annual increments. For 2013 most salary increments ranged from 3% to 7% with only star performers receiving more than 10%. Discretionary bonuses ranged between 15-25% although local companies often paid out larger discretionary bonus but less on base salary. Many employers continue to structure a 13th month or double pay for December each year. Additional benefits for senior staff usually include long term share schemes but few offer expat style packages and only those GCs relocated from overseas are eligible.

 

 
Legal Salary Ranges in Hong Kong (2013)

PQE/
Experience
Monthly salary
range
Average annual
bonus
Minimum Maximum
0-2 years 45,000 65,000 1-2 months
3-5 years 65,000 115,000 1-2 months
6-8 years 80,000 135,000 1-3 months
9-11 years 90,000 160,000 1-3 months
12-14 years 100,000 210,000 2-3 months
15+ (General Counsel) 125,000 260,000 3-6+ months

 

Holiday entitlement ranges from 18-28 days

 

Company Secretary Salary Ranges in Hong Kong (2013)

Title Monthly salary
range
Average
annual
bonus
Experience Minimum Maximum
Company Secretarial Assistant 0-2 years 18,000 25,000 0-2 months
Company Secretarial Officer 3-5 years 28,000 40,000 0-2 months
Sr. Company Secretarial Officer 6-8 years 37,000 55,000 1-3 months
Deputy Company Secretary 9-11 years 48,000 80,000 1-3 months
Company Secretary 12-14 years 65,000 110,000 2-3 months
Group Company Secretary 15+ years 110,000 160,000 3-6+ months

 

Holiday entitlement ranges from 18-28 days

 

FORECAST FOR 2014

We expect to see continued growth in legal roles that have a strong regulatory and compliance flavour. Opportunities for good corporate lawyers with both transactional and advisory experience will continue to be marketable but seniority and language skills are key factors in marketability. Chinese listed companies will likely continue hiring counsels creating new opportunities for Hong Kong based lawyers. We are generally positive about the Hong Kong corporate market but patience and some flexibility will be important in sustaining a successful long term in-house career.


In-house Financial Services

YEAR IN REVIEW

2013 proved to be a relatively stable year for the financial services industry as banks recovered from global uncertainties but also faced unprecedented levels of scrutiny and in some cases, record fines from the regulators. Against this backdrop, there has been a slight uptake in hiring across the legal function predominantly from increased turnover within tier two and developing platforms. Low levels of turnover from top tier houses has allowed GCs to plan more effectively, however, this has created a bottleneck with limited opportunities for many lawyers looking for career progression. We have seen an increase in contracting roles as permanent headcount has sometimes proven difficult to obtain. Interestingly law firms that typically provided such support on a short term basis by means of secondment were unable or unwilling to offer up associates.

Despite the slower pace of hiring, employers struggled to find suitable talent as the market remained cautious and private practice associates were equally reluctant to move without a high degree of assurance. In-house legal teams have also been drawn into increasing amounts of regulatory advisory work with many lawyers reinventing themselves or ‘double hatting’ to service this work.

The growth in the compliance function has been unprecedented, sparking an increased interest from lawyers looking to capitalise on this demand and move into this function. Consequently, we have noted a number of new heads of compliance that have come from a legal background.

SKILLS IN DEMAND

In response to the ever increasing financial services regulation, new defensive roles in litigation and regulatory were highest in demand whilst a finite pool of talent and intense competition from private practice and financial institutions pushed up salary expectations. Demand for regulatory lawyers with extensive experience dealing with both local and US regulations grew rapidly and institutions searched for lawyers with both a contentious and non-contentious background. The regulators themselves also proved to be a platform of interest and a great place to reinvent or reinvigorate one’s legal career.


INDUSTRIES IN REVIEW

It was another challenging year for the investment banking industry with the IPO market notably slower during the first half of 2013. However, the second half proved more fruitful and we have witnessed an uptake in IPO listings which should have a knock on effect in terms of resourcing requirements from the banks. Employers are still in a position of choice as the pool of private practice talent in equity capital markets runs deeper than any other practice in Hong Kong.

Demand for derivatives lawyers remained muted but those with regulatory exposure and knowledge, including the Dodd Frank regulations, were more marketable and institutions were willing to pay for this expertise. In a more favourable climate, employers often searched outside the market but given the talent within the law firms and the slowdown in the number of new roles, employers have had the opportunity to find the best local lawyers with both Chinese language skills and Hong Kong qualifications.

By contrast, hiring within the ISDA negotiation teams remained busy due to the finite pool of talent and poaching between banks remained commonplace. Employers extended their search around the region notably Singapore, China and Taiwan in order to attract the most suitable talent. A qualified lawyer was most preferred, however many ambitious lawyers looked to move out of the ISDA function and into more advisory oriented roles.

The Asian market has emerged as a key source of growth for the private banking industry and talent remains scarce, particularly for lawyers with proven in-house experience. Demand for those products and regulatory knowledge has proven to be the most marketable. The attractiveness of the industry has drawn talent from the investment banking community where roles are more diverse and the industry is perceived as more stable. With the exception of a handful of major players, legal teams are generally small with around two to four lawyers in most teams covering a mix of legal and regulatory work. Local qualification and Mandarin language skills remain a general prerequisite.

The traditional and alternative players in the asset management industry continue to remain an interesting story to tell with many candidates expressing an interest in moving to the buy side. There have been ongoing opportunities for funds lawyers with the traditional players, including mandates for those with strong regulatory/advisory experience as well as previous inhouse exposure. Given the limited law firm talent, many firms have had to poach from competitors and this has pushed up compensation expectations. Despite the size of the market, consistencies in the compensation packages have proven elusive with significant disparity amongst institutions. Clients in the alternative asset management industry tend to be more conservative in their hiring for legal talent and teams are often just one or two people covering a mix of transactional work in addition to supporting the business in a number of other ways including regulatory advice. The industry pays relatively well, bonus structures are very competitive and often tailored made to the individual.

General banking & finance lawyers found the market more challenging with opportunities sometimes emerging within smaller houses or local banks. Often these roles were subject to higher staff turnover due to pay, promotion or culture of the team. It has been an employer’s market and hiring managers at top tier banks had quality candidates at their disposal to choose from and candidates had to compete with limited choices. Salaries for banking lawyers remained relatively flat last year.

The year witnessed several new entrants into the insurance industry, reaffirming Hong Kong as a regional insurance hub. However, the struggle for suitable talent meant roles went unfilled and line managers were forced to choose from a small pool of available talent and had to consider insurance litigation lawyers. With both regional and country roles on offer, teams are quite disparate from the regional team running more transactional oriented work along with driving out programmers at a regional level and the local teams being more product and regulatory centric.

A trend of poaching from within the broader financial services industry gained in popularity as the talent supply for noncontentious insurance lawyers from law firms is thin and as a result employers sometimes end up hiring lawyers who are without much insurance experience, particularly for junior roles. Salaries are going up in general and at times catching up with the financial services sector for very senior level roles.

 

RECRUITMENT CHALLENGES

Alongside technical skills, personality and cultural fit continue to play a crucial role in determining who is chosen. Hiring managers consider personality traits as a key ingredient to success and make assessments based on personality to determine how a potential employee would operate within their business. Employers have shown strong preference towards candidates with prior in-house exposure, an assumed level of law firm training as well as any related secondment experience. Associates that show strong commercial judgment, business acumen and the ability to work independently are immediately shortlisted.

Mid-level associates were highest in demand and those with solid international law firm training and a stable track record succeeded in moving in-house. The demand from private practice associates to move in-house remained strong and it was often perceived as a gateway to enjoy a better work life balance, engage with the business in a different career path. The opportunity to develop a strong working relationship with the same group of people and to be part of the business decision making process generally excited most practice lawyers when considering a move in-house. This usually translates into more control over how and when work is executed.

Given the increased activity in China, most employers sought local candidates with Mandarin language skills. Local qualifications were also a draw and most talent was sourced within the Hong Kong market before moving further afield to source from other regional hubs including Singapore.

Salary expectations have decreased marginally in recent years amidst a new banking environment and a general understanding of what the market can afford. In the boom years we saw package increments of between 20-25%; we are now seeing more employers offering closer to half of that, although expectations are sometimes higher. Push back from employers is often quite firm – the perception being it is an employer’s market.


COMPENSATION

Pay remains a significant challenge for the banks and most of the industry understands that consolidation and slower growth has translated into lower packages and a general decrease in total compensation over the last five years. Salary expectations have also marginally decreased in recent years reflecting the new banking environment and a general understanding of what the market can afford. During the boom years package increments of between 20-30% were common whereas today we are seeing more employers offering closer to half that to attract candidates. Push back from employers is often quite firm - The perception is it’s an employer’s market. The irony is that the market is still short on talent, the candidate pool remains cautious and is not easily willing to move which means choices are generally limited.

Many senior counsels have been stuck on the same salary with only nominal increases in recent years. There are often limited choices internally for Senior Counsel and that has occasionally prompted open conversations with management about career development. Likewise managers are also faced with difficult choices given their limited budgets and ability to promote, and the slowdown in the industry and turnover rates has compounded the problem.

Many banks have announced bonuses and the results were not entirely unexpected. Bonus announcements so far have been mostly flat, with some modest increments despite a better performance by most major banks. The polarisation of the bonus pool has rewarded a few top performers, whilst leaving the majority with an average rating and bonus, whilst those at the bottom end of the curve have been given a strong message. For the majority, the bonus was in line with expectations.

 

Funds / Asset Management / Investment Management

Level/ No. of
Years
Experience
Monthly salary range
(HKD)
Bonus
Minimum Maximum
0-2 years 60,000 80,000 1-3 months
3-5 years 80,000 115,000 2-6 months
6-8 years 95,000 145,000 3-6 months
9-11 years 120,000 170,000 4-8 months
12 years+ 145,000 250,000+ 5+ months

 

 

Investment Banking

Level/ No. of
Years
Experience
Monthly salary range
(HKD)
Bonus
Minimum Maximum
0-2 years 60,000 85,000 1-2 months
3-5 years 85,000 120,000 1-3 months
6-8 years 110,000 145,000 1-4 months
9-11 years 130,000 180,000 2-5 months
12 years+ 150,000 250,000+ 3-6 months

 

 

Private Banking

Level/ No. of
Years
Experience
Monthly salary range
(HKD)
Bonus
Minimum Maximum
0-2 years 60,000 85,000 1-4 months
3-5 years 80,000 115,000 2-5 months
6-8 years 100,000 140,000 2-6 months
9-11 years 130,000 170,000 3-6 months
12 years+ 150,000 250,000+ 5+months
 

 

 

Insurance

Level/ No. of
Years
Experience
Monthly salary range
(HKD)
Bonus
Minimum Maximum
0-2 years 50,000 75,000 0-2 months
3-5 years 80,000 100,000 1-2 months
6-8 years 95,000 135,000 1-3 months
9-11 years 120,000 150,000 2-4 months
12 years+ 140,000 250,000+

4+months

 

 

ISDA Negotiators

Level/ No. of
Years
Experience
Monthly salary range
(HKD)
Bonus
Minimum Maximum
0-2 years 35,000 60,000 1-3 months
2-4 years 45,000 80,000 2-3 months
4-6 years 60,000 90,000 2-4months
6-8 years 70,000 105,000 2-4 months
8-10 years 85,000 115,000 2-4 months
10-15 years 100,000 135,000 2-5 months
 

 

FORECAST FOR 2014

We expect to see more confidence from the financial services industry this year which should translate into new headcount. Despite the optimistic start to the year we expect a bumpy ride in the markets as the Fed tapers its fiscal stimulus and China’s economy showing signs of a slowdown. We expect a finite number of new roles but an uptick in replacement roles as people look to move on for better opportunities.