An insight into Hong Kong’s employment market

Robert Walters, a global specialist professional recruitment consultancy, released the 18th edition of its annual Global Salary Survey, which offers a detailed overview and forecast of the key segments in the job market. In 2017, companies will stay cautious about hiring due to an uncertain economic outlook with salary levels remaining fairly static.

However, a high demand for fintech, mobile development, e-commerce, big data, cyber security sprung from the waves of start-ups, and technology talents sought by existing companies to upgrade their tech infrastructure, will intensify recruitment intentions in several sectors.

The market sentiment in Hong Kong remained cautious throughout 2016 and hiring was subdued with a focus on business-critical functions. The rise of technology across many industries made 2016 an extremely busy year for IT and legal/compliance recruitment. The continued growth of cloud technology and cyber security created a strong demand for IT professionals as both in-house and external consulting companies sought new talent.

In 2016, salary increments for job movers and non-movers were on average 10-15 percent and 3-5 percent, respectively. The report suggests that salaries are broadly expected to remain at the 2016 level for most industries. Those staying in their current role should expect a salary increment on average of 3-5 percent, while an average of a 10-15 percent increase is projected for job movers in 2017.

In 2017, banking and financial services sector is expected to face challenges on the back of complex global economic and monetary conditions coupled with a slowing Chinese economy. Further layoffs and changes in strategy are expected at certain global investment banks as they commit resources to core business lines.

The rising demand for new innovative technology and cyber security, a by-product of the more stringent security regulations and stronger awareness in the market, are the main drivers of the exponential growth of the fintech sector in Hong Kong.

The general talent shortage of specialists in fintech, mobile development, e-commerce, big data and cyber security will create a buoyant hiring demand for these talents. In the legal/compliance sector, there is a growing need for lawyers to help companies in previously unchartered territory such as P2P and mobile financing, which involve challenging regulatory matters across multijurisdictional platforms.

As banks and financial institutions also sharpened their focus on fintech innovations, there is a rising demand for professionals who are tech-savvy with a strong understanding of financial products. Sales and marketing specialists with digital and e-commerce skills and general management experience will be the prime hiring targets in 2017 across various sectors.

Specialists in the legal/compliance industry will continue to be highly sought after as the current market conditions require all businesses to invest in regulatory and compliance staff. Moreover, the launch of the Independent Insurance Authority will further stimulate the demand for hiring in the insurance sector in 2017.

Since compliance issues such as anti-money laundering (AML), fraud and policy review remain the hot topics in the market, financial services firm will also require more staff with knowledge on China and SFC regulatory requirements across their internal surveillance and control functions.

The Belt & Road Initiative is expected to fuel accounting and finance hiring in 2017 amidst the challenging global environment. There will also be a number of job opportunities for candidates with experience across construction and public infrastructure developments.

With a growing focus on human resources related challenges, companies of all sizes will look to recruit HR specialists in compensation and benefits, talent acquisition and labour law in order to retain their workforce.

Matthew Bennett, Managing Director – Greater China, Robert Walters, said: “Overall, we anticipate salary levels to remain broadly flat for most industries in 2017. While better-qualified job movers can expect an increment of up to 15 percent, an increase for compliance specialists could be as high as 30 percent due to the acute shortage of candidates in the market.

“One of the significant trends of 2017 will be promoting social diversity. Companies that are recruiting from diverse cultural and academic background will be seen as more attractive employers. Hiring managers should also be aware of a shift in candidate priorities when recruiting in 2017.”

“While in recent years jobseekers were more concerned about remuneration, specialist professionals are increasingly demanding a stimulating and open working environment, where communication and collaborative skills are highly valued.”

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