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Tourism and related sectors get wage boost
Published on Friday, 08 Jul 2011

About 75 per cent of people working in Hong Kong (see chart below) received a salary increase from January to May this year, according to a global survey of more than 3,200 professionals by the recruitment consultancy firm Robert Walters.

The pay rise survey was carried out in 16 markets and Hong Kong was one of the stronger performers on the list.

After a solid economic resurgence in 2010, the high salary increases were expected. Matthew Bennett, the managing director at Robert Walters Hong Kong, says these wage increases were mainly in the non-financial service sectors.

"There has been such a change in the banking market since the credit crisis and the pay structure across all banks changed in 2010," he says.

"Coming off a dismal 2009, the service and commerce sectors did not raise their salaries in 2010. But after such an amazing economic recovery, the non-financial service and commerce industries had to look at their pay scales as well," he adds.

One of the hottest sectors that saw the most growth was tourism and related industries. Bennett says this growth is not likely to stop anytime soon.

The other main Hong Kong industries that saw significant growth and substantial salary boosts were the middle market financial service companies, legal and accounting firms, and anything that had to do with exports.

Bennett says that HR firms are also being taken more seriously these days. If a company hires correctly and retains staff with comfortable base salaries, then the overall environment created is going to be more positive, he adds. Although there were pay increases and strong growth throughout the first quarter of 2011, Bennett sees a slowdown towards the end of the year because of the weak economy and rising inflation. "As of April, inflation was 4.6 per cent, so companies will have to look at adding [an average of] 5 per cent to the payroll," he says.

When considering pay rises, organisations look at their top performers and award talent when it is due, Bennett says. Companies are more focused on retaining the top people who are making money.

"Since costs are a bit of an issue, organisations want people who do not need to spend time training on - workers who will get on board and make an impact on the bottom line straight away. And this is where the shortage is, so if anyone is going to get large pay rises over the next 12 months, it is going to be [those in the ] middle to senior roles."