Base salaries for Singapore executives the highest in region

SINGAPORE - Senior executives in Singapore receive the highest base pay compared to their counterparts throughout the Asia-Pacific region, a recent study has revealed.

According to professional services firm Willis Towers Watson's 2015/2016 Global 50 Remuneration Planning Report, base salaries in Singapore are on average eight per cent higher than those of Hong Kong across three job grades: professionals, senior management and top management level.

Hong Kong is the highest paying economy in the Greater China region.

Salaries in Singapore are also a significant 28 per cent to 52 per cent higher than in China from the middle management to senior and top management levels. The largest gap is at the professional level, where Singapore pays more than twice that of China.

"Singapore has always been a leading economy in the region. As it continues to enhance its competitiveness in the international arena, it wants to bring in top talent with knowledge of best practices from all over the world, so offering globally competitive salaries is an important part of that process," said Mr Sambhav Rakyan, data services practice leader at Willis Towers Watson Asia Pacific.

Besides Singapore, the Asia Pacific section of the report also looked at base salaries in 11 other regional economies: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

Among countries in Southeast Asia other than Singapore, executives in Indonesia get the highest base pay across all three job grades.

Malaysia and Thailand are the lowest payers at the senior management and top management levels, whereas Philippines pays its professionals the least.

Nevertheless, even though Indonesia is the most expensive labour market for executives in Southeast Asia outside of Singapore, salaries there are still five per cent to 44 per cent lower than the base pay in China across all job grades.

Mr Rakyan explains that the lower salaries in Southeast Asian countries give them a competitive edge. "The pay levels illustrate that low-cost labour is no longer a major selling point for China."

However, he notes that although China is more expensive, its more mature infrastructure and skilled workforce will likely continue to attract companies when compared with the emerging economies in Southeast Asia.

He added that base salaries in China are likely to stay high to attract talent, given that it is putting a greater emphasis on quality and sustainability in its products and services.