Increased salary expectations in China

PHOTO: Increased salary expectations in China

Job-hoppers can expect income increase of 15 to 20 per cent: Consultant

Salary levels in China are likely to increase in 2013 as the nation expects stable growth in gross domestic product, recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Plc said.

Generally speaking, candidates moving jobs usually will get a 15 to 25 per cent pay increase in the nation this year, said a survey released by the London-headquartered company.

Those who stay in their jobs are getting approximately 8 per cent salary increases, which corresponds with the forecast for GDP. The World Bank estimated in January China's 2013 GDP growth could hit 8.4 per cent.

With the economic environment challenging, salary increments for professionals who moved jobs were generally lower than previous years, said the survey.

Candidates typically received increases of 15 to 20 per cent when changing roles in 2012, while the amount was between 15 to 30 per cent in 2011. Strong performers could receive as much as a 40 per cent increase in some cases, it added.

Financial sector

The banking and financial services industry was the most affected by the global economic recession. As these employers were keen to increase profitability and hire sales professionals, they were also required to minimize costs and, in some cases, were subject to headcount freezes, according to the survey.

"In the second half of last year, international financial institutions bolstered their control functions in response to several overseas banking scandals. Senior professionals with risk, compliance, credit risk approval and anti-money laundering expertise were highly sought after," said Robert Walters.

A number of overseas financial firms delayed their expansion plans last year because of economic uncertainty. The demand for talent is set to bounce back this year as China's economy stabilizes, said Arthur Wang, managing director of Robert Walters China.

Multinational companies will be eager to recruit candidates with better knowledge of the Chinese market as banks start to explore markets beyond major financial centers such as Shanghai and Beijing.

"Candidates who could develop strong relationships with local clientele and possessed both overseas and local experience were particularly sought after and generally received average salary increases of 10 to 20 per cent when moving jobs," Wang said.

"Meanwhile, as Chinese financial institutions continue to increase their presence within the local market, we expect to see continued demand for local candidates with Mandarin skills."

Speaking fluent Chinese will also help the candidates to seek jobs in other industries such as information technology.

The survey found that candidates were not only required to master IT systems made by industry giants such as SAP or Oracle: Bilingual proficiency in English and Mandarin will also be expected.

Retail and luxury

In cities such as Hong Kong where IT infrastructure and construction projects were implemented, demand for IT talent also jumped, said Robert Walters.

The industry with strongest talent demand was retail and luxury, boosted by the increasing purchasing power of Chinese citizens. It may grow by up to 20 per cent year-on-year until 2015. Salaries in these sectors may jump 15 to 25 per cent on a yearly basis, said Wang.

According to the Beijing-based World Luxury Association, Chinese people spent $830 million on luxury goods from Jan 20 to Feb 20 this year during the traditional festival shopping spree.

Although the growth of the Chinese luxury market slowed last year, the association expects that by the end of 2015 China will dominate the global luxury market with 60 per cent of market share.

"The expansion of international luxury brands into second- and third-tier cities will boost demand in sales, human resources, training and in business development departments," said Wang.

Luxury brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton have entered most capital cities at a provincial level.

Manufacturing

Companies in the manufacturing sector are also likely to recruit more staff in China to cement their presence in the world's second largest economy, the report showed.

"As the economy showed signs of recovery at the end of 2012 with improving manufacturing activity, multinational conglomerates are likely to continue to invest in China moving into 2013."

Robert Walters expects this new trend will lead to new jobs becoming available, although organisations will remain cost-conscious and, as a result, will seek local candidates to fill positions vacated by expatriates.

Despite an uncertain economy and a challenging business climate, companies specialising in foreign-made consumer goods, auto parts, machinery and pharmaceuticals performed well throughout the year, Walters said.

Most recruitment activities throughout 2012 were largely replacement-focused as employers concentrated on reducing costs. Although most job seekers were primarily motivated by a better salary, career development is playing an increasingly important role among Chinese candidates, according to the survey.

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