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Payback time for bankers: survey predicts rising wages

After a couple of years of meagre pay rises, employees of international banks in the mainland are looking forward to making more money in 2010.

A recent study by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which surveyed 42 foreign banks in China, found that salaries are expected to increase between 3 and 20 per cent this year – with most banks forecasting rises of about 8 per cent. Three quarters of respondents also said bonuses will go up.

Kin Fu, Beijing branch manager for Kelly Services, says salary increases are most likely to take place at banks which weathered the global financial crisis well. These include Standard Chartered, ANZ, and JP Morgan. He adds that front office roles, such as relationship managers for product sales, will benefit more from pay rises.

Morgan McKinley’s Hong Kong managing director Richie Holliday thinks raises will be slightly higher. “Most individuals we are talking to are expecting a little bit of payback for all the hard work over the last two years,” he says, referring to a lack of fluidity in the job market during the global financial crisis, which forced some bankers to take promotions without pay rises.

“I would say the average salary increase throughout China would be more like 15 per cent,” adds Holliday.

The PwC report also found that foreign banks plan to hire an additional 14,453 employees by 2013, raising headcount to 44,192. This represents an increase of 48 per cent compared with the 29,739 workers they employed as at February 2010, but it is lower than the 62 per cent rise forecasted by the same survey last year.

Five of the firms surveyed plan to make more than 1,000 new hires, while nine say they will increase headcount by more than 100 per cent by 2013.

Banks with big retail operations and which are deeply embedded in Asian markets – such as HSBC and Standard Chartered – will account for a greater portion of the new jobs, says Holliday. A large share of the positions will be revenue-generating, such as private banking relationship managers and investment bankers.

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