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Want a 30 per cent pay rise each time you change companies? China is the place

Some rates are creeping up again

As we reported last week, pay increments for those switching jobs won’t be great in Hong Kong and Singapore this year, with 15 per cent considered near the top end. But if you’re moving in mainland China, expect to be a lot better off at your new employer.

“I see only a handful of 20 per cent rises, with the bulk at 30 to 40 per cent minimum. The highest ones are at managerial level,” says Vivian Ng, managing director, Morgan McKinley Shanghai. Some candidates may refuse to move for 20 per cent because they might feel they are being offered much less than the typical market rate, she adds.

Erick Zhou, manager of banking & financial services, Robert Walters Beijing, says the Chinese capital is talent short, so commercial banks are even giving 30 per cent hikes in the back and middle office.

However, at foreign banks the current cost-conscious mood is having some affect on pay as firms have become more reluctant than a year ago to renegotiate their initial offers, says Ng. And although 30 per cent might seem high to bankers in mature markets, average increases in China were even larger until global economic uncertainty pulled them back in the second half of 2011.

“They have now settled at about 30, but if the market picks up, we could return to the 50 to 60 per cent range. I don’t think the stabilisation is permanent. It’s just an immediate reaction to banks’ earnings levels,” adds Ng.

In asset management pay increments remain high, according to Zhou. Portfolio managers can expect to gain 30 to 50 per cent rises because China expertise is needed in this sector. “They can’t hire from overseas, so they are willing to pay high rates.”

It’s a different story for those moving from investment banking to private equity. Your base pay may go up by only 10 to 15 per cent, stay the same, or even fall, but most candidates don’t mind because they are motivated by wanting a career change and the potential to earn carried interest in the future, says Zhou.

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