Risk management has recently transformed itself from a support function to one which is at the forefront of banks’ strategic proprieties. Professionals working in risk now enjoy more decision making clout and are becoming increasingly well-rewarded for their services in all the main global financial hubs.
So where should you base yourself to secure the best paid credit and market risk jobs? To find out, we looked at recent compensation surveys from recruitment firms and produced the charts below comparing average credit/market risk base pay (in US$) in the UK, US, Hong Kong and Singapore across five levels of seniority.
The US has an early earnings edge over the other three markets, with American analysts taking home pay-packets of $70k on average – $18k more than their counterparts in Singapore. The UK catches up by associate level, however, and British risk salaries are generally strong across the board.
The London market is in the midst of a “price war where banks are willing to pay a premium for professionals and are willing to increase offers,” says Deepan Sakthithasan, manager, credit, risk and quantitative finance, at recruiters Morgan McKinley in London. Risk professionals who move banks can pick up pay rises of 15%, he adds.
In all four markets base pay shoots up significantly for VPs – there’s a 72% difference between associate and VP salaries in the US, for example. Recruiters say it’s at VP level where talent shortages really begin to bite. “In London VPs are hard to find and many of them are looking for director-level roles which in 2015 have been rare,” says Sakthithasan.
It’s a similar story in Hong Kong. “VP level is where there’s most pressure around remuneration because there are more opportunities to consider, many of which require candidates to move across at the same level to cover a similar role,” says Chris Jackson, a director at Pure Search & Selection in Hong Kong. “A 20% salary rise would be a fairly consistent expectation from candidates,” he adds.
Hong Kong is a good place to base yourself at director level. Although it enjoys only a small salary advantage over the other markets, its low income tax rates mean your net pay will be higher than in New York or London. “All-in packages, factoring in the tax regime, make Hong Kong one of, if not the, most competitive location globally in terms of pay for risk management professionals,” says Jackson.
The US regains its poll position at MD level ($300k is the average salary), with the UK not far behind – New York and London are home to the most globally-focused senior risk roles at major banks.
Which additional skills will help push up your pay at all levels in risk? “More quantitative elements of credit risk – model development, validation and implementation – is where there’s most pressure around remuneration. Many bank and consulting firms are keen to hire these people. The IFRS9 financial reporting standard is also proving a real catalyst for hiring,” says Jackson.
Sakthithasan adds: “Those with language skills have a better chance of landing a higher salary as they can better operate in different marketplaces.”