Nearly Half of Hong Kong CFOs Plan to Expand Finance Team Amid Broad Optimism

The business environment in Hong Kong remains broadly optimistic for the year ahead, despite global economic headwinds.


Hong Kong companies plan to add and maintain headcount to support their growth agenda, reveals the 2014 Salary Guide for Asia by finance, accounting and technology specialist recruitment firm, Robert Half. Specifically, an average of approximately 40% of surveyed senior leaders said that they plan to expand and add permanent headcount in the first half of the year in Hong Kong.


The business sentiment for commercial firms in Hong Kong is broadly optimistic. Among the Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Finance Directors (FDs) surveyed, 94% of respondents are confident that their firm will achieve growth in 2014. Same as last year, 48% of CFOs and FDs indicated that they are planning to increase the number of permanent accounting and finance staff.


In addition, 69% of respondents aim to increase salaries and 43% plan to increase bonus payments for employees this year, as compared to 59% and 25% in 2013.


Finance in 2014 

“The first half of 2014 will be a busy period for finance and accounting professionals," says Pallavi Anand, Director of Robert Half Hong Kong. "We anticipate increased demand for business and financial analysts and auditors across industries including healthcare, IT services and retail."


Anand notes the demand is driven by the need for specific specialised skills. Companies are also hiring professionals to strengthen their internal control processes and ensure that they are a less attractive target to internal and external fraud.


In the Banking & Financial Services industry, 92% of senior financial services leaders are confident their company will grow this year. This positive outlook extends to recruitment planning as 46% of senior financial services leaders in the banking and financial services sector will increase permanent financial services staff during the first six months of 2014, up from 36% in the same period last year.


In addition, half of the respondents (51%) will increase salaries for financial services  professionals, and 31% plan to increase bonuses this year.


“The regulatory agenda remains firmly entrenched in Hong Kong financial services leaders’ daily agenda, with banks and financial institutions expecting to hire more employees to navigate through domestic and international risk and compliance issues," said Anand.


"There also continues to be an increasing trend of Asian and Chinese banks expanding into new markets in the region and around the world. In particular, we see a strong demand for professionals across the insurance, private equity, banking and asset management sectors.” 


Technology Trends 

In the technology sector, nearly 9 in 10 (89%) Hong Kong CIOs are confident of their company’s growth prospects in the next 12 months, which will create a firm foundation for increased hiring activity.


Demand is particularly robust today for IT professionals with skills in network administration, database management and programming languages such as .NET, Python, Java and C++. In particular, demand is very strong within the telecommunications industry and financial services sector, especially for insurance.


Remuneration continues to play a key role in attracting and retaining quality IT professionals. More than half (58%) of CIOs surveyed will increase employee salaries. Close to one in three (28%) CIOs will increase bonuses for their technology team in 2014.


“Technology and innovation are seen as key tools for many Hong Kong businesses to use for growth. This is reflected in the number of IT projects planned and the demand for IT specialists. Unfortunately the skills needed for those projects are in short supply and CIOs are likely to need to use a mixture of contract, project and permanent IT professionals to meet the demands of the business going forward,” Anand added.


Talent Attraction and Retention
As global and domestic business sentiment continues to improve, companies continue to demand talented professionals to support their fast-paced growth target. Hence, the talent pool remains highly competitive. On average, over 95% of respondents are both concerned about losing top talent and are challenged to find skilled talent in their respective industries in the next six months in Hong Kong.


To tap into an increasingly competitive market while also retaining strong talent, firms are looking to offer non-monetary incentives and rewards.


“Companies must demonstrate a commitment to work-life balance, which is a key topic that has been widely discussed in Hong Kong,” says Anand.


In April 2013, the Hong Kong government set up a Standard Working Hours Committee to lead public engagement and consultation exercise on working hours. More than 30 consultation sessions are expected to be conducted in the first half of this year to reach consensus on the implementation of a Working Hours Regime.


“In all sectors, training and career development opportunities and career mobility play an important role in employee retention,” Anand concludes.


  • Most Promising Jobs in 2014
  • Finance Managers (HK$420,000 – $720,000)
  • Financial Planning & Analysis Managers and Directors in large firms (HK$540,000 – $1,500,000+)
  • Internal Audit Managers and Directors in large firms (HK$480,000 – $2,000,000)
  • Compliance/AML Professionals (HK$360,000 – $1,800,000+)
  • Operational Risk Professionals (HK$330,000 –$1,350,000+)


  • Credit Risk Professionals (HK$330,000 –$1,495,000+)
  • Treasury Accounting VP/SVP/MD (HK$840,000 – $1,200,000+)
  • Project Management Professionals (Financial Services Operations)2 (HK$240,000 – $1,200,000+)
  • IT Architects (Applications, Solutions, Systems, Data) (HK$800,000 – $1,000,000)
  • ERP Consultants (HK$300,000 – $900,000)
  • IT Project Managers (HK$480,000 – $1,200,000)


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