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15 per cent hike in average basic salaries for Hong Kong’s investment bankers and hedge fund professionals

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Hong Kong is the place to be if you’re an investment banker or hedge fund professional.

Hong Kong is the place to be if you’re an investment banker or hedge fund professional. According to a research report released by leading financial services recruitment firm Astbury Marsden this week the average base salary for investment bankers and fund management staff has gone up 15 per cent in 2011 to approximately HKD890,000 (roughly GBP74,000): outstripping London in the process. The report surveyed over 630 professionals and found that salaries have increased from approximately HKD775,000 12 months ago. City of London salaries, by comparison, have increased 12 per cent. Mark O’Reilly (pictured), managing director at Astbury Marsden, was quoted as saying: “Investment banking teams operating in Hong Kong have performed more strongly than their counterparts in London and New York in 2011. Generally banks are keener to invest in their teams in Asia than in Europe and the US and that has meant a bigger boost for Hong Kong bankers’ base pay.” The firm explained the findings by saying that as a result of banks and hedge funds curtailing their graduate or MBA intake following the ’08 financial crisis they now had a shortage of trained junior- to mid-level staff. This has led to banks, in particular, having to increase pay to lure analyst-level staff with two or three years’ experience from competitors.

Compliance staff have enjoyed the biggest bump in salary: up 21 per cent on average compared to 11 per cent in London. “Compliance staff have done exceptionally well this year. Over the last couple of years banks in Hong Kong have expanded their product lines, which has created a surge in demand for compliance staff to ensure these new products are properly monitored. Regulatory oversight in Hong Kong has also become more stringent,” said O’Reilly. This would apply equally to hedge funds, the bigger managers having to strengthen their back office and due diligence teams to satisfy investor demands. Many of these pay rises were agreed early in 2011 before the markets went into turmoil so it’s highly unlikely this salary trend will continue into 2012. As the Daily Telegraph reported, some banks are actually reducing headcounts despite growth in the region: the biggest axe-wielder being HSBC who plan to chop 3,000 staff over the next three years in Hong Kong.   

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