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Hong Kong bankers earn up to 46% more than their Singapore peers

People descend a footbridge in front of the Jardine House building during lunch hour in the Central district of Hong Kong, China, on Monday, June, 7, 2021. Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg
People descend a footbridge in front of the Jardine House building during lunch hour in the Central district of Hong Kong, China, on Monday, June, 7, 2021. Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

By Chongjing Li

(Bloomberg) — Finance and technology professionals are generally better paid in Hong Kong than in Singapore, with investment-banking analysts earning 46% more than in the Southeast Asian city-state, according to a report from Bloomberg Intelligence.

Analysts make an average of $92,149 a year in Hong Kong, compared with $63,305 in Singapore, according to a BI report published Wednesday. The trend extends to associates, who make almost $123,000, or 36% more than peers in Singapore, BI said, citing figures from recruiting firm Michael Page. Executive directors at investment banks earn about 13% more in Hong Kong.

An office worker in the Central district in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg
An office worker in the Central district in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

Despite Singapore’s thriving wealth-management sector, private bankers there generally earn less than their counterparts in Hong Kong. Relationship managers make almost $128,000, or 13% more than in Singapore. Additionally, professionals in the tech industry, ranging from AI developers to data and application architects, tend to command higher salaries in Hong Kong, partly due to a shortage of talent, BI said, citing a Hays Asia survey.

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The wage difference could prove an advantage for struggling Hong Kong against its long-time rival. The dynamics between the cities have shifted in the past few years given their divergent economic performances. Hong Kong faces challenges of grappling with capital and talent outflows, along with a sluggish recovery in mainland China. Singapore’s economy grew faster than anticipated last year, and the city-state has been attracting more regional headquarters and family offices, BI notes.

“Hong Kong’s deeper integration with China has redefined its duel with Singapore to be Asia’s leading international finance and business center,” analysts Francis Chan and Patrick Wong wrote.

Bloomberg

Beijing’s tightening control over Hong Kong has marred its attraction. In 2023, the city lost the position as the world’s freest economy to Singapore for the first time over 51 years, according to a Canadian think tank that cited the Chinese city’s eroding judicial independence.

Both cities offer attractive income tax rates to lure talent. While they have comparable rates for low-income earners, middle-income workers in Hong Kong may face higher effective tax rates, ranging from 6.7% to 14.4%, compared to 3.9% to 12.8% in Singapore.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.