This is what your compliance salary and bonus should be in Hong Kong

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This is what your compliance salary and bonus should be in Hong Kong

Compliance hiring at banks in Hong Kong hasn’t returned to its heady pre-2017 levels. Banks are investing more in regulatory technology and are finally reaching their required compliance headcounts.

Still, recruitment remains buoyant compared to most other functions in the banking sector. Banks such as Citi, HSBC and Standard Chartered may not be aggressively expanding in the sector, but they continue to replace compliance employees who leave, and redundancies remain rare, even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you’re thinking of moving jobs in compliance, you’ll want to know whether your Hong Kong compliance salary is competitive in the current market. To help you out, we’ve averaged out compliance pay data provided to us by recruitment agencies Ambition, Hudson, and Robert Half across four compliance roles (three jobs within banks, as well as investment management compliance). The results are displayed in the first table below, which shows average base pay from analyst to director level. The second table shows the approximate compliance bonus range you should expect in Hong Kong banking, as a percentage of salary.

As a rule, if you work at a bank in Hong Kong, you might want to avoid working in control room compliance – the function that controls the flow of confidential information between banks’ private and public-side businesses. Hong Kong salaries for control room compliance professionals are less than for the other compliance jobs we looked at across all levels of seniority.  

In contrast, Hong Kong compliance salaries are rising most rapidly within anti-money laundering (AML).

Our table below provides a benchmark of what you’re likely to be paid in an AML job, but if you’re changing employers, you should expect to pick up a decent percentage pay rise (about 20%) on top. “Financial crime compliance and AML are currently witnessing the highest increments for bank-to-bank moves,” says Sid Sibal, a director of Financial Services at recruiters Hudson in Hong Kong.

Generalist regulatory compliance roles continue to be in demand. “Candidates possessing a full set of HKMA reporting experience are in short supply and can demand a pay rise of around 15% to 20% when securing a new role,” says Elaine Lam, associate director at recruiters Robert Half in Hong Kong.

If you’re not moving to a new bank, don’t expect your Hong Kong compliance salary to go up by much in 2020. “Overall, compliance base salaries in Hong Kong have stayed quite consistent this year. Unless it’s a big internal promotion, normal salary adjustments lie within the 2% to 5% range,” says Elaine Chu, manager of banking and financial services at recruiters Ambition in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, money-motivated compliance professionals might want to join one of eight new virtual banks which are set to go online late this year or early next year. The granting of the new virtual banking licences in May triggered a “hiring spree” across the Hong Kong banking sector, including for compliance professionals, who were among the first candidates to be recruited into digital banks led by the likes of Standard Chartered and Bank of China, says Lam from Robert Half. “Salaries are being used as a key way to attract top talent to fill these newly created compliance roles,” she adds.

Compliance bonuses have been rising in Hong Kong in recent years. Vice presidents (VPs) can, for example, now earn bonuses equivalent to 50% of their base salaries, as the second table below shows.

How much do compliance professionals in Hong Kong get paid in salaries and bonuses?

Image credit: Rob Sarmiento, Unsplash

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