Job opportunities expected to rise in Hong Kong - survey

CPA Australia’s 2015 Hong Kong Human Capital Survey showed that job opportunities are expected to increase in the next six months, providing the best jobs outlook since 2012.

By Deborah Leung FCPA

Of the respondents, 43.6 per cent indicated they believe their employers will increase their headcount in Hong Kong this year, which is a 12.7 per cent increase when compared to 2014’s results.

The key drivers of the anticipated increase in jobs are:

• expected robust growth of existing businesses (23.8 per cent)
• supporting business growth in Mainland China (16.9 per cent).

“China’s increasingly open capital market, growing outbound foreign direct investment from China and a more positive local economic outlook are contributing towards a more optimistic employment outlook for Hong Kong,” said Kenneth Chen, Divisional President – Greater China, CPA Australia.

Unsurprisingly, 36.3 per cent of respondents indicated that salary is more important than work-life balance (27 per cent) in attracting and retaining the right staff in Hong Kong.

Similarly, the survey found that an attractive salary and compensation was the most popular factor contributing to employee retention, with 41.3 per cent selecting this ahead of work-life balance at 17.4 per cent.

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Over half of respondents (52.4 per cent) stated that their employer had either no employee turnover or less than ten per cent turnover, which is an increase of 19.3 per cent on the 2014 survey results. Reflecting this more stable workforce, 63.6 per cent of respondents indicated they would not want to change jobs in the next six months, which is significantly more than last year’s results (39.4 per cent).

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63.9 per cent) received either no pay increase or an increase of less than five per cent. This is consistent with the latest wages data from Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department, which showed the average wage increased 4.1 per cent over 12 months to March 2015.

Some respondents were still able to achieve a better work-life balance over the past 12 months as the number working over 50 hours a week fell from 40 per cent to 31.4 per cent.

While the survey results show that many Hong Kong employers have strong hiring expectations, this does not mean that recruiting the right staff is easy – only 11.1 per cent of respondents indicated their employer is able to fill job vacancies comfortably.

The main recruitment challenges are:

• a lack of applicants with relevant experience (28.5 per cent)
• too-high remuneration expectations (25 per cent)
• a poor level of workplace competencies such as communication skills (18 per cent).

For those thinking of seeking a finance or accounting role in Hong Kong, the survey results indicate that a good knowledge of compliance and risk management will be very useful, with 49.4 per cent of respondents expecting that to be the most in-demand job/role in finance and accounting in the next five years.

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“One of the most significant findings of this survey is the level of challenge companies face finding suitable staff, and the future demand in the finance and accounting sectors. We believe accounting professionals will need to enhance their risk management and compliance skills in response to greater regulation of the financial services sector and increased demand for transparency from stakeholders,” commented Chen.

Following the release of the survey results, he cautioned Hong Kong employers against focusing purely on higher salaries to attract and retain the best staff and recommended employers link increased salaries with improvements in productivity, and consider other benefits for employees.

CPA Australia conducted the survey in May 2015 with 172 of its senior members, including accounting professionals working in multinational corporations, accounting firms, listed companies, private companies and not-for-profit organisations.

Read next: Robust salary growth for accountants in China

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