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Friday January 25th 2019

Despite salary hikes, some still feel underpaid

Despite salary hikes, some still feel underpaid
Finance, accounting and banking staff ready to switch jobs for better pay: polls



FINANCE, accounting and banking firms in Singapore were among the first in the region to raise salaries after the economy started improving – but many employees still feel that they are underpaid.

¬†A large number of workers are ready to switch jobs for better pay – and companies that do not start to address employees’ concerns could risk losing talent.

 These are some of the key findings from two surveys conducted by recruitment firm Robert Half and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) between March and April this year.

 The Asia-Pacific Banking & Financial Services Salary (FS) Guide polled 906 professionals from Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia, while the Asia-Pacific Finance & Accounting Salary (FA) Guide polled 2,599 professionals from the four markets and New Zealand.

 With the economy picking up, a fair number of respondents from Singapore Р52 per cent in the FS survey and 43 per cent in the FA survey Рsaid that their remuneration increased in the past 12 months.

 These figures are higher than those across the region. Forty-six per cent of all participants in the FS survey and 38 per cent in the FA survey reported higher remuneration.

¬†‘Companies in Singapore have actually embraced the need to raise salaries ahead of competitive markets,’ said Robert Half Singapore director Tim Hird. They have also given some of the largest salary increases, he said.

 Most respondents in Singapore also bagged bonuses last year Рand are confident of getting them again this year.

 Despite positive developments, there is still a significant gap in pay expectations between employees and their companies. In Singapore, 46 per cent of FS survey participants and 40 per cent of FA survey participants said that they do not feel that their salary packages are fair.

 ICPAS president Ernest Kan suggested that many respondents could have lost about a year of increments during the financial crisis, and recent pay raises may not have made up for those losses, giving rise to dissatisfaction.

 Despite their unhappiness, respondents in Singapore are the least likely to discuss pay with employers. A majority Р79 per cent in the FS poll and 72 per cent in the FA poll Рsaid that they see changing jobs as a way to gain bargaining power in salary negotiations.

¬†‘There’s a communication gap,’ Mr Hird said. ‘As the markets continue to improve, leaders within companies are going to be really challenged in terms of engaging their staff and understanding what their expectations of salary levels are.’

 And it will be crucial for companies to do this to retain talent as labour demand strengthens, particularly from banks.

Dr Kan of ICPAS said that the flow of professionals from accounting to the banking sector has increased. He understands that in the past three months, some audit firms have seen an estimated 20-25 per cent of employees with three to six years’ experience leave, with many joining banks.
Mr Hird said that within the banking sector, employees are eyeing pay increases of 15-20 per cent when they job hop, and there are companies keen to match those expectations to attract talent.
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