The latest Towers Watson 2014/2015 Global 50 Remuneration Planning Report showed Singapore executives have the highest base salaries in the region -– with pay levels around 10% higher than the next highest, Hong Kong.
In Singapore and Hong Kong, base salaries overall edged 3%-4% higher, except at top management level where base salaries grew around 6%-8%.
Executives right at the top of the hierarchy in Singapore have an average base pay of around US$586,000 a year, compared to around US$445,000 a year in Hong Kong – a differential that narrowed fractionally from last year, the report said.
“Base salaries are, on the face of it, considerably higher in Singapore than Hong Kong, especially at a top management level, but the tax rates at those levels vary considerably and that has a bearing on take-home pay,” Towers Watson Asia Pacific data services practice leader Sambhav Rakyan said.
“That said, we do see signs of regional HQs moving from Singapore to other lower cost locations, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, to reduce staffing costs, subject to availability of talent.”
The report said one location that showed no sign of getting any cheaper – at least in US dollar terms – was Hong Kong.
“Hong Kong will very likely top the region for executive pay in the next few years if its currency continues to strengthen against the Singapore dollar,” Rakyan said.
“With the U.S. dollar rising and the [U.S.] Fed expected to raise interest rates this year, the dollar peg will see the Hong Kong dollar rise in tandem.”
While base salaries in Singapore remain top of the table, those in Hong Kong stayed comfortably higher across the board than in Greater China, it said.
Salaries for senior and top management staff in Singapore are the highest in Asia, a recent survey shows.