Expat pay packages in Hong Kong hit five-year low, survey finds

Human resources consultant places Japan, the mainland and India ahead of city as benefits for expats working in Hong Kong declined 5 per cent since 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 May, 2017, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 May, 2017, 10:45pm

Pay packages for expatriates in Hong Kong have hit a five-year low as the city earned fourth spot in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of generous packages after Japan, the mainland and India, a survey has found.

The survey by ECA International found expats working as middle managers are offered about HK$2.06 million on average per year, inclusive of benefits such as accommodation. This is a drop of HK$10,400 from last year.

‘A first-world city with third-world air quality’: Hong Kong loses ground on expat liveability ranking

The human resources consultant attributed this to the declining rents in popular expatriate neighbourhoods such as The Peak and Repulse Bay over the past five years.

“A major challenge faced by companies operating internationally is the need to strike a balance between attracting the right talent while remaining as cost-effective as possible,” ECA regional director for Asia Lee Quane said.

He said the benefits offered to expats working in Hong Kong had dropped by 5 per cent since 2012.

More than 290 companies with offices in 160 countries took part in the survey.

Japan offers the most generous packages for expats working as middle managers, totalling HK$2.85 million on average. In second place is the mainland, which offers HK$2.19 million. “Traditionally, Hong Kong has offered more lucrative packages for expatriates than China’s major cities. However, in the past few years, the rising cost of living and increased pollution in China made it more challenging to attract international talent and so packages continue to rise in local terms,” Quane said.

He said that because of the weaker yuan, expatriate packages had declined in US dollar terms.

“As a result, China remains attractive for foreign companies that need to send expatriates to the region as although costs are rising in the local currency, they have fallen in US dollar terms since our previous survey,” he said.

ManpowerGroup’s senior vice-president of Greater China Lancy Chui said some companies now do not offer education subsidies for the children of their expat employees. “Some companies would even just ask their managers to travel to Hong Kong from time to time to supervise the business here instead of having them based here,” she said.

In another study released in January, ECA found that Hong Kong ranked for the fifth year running as the most expensive location in Asia for expatriates to lease high-end apartments. That study showed the city’s rents were more than 14 per cent higher than in Tokyo, the second costliest city in Asia.