ACCOUNTANTS have attracted the highest annual salary increase this year with an average 14.5 per cent raise. The increase, compared with an average 11.5 per cent increase in Hong Kong, stems largely from pay rises for juniors in their first years in the profession. It is the second year running that accountants have topped the pay increase tables, although the survey does not take into account perks and bonuses. According to the Hong Kong Institute of Personnel Management, which conducted the survey, bankers received the next best pay rise of 13 per cent in 1994, while at the opposite end, the retail industry awarded rises averaging 10.2 per cent. The rate of increase far outstripped those in Europe and North America where economies are growing more slowly and unemployment is higher. 'Asian countries typically are fast-growing and pay increases tend to be better than their counterparts in the West,' said Patrick Maule, co-chairman of the survey. Real wage increases after discounting inflation are running at about 2.8 per cent, but the IPM figures show that the increases are likely to fall in 1995 as more companies push for pay increases of less than 10 per cent. According to industry sources, accountants received higher annual pay rises in their early years as they are linked to progress schemes. This pushes up the average award for the sector. Pay discrepancies between sectors are small, however. About half the firms in the territory award increases of between 10.5 per cent and 12.5 per cent. Accountants are also among the most likely to switch jobs over the year, according to the survey, which covered 103 Hong Kong companies employing about 130,000 staff. More than one in three (36 per cent) changed their jobs during the year, compared with an industry-wide average of 28 per cent. 'Basically, graduates come out of university and move into one of the big five accountancy firms. After about three years they drift off into the private corporate sector,' said Mr Maule. The most volatile industry for staff changes was the retail sector, where an average 50.6 per cent of employees changed jobs during the course of the year. But the general movement of workers in Hong Kong was 'diabolically high', leading to inefficient use of resources. 'Some jobs might have four or five different people in them over the course of a year. That is not good for business,' he said.