Mar 13, 2014

    S'pore bank bonuses lag those in other hubs

    SINGAPORE may be the region's financial centre, but the bonuses paid to those working in banks here are the smallest among the key hubs, a survey has found.

    Even after taking into account the low income-tax rate here (20 per cent) and the higher rates in the United Kingdom (45 per cent) and the United States, bankers in London and Wall Street are still better off post-tax than their counterparts in Singapore.

    Here are some numbers from the global bonus survey by financial services online career site eFinancialCareers: The average bonus in the UK this year, based on 2013's performance, was US$98,121; in the US, it was US$72,873, and in Australia, US$41,217.

    In Hong Kong, it was just US$32,676, and in Singapore, lower still at US$20,298.

    eFinancialCareers pointed out that the gap is made more obvious by the fact that the average bonus paid out here this year was 4 per cent lower than in 2012 - at a time when average bonuses in the UK and Australia grew by double digits - 29 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

    Ms Sarah Butcher and Mr Simon Mortlock wrote on the eFinancialCareers website on Tuesday that bonuses in Asia look meagre by comparison. "This is particularly the case in Singapore. Bankers who want to move to Asia for money will be better off in Hong Kong."

    Hong Kong's income tax is 17 per cent.

    Noting that the UK's 45 per cent income-tax rate takes some lustre off the fat bonuses, they added: "However, assuming that the entirety of bankers' bonuses are taxed at the higher rate, our figures suggest that net UK average bonuses (US$54,000) still remain twice as high as the average post-tax bonus paid to Hong Kong finance staff (US$27,000). Maybe London bankers aren't doing so badly after all."

    The eFinancialCareers survey, conducted between January and last month, polled 2,692 employed bankers and finance professionals who were bonus-eligible and knew how much they were getting in their bonuses. Of the number, 582 respondents were based here.

    Four in 10 (42 per cent) here reported that their bonus was bigger than the previous year's; 28 per cent said it was the same and 18 per cent said their bonus had shrunk.

    Mr George McFerran, sales and marketing director at eFinancialCareers, said: "It's been widely reported that the overall bonus pool was slightly down from last year's, but eFinancialCareers data shows that four in 10 got bigger bonuses. This indicates that companies are dividing the bonus pool more ruthlessly than in previous years, giving priority to rewarding top performers."