Top Stories


    Feb 26, 2014

    S'pore pips HK in top-exec pay

    SINGAPORE'S top executives are making more money than those in Hong Kong, with the gap expected to widen as living costs in the island republic rise, according to human resources consultant Towers Watson.

    Senior executives in Singapore earned 19 per cent more than their Hong Kong counterparts last year, a gap that has widened to the most in at least three years, according to Mr Sambhav Rakyan, global data services practice leader for the Asia-Pacific at Towers Watson. In the top positions, that exceeded 30 per cent, he said.

    "Singapore is going to be more expensive to live in," Mr Rakyan said in an interview on Monday. "You need to compensate for the higher cost of living. The implications are also in terms of the tax rate", as companies pay more to make up for higher personal income taxes in Singapore, he said.

    Singapore ranked one spot above Hong Kong as the fifth-most-expensive location for expatriates out of 214 cities in Mercer LLC's 2013 Cost of Living Rankings. Singapore's top marginal tax rate on personal income is 20 per cent, compared to Hong Kong's 15.

    The South-east Asian nation is also Asia's most expensive city for luxury homes after Hong Kong, according to Knight Frank LLP.

    Singapore is forecast to be the world's third-most-competitive city by 2025, ahead of Hong Kong at fourth, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit commissioned by Citigroup.

    The expansion of Singapore's private banking industry and the presence of regional hubs of global companies have drawn more top talent and boosted the pay of the so-called C-suite, which includes chief executive officers and chief financial officers.

    "The talent gap is still quite high," Mr Rakyan said. "Companies feel that at the top level, if they can have someone who is more experienced and understands their business strategy, it's worth bringing them onboard. So we will continue to see a lot of expat talent."