9 MAY 2018
Now in its twelfth year, the annual RICS and Macdonald & Company Asia Salary and Benefits Survey is the most comprehensive survey undertaken for the property sector.
Following 2017, when pay rises and overall confidence was low, the survey of over 2,000 respondents indicates the highest average earnings, bonuses and pay rises since 2009. Respondents under 34 years of age enjoyed average rises in earnings of over 10% and respondents appear to be indicating that increases are on the cards for the coming year as well.
With this in mind, one would expect business confidence to be buoyant, and, compared to last year, survey respondents have expressed a more positive sentiment with 45% expecting economic activity will increase in 2018 (up from 30%), and only 9% (down from 22%) predicting tougher conditions. Those employed in capital markets are the most confident (67% predicting an increase in economic activity), and those working in development or sales and marketing are the gloomiest about future prospects. This would correlate with a sector that has seen most disruption in core markets from foreign entrants, whether that is in Hong Kong, Singapore or Australia.
Last year’s results reflected a mood of uncertainty about the strength of China's economy and concern about restrictions on foreign investment with respondents in Hong Kong (8%), Singapore (10%) and China (11%) predicting a growing market. The restrictions remain – key figures have been side-lined – and confidence has bounced back in a sharp "V-curve" shape to 40%, 52% and 45% respectively.
Sadly, political inertia seems to have stalled the optimism seen in Malaysia in 2016 (57%), when it was the region’s highest, to 25% in 2018, the least optimistic region in Asia Pacific. 57% of Malaysian-based respondents envisage no change for the next 12 months.
Once again, the most optimistic region in 2018 is Singapore, which also enjoyed the highest average salary at just over $130,000 per annum. It was, however, Chinese respondents that saw the highest average pay rise at a huge 14%. Last year was the slowest for wage growth in China on record, so this represents a bounce back in line with the same uplift in the domestic residential market. 64% still expect their employer to increase headcount over the next year with respondents observing much higher levels of hiring at trainee and graduate levels, which is often a good indicator of activity. Interestingly, investment and business development professionals are the most optimistic respondents, while their development counterparts are the most negative.
It is positive to see an increase in the market value of the RICS professional qualification. RICS-qualified respondents now earn 18.1% higher basic salaries than their non-qualified counterparts.