Pssst: fancy a fake resignation?

A survey shows that Hong Kong finance professionals are more likely to tender their resignation to gain a pay rise than their Asian peers. And that it is highly likely to work.

If you’re reading this in Hong Kong I suggest you stop and hand in your resignation: you have a 78% chance of getting a pay rise.

That is the key finding in a survey conducted by eFinancialCareers, the recruitment group, which polled nearly 8,761 finance professionals globally.

And the upshot appears to be that, in a city where eager passersby can in some districts lap up fake goods at a bargain price, a fake resignation can also help your wallet.

The survey shows that more finance professionals in Hong Kong (22% out of 566 polled) have tendered their resignation merely in an effort to gain a promotion or pay rise than anywhere else in Asia ex-Japan. And 78% of those got what they wanted.

“Hong Kong is a tight labour market as there is a high cost of employing new talent in [the city]. People are confident they can get a better deal,” Neil Clark, Asia-Pacific marketing director at eFinancialCareers, told FinanceAsia.

By comparison, only 12% of 1,142 respondents in Singapore and 4% of the 916 polled in China said they had resigned in order to gain a promotion or pay rise. The percentage of those who were successful were too small for the data to be published, according to eFinancialCareers. 

In Singapore’s case, Clark said the results may have something to do with the back-office nature of the city, whereas Hong Kong’s professionals were “more confident of their worth” than in both Singapore and China.

eFinancialCareers specialises in recruitment for mid- to senior-level professionals, 50% to 60% of whom have 5-15 years of experience.

Show me the money

According to Emolument, the real-time salary data specialists, the median base salary for an analyst in Asia ex-Japan as a whole was $79,000 in 2013/14 -- but $66,000 in Singapore and $80,000 in Hong Kong.

At associate level, the pay jumps to $91,000, $97,000 and $104,000, respectively. For vice-president, it jumps again to $181,000, $168,000 and $181,000, respectively.

The median bonus for an analyst, meanwhile, is $1,000 in Asia ex Japan but nothing for Singapore and Hong Kong. At associate level it rises to $19,000, $12,000 and $39,000, respectively. For vice-presidents, it jumps to $81,000, $67,000 and $99,000, respectively, Emolument estimates.

So career progression can make a big difference to the wealth of finance professionals and helps to explain why they appear, according to Clark, increasingly willing to take risks to achieve it.

“It is a sign that people feel they are in a strong position, with both sides [employers and employees] aware of the costs of moving around,” Clark said.

Big egos

As with other high-pressure industries, there is no shortage of egos in the financial services business and the survey reflects this ingrained sense-of-worth.

Some 63% of respondents in Hong Kong believe their boss would care about their resignation, with only 17% saying their manager would not care. The remaining 20% said their boss would be indifferent.

But be warned. The risks of a fake resignation are all too real. Even if you are successful and your boss doesn't call your bluff, your joy might be short-lived.

“It is a high-risk manoeuvre as it could lead to an erosion of trust. It is more of a short-term move,” Clark said.

So what can Hong Kong’s – and Asia’s – financial institutions do to avoid such skullduggery from its employees? The answer it appears is transparency.

The survey revealed that 50% of respondents have regular one-to-one meetings with their line manager to discuss career progression. Of the 50% that do not, 68% said they would like to. Lack of openness was cited as a reason for resorting to a fake resignation.

“Transparency could reduce some of that tension. Employers should explain why things have been done. They should be open and honest,” Clark said.

So, expect more fake resignations.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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