The Financial Times has a lengthy article about how the executive expatriate salary package in Asia has traditionally included a housing allowance, school fees and perhaps even a car with a driver, but that sort of ship has largely sailed on – especially for western expats.
The article noted how just a few years ago, expatriate financial services recruitment was soaring, but the financial crisis has hit both investment banking and corporate banking. Limited M&A activity and IPOs is also having a trickle down effect on law and accounting firms dependent on such business and of course, expatriate job opportunities for westerners.
Nevertheless, Asian expatriates, especially expats from Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan who speak more than one Chinese dialect, have faired better and are increasingly moving into jobs in China once held by western expats.
The Financial Times then quoted one Singapore based recruiter as saying:
“When talking about expatriate recruitment the emerging markets are where you need to go to get your expat packages. Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand possibly, Vietnam and Cambodia – those are the places to look. In Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong there is still a demand for expatriates but typically on a local contract. Localised contracts look very similar to a ‘western contract’ in terms of salary. Plus you get all the benefits of Asia: the warm weather, domestic help, good international schools, cheaper general cost of living.”
He also added:
“If you’re on 100,000 in the UK and you are told you will still be paid that in Asia, that sounds great and four years ago when the exchange rate was 2.8 Singapore dollars to the pound, it was. Now, it’s 1.9 to the pound – a vast difference – and Singapore has become much much more expensive.”
With that said, there are still job opportunities for enthusiastic young managers seeking international experience as another recruiter was quoted as saying:
“The shortage in east Asia is in the middle ground. People aged from 28 to 40, that’s the sweet spot – if you’ve got transferable skills, speak Chinese and English, and are a well-qualified professional, you won’t go short of opportunities.”
However, such job candidates are in demand globally. Moreover, Asian companies are also increasingly looking to send their Asian employees to their western divisions with the English speaking world being the biggest draw for international expatriates.