The following report provides an update on the key trends that we have observed within the Accounting & Finance job market in China. It identifies emerging themes across various industries and details the major factors impacting hiring and talent movement.
China's economy advanced 6.7% on a year-on-year basis in the second quarter of 2018, matching market consensus but slightly lower than the 6.8% expansion seen in the first quarter of 2018. It was the weakest pace of growth since the third quarter of 2016 amid intensifying tariff battles with the US and efforts to deleverage debt and financial risks.
On a quarterly basis, the economy grew by 1.8% in the second quarter of 2018, an uplift from the 1.4% expansion seen in the previous quarter and beating market expectations of 1.6%.
The unemployment rate declined to 3.83% in the second quarter of 2018, its lowest rate since 2002, and down from 3.89% in the preceding quarter.
Financial Planning & Analysis remains a popular function for job seekers as it offers greater exposure, and an opportunity to be closer, to the business. In this space companies have been recruiting professionals with in-depth experience in growing revenue and improving profitability.
More and more domestic companies have been transforming their operations from the traditional finance model, where decisions are made purely from an accounting perspective, to the business partner model, where professionals are encouraged to work closely with business leaders to achieve shared organisational objectives. As a result, companies have been sourcing candidates with expertise in restructuring and developing such models to forward-looking ones. As part of this, many companies have been seeking professionals with skills in change management and business finance partnership to help with more advanced business partner models. Professionals with a strong financial analysis skill in particular, who can provide valuable insights when it comes to management decision-making, will be ahead of the game.
In contrast, companies favouring traditional accounting models have been transforming (or considering transforming) their operations through implementing centralised shared service centers (SSCs). In the APAC region China is serving as a key hub for companies establishing SSCs or outsourcing existing national accounting teams to third parties. Therefore, senior-level professionals with expertise in designing, setting up or managing a SSC, or outsourcing, have been in high demand, particularly those with regional exposure.
For CFO-level recruitment, the financing, M&A and IPO practices have become fundamental requirements to organisations in recent years due to fast-expanding markets like startups and high-tech companies.
SALARIES & BONUSES
Average salary increases of around 8 to 10% have been the norm for Accounting & Finance professionals this year, with 15% being seen for top performers and in certain sectors.
In relation to bonuses, the sectors that performed better, such as high-tech, payment and healthcare, saw higher uplifts than other sectors.
As for job movers, salary increments varied depending on the qualifications of the individual and industry in 2017, with a 15 to 20% base increase common when moving companies. This is also in line with the figures seen so far this year.
Given the solid economic landscape in China, demand for Accounting & Finance professionals is expected to remain relatively robust this year.
According to the Institute of International Finance, Bank of China, there have already been 5,179 newly established foreign-invested enterprises so far this year, and foreign direct investment is expected to increase by 3% in 2018. The encouraging outlook means that the China job market will remain active this year.
In line with the national ‘Internet Plus’ strategy and rapid rise of online and mobile payment solutions and the fintech industry, the remainder of 2018 will bring further demand for Accounting & Finance professionals who are experienced in online payment technology and digital platforms.
A number of domestic conglomerates have benefited from the Chinese government's 'One Belt and One Road' policy, making it easier and quicker for local companies to trade with the rest of the world. As a result, domestic organisations have recorded greater business growth, which often leads to higher compensation packages for candidates, and are being viewed as having greater decision-making powers as their headquarters is usually based locally. Due to these benefits, domestic companies have become the preferable employer over multinationals for many professionals, and this trend will likely continue.