Bonus boost biggest in Asia

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Another week, another round of bonus forecasts...

This time they're emanating from Options Group, a search firm with offices in the Americas, Europe and Asia. It says all the world's finance professionals are set to see bonuses rise, but predicts Asia's will see them rise the most.

"There's just tremendous demand for people in Hong Kong and Shanghai," says chief executive Michael Karp. Underscoring Asia's ever-rising star, he points to last month's biggest ever IPO of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), which listed simultaneously in both cities.

Options Group's study covered over 1,000 finance professionals globally, and found Asia's finance professionals are set to receive bonuses on average 20% higher than last year's. By comparison, it predicts Europe's bankers, salespeople and traders will enjoy rises averaging 15% to 20%. And US bankers are said to be on track for relatively meagre 10% to 15% increases.

Darren Kemp, Asian managing director of search firm Akamai Financial Markets, tells us above average bonus increases in Asia are a no-brainer.

"Asia's finding parity with the rest of the world," says Kemp. "The price differentials today between Asia and the US are almost non-existent, even at leadership levels."

The predictions of generous payouts have surfaced alongside claims that banks have had one of their best years in Asia ever. The Financial Times cites research from Dealogic, which it says shows banks have made US$5.2bn in fees from the continent for the year to date, more than double what they made five years ago,

This is not to say pay is on a par across the board. Some Asian financiers remain impoverished relative to their international colleagues, says Kemp - namely those in credit, hedge fund coverage and structured products.

But this is changing: "Many of the guys who are coming here to run teams are from European or US backgrounds," he reflects. And it seems they expect European or US pay.

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