The new pay battle at banks in Hong Kong

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The new pay battle at banks in Hong Kong

Rivals have tried to play down JP Morgan’s quarantine payouts as a PR stunt, but they are slowly all following its lead.

Morgan Stanley is paying junior bankers $5,130 to compensate employees for hotel quarantine expenses incurred from overseas trips, just days after JPMorgan announced it was paying $5,000. Now, it’s inevitable that the rest will follow, say bankers and headhunters in Hong Kong. “All the tier one banks are going to do this now.”

One big bank had earlier dismissed the move as a PR stunt by JPMorgan to stem local staff disquiet about Jamie Dimon being allowed to skip Hong Kong’s tough quarantine restrictions, which require returning or overseas visitors to spend 21 days in a government approved hotel at their own expense.

For JPMorgan, the quarantine subsidy has quickly given it the edge in Hong Kong’s red-hot battle for talent which is why rivals are following suit.  Junior staff have already received a pay boost this year, with associates at big US firms HK$1.3m in total compensation. Quarantine payments mean JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are stealing a march as banks go into bonus season.

Banks like Citi paid Covid bonuses equivalent to US$1k to staff in Hong Kong and Singapore last year, and now they may have to fall into line with JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley. Bank of America and Goldman Sachs are also thought to be considering how to respond.

Quarantine payments could become standard practice in other professions employing overseas workers, with one international school in Hong Kong offering its expat teachers who visit family and friends next summer $2,500k to cover quarantine costs.

Bank of America and Citi declined to comment. Goldman Sachs did not respond to a request seeking comment.

Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available (Telegram: @SarahButcher)

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Photo by Jéan Béller on Unsplash

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