Asia Market Update - Q1 2018


We have seen a surprisingly busy start to the year, with increased hiring activity over the Christmas and New Year period, particularly in the technology, media, real estate and healthcare sectors, at the mid level to senior level positions.

A key hiring trend that is set to continue is that of MNCs looking to hire for Country Counsels in emerging markets such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand. Often, growth in these markets has increased to the point where success in the legal function supporting the commercial objectives of the business requires a local counsel based on the ground, who is able to deftly navigate the challenges of the local cultural climate while having the savviness to deal with international management.

Relative to Singapore and Malaysia, these are large markets which are experiencing high growth while quality talent is still scarce. Oftentimes, the demand is for local candidates with international backgrounds who are educated overseas and come from international law firms.

There is a marked distinction in terms of salaries for lawyers from such backgrounds versus local candidates with only local experience, hence the large range in salaries at the same level, as seen in the table below.

For more information on hiring in any of these countries, please contact one of our consultants.

Salary bandings for the Asia region







2 - 4

US$20,000 – 60,000

US$30,000 - 50,000

US$40,000 - 70,000

US$20,000 - 40,000

US$20,000 - 50,000

5 - 7

US$50,000 - 100,000

US$40,000 - 80,000

US$50,000 - 100,000

US$20,000 - 55,000

US$40,000 - 80,000

8 - 10

US$60,000 - 150,000

US$45,000 - 90,000

US$70,000 - 120,000

US$25,000 - 65,000

US$50,000 - 90,000

11 - 15

US$80,000 - 180,000

US$50,000 - 100,000

US$90,000 - 200,000

US$40,000 - 75,000

US$60,000 - 120,000


US$100,000 - 300,000

US$100,000 - 180,000

US$140,000 - 300,000

US$50,000 - 140,000

US$100,000 - 180,000


For the last 10 years, Singapore has been seen as the AML hub for Asia with most centralised AML teams sitting in Singapore. In 2017 and especially so in 2018, there is an increasing emphasis on candidates with strong Markets & Financial product knowledge, Regulatory experience and Risk Management exposure.

As the compliance market matures in Singapore and plays catch up with Hong Kong, there has been a need for candidates with the aptitude and ability to take on an advisory and business-facing role. It is certainly an exciting time as we move away from operational work – but the biggest question is, are hiring managers training and developing their teams to keep up with this change and do candidates have the right experience to take on a maturing Compliance market in Singapore?