China equity fund managers have the best-paid roles in Asia’s asset management industry, according to headhunters.

And executive-search professionals based in Hong Kong agree that this is likely to continue.

Fiona Somerville, of Black Kite Search, says total compensation for China portfolio managers working for global companies has doubled over the past decade. “Some of these companies are running very large unit trusts and getting paid a lot in fees,” she notes.

Michelle Ho, of Recruitment Intelligence, adds that comp levels for mainland Chinese companies have also risen. For top executives, they are almost in line with international norms, she says.

“The bonuses for fund managers can also be quite high in China,” Ho says. “The base will be low but they could potentially get bonuses that are much higher than what they’re used to.”

For details on what portfolio managers and salespeople are earning now, see the forthcoming March edition of AsianInvestor magazine, which features a roundtable discussion among experienced headhunters. (Not a subscriber? Contact us here.)

Nicholas Furze, at Profile Search & Selection, says global fund houses are looking to add talent from outside the region for only very selective roles. Right now that includes Asian fixed income.

“We just completed a CIO search in Singapore and we had to move someone from London. There’s been a lot of landmark moves in fixed income in the past six months, and the local market’s just tapped out,” he says.

“But otherwise, people in the West looking to come out here will find they’re at the back of a pretty long queue if they don’t already have some relevant experience.”

Jim Crowe, of Alexander Hughes, says recruitment roles are becoming more specific as asset owners continue to in-source vanilla asset classes. More institutional mandates are about niche exposures. “That means our job is going to get harder,” says Crowe. “We’re not going to get vanilla portfolio managers to recruit anymore.”