In 2023, the Malaysian hiring market grappled with economic challenges as both companies and candidates adjusted to escalating costs. While employees were increasingly mindful of the substantial rise in the cost of living, businesses faced the necessity of tightening their budgets due to the simultaneous increase in operating expenses.
“At times, companies found it challenging to extend offers that met the candidates’ salary expectations,” says Melvin Yong, Senior Manager at Robert Walters Malaysia’s Commerce Finance division.
Moreover, the highly anticipated reopening of China's borders failed to provide a substantial economic boost to Malaysia, primarily due to China's economic slowdown and the resurgence of domestic tourism.
Read on to find out more about Melvin’s expectations of the labour market and hiring trends for Malaysia’s Accounting & Finance professionals in 2024.
Throughout 2023, multinational companies placed a strong emphasis on sustainability and equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) – in part a response to mounting expectations from younger employees who are passionate about these initiatives. Melvin notes that this trend is expected to continue in 2024.
A thorough interview process is essential for finding the right talent, but it's crucial to balance it with efficiency to prevent candidate loss and minimise the impact on department workloads.
Another ongoing trend that shows little sign of abating are longer interviews as companies take their time to select the right talent for them. Pointing out the downsides, Melvin discloses, “Unfortunately, this sometimes means that they lose out on certain candidates who receive and accept offers for other opportunities they have progressed more quickly with. It also affects the workload for employees in the departments with those unfilled positions.”
Looking ahead to 2024, Melvin says that companies will search for accounting and finance roles that require proficiency in data analysis and interpretation, as well as the ability to apply tech and digital solutions. “What this might look like would be finance managers who can serve as true business partners,” he adds.
Governance roles encompassing internal audit, risk management and compliance will also be highly sought after.
Within the shared service centre, candidates who can speak other languages – especially Vietnamese, Japanese and Korean – will be in strong demand.
Candidates with strong communication skills and the ability to translate numbers and data into insights that are relevant for the business will also be highly prized. The same will go for candidates who can implement and optimise digital tools for processes such as automation and accounting systems.
Melvin shares that candidates are still moved to switch jobs for the usual reasons, noting, “Common push factors are unreasonable workloads or lack of clarity on the company’s direction. Overwhelmingly, pull factors are more attractive remuneration or career progression opportunities.”
As such, he advises companies to be open, honest and communicative about the organisation’s goals and performance. This can be achieved through townhalls or other events that give employees and senior management the platform to engage in dialogue.
While compensation and benefits are important, companies can also retain and attract talent more successfully by outlining clear career progression opportunities. “Discuss this with your teams on an annual basis and provide recognition to those who have achieved their targets,” adds Melvin. “Employees want to feel that they are working in a positive and encouraging environment.”
In 2024, candidates who remain in their jobs can expect their salaries to increase by the usual rates of 3 – 5%, in line with regular inflation rates. On the other hand, given the limited pool of talent at the moment, job movers may push for salary increments between 20 – 30%, up from 15 – 20% in the last few years.
Request access to our 2024 Salary Survey to benchmark salaries and to find out more about key hiring trends in the Accounting & Finance industry in Malaysia.
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Accounting & Finance, Malaysia
With seven years of recruitment experience, Melvin leads the Commerce Finance team, focusing on recruiting senior positions in finance, internal audit, tax, corporate finance, and treasury.
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