WHERE does a senior manager cost most? Brazil, according to the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), a trade body. Two recent surveys, one by the AESC and the other by a Brazilian headhunter, Dasein Executive Search, found that chief executives and company directors earned more in São Paulo, Brazil’s business capital, than in New York, London, Singapore or Hong Kong (see chart). The surveys compared base salary, but bonuses in Brazil are generous too, says David Braga of Dasein. And the comparison understates the cost of hiring in Brazil: its payroll taxes are among the world’s highest.
Part of the reason for runaway executive pay is booming demand for staff, at all levels. Brazil, China and India are all seeing strong growth in employment. But according to Manpower, another employment agency, the mismatch between supply and demand is starkest in Brazil, where 64% of employers report difficulty filling vacancies, against 40% in China and 16% in India. Managers with technical backgrounds are especially scarce in Brazil: big oil finds and infrastructure plans mean demand is soaring, but Brazil turns out just 35,000 engineers a year, against India’s 250,000 and China’s 400,000.
The biggest beneficiaries of Brazil’s war for talent are likely to be its expatriate managers. Mr Braga of Dasein says the motive for his research on pay was the ten or so unsolicited inquiries his firm receives each day from Brazilians living abroad who are thinking of returning home—even though most of them mistakenly thought that doing so would mean a pay cut.
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