Lai See

Don't miss out stock exchange drivers in typhoon guidelines

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 August, 2013, 4:00am

Our piece yesterday on typhoon signal No 8 has attracted some interest. Richard Witts writes with a tale from the 1970s.

Among his various roles in the finance industry was a spell as the secretary and general manager of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the days when the city was blessed with four exchanges.

He writes to say that financial secretary Philip Haddon-Cave was attempting to force the four exchanges to amalgamate and the first very small step in that direction was the formation in July 1974 of the Hong Kong Federation of Stock Exchanges.

"I was appointed the Hon Sec. It really did not do anything much in part because we did not agree on very much." One of the few things it managed to agree on was regulations for when the stock exchanges should close and reopen upon the approach and retreat of typhoons. "My proposal was in part to avoid every member of the HKSE phoning me as to when the market would reopen at the first hint that signals may be lowered."

So Witts duly drew up the guidelines, which were readily accepted by the federation's council with one amendment. The time gap he had proposed between the lowering of signals and the beginning of trading was lengthened by one hour. This was to allow time for brokers' drivers to get from their no-doubt-humble dwellings to their masters' abodes to collect them.


Travel news

Online travel magazine Smart Travel Asia has concluded its Best in Travel Poll 2013. The respondents earned an average of US$156,307 per year, and 70 per cent were based in Asia and 15 per cent in both Europe and North America.

Top holiday destinations, with 2012 rankings in brackets, were Bangkok (5), Bali (1) and Phuket (2). Hong Kong was ranked fifth this year and third in 2012. Top cities for business were Hong Kong (1), Singapore (2), Kuala Lumpur (3) and Seoul (3).

Emirates (3) and Singapore Airlines (1) were both the top airlines, followed by Cathay Pacific Airways (2), while Air Asia (1) took the top spot in the budget sector, followed by Jetstar Asia (2) and Indigo (6). Top airports were Singapore (1), Hong Kong (2), Incheon (4) and Kuala Lumpur (3). Samui was ranked 10th, just below London's Heathrow.

Top hotel brands were Shangri-La, Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt, Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula. Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong (3) ranked first in the business hotels segment, followed by Island Shangri-La Hong Kong (3), Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong (2) and The Fullerton Hotel Singapore (1). 


Shock call: more ethics in finance

It will come as no great surprise to learn that investors worldwide have little trust in the investment profession. A study by the CFA Institute and Edelman found that just 53 per cent of investors in the United States, Britain, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia trusted investment firms to do what was right. Retail investors are less trusting of the industry (51 per cent) than their institutional counterparts (61 per cent), and investors in the US (44 per cent) and Britain (39 per cent) are less trusting than those in Hong Kong (68 per cent).

However, this mistrust does not translate to the capital markets with nearly three in four investors optimistic about obtaining fair returns from the markets.

"Investors … want a culture shift - a renewed focus on ethical behaviour. Individual investment managers must be transparent, demonstrate integrity and communicate clearly to strengthen client relationships and preserve trust in the industry and the markets at large," said Kurt Schacht, managing director of standards and financial market integrity at the CFA Institute.

Lai See believes the prospects of striking a match on a bar of soap are brighter than expecting an ethical resurgence in the finance industry.


Leaning on women

Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In Foundation has been a source of outrage on Facebook, of which she ironically is chief operating officer. The reason is that the foundation, which Sandberg set up to encourage women to pursue leadership roles, has advertised on the site for an intern to work part-time, but to commit to a regular schedule of work until the end of the year, and the role is unpaid. This is precisely the sort of exploitation women should not be subject to.


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