Facile criticism of financial body

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 February, 2013, 6:50am

I refer to Jake van der Kamp's column ("Five points to ponder … over dinner in a fine restaurant", January 27) and various media reports about the Financial Services Development Council of which I am a member.

I am intrigued by van der Kamp's obsession with fine dining. This reflects perhaps nostalgia for the good old days when he too was a happy stockbroker. Sadly the days of austerity are now upon us. At our first council meeting, there was not a chateaubriand in sight. In fact not even a biscuit.

Van der Kamp suggests the council is not necessary because existing industry players can do the job for themselves of developing and promoting their respective sectors of the financial services industry. This does not seem to be a view shared by the industry. I was a member of the preparatory taskforce which recommended the establishment of the council. We held 12 consultation sessions with a wide range of individuals and financial services industry groups, and there was almost universal support for the concept.

Industry players felt that it would be useful to have an entity which could, among other things, initiate research into developments in financial services, and make pragmatic recommendations on the right balance between proper regulation and new product development. It could also work with academic institutions to ensure the appropriate talent pool is available to support the financial sector and help to co-ordinate the various but separate efforts of a number of government and industry bodies in promoting Hong Kong as an international financial centre, at a time when many other cities have similar bodies pushing their own cause.

In this latter regard, van der Kamp's suggestion that Hong Kong simply waits for mainland China opportunities to be granted is a recipe for mediocrity. Other media commentators have criticised the council for including members from the mainland (although reports that the majority of members are "mainland Chinese heavyweights" are factually incorrect). In my view, given the huge benefit that Hong Kong gains from capital and trade flows into and out of the mainland, it would be irresponsible, even idiotic, not to include mainland Chinese members.

Another report ("Financial council gets Chicago backing", January 30) characterises the council as "beleaguered". You are only beleaguered if you feel beleaguered. We do not. A better adjective would be "indomitable".

So let those lobbing facile criticisms from the sidelines get out of the way and let the members of the council, in their own time, unpaid and unfed, get on with the work.

Alasdair Morrison, The Peak