Brokers fear new financial council lacks power

But industry experts worry the body’s role will overlap the responsibilities of other groups

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 4:38am

The son of former premier Zhu Rongji and three top executives of mainland-funded firms have been named as members of a new council to promote the local financial industry.

They were among the 22 members appointed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to the newly established Financial Services Development Council, chaired by Executive Council member Laura Cha Shih May-lung. Cha was a former deputy chairwoman of the Securities and Futures Commission.

Levin Zhu, chief executive of China International Capital Corp (CICC) and son of the former premier, was appointed to the council. CICC is China's No 1 investment bank.

Other financial services heavyweights from the mainland include Chen Shuang, chief executive of China Everbright, Qin Xiao, former chairman of China Merchants Group and Tse Yung-hoi, Deputy chief executive of Bank of China International.

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Professor Chan Ka-keung will be an ex officio member of the council. Other members are bankers, brokers, fund managers, accountants, lawyers and academics, each with a term of two years.

They include Hong Kong Association of Banks chairman Benjamin Hung Pi-cheng, BlackRock Asia Pacific chairman Mark McCombe and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) director Vincent Lee Kwan-ho.

Chan said the new council would conduct research, collect views from the industry, promote the city's yuan services overseas and try to attract foreign firms to list here.

However, Chan added, the new council is not a regulator and has no powers to set policy. It will not lobby Beijing for any policy changes as that would be the Hong Kong government's duty.

But brokers fear the council might overlap that of other regulators and promotional bodies.

Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, legislator for the financial services sector, said the introduction of the council had failed to match market expectations.

"We hoped the council would have the power to set policy or lobby the mainland authority … but the council will only be an advisory body," Cheung said.

"However, the council would act as a channel for the industry to represent our views to the government," he said. "We also want to prevent overlapping of functions with other regulators and promotional bodies." He noted that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is promoting yuan services, while the HKEx is trying to attract firms to list here.

Chan denied there would be an overlap, saying the council was a promotional body and other markets, such as London, had similar entities.