IN the future, a company will list wherever it feels the conditions are best. If it thinks it can arouse more interest among investors by listing in New York or Paris, rather than Hong Kong, then it will. So if Hong Kong's track record on listings looks poor, it will get a wide berth. Hong Kong has the geographical, cultural and political characteristics to make it the prime centre for mainland listings, but those factors will pale into insignificance if attempts at flotation are failing every few weeks. There are plenty of exchanges around the region and around the world that will be happy to take good mainland listings - and many of them have good, solid financial fundamentals - if Hong Kong does not prove up to the job. To remain the financial centre for the mainland, it cannot take its position for granted. It needs to be prepared to work harder at marketing itself; pushing the message out to international investors that Hong Kong is still a financial centre to be reckoned with. It needs to make the message clearer about mainland stocks. All mainland firms are being treated as potential Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corps; as bankruptcies waiting to happen. Clearly, Shandong International Power Development (SIPD) is not in the same dire financial straits as Gitic. Fund managers and economists spoken to this week readily admit that it has been unjustly tarred with the same brush as the international trust and investment corporations (Itics). The only way to clarify the situation for international investors is to make more information available. Itics and the mainland's central and provincial governments need to be more open. Clear guidelines on how the reform of the Itics is to be undertaken needs to be set out in as much detail as possible and as soon as possible. For now, international bankers must sit and wait for the news, not knowing whether the companies they have invested in will be restructured, closed down or bailed out. Not surprisingly, they are pulling credit lines from all kinds of mainland-related firms. The responsibility for better promotion also lies with the underwriters, who should be prepared to work harder to get the message across when times are tough. With two listings failures last month, it should have been clear to the underwriters of the SIPD float that it would need a concerted marketing effort. Perhaps the earlier postponements has left the underwriters with tempting escape route. Instead of dropping the price or buying the unplaced shares, the backers of the previous IPOs were able to postpone the issue. It is a solution that saves face for the listing hopeful, the mainland government and the underwriter, but does it really help Hong Kong's reputation as a financial centre?